Remember back in the day, when you were taking Macro or Micro or whatever Economics because it was a required class in college? And your professor would spend an inordinate amount of time going over how then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan was an oracle of the nation's economic state? And whenever Greenspan would give an interview or release a statement, every phrasing that came out of his mouth was parsed and analyzed by the country's fiscally-focused folks in order to find signs of where they should invest, how safe their investment was, and what next to do with their money?
Or was that just my college experience? No matter. The point is, in every field there's a person or entity that everyone else in said field looks to for guidance. They're not the trend-setters -- that's more of a term placed retroactively on something that wasn't thought to be world-changing but, turns out, it was. They are, instead, the trend-makers. Which is all a long way of saying: When a company like Sysco, the largest food distribution conglomeration in the nation (with 17.5 pecent of the market share, leading to earnings of $37 billion industry in 2010 alone) makes an announcement, everyone takes notice. So last week's press release from the Humane Society saying that Sysco's decided to "eliminate pig gestation crates from its pork supply chain," well, it's a big deal.
Just what are these crates, anyway? As reported by the fine folks over at Grist.org:
"[G]estation crates are essentially steel cages that keep pregnant sows confined in a space roughly the size of their bodies. They're commonly seen -- along with battery cages for egg-laying hens -- as among the least humane livestock practices."
Sysco is just the latest to take a stand in ending the practice. Among the companies who've already eliminated them crates from their supply chains are McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Denny's, Sonic, Carl's Jr., Baja Fresh and Cracker Barrel. (Although, to be fair, most companies will be using them until 2022, as they need the decade to phase them out.) Nine states so far -- including California -- have banned their use. (Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey currently have bills in the works to do the same.) Really, this video by the Humane Society about what life's like inside of a gestation crate is enough to condemn those companies that still use them.
Which leads to the question: What terrible companies still use gestation crates?
As of now, actually, not too many. Over the past six months, there's been a dramatic increase in companies miraculously simultaneously (a) coming to the conclusion that gestation crates are bad; and (b) wanting to avoid the negative PR that comes with using them. But two large companies still, as of today, hold onto to their horrific methods:
- Domino's Pizza, who rejected a proposal to end their usage last year.
- Tyson Foods, who supply to all sorts of companies, despite the urgings of a quarter of a million people.
While there are certainly more companies who use them (these are merely the biggest names), and there are still 38 states that have yet to address the issue in their state legislature, it seems like the tide is definitely turning in this battle. So, then: