Thursday, January 28, 2010

OT: Temple Grandin on NPR and Advocacy

One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace. Aldo Leopold

NPR's show Talk of the Nation had one of my favorite authors(and favorite people ) Temple Grandin on to talk about her life in the light of a new HBO movie about her life and work. (As an aside I can not believe how believable Claire Danes' performance is! If I had TV I would definitely want to tune in to this! Here is the trailer )
Here is the Latest Interview
I would recommend the interview for any one that is curious about Dr. Grandin. She is an amazing person, and an advocate for both animals and autism. I asked her a question through NPR's blog that was read on air. I will include the written correspondence for anyone that wants to see it and who can not get audio. It is about what she thinks the problems are in animal transportation.

On a personal note--- I really admire Dr Grandin's work because it is something I could never do. I am a vegetarian. I am because of primarily environmental reasons. I would be lying though if I said it was not also for my personal feeling about animals-- my personal ethics. I can not stand the thought of animals living in cages, in factories, and on feed lots. I personally could never kill an animal for my food. I do not want to eat something that came from a process that I could not complete nor do I want to support an industry when I do not agree with their practices. I have chosen boycotting as my advocacy method.

Dr. Grandin has chosen to work within the industry itself and she has made some amazing changes not only in the technology but in the management of the meat we eat. I wish that animals did not have to die. But as long as people still continue to demand meat we NEED people like Dr. Grandin to fight for a humane life and a humane death for our food. Thank you Temple Grandin for doing something I would never be strong enough to do.

Here is my question...
Molly writes: I'm curious what you think about animal transportation in the United States. It would seem the transportation in the trucks I see in transit currently would cause a great deal of stress, pain and fear, especially in high-fear animals like horses. I've seen several news articles about injuries sustained by horses when shipped cross-country to Canada or Mexico. What are your thoughts and feelings on animal transportation? What would you like to see changed?

Dr. GRANDIN: One of the biggest things you have to do in animal transportation is management. There's actually been some studies that have shown a big difference between drivers on things like injuries - I mean, drivers that stomp on the brakes, they stomp on the gas. It throws the animals off-balance, you know, people handling animals going on and off the trucks. There are some cattle trailers that definitely are not appropriate for horses.

But so many of the problems of management with - excuse me - with transportation are bad management. And one way I would go about assessing transportation is bruises, injuries, and - you want to get that down to an exceedingly low level.

CONAN: That should be taken into account, as well as what time did you get the cattle there.

Dr. GRANDIN: Well, that's right. And then you don't do things like park the truck in the sun and just let them cook at a truck stop somewhere. That's another thing you don't do.


  1. I didn't realize you were a vegetarian (although maybe I should have) - I am too!

  2. I guess I never thought to mention it before! I knew you were vegetarian from you blog which I visit and enjoy :)

  3. Great post. I missed this TOTN, I love NPR. . For some reason I am always surprised when I meet others that are.
    I really agree with a lot of your beliefs too. I am not a veggie, but I raise my own chickens for eggs, I can not eat eggs otherwise. I buy local meat from places that I trust. I really believe that we need to start honoring the animals we eat.

  4. Chickens are great! I really love chickens and farm fresh eggs are the best! What breeds of chickens do you have? According to Temple Grandin laying chickens have the worst welfare so you are doing a good thing by raising your own.

  5. I'm not a vegetarian but my one daughter is and she has read Dr. Grandin's book and is very interested in what she has to say. I don't actually know too much about her so it's hard for me to comment. I just don't get to read and investigate things as much as I would like to.

    I'm always disgusted when I see horses being transported or pictures of the horrendous injuries they incur on the way to Mexico or Canada. What's wrong with people anyway, don't they have a concience or any feelings.

  6. Golden: I have Appenzellers, silkies, and Black Australorps, but I want to add to my flock this year. Chickens are rather addictive. :)

  7. Isn't she the one who's pro-horse-slaughter, though? I applaud her efforts for making the lives and deaths of food animals better, but I do not agree with her views on horse slaughter (assuming this is the same vet that I am thinking of).
    I, too, am a vegetarian and have been since I was twelve. When I was little, I would sit at the table and cry because I didn't want to eat meat. I would picture a cow running through a lush field and be so sad that it was now on my plate. :-(

  8. Haha similar to me as a child as well! I was always such a softy!
    Well she is not a vet, though she is probably pro slaughter. I definitely do not agree with all of Grandin's views. I just think her work is something to admire, even if you don't agree with her principles :)

  9. Temple Grandin is amazing. She has done some really neat work. And how cool that they picked your question!

    I think there are a ton of ways we could improve the welfare of produce animals. (Of course, most of these changes would probably result in a raise in prices. And the food industry is mostly driven by prices..)

    About a year ago or so, I read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which was fascinating. The ag industry, both for food animals and for crops and produce does a lot of damage to planet and is usually not looking out for the best interest of the animals.

    When I lived in Kansas last year, I was attempting to be more eco-friendly, eating produce and meat that was grown locally. This is harder to do now in Dallas, of course.

    I love the quote you gave at the beginning--much of the problem I think arises because of the great disconnect we have between our food and where/how it is produced.

    Dog trainer Patricia McConnell raises her own sheep, which is the only meat she eats. Because, she says, she knows that her sheep lived happy lives. I think it would do a lot of people some good to realize where their food comes from.


  10. Could not agree more Mary. I read that book "Merle's Door" and was struck by the author's careful consideration of how he got the food that both him and his dog ate.

    I want to read Michael Pollen, I have heard him on NPR several times and have watched Food INC. Definitely on my to read list. Thanks!