An investigation by Direct Action Everywhere finds “horrific conditions” at a Whole Foods top-rated “humane” meat supplier
By Michael Goldberg
The Diestel Turkey Ranch in Sonora, CA is a beautiful place where turkeys are free to roam on tree-shaded green pastures. “HAPPY TURKEYS AHEAD” reads a sign outside the Whole Foods meat supplier’s farm in the foothills of the Sierra.
And that’s what consumers see in promotional brochures and Whole Foods video of Diestel’s Sonora ranch, one of just three suppliers (out of 2100) to earn Whole Foods’ 5+ humane meat rating, the upscale retailer’s coveted top honor.
“There’s not a lot of secrets here,” says Timothy J. Diestel, who along with his wife Joan C. Diestel has been running the ranch since 1980.
But an investigation and report by the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) shows otherwise. A 2013 California Regional Water Quality Control Board report states no commercial turkeys have been raised at the Sonora facility since 2011. According to the report, Diestel’s turkeys come from other facilities. One of those is in nearby Jamestown, whose premises are nothing like what Whole Foods depicts in its “humane turkey” videos.
What a scene. Nearly 40 of us standing in front of the meat counter in Whole Foods’ Market Street store (San Francisco) chanting “It’s not food, it’s violence!”
Yes it was a Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) animal rights protest. It took place this past Saturday.
I shot photos and video. My wife Leslie AKA The Vicious Vegan wrote an excellent report on what went down, and the philosophy behind the protest.
Here’s how her blog post begins:
ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTEST CALLS OUT WHOLE FOODS
By Leslie Goldberg
I’ve never yelled inside a Whole Foods Market or in a Safeway or in any grocery store. I’ve never even wanted to. When I’ve walked past (quickly) the neon-lit graveyards they have in the back of these stores, which showcase the dead animals or their chopped-up flesh, I’ve felt a grief and revulsion that makes me quiet.
Yet despite my despair at the obvious animal cruelty that’s taken place, I have to admit I’ve always kind of liked Whole Foods. I like that they have a gazillion different plant-based milks (that taste good); that they have a pretty good bulk section; that the employees are nice; that one of the store’s founders, John Mackey, was persuaded to become a vegan; and I always liked that the checkers would ask me, “Credit or donation?” when I brought in my own bag. I’d get a little warm feeling when I’d say, “donation.”
Yet there I was – pissed and yelling my head off with the other protestors in the meat department of Whole Foods on Sunday: “It’s Not Food, It’s Violence.”
I joined a group of Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) members to protest Whole Food’s truly bizarre, if not Orwellian, $20 million ad campaign: “Values Matter.” The ads feature such slogans as “Know What Kind of Life Your Dinner Lived” or “Choose a Fish, Cook a Fish, Save a Fish.”
Welcome to the house of mirrors world of “humane meat.” Or “sustainable agriculture.” Or “cage free.” Or “cruelty-free food.” Or “grass-fed.” It’s a wonderful dreamy world where the environment is pristine: no water pollution, no climate change, no destruction of wildlife. You can still kill and eat animals and/or consume their secretions and feel good about it. Hell, you can eat animals and save animals at the same time!