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Northwest VEG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Portland, OR that works to educate and encourage people to make vegan choices for a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate world.
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Chickens Don't Want To Be Eaten: An Open Letter To Marion Nestlé

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June 22, 2009

Editor's Note: NW VEG at-large board member Cindy Koczy heard food activist Marion Nestle speak in May. This is her personal response as sent to Ms. Nestlé.

I enjoyed so much listening to your recent lecture in Portland. [Linus] Pauling is also a hero of mine. I took comfort in realizing that we must be from the same generation—the turbulent but mind-expanding 60's and 70's. Did you know that he was a vegetarian?

The facts you presented about obesity rates, women going back to work, the farm subsidies, how our farmers had to change their ways of growing crops and were forced to grow faster to sell (in a 90-day turn around), and average 3,900 calories per person per day (!) were all very interesting.

What surprised me most is that the Food Safety Laws were written in 1906 and have failed to make many advancements for the consumer. I appreciate that you made us more aware of how the advertising industry is trying to "hijack" our minds by tricking us into believing that some packaged foods are healthy, when in fact–if you read the labels–they are loaded with saturated fats, multitudes of sugars, preservatives, lies, etc.

The fact that the food industry is marketing to children and disregarding parental authority is very subversive. This is most frightening because some people just don't get it! The fact that the advertising budget is $7 billion-$10 billion a year is appalling.

I noticed quite a few younger people sitting in the audience. I hope they heard your words loud and clear.

I would like to mention, if I could, a slide you used when you were talking about being organic; it was the one with the seemingly happy chicken, carrying an organic sign under her wing. With all due respect, Ms. Nestle, chickens don't want to be eaten—organic or not. Based on the wealth of information you had on the topic, I think it's safe to assume you realize that 95-98 percent of chickens are factory farmed, that is, they're raised in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), as the industry calls them.

I will spare you the details of the cruel conditions they live their short lives in and how slaughtering happens. However, if you would be interested in more information on this subject, I can recommend emailing

I would like to suggest replacing the chicken slide with something like a colorful bounty of fruits and beautiful healthy vegetables. An appropriate heading might be "Eat foods, not products." I really admire your knowledge in the fields that you lecture about. I think I can speak for everyone who attended when I say "Thank you very much" for coming to Portland and giving a truly informative talk.

I hope you enjoyed the Saturday Farmer's Market and the not-too-common sprinkling of Vitamin D from the normally shy Portland sun!

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