I’m just back from the latest leg of the Farmageddon tour in the USA where I had the huge pleasure of speaking to audiences hungry for change.
The last night was spent in New York where a gathering of supporters joined me for a night co-hosted with Mia MacDonald, executive director of Brighter Green who showed her powerfully moving film about the growing meat crisis in China, What’s for Dinner?. I shared some of the highs and lows of a three year journey writing Farmageddon and particularly highlighted the serious water pollution I encountered in China and the USA where factory farming is contributing to dead zones in lakes, rivers and the sea. Thank you to Mia for a great evening and
to everyone who joined us.
The day before, I had the privilege of speaking at Emory University, the culmination of an intense but exhilarating few days in and around Atlanta, Georgia.
Compassion in World Farming has recently opened an office in Georgia, USA, bringing the number of countries we are based in to ten. Our US operation is run by Leah Garcés, an outstanding leader in the farm animal welfare movement, who is focusing on the growing issue of chicken factory farming in the US state that boasts the title of ‘poultry capital of the world’.
It was particularly fitting then to be invited to speak at America’s biggest independent book festival held in Decatur. I was introduced by the internationally published journalist and author, Maryn McKenna, who later posted an article for National Geographic about our conversations, ‘Off grain, Onto grass: An author urges changes in animal farming’.
Out of 600 authors taking part, I was chosen as one of a dozen to be given special feature at the festival. We drew a crowd for the Farmageddon presentation where I was able to pay tribute to the work of one of Georgia’s local farmers, Will Harris of White Oak Pastures who’s mixed grass-based farm provided the perfect antidote to the scenes of factory farming I’d witnessed whilst writing the book.
I want to say thanks to Alice Murray, founding president of the Decatur Book Festival and a journalist for thirty years, for her enthusiasm for Farmageddon and for helping get the word out. Alice was one of a team of local people who brought the festival to life nine years ago and has seen it grow, attracting leading authors and 80,000 visitors.
I was pleased to welcome the ground-breaking commitment by international food company, Unilever, to finding new and humane ways of avoiding the killing of male chicks in the egg industry. It once again shows the leadership that companies can bring for a better, more humane food future and I commend our US office for their engagement in helping bring about this latest move.
Being in Atlanta for a few days, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the King Centre celebrating the life and leadership of Martin Luther King Jr, one of the most outstanding leaders for social reform of the twentieth century and someone for whom I have the very greatest of admiration. Whenever the path of change gets difficult, I will always remember the words that he wrote: “only when it’s dark enough, can you see the stars”.
Next stop for the Farmageddon Tour: 13th September - Jaipur, India: India for Animals Conference