About Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by Gene Baur
Synopsis, Selected Quotes, Praise for the Book
Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster; November 4, 2008; $15.00/paperback; 0-7432-9159-X), by Gene Baur, tells the story of Farm Sanctuary, introducing readers to some of the thousands of animals who have found solace at our shelters. It also tells the story of factory farming, revealing its perverse logic and examining the havoc it wreaks. With grace and guts, the book bears frank witness to the suffering this institution inflicts on billions of animals. Yet Farm Sanctuary offers a vision not bleak but hopeful, reminding us that both the responsibility and the agency to effect change are in our hands.
The book depicts the plight of the animals who are victims of industrial farming. The truth is that farm production today does not depend on the family farmer with a small herd of animals but instead resembles a large assembly-line factory. Animals raised for human consumption are not only confined for the entirety of their lives but also often live without companionship, fresh air, or even adequate food and water.
Farm Sanctuary is a thought-provoking examination of the ethical questions involved in the production of beef, poultry, pork, milk, and eggs. It addresses the systematic mistreatment of the 9 billion farm animals who are exploited specifically for food in the U.S. every year, as well as the plight of farmers who fall victim to the “get bigger or get out” mantra embraced by corporate agribusinesses.
Throughout, Baur shares the triumphs and ongoing struggles of more than 20 years on the front lines of the animal protection movement, from California’s historic foie gras ban to Florida legislation outlawing cruelly confining gestation crates for breeding pigs. He also introduces some of the special animals who have found shelter at Farm Sanctuary – from Maya, a “downed” stockyard calf found too injured to walk (and thus left for dead), to Rudy, Truffles, and Terrin, all pigs who were rescued after falling out of trucks on busy interstate highways.
Farm Sanctuary urges readers to extend the reach of human compassion and consume a kinder plate, making a better life for animals and for themselves.
“The surest indication that this farm is different is a sign by the gate: ‘You are now entering the animals’ sanctuary. Please remember that you are a guest in their home.’ This is the way into Farm Sanctuary, which I co-founded in 1986, and which has since grown from an idea into a national organization and, I hope, into a growing movement of conscience.”
“Even though we cannot rescue every farmed animal in need, we feel that every animal at Farm Sanctuary is an ambassador for millions, indeed billions, of others. Being in their company allows us to acknowledge our relationship with them, and with all of the animals with whom we share the earth.”
“In the evenings, when I walk out of my office in New York or California, I often pause to look out over the farm. In the pastures are the cows and goats and sheep. In their fields and mud holes are the pigs, the picture of contentedness. On the wind, I hear the roosters calling their hens … It is a gift to know that another day has passed that has in a small way made up for the time that billions of animals have spent in factory farms … It is the gift of a good life, granted to these survivors and returned in kind. I hope it will be your gift as well.”
“The animals at the shelters in Orland and Watkins Glen express the full spectrum of emotions and character traits. They are as playful, curmudgeonly, devious, kindhearted, intelligent, lazy, and aggressive as some of us. In a very elemental way, they’re not that different from us after all, except in one particular: they seem to embody a purity in being alive that many of us, sadly, seem to have lost.”
“The animals show us the enjoyment of simple pleasures and of being in the moment. They teach us that we are of the world.”
“As a result of Farm Sanctuary’s efforts over two decades, stockyards and slaughterhouses have been convicted of cruelty to animals, laws have been passed banning abusive factory farming practices, and national news stories have begun to expose the cruelty of industrialized animal agriculture. At the same time, thousands of suffering animals have been rescued from abuse, and given a decent life.”
“When we face issues, remarkable things can happen. That’s why, in spite of the appalling things that I have seen with my own eyes, I remain optimistic that the situation will change.”
“I have learned something about forgiveness. It’s amazing to me that these creatures born into the cold and mechanized existence of factory farming, where the appearance of any human being only spelled more pain, could ever again bestow their trust, much less their friendship, on anyone of our species. Yet somehow they do, and it is a beautiful thing to see. If these farmed animals, after all that they have been through, can still learn to respect humanity, then surely we can learn to respect them.”
“In the face of factory farming’s harsh and violent spirit, every one of us has the power to say no and in doing so show the world that there is a kinder way.”
Praise for the Book
“Agribusiness factory farms subvert democracy and are some of the nation’s worst polluters. This book shows how they also treat animals with unspeakable cruelty. It is a compelling testament to the need to civilize this industry and end its radical practices for producing meat, dairy, and eggs.”
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and president of Waterkeeper Alliance
“In Farm Sanctuary, Gene Baur highlights the appalling conditions billions of animals are forced to endure in factory farms – in order to produce more meat more cheaply in the shortest possible time. His descriptions of the courageous battles fought by many individuals to end such practices are touching. Filled with hope, this book is written for all who strive for a more compassionate world – I highly recommend it.”
— Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace
“For years, Farm Sanctuary has been a refuge for cruelly treated animals, rescued from the nightmare world of the factory farm. Now Farm Sanctuary is also a beautiful and stirring book, as filled with the spirit of mercy as the place that inspired it.”
— Matthew Scully, author of Dominion
“Farm Sanctuary is a wonderful and inspiring book – about animals in need of compassion and laws in need of reform. Some of the stories Gene Baur tells will break your heart, and other stories will speak to your deepest convictions. It’s a book about appalling cruelty and heroic kindness, and it points the way to a better world.”
— Alicia Silverstone, actress and author of The Kind Diet
“Gene Baur embodies the best of modern social entrepreneurship … The story of Farm Sanctuary’s earliest days, its small victories and heartbreaking disappointments, as well as the wider reach of a maturing organization, will inspire you and cause you to re-examine your relationship to the animal food and fiber products you consume … Gene’s engaging book traces how we got here, and the hopeful options we have ahead of us for making healthier and more compassionate choices.”
— John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
“Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary have helped to bring the U.S. animal welfare movement into the twenty-first century, winning victories for farm animals that have the support of most Americans – once they learn the truth about industrial animal farming today.”
— Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation
“A stunning indictment of factory farming and the way most Americans obtain their food
… A life-altering read.”
— Booklist (starred review)