During my time in Norfolk, Virginia, where I worked at PETA’s headquarters, I got to know my local Harris Teeter very well. I’m the kind of person who likes to visit the grocery store on an almost daily basis so that I can load up on the freshest produce or just stroll the aisles. This led to quite a close bond with the store, and I even affectionately called it The Teet.
As you can imagine, when the news of Harris Teeter’s new animal welfare policies flew into my in-box minutes ago, I was thrilled to learn that their plan is going to surpass national rivals. Under the new plan, they will do the following:
•Increase its purchases of chickens killed by controlled-atmosphere systems—the least-cruel method of bird slaughter—from 11% to 26% over the next three years. The Teet will also start purchasing turkeys killed by controlled-atmosphere systems, starting with 2% this fall, and giving purchasing preference to controlled-atmosphere systems suppliers.
•Increase its purchases of pig meat from suppliers phasing out gestation crates—restrictive metal enclosures that confine pregnant pigs—by 10, 15, and 20% over each of the next three years. Harris Teeter is also giving purchasing preference to suppliers that don’t use cruel gestation crates.
•Increase the total percentage of its egg sales that represent cage-free eggs from 6% to 9% by 2009, and will work to increase that number to 12% by 2010 (the national average is only 5%). The company’s new line of Harris Teeter brand eggs will also be cage-free, and Harris Teeter is giving purchasing preference to cage-free egg producers.
I am in no way saying that these changes make eating animals, eggs, or dairy products OK in my book—they don’t. I still believe the best thing anyone can do to end cruelty to animals is to go vegan, but this is a small step in the right direction. And now I don’t have to feel as guilty about my little love affair with a grocery store anymore.