Whole Foods

By Ken Haas

We will soon have a new label on some of our food:
Animal Compassionate.
Meaning the filet was brought up in an environment
supportive of its emotional and spiritual needs.

More specifically, the sticker with the smiling cow
can be earned if the calf, sheep, pig, or duck
was range-raised for at least half its days,
without animal products in its feed,
particularly those of its own species;
had separate areas for eating and shitting,
with enough space to spread its wings, jazzercise,
and avoid the unwanted advances of farm hands;
was introduced into hostile social groups gradually;
and was afforded a competitive health plan,
though preferably not an HMO.

Above all, there can be
no tethering, branding, forced molting,
wattling, tail-docking, beak-trimming, or de-budding,
no semen from genetically engineered stock,
and no transfer by means of the U.S. Postal Service.

My friends are still pondering whether they’d feel better
about eating meat that had a good life or a bad one.

Fortunately, none of this haute cuisine has yet
made its way to my stop in the food chain,
where the stock boys are talking union in the freezer,
the sandwich maker with tattoo of a spiked sarcophagus
just spat in the olive tapenade,
and the bag girl with chipped green nail polish
and steel lanyard lashing nose ring to nipple
asks me how I am today,
then drops a melon on top of my figs.



Ken Haas lives in San Francisco where he works in healthcare and sponsors a poetry writing program at the UCSF Children’s Hospital. His poems have appeared in Clare, Cottonwood, Forge, Freshwater, Helix, Lullwater Review, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, Pennsylvania English, Poet Lore, Quiddity, Sanskrit, and Soundings East, among others. Ken has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can visit him online at http://kenhaas.org/