Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: "Organic" Fur

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Organic" Fur

I wrote this in response to a thread from my Aussie/Kiwi gaming friends regarding the PETA anti-fur video hosted by Martha Stewart.

I recently saw a chunk of a PETA anti-fur video hosted by Martha Stewart. PETA found the most disgusting, most horrifying examples of abuse at fur farms.

I must say I agree completely that corporate fur farming sucks for the animals. However, most commercial beef (at least in the U.S.) comes from corporate farms, as well as pork, chicken, lamb, etc...Those industries have all had video footage posted and horrifying stories written about them as well, since those animals are also horribly mistreated. Whoever made the claim that "leather as a meat by-product" is gleaned from mostly "well-treated" animals (at least in the U.S.) is living in a fantasy world.

I spent every summer of my life until I was 18-years-old on the farms of my Grandparents and those of multiple aunts and uncles. They made a living raising steers, hogs, chickens, and sheep for market. The chickens were shut into the coop at night and were given the run of the farm during the day. Their cattle, hogs and sheep had big barns attached to large pens where they would be shut in at night. During the day, the pen's gate was opened so that they could access the acres of fenced grazing land. This was true of every family farm I've ever been to.

The corporations started buying up the land and raising the animals in the poor conditions to cut costs. It worked - they put the family farmers out of business. Of all the family farms I frequented in Western and Eastern Iowa, none remain that raise cattle, hogs or sheep. Chickens are just for eggs and for personal use.

In Alaska, there used to be hundreds of family fur farms all over the state. They shipped their product all over the U.S. and the animals were raised humanely as most family farmers do. In the lower-48 states, corporate farming once again took over and put most of the local farms up here out of business.

PETA's solutions to these issues are to go totally vegan and wear only plant derived or synthetic fiber clothing/shoes. Ultimately, PETA will fail to force the world to go vegan, fail to destroy fishing and hunting and fail to eradicate the wearing of all fur because these activities all have an appropriate place.

I used to work in Prudhoe Bay, far North of the Arctic Circle, where temps of - 30 F were common and temps of - 60 F happened a few times per winter. Up there is where I discovered that fur was the one and only thing that truly kept me warm and dry. I'd love to offer PETA a challenge: they can spend a winter night in a tent near Barrow, Alaska wearing as many of their synthetic or natural fibers they want. I will do the same using as much fur as I want. I wonder which of us will be warmer?

If PETA was smart, they would approach it from the standpoint of achieving more humane treatment for the animals rather than the losing proposition of attempting to destroy the businesses themselves. If PETA was smart, they would realize that the major issue here is really "corporate farming."

In my house, we eat halibut and salmon which we catch ourselves. We also eat moose when my sister-in-law is kind enough to send some our way. All of those meats are about the healthiest things one can eat. Since I'm scared of the way that corporate beef is injected with antibiotics and because of how the animals are treated, we eat only organic beef. It's harder to do, but I get organic chickens when I can.

I also buy "organic" fur.

Individual trappers are licensed and regulated by Alaska Fish and Game as a necessary method of maintaining healthy populations(snowshoe hare, fox, marten, etc...) rather than have large number of animals starve to death during the winter. Trappers are able to make their living by selling to local furriers. There are a number of Alaska Natives making their living as furriers because they are permitted to work with hides - like seal - that others cannot. Native Alaskans have worked with fur and made a living at it for hundreds of years.

The fur I own was made by a Native Alaskan furrier from furs (Marten - American Sable) that were trapped in Alaska. Therefore, for all practical puposes, my fur is "organic."

You may not buy my argument. However, you can't ignore the obvious: what is PETA suggesting that we use instead?

Looking at it from a extreme-cold perspective, I've provided a list of synthetic fibers used in outerwear sold by companies PETA supports:

- Nylon - petroleum-based
- Polyester - made from two petroleum-based products
- Lycra - petroleum-based
- Goretex - "made from the highly toxic, extremely persistent group of chemicals called perfluorochemicals (PFCs). Also used in Teflon, Stainmaster and Scotchgard."
- Polyurethane - "creates all kinds of hazardous by-products, including ozone-depleting methylene chloride during production and dioxins as a result of incineration."
- Rayon - natural substance base (wood pulp) but production requires toxic chemicals and creates toxic byproducts
- Polar fleece - made from polyester (see above)
- poly-fiberfill - any of the following: toluene, diisocyanate, formaldehyde, PBDEs and petroleum derivatives
- polypropylene - a thermoplastic polymer - petroleum-based
- Polyvinyl Choloride - ("Pleather" - pushed as a shoe-leather alternative by PETA) - plastic/petroleum-based

Hmmmm...not very "eco-friendly" are they?

I don't hate PETA - I even agree with them on issues regarding humane treatment of pets, spaying and neutering. I agree with them, as do the majority of Alaskans, that the aerial wolf-kill is wrong up here. (However, we can't seem to get our politicians to stop it...hmmm...follow the money.) I totally agree on figuring out a way to protect polar bears and walrus.

However, when they protest things they have never seen and do not understand (The Iditarod Sled Dog Race), when they decide that the "food chain" no longer exists and that we're not supposed to fish and hunt to feed our families, when they always promote a completely non-scientific "Disneyfication" of animals, and when all of the little darlings are too scared to visit Alaska yet want to dictate how I should live from sunny California, I have a tendency to get cranky.


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