Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Lobster Liberation Day

In a move that will no doubt have lobster claws clicking in crustacean applause (if they manage to read the news), Whole Foods announced today that they will stop selling live lobsters and crabs because it’s cruel.

The mammoth natural grocery chain did a seven-month study of the creatures’ journey from sea to tank to figure out what causes them to suffer, according to an Associated Press story on the decision.


The article says that some stores even tried out “lobster condos”—sort of a habit trail for sea critters. But they found that wasn’t any more compassionate, so now they’ll only sell frozen lobster products. It’s all due to a European Food Safety Authority Animal Health and Welfare panel that found lobsters and other crustaceans have some “awareness, feel pain and can learn.”

“We wanted to treat them less like merchandise or a curiosity to be shown to a kid,” said Amy Schaefer, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods told the New York Times last week. “It’s not like buying a dozen eggs.”


This has drawn cynicism from other grocers who think Whole Foods just can’t sell enough of the animals (and is spinning that fact to their advantage), and biologists who say that lobster pain really isn’t that big a deal. But animal rights activists are understandably thrilled. And I swear I can hear a collective sigh of crustaceal relief.

I don’t mean to harp on the meat issue so much this week, it just seems to be naturally surfacing. And personally, I think it’s nice to consider the lobster. I think it’s nice to consider the daisies, to consider every living thing precious and treat it with respect. And even if we need to eat a creature, I think it’s nice to thank it for the service it is doing you by nourishing your body with its life.

What do you think?

–by Valerie Reiss (Amy’s on vacation)

Comments read comments(24)
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posted June 17, 2006 at 1:22 am

I agree with everything you said.>

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Donna Klekner

posted June 17, 2006 at 5:43 pm

I agree. All living beings feel pain. Try as some might, there is no getting around that fact.>

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Delinda Morrison

posted June 18, 2006 at 2:50 am

Great. I may love lobster, but I will not purchase a live one. How could they not feel pain? Hopefully more will follow their example.>

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Elaine Van Gunst

posted June 19, 2006 at 2:18 pm

I applaud Whole Foods for acknowledging that lobsters too, are living beings deserving of a better life than we give them.>

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posted June 19, 2006 at 2:44 pm

I applaud Whole Foods as well!>

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posted June 19, 2006 at 3:45 pm

I completly agree with the article. All living beings have feelings. If people wouold just look back into our pasts, we would find that there was respect for the giving of their lives for our sustenance. Our culture has so much to learn! Carol Peterson/Wellness practitioner…Nature lover>

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Steve Miller

posted June 19, 2006 at 4:36 pm

I think it’s ridiculous!!>

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Monica McCready

posted June 19, 2006 at 4:43 pm

This article reminded me of a Julia Child show I saw many years ago on lobster. I was a little girl at the time and somewhat shocked to learn that lobsters have to be boiled alive. The reason Julia gave is that they go off so soon after they die that boiling the alive is the only way to avoid the dangerous bacteria. I am sure she is right and that the same is true of crabs and a lot of other seafood. Perhaps that is part of the reason that Leviticus banned them from human consumption altogether. The fact of the matter is that we cannot all be vegans since many of us require animal protein for optimum mental and physical health. Therefore, it is up to us to treat our animals thoughtfully and kindly throughout their lives and to make sure that when we do slaughter animals we do it as nearly free from pain as possible. We need to respect their lives and appreciate their greatest gift. Julia would agree, I am sure. She told us that when we cook lobsters, put them in head first to minimize the pain they may feel. She may not have known a lot about the nervous systems of crustaceans, but her heart was in the right place 100%. Personally, I beleive that there is room in the world for all of us from vegans to carnivores, as long as we respect one another and respect the creatures who die so that we may eat.>

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thelma wheeler

posted June 19, 2006 at 6:37 pm

lobsters and crabs are going to die whether its in the ocean or in your pot – so what difference does it make how it (and I emphasize “IT”) dies – God put them here for us and ocean creatures to eat. having a crab boil and feeling no pain in charleston, south carolina.>

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posted June 19, 2006 at 7:02 pm

I haven’t eaten meat or seafood since 1973. My motto is “if it has sense enough to try to get away from me I should leave it alone”, that say enough for me.>

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posted June 19, 2006 at 7:10 pm

overwhelmingky agree to the respectful treatment of all our creatures. They taste better when they die a “painfree”death – does that really exist besides dying during sleep, but a movement towards more respect will in the end give us healthier food. An animal creates stressful negativity during suffering which spreads through the meat which is meant for human consumption. Kind of like don’t hurt me or you will feel the pain.>

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posted June 19, 2006 at 7:58 pm

Excellent! God bless Whole Foods! Putting lobsters on display until they wait for their death is insanely cruel. I hate walking my daughter past any live tanks in a store.>

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Franklin Evans

posted June 19, 2006 at 8:13 pm

There comes a time in every person’s life, usually in childhood but most by the time one reaches the 20’s, that the fact of life is realized and enters into one’s awareness: animals die to provide humans with nutrition. They die, they feel pain while dying, and you have two choices: let the natural order of things proceed, or deny that order and become a herbivore. Next, they’ll start protesting against amateur fishermen who clean and gut their catch, or worse let the fish suffocate first. My POV is that it’s ridiculous to put the pain of a food animal on the same level as that of a pet, or of a human. Dislike me for that if you must, but that is reality as I see it.>

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Patsy Miller

posted June 19, 2006 at 8:52 pm

I think this is crazy. God gave us all fish & seafood to eat.Did Jesus not feed the fish to people. People has gotten life messed up. They have nothing better to do than sit around and thing up stupid stuff like this.If you don’t want to eat or kill something then leave it along, but let other people that wants it along & let then have it. GROW UP FOR GOD’S SAKE. Get a life & leave other’s along.>

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alana perrault

posted June 19, 2006 at 9:16 pm

I believe we’re all connected and I believe lobsters and other crustaceans feel pain. I also believe we exist in a symbiotic system of service, all part of a greater design we can only glimpse. Most of all — for Americans at least — we have the privelege of choosing from an almost unlimted range of options, every day, from whether to walk or ride, to paper or plastic. With this in mind, I believe Whole Foods parlayed something obscure into a newsworthy, self-serving story with the pretense of benevolence. I don’t believe their heart outweighed their wallet. They’re the most profitable, publicly traded retailer of natural and organic foods in THE WORLD! Sheesh. So free the lobsters. But don’t enslave consumers with contrivances.>

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alana perrault

posted June 19, 2006 at 9:24 pm

The diversity of opinions expressed here left me thinking of this Native American blessing which one of my kids read at last year’s Thanksgiving dinner. We love its simple beauty, and thought you might, too. Creator, Earth Mother, we thank you for our lives and this beautiful day. Thank You for the bright sun and the rain we received last night. Thank You for this circle of friends and the opportunity to be together. We want to thank You especially at this time for the giveaway of their lives made by the chickens, beets, carrots, grains and lettuce. We thank them for giving of their lives so we may continue our lives through this great blessing. Please help us honor them through how we live our lives.>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 1:56 am

How is it that the same people who want to save a crustacean… a bottom dweller, a creature of filth… which taste amazing with some melted butter & pepper, are also the same people who believe it is okay for a mother to kill her own living unborn fetus??? The oxymoron of animal rights activists moralistic & mortalistic philosophies behooves me. Let’s start saving babies and let the sea creatures be someones dinner. There are much greater causes in the world than to save the Lobsters. Where can I go now to get quality fresh lobster when I once trusted to find a fresh quality live lobster at Whole Foods. This society is becomming too soft. I say if you don’t want to see it, walk down another aisle, or even ignore it. Put it like this… If I don’t like seeing how some people dress nowadays, I look the other way. I don’t start a bandwagon and get government grants to get these people to change their way of life! I just look the other way. And I think people should think about other people and smile more at others and show kindness and compassion to one another as opposed to fighting for causes such as this. Thanks for reading. 8)>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 2:29 am

I think this is freaking crazy, and I think all you people who are subscribing to this line of B.S. are cazy too. I wonder if you people eat eggs and drink milk.. or if you eat chicken or beef? Maybe you want to say it’s cruel for a cow to have it’s teets pulled on is such a way just so we can have milk which is full of vitamins and nourishes our bodies. Nevermind that millions of them die everyday so that we can enjoy a good steak. Or maybe you would like to boycott chicken because the poor things suffer when their heads are chopped off in order for us to eat some baked chicken. Or, perhaps it is cruel to expect them to lay eggs all day? Get a freaking life! God put vegetaion, animals, and other things on this planet for us to eat and use to our advantage. If the Indians or really any of our ancestors had decided not to run down the buffalo or whatever animal was in their region for food, shelter and clothing where would any of us be? Oh, and for you tree huggers, um, are you living in a house built with lumber or using toilet paper? I swear whatever it is you are eating you should really think twice about because you aren’t getting enough nourishment to your brain.>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 6:31 am


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posted June 20, 2006 at 1:43 pm

I once attended what was billed to be a gourmet lobster picnic at a caterer in Keokuk, IA. Try to imagine the sounds of live lobsters put on a Weber grill after the lid was put on and their scratching sounds eventually, slowly, and painfully slowed and then ceased. UGH! The volume of beer increased in proportion to that sound, but could not drown out the experience.>

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Eevie Keys

posted June 20, 2006 at 3:56 pm

Hm. Just something to consider. All of the people that said this was B.S. and that animals were put here for us to consume- and put here to suffer- were Conservatives and Christians on this board. All who had a compassionate view and applauded Valerie were liberals. Don’t you think that’s strange? Especially when Christ only spoke of love and kindness? Interesting.>

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Franklin Evans

posted June 20, 2006 at 5:00 pm

Eevie, Your “all of…” statements are completely wrong about at least one person to post on this thread: me. I am not a Christian, never have been, and I can make some liberals look like Reagan clones. Assumptions can be dangerous. Use only as directed. ;-)>

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Christian Maiorino

posted June 21, 2006 at 9:34 pm

Love it. Great news!!!>

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posted September 17, 2006 at 11:44 am

wow-thanks 4 writing this-I didn’t know they did that at all but I’m SO glad they stopped-hopefully more places will take their lead! :/>

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