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)