House Cafeteria Goes Green, Lobbyists Complain


Darren Higgins for The New York Times

Everything is political in Washington and there is a lobbyist for every interest group, so when Nancy Pelosi demanded an "environmentally responsible and healthy working environment" in the house, it meant changing the food in the cafeterias. Then the complaining started. According to Marian Burros in the New York Times, the egg industry complained about the use of cage free eggs and the Dairy industry about hormone free milk. The lobbyists say that the restaurant operators are "hooked by propaganda of animal rights groups" and are "advocates of vegetarianism."From the Times:

Restaurant Associates has received some complaints from lobbyists here about how their particular commodity is presented to potential diners, and a trade magazine and several lobbying groups have had something to say about a sustainability Web site set up by the company and linked to from the House dining services Web site.

Agriculture committee staffers, reflecting concerns of the egg industry, challenged a statement about the cage-free eggs used in some cafeteria meals.

It had said: "In the United States more than 95 percent of the nearly 300 million laying hens are confined to barren battery cages, unable even to spread their wings or engage in many other natural behaviors, such as nesting, foraging, perching and dust bathing. Cage-free eggs means the hens have not been confined to a battery cage."

An editorial in the Dec. 31 issue of Feedstuffs, a weekly newspaper for agribusiness, explained why the industry wanted the statement removed: "A check of facts demonstrates that hens housed in cages are less stressed and healthier and safer."

Bowing to pressure, Restaurant Associates edited the statement so that only the last sentence remained.

The same thing happened with hormone-free milk.

Other actions to go green include banning plastic and foam containers, going totally compostable, buying local food, and cooking almost all the food from scratch. We are waiting for the plastics industry and the take-out food companies to start complaining. ::New York Times