Whole Foods to curtail crab cruelty

As you can read here, Whole Foods has decided to discontinue the sale of live soft-shell crabs after some of their customers complained of animal cruelty. They will continue to sell frozen crabs.

It’s certainly their right to carry whatever products they want, but their justification is a complete load – that the move is “in keeping with its commitment to the ethical treatment of animals.” Is it ethical to sell crab that were killed and gutted on the factory floor, but not to clean crab at their own butcher counter? I don’t think the crab cares one way or the other. What say you?

Totally hypocritical, but probably a good marketing move. One more victory for the bunny-huggers…err, make that crab-caressers.

I agree. It’s all about perception. Presumably customers are okay with having hamburger, but not with having cows butchered at aisle 14.

At least there’s a bit of logic behind that - marketing logic anyway. Unlike the Chicago city council’s vote to ban pâté de foie gras from the menus of every restaurant in the city on the presumption that it’s cruel to force-feed the damn gooses.

Sorry to sidetrack, but how is force-feeding the geese not cruel?

isn’t it up to you to prove that it is cruel?

In Whole Foods HQ here in Austin, there’s no live cow decpitation (AFAIK), but there’s a string of cow carcasses hanging behind the butcher’s counter.

They’re using force. To feed geese. What’s hard to understand? But just for you, Cite

Because they’re just geese, and who cares about how they’re treated?

I hear the customers were getting crabby about this issue.

Somebody had to say it!

How? Who shops at Whole Foods? Gourmets. Sure, they share the aisles with vegans and vegetarians, but gourmands are famously un-squeamish about devouring animals, and notoriously demanding about variety, quality, and soundness of origin. They want their hamburger ground in-store (which Whole Foods does) and their crustaceans living behind the counters. As much energy as they put into their meat selection, I don’t see why they’re willing to sacrifice their gastronome constituency for the vegans.

it is about time someone put a stop to this. i was horrified to see how the poor crabs are treated. the poor thing was trying to crawl out of the breading pan in some cooking show. i don’t know what happened next, i left the house so i wouldn’t have to see it.

i am not fond of crabs (spiders of the sea), but the poor wee lungless things…

Well the article left out the reasoning behind the soft-shell cruelty so it’s hard to comment on it. The ducks make a pretty good case though.

As opposed to Chickens and cows that live a life of pampered luxury?

a counter cite

This seems to me to be a distraction from the issue at hand. Most people agree that “animal cruelty” is a coherent concept (that it is possible to be cruel to an animal) and that it is to be avoided absent other considerations. You are free to argue that no amount of suffering caused to a goose, no matter how great or unecessary, could possibly be of moral concern (or that geese cannot suffer), but that is a minority position, and this is probably not the thread in which to argue it. The question, it seems to me, is not whether animal cruelty is a resonable concern, but whether keeping crabs alive behind the counter is more cruel than selling them frozen.

I would argue that given that living conditions in a grocery-store tank are likely sub-optimal, and that these conditions must be endured in addition to the process of being packed and sorted in a warehouse and gutted and killed (which they endure either way), that it probably is more cruel to sell them alive.

I suspect that the difference is marginal and not worth great concern, but I could be wrong. Unfortuantely, evidence in this matter would be hard to come by, but I could conceivably be convinced by observations of crab behavior. Of course, I have to wonder how much fun the crabs could possibly have been having on the bottom of a river anyway.

I could do that, but you’ll have to sign a pretty ironclad waiver.


It’s not the geese that make this thing seem so weird. It’s why the city council picked geese only. After all, you don’t think pigs would get as large as many hogs do if they weren’t overfed, do you? How 'bout veal? How 'bout chickens?

The point being, why did they draw the line at geese. If it’s cruel to over feed geese, then why not other animals? And how is over feeding any animal more cruel than say, killing it? It is totally inconsistent to select one mode of cruelty and one animal and outlaw only that.


Do you realize that “force” and “over” have completely different definitions?



And, just so we can avoid further hijack, I’ll say that I’m not a fan of anthropomorphisizing animals in debates about food. Animals have been, are, and will continue to be, raised simply to feed humans, and I’m fine with that.

Sure do. But do you realize slaughter is more cruel than force feeding?

Look, my objections aren’t to what the Chicago city council did. My objections are to the internal illogic and inconsistency of their vote. Why is this one form of cruelty deserving of a special protection when many others don’t even rate a discussion.