Customers craving fresh crustaceans will have to look beyond Whole Foods Market Inc. after the natural-foods grocery chain decided Thursday to stop selling live lobsters and crabs on the grounds that it's inhumane.Although I am no longer a vegetarian, I have serious ethical discomfort with the way the animals I eat are turned into food. Allan (who has never been a vegetarian, and never will be) and I have both stopped eating certain foods because of the extreme cruelty involved in the processing. Veal and lobsters are two such animals. I'll add that I adore lobster; it's one of my very favourite foods. However, I've eaten quite a bit of it in my life and I'm sure I will live quite nicely without ever eating another.
The Austin-based grocer spent seven months studying the sale of live lobsters from ship to supermarket aisle, trying to determine whether the creatures suffer along the way.
In some stores, they experimented with "lobster condos," filling tanks with stacks of large pipes the critters can crawl inside. And they moved the tanks behind seafood counters and away from children's tapping fingers.
Ultimately, Whole Foods management decided to immediately stop selling live lobsters and soft-shell crabs, saying they could not ensure the creatures are treated with respect and compassion.
"We place as much emphasis on the importance of humane treatment and quality of life for all animals as we do on the expectations for quality and flavor," John Mackey, Whole Foods' co-founder and chief executive, said in a statement.
Animal rights activities were thrilled with the decision, not just because of the way lobsters are harvested, shipped and stored but because of the fate that awaits many of them — being dropped alive into a pot of boiling water.
I applaud Whole Foods's decision to "consider the lobster".