HOC farmers market bans live chicken sales


Feathers will cease to fly over alleged cruelty practices at the Heart of the City Farmers Market that we reported in February. The outdoor Civic Center market has announced it will no longer offer live poultry for sale as of May 27, a practice that had been grounds for a lawsuit and two years of fervent protesting from animal rights groups.

Raymond Young’s Poultry, a popular vendor, has been selling live chickens by the hundreds for nearly two decades at the HOC market every Wednesday and Sunday. In January, animal rights activist group LGBT Compassion filed a lawsuit alleging cruelty and civil rights violation against Young and the HOC after months of protesting and several attempts to get city agencies involved.

While the poultry stall remained popular with its largely Chinese clientele in spite of an ever-present throng of protesters, the practices caught the attention of Animal Care and Control and the Department of Public Health. Young had received hundreds of citations from ACC and warnings from the DPH, but they were essentially void due to an exemption in California law pertaining to poultry.

HOC market managers would not comment for this story, nor would Raymond Young. While the lawsuit is still pending, the announcement was perceived as a victory to the activist group.

“It sent a message to the city and to the public that animal cruelty and public health offenses is not acceptable and should not be endorsed or subsidized by the city,” said Andrew Zollman, founder of LGBT Compassion. “Having the market finally recognize that something like that should change is great.”

Zollman and fellow protestor Alex Felsinger filed the lawsuit with San Francisco attorney Matt Gonzalez. Zollman said that they had continued to protest in the months since filing the suit. Along with ACC, they said that Young had repeatedly violated animal cruelty laws and health codes even after the level of scrutiny on his stall had increased.

The ACC, which had cited Young hundreds of times for practices such as unsanitary conditions, lack of water, and improper handling of the chickens, viewed the decision by the market to ban sales as good news.

“Animals are food for a lot of people, but as Proposition 2 in California exhibited, people do care about the treatment of them,” said Rebecca Katz, director of the ACC, referring to the Prevention of Farm Cruelty Act of 2008. “If the vendors had been able to treat the animals appropriately, I don’t think it would have become this issue. This was profitable; he still could have made good money and done it properly.”

Bullfeathers Quail, the other live bird vendor at the market, had received significantly less attention from protesters and city agencies because it sold far fewer birds – about 350 per week – and had not been accused of nearly as many violations. Nonetheless, the vendor will also be banned.

Zollman said they will continue to protest the stall up until May 27, mainly because they fear the vendors will operate with a higher level of disregard since they have “nothing to lose.” Although they have received caustic criticism from groups who believe their protests are an attack on Chinese culture, they will plan to shift their attention north to Chinatown to live markets operating there.

“We are hoping that what we have learned and what city agencies have learned will pave the way,” said Zollman.


How about lobsters?

Did you know that when lobster fishermen go back to the traditional migration routes of lobsters that they find that the lobsters have changed their paths to avoid them? Did you know that when they sent divers down to check out the scene that they found that the lobster community were so organized that they carried lobsters that were injured by traps on the backs of other lobsters? They're smart.

So, why do you put them in a tank in a restaurant and let people pick them out and then put them in scalding water to kill them? Call me a silly, but I think that's a bit insensitive and very inhumane.

So, will Mr. Zollman be getting in the faces of customers at the finer restaurants in San Francisco?

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Posted by Guest h. brown on May. 03, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

Congrats San Francisco, NIMBYs win again.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

I’m elated with this great news. I used to live in San Francisco, on Gough Street, and have been sickened by the cruel and filthy live bird markets at the Civic Center that LGBT Compassion has worked tirelessly, and successfully, to eliminate. I disagree only with the view in this article that these markets could have been “humane.” Such operations are not humane. They are horrible places for living creatures. So while the goal of this campaign has been ridding the Civic Center of the live bird markets, the broader goal is helping people learn to treat birds and other animals with compassion and respect. Thank you.

Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns

Posted by Guest Karen Davis on May. 04, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

The whole "LGBT" part of the name, is cover for the fact that they are all militant vegans. They will not be happy until you join their movement.

The other weird aspect of the group is they are all caucasians giving rise to the allegation that they are also racists.

I can't think of any other group in San Francisco with less diversity, even the Republicans have people of color in their membership.

I'm surprised Matt Gonzalez got caught up with these loons.

Posted by ChickensTasteGood on May. 05, 2011 @ 6:43 am

Not that it matters, but Alex Felsinger is part Asian. Many of our key activists and supporters of this campaign are Chinese or other Asian, as well as other ethnicities.

Additionally, the founders of LGBT Compassion are gay and have lived with oppression and threats of violence due to their minority status. They only have empathy for similar oppressed groups, both human and non-human.

So much for your attempts at stereotyping certain groups of people. Perhaps you should meet people in real life before deciding who they are!

Posted by LGBTCompassion on May. 05, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

The poultry that most of us buy in supermarkets have led lives surrounded by their own filth, artificially extended "daylight" hours, and carcasses of their weaker peers. Leaving aside where they came from, the farmer's market chickens got to see the light of day, at least for a few hours -- and they escaped being slaughtered with hundreds of others, assembly line style. 

People, these are your chickens -- if you're getting upset over a truckful of chickens at the Civic Center market, you're due for a lesson in our industrial agriculture system.

Posted by caitlin on May. 05, 2011 @ 10:08 am

We of course need to end -both- cruel open market sales -and- cruel factory farming.

No to mention the need to shift as many people as possible off of greenhouse gas intensive meat eating, and onto plant based diets that are far better for the planet.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 05, 2011 @ 11:38 am

These are the same factory-farmed birds that provide eggs to Safeway. According to research on the addresses listed on Mr. Young's permit with DPH, and the fact that they are older birds with cut-off beaks and an egg-laying breed (Rhode Island Red), most of his birds are spent former egg-laying hens from 3 huge factory farms in the Central Valley. One is owned by Gemperle Industries, which was fired by Trader Joe's for extreme filth and cruelty.

Mr. Young is simply a middleman, profiting from helping factory farms dispose of "worthless" spent hens. He was selling over 100,000 a year.

These birds' final days are probably even worse that at the factory farms, being processed through the farmers' market's abuse and inhumane conditions, crammed into plastic bags, stored then killed by any means imaginable. Mr. Young was cited for 795 cruelty violations by ACC in May '09, and we continuously documented horrific cruelty.

Public health was put at risk having these factory farmed animals' feces spread throughout the city - on the U.N. Plaza grounds, and on the outside of bags brought shopping for porduce, onto public transit, and into restaurants.

Our city and taxpayer money should not be supporting this.

Posted by LGBTCompassion on May. 05, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

Good point. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 05, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

We must do everything that our holy savior Eric Brooks says.
With all that knowledge up in that head of yours, it must be difficult to stand upright!

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

These vegan not-jobs are going to get a scare if they try to shut down any markets in Chinatown.

Posted by Barton on May. 05, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

Raymond Young's workers didn't scare us off by punching one of us in the face (resulting in a lawsuit against him), and your threats of violence on an anonymous internet forum won't either. It's more important that animal cruelty, public health threats, and other illegal activities be curbed.

Posted by LGBTCompassion on May. 05, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

If I yell in the face of anyone long enough, its likely that they are going to respond irrationally.
You guys sure picked a tough battle - the lone live poultry seller at the market!
How about taking your fight a few blocks over to chinatown? No?
I thought so. Rock on with your bad activist selves

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2011 @ 7:05 am

Not agreeing with some people makes them a victim. These people are so righteous that whatever they do, by nature of them doing it is righteous, when you ask them to stop you are victimizing them.

Whatever they do is righteous, whenever others don't agree with them they are persecuted. See Born again Christians, or read most anything in the Guardian.

Posted by meatlock on May. 06, 2011 @ 9:11 am

I heartily applaud LGBT Compassion for their hard years of work to end this cruelty. There will always be naysayers, stuck in the old way of doing things, playing the race card, when their habits are threatened. Slaveholders did the same thing. They cried abuse of property rights, neglect of the rights of white people...ad nauseum. Progress happens at the edge, folks, not in the mainstream. Someday the age of live animal food markets will be looked on as negatively as slave markets are today. Unacceptable in civilized society. On to Chinatown, you fabulous people!

Posted by JT on May. 12, 2011 @ 7:45 am

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