Cutting Loose the Crustaceans

(Istock Photo)
Saturday, June 17, 2006

In a store full of dead meat, the live lobsters were just too much.

Whole Foods Market Inc. said yesterday that it will no longer sell living lobsters or soft-shell crabs.

It's inhumane, they say, to pluck a crustacean from the sea, bind its claws, box it, put it in a truck, deliver it to a warehouse, put it on another truck, deliver it to a store, let it hang out with friends in a cramped tank, then send it home to be dumped into boiling water.

The decision was cheered by one representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "We think it's marvelous," said Bruce Friedrich, who would prefer that no animal flesh end up on dinner plates.

Among the goods still for sale at Whole Foods: Whole red snapper, sockeye salmon fillet, chicken thigh, New York strip, lamb sausage, duck breast and duck leg confit. "If you insist on choosing between all or nothing, you'll always get nothing," he said, referring to the group's efforts to protect animals.

In 1982, Eddie Murphy held aloft a live lobster on "Saturday Night Live" and asked viewers to dial in and vote on whether Larry the Lobster would live or die. He was saved, by a 12,000-vote margin. If Larry is still alive, one assumes he would consider the Whole Foods announcement to be good news.

Except: The food chain will still sell frozen lobster, so long as it is caught and killed in a humane way. Larry and friends are not out of the woods, or pot, yet.

-- Neil Irwin

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