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Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Ahimsa (Peace) Silk Why I Think it Doesn't Add Up" @ Wormspit (this silk is NOT vegan friendly)

"Many websites will refer to Tussah / Tasar silk as "wildcrafted," and use that as evidence that it is cruelty-free and organic. "Wildcrafted" has a very specific meaning - harvesting from an untended wild environment. Imagine walking out into the woods and picking mushrooms - that's wildcrafting. If you buy acreage of woods and plant mushrooms under each tree and then go back and harvest them a few months later, that's farming. It's very cool, yes, and I think it's a great idea - but if you plant something and then pick it, it's agriculture. "Wild" Tasar and Tussah silks are not wildcrafted, they are farmed. Some of the Indian ones may be allowed quite a bit of range - but their reproduction is controlled, the caterpillars are taken to their food plants, and the cocoons are picked like fruit once the worms are done spinning. They are watched over, similar to how sheep or goats are reared in open pasture; it is frequently work for young children. This video calls it "child labor with a smile." Unfortunately, this "wildcrafted" marketing idea has sold all too well - many people believe it, and even some sites that clearly produce farm-raised, heat-killed silk are using these phrases, like this site from China. "Water reeled" Tussah means that it is processed like Bombyx, reeled in a vat of hot water after killing the pupa. Check out this website on rearing Muga silk (Antheraea assamensis) - see the moths, laying eggs on sticks so that the rearers can carry the sticks to the food trees? See the caterpillars spinning their cocoons in piles of collected brush? Make sure to scroll down past the block of text, to see the big oven.

I think that Ahimsa Silk doesn't really equal non-violence to insects, once you understand the process and do the math. I think that a lot of vegans and vegetarians want to find a way to rationalize using silk - I can certainly understand wanting to wear silk, it's a wonderful fiber, and none of the synthetics even come close. The thing that many people don't do, is look carefully at how the whole system works. If some vegetarians make the determination that it's OK to let the living eggs dry out and die, or ignore the fact that the caterpillars will starve, then that's their business. That's a moral question, and it's not my morality. I'm a bug-baker myself; I make reeled filament silk from the cocoons I raise. I just want to make sure that the peace-silk folks think through the whole process with a clear understanding, especially if they're planning to email me and call me a monster and ask me how I can sleep at night with the blood (or hemolymph, actually - the goo that passes for blood in insects) of so many helpless moths on my hands, etc."

See more @ WormsPit