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COL PETA losing its credibility

Organization should focus on animal cruelty issues

Sometimes we wonder if the folks at PETA have too much time on their hands.

In January, the Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggested that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ban fishing in state parks because, PETA officials contended, fishing is cruel.

Then, earlier this month, a PETA official sent a letter to Austin High School Principal Joe Brown suggesting the school change its team nickname, the Packers. The name, PETA said, is "nothing to be proud of" because it connotes the slaughter of animals.

This was silly enough. But PETA went on to suggest the Packers nickname be replaced with -- are you ready for this -- the Pickers, because it said such a name would "promote a healthier, plant-based diet."

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We're all for a healthy diet. In fact, we've endorsed CardioVision 2020 -- an effort started by Mayo Clinic health professionals to make Olmsted County the healthiest community in the state by the year 2020. We'd even go so far as to suggest that people should limit their consumption of meat and other foods that contain fat, in an effort to control our population's tendency toward obesity and heart disease.

But the fact is, most people in the United States eat meat. A lot of it.

Last year the average American consumed 188 pounds of beef, pork, chicken and turkey, according to the United States Department of Agriculture -- up from an average of 169 pounds per person in 1990.

So it's obvious that PETA is fighting a losing battle when it attempts to persuade all Americans to become vegetarians.

We believe the organization would bolster its credibility if it focused its efforts on other, more saleable issues, such as the cruel treatment of some animals while they are awaiting slaughter.

But to suggest that a high school team change its nickname because it has something to do with the meatpacking industry is absurd.

We think it's great that Austin High School is one of the few schools in the state with a team nickname that has something to do with the city's history and legacy. We've never understood the concept of naming a Minnesota high school team after an animal species found only in Asia and Africa, for example. Go figure. Go Packers!

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