Josh Balk (born September 24, 1979) is the vice president of farm animal protection for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) farm animal division. In addition, he is a cofounder of JUST, a food technology company. Prior to working with HSUS and founding JUST, he was known for his work at Compassion Over Killing (COK). Balk is best known for leading successful legislative campaigns for farm animals, along with his work with food companies in enacting animal welfare policies that include eliminating gestation crates for breeding pigs and battery cages for chickens. He is also known for his work with the food industry to shift the focus onto plant based foods.
|Born||September 24, 1979|
|Education||Associate degree, Keystone College; Bachelor's degree, George Washington University|
|Occupation||Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for The Humane Society of the United States|
|Known for||Founding JUST|
|Awards||Valedictorian, Keystone College (2000)|
Balk attended Radnor High School, where he was chosen as an Adidas top 100 future Major League baseball prospect, and also became the school's record holder for most wins and strikeouts. Since his graduation, the school honors the team's best pitcher each year with the "Josh Balk Award." He went on to Keystone College where he was awarded the school’s best pitcher and all-league honors in his freshman year. However, Balk was unable to continue pitching after his first collegiate season due to a career-ending shoulder surgery. In 2001, Balk transferred to The George Washington University to pursue a degree in political-science.
Work at Compassion Over Killing
Following college, Balk worked at Compassion Over Killing as an undercover investigator in slaughterhouses and factory farms. He also worked with various retailers, showing them different ways to add vegetarian options to their menus, and launched the organization's first national anti-factory farming advertising campaign.
Work at the Humane Society of the United States
Since starting with The HSUS in 2005, Balk has worked with many of the largest corporations in the world to improve animal welfare in their supply chains. Some of these companies include Walmart, General Mills, McDonald's, Kroger, and Perdue. He has worked with food service companies like Compass Group, Aramark, and Sodexo to make plant based front and center on their menus. He also helped lead successful legislative campaigns to criminalize factory farming abuse in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts,Oregon, and Washington. Most notably, Balk led the Proposition 12 campaign in California, which ushered in the strongest farm animal protections in the world.
Balk in the Media
Balk’s work has been covered by the USA Today, Associated Press, Fortune, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, The New Food Economy, and dozens of other outlets. He has been featured in books such as Kathy Freston’s New York Times best-selling book, Veganist, Melanie Joy’s, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, Caryn Ginsberg's, Animal Impact, Ben Davidow's, Uncaged, Nathan Runkle's Mercy For Animals, Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane's The Net and the Butterfly and Paul Shapiro's Clean Meat. His work with corporations was featured in Nicholas Kristoff's New York Times column entitled, "Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals?" printed on July 28, 2013. Balk was also a co-executive producer for the well-known 2018 documentary Game Changers.
In 2018, Balk was noted in the book, Rescuing Ladybugs by author and animal advocate Jennifer Skiff as being inspired to start food company, JUST after a personal experience with one chicken while working undercover at a chicken slaughter plant owned by Perdue Farms. In the same book, Skiff recognised Balk for his role leading the corporate negotiation efforts for the farm animal department at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that "convinced hundreds of companies to adopt strict animal welfare policies.”
Balk was also named one of 15 Entrepreneurs Who Will Make 2015 An Unforgettable Year.
At the 2015 Animal Rights National Conference, Balk was elected by fellow presenters to the Animal Rights Hall of Fame for his innovative contributions to increasing and popularizing vegan alternatives to animal products, as well as his other work on behalf of farmed animals.
- Feltman, Rachel (July 22, 2013). "One Founder's Quest to Eliminate Eggs from Food Supply Chains". Triplepundit.com.
It was, in part, through the inspiration of high school buddy and co-founder Josh Balk (an occasional contributor to TriplePundit)– then working for the Humane Society helping corporations increase their use of cruelty-free eggs.
- “Josh Balk”. The Humane Society of the United States. “Since starting with The HSUS in 2005, he has worked with many of the largest corporations in the world to improve animal welfare in their supply chains. Kraft, ConAgra, Wendy's, Kroger, Denny's, Kellogg, Sysco, and Heinz are among the many companies Balk helped to establish animal welfare policies. He also led successful legislative campaigns to criminalize factory farming abuses in Arizona, California, Maine, and other states”. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Nordsiek, Lauren (2006-06-08). "Radnor Grad "Balks" When it Comes to Animal Cruelty". Ardmore Main Line Life. "During his time at Radnor, Balk was named one of Adidas's top 100 prospects and held the school record for most wins and strikeouts." Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Radnor High School Baseball website (2009-06-04). 2009 Banquet Award Winners. "Josh Balk Award (Pitching Award)". Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- "Student campaigns for local candidate". The GW Hatchet. 2002-11-04. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
- Hawthorn, Mark (2009-01-29). “Josh Balk: Helping Companies and Campuses Reduce Cruelty”. Striking at the Roots, The Official Blog of Mark Hawthorn. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Rinde, Meir (2017). "Ingredients for Success". Distillations. 3 (2): 26–37.
- Rescuing Ladybugs: Inspirational Encounters with Animals That Changed the World, New World Library, 2018
- Ibid pages 127,128.
- Ibid page 127
- "AR2015 Breaks All-Time Records!". farmusa.org. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
- Balk, Josh (2012-09-18). “Pigs Deserve Better: It’s Good to See that Heinz is Joining the Movement to Treat Animals More Humanely”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Balk, Josh (2012-08-08). “How Some Food Retailers are Coming to the Rescue of Pigs”. Triple Pundit. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Smith, Aaron (2012-02-15). “McDonald’s Phasing Out Tiny Cages for Pigs”. CNN Money. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Balk, Josh (2012-09-26). A Q&A With The Humane Society of the United States. Interview with Christine Riley on Dunkin Brands’ official website. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Walzer, Philip (2010-12-16). “Humane Society Claims Abuse at Smithfield”. The Virginia Pilot. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
- Balk, Josh (2005-03-18). “The Meat on Your Plate”. The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
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