Industrial Meat Production is Just One Disgusting Aspect Corporate Ag's Web of Pollution

Yesterday a friend sent me the video below. It's a 6-minute clip from the documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke. It's about factory farming, it's very moving, very troubling, very difficult to watch. i chose the little piggy picture at the left as the opening image of this post to kinda counter-balance the video's stark reality and to not scare everybody off.

My first reply to my friend yesterday was full of self-righteous crap centering on the fact that i quit eating meat over 35 years ago. But that reply, and the video itself, troubled me all night. First thing this morning i wrote him again saying:

Been thinking about my response to the factory farming video, it was bullshit. i AM part of the system that creates this horror too, though i try to pretend to myself i'm not. i may be slightly less culpable than some people, i'm far from innocent. i eat dairy stuff, i feed Pancho [my best fiend] commercial dog food, i drive a car [though very little now] etc. It's impossible to live in this world and raise a family and remain innocent no matter how much a person tries to dropout of the system. i guess if a person walks away totally and lives in the mountains creating/building/growing everything he/she consumes maybe they could consider themselves innocent. i've never been that brave so...i'm guilty too.

The timing of the video's arrival was interesting as well, just hours earlier i'd finished reading Jane Goodall's book 'Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating'. It's a few years old now but still as relevant as ever. In fact in the 8 years since its publication most issues the book tackles have gotten far worse, very few have gotten better. This well researched and calmly presented book touches on many aspects of our food supply including 3 chapters that focus on the horrors of factory farming.

The Progressive Women's Alliance has published a summary and excerpts from the book if you're interested. Here's a sample from the factory farming chapters:

Even more egregious is the treatment of animals on the industrial farms. Factory-raised pigs are confined in narrow cages on cement floors. They are often crowded so close together they bite off each other's tails. Because of this behavior, the pigs' tails are cut off at birth. Hormones are used to increase their weight. Because of their lack of exercise, their legs are usually unable to support their bloated bodies. At slaughter time they are often dragged away, squealing in pain. Chickens and cows face similar conditions. They are pumped with hormones and antibiotics and, like pigs, become assembly-line commodities.

The irony is that relatively inexpensive, government-subsidized meat derived from these factory-farmed creatures is endangering the health of people consuming it.

Quite amusing is the fact that animals appear to be more intelligent than humans when it comes to awareness of pesticides in farm crops. One farmer filled two feeding bins with corn. One bin contained genetically modified corn while the other had organic corn. The cows sniffed the genetically modified (GMO) corn but would not eat it. They moved on to the organic bin and ate heartily. Raccoons will attack organic cornfields but ignore other fields with GMO corn. One farmer noticed deer attacking his soybean crop and ignoring his neighbor's Roundup Ready soybean field.

Industrial agriculture creates a devastating interconnected web of pollution, industrial meat production is just one particularly disgusting aspect of it. As Prof Mark Sutton lead author of a UN Environment Programme (Unep) study titled 'Our Nutrient World: The challenge to produce more food and energy with less pollution' says, Meat production - namely the crops used to feed livestock - accounts for 80% of the nitrogen and phosphorus used in farming. On top of that, the intense run-off of nutrient-infused animal waste at large-scale meat manufacturing facilities contributes significantly to fertilizer pollution in bodies of water."

Add to that the fact that more than a third of the world's agricultural land goes to feeding meat and dairy production and it becomes more and more obvious that the best thing each of us can do immediately is to either stop consuming meat products or search out and buy them from local small farmers who allow their animals to live a decent life or do it yourself.

In my case, i'll be looking into buying other ethical dairy products beyond the free-range eggs i now buy and seeing if there's any chance of being able to afford buying ethically produced dog food for Pancho. i'm guilty too, as i said above, we all are. Please watch as much of the video below as possible. Then, if you're ashamed, like i am, of your role in this horror story try to make changes, one step at a time, toward a more healthy world and a more healthy family inside and out.