Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ten Reasons Not to Buy Factory-Farmed

I could say that I've been a conscientious vegetarian for 25 years, but really, I've eaten at least two dozen fish during that time and I've bought many leather products too (leather shoes, couch, chair etc.). What I have done is not eat red meat or poultry during the last 25 years (bacon hasn't tempted me one bit). However, I haven't thought deeply enough about why I'm vegetarian and what choices I can make that will be more in line with my values.

Eating Animals is such a persuasive book about the choice not to buy / eat animal products because of Safran Foer's personal ethical evolution as well as the way he frames the issue around factory farming as a destructive environmental force. Of course big agriculture is destructive too. If you have the resources, the best solution is to abandon grocery stores for farmer's markets or ethical local sources of produce. If you must eat meat, eggs or dairy, carefully consider the source.
Here are 10 reasons not to buy factory-farmed meat, poultry, or fish. The quotations are from Eating Animals:
Factory farms
1. Use antibiotics to raise sick genetic mutants in crowded, filthy conditions
In the typical cage for egg-laying hens, each bird has 67 square inches of [floor] space [or less than ¾ the size of a sheet of typing paper]. Nearly all cage-free birds have approximately the same amount of space. (p 79)
2. Send animals to slaughterhouses where cruelty and even sadism are routine
Animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious. It happens all the time, and the industry and the government know it. Several plants cited for bleeding or skinning or dismembering live animals have defended their actions as common in the industry and asked, perhaps rightly, why they were being singled out. (p 230)
3. Produce highly infected animals
Scientific studies and government records suggest that virtually all (upwards of 95 percent of) chickens become infected with E. coli (an indicator of fecal contamination) and between 39 and 75 percent of chickens in retail stores are still infected. Around 8 percent of birds become infected with salmonella…. Seventy to 90 percent are infected with another potentially deadly pathogen, campylobacter. Chlorine baths are commonly used to remove slime, odor, and bacteria. (p 131)
4. Contribute to the creation and spread of new viruses (think influenza)
Breeding genetically uniform and sickness-prone birds in the overcrowded, stressful, feces-infested, and artificially lit conditions of factory farms promotes the growth and mutation of pathogens. The “cost of increased efficiency,” the report [by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, which brought together industry experts and experts from the WHO, OIE, and USDA] concludes, is increased global risk for diseases. (p 142)
5. Contribute to antibiotic resistance (think MRSA)
In the United States, about 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to humans each year, but a whopping 17.8 million pounds are fed to livestock—at least that is what the industry claims. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has shown that the industry underreported its antibiotic use by at least 40 percent…. Study after study has shown that antimicrobial resistance follows quickly on the heels of the introduction of new drugs on factory farms.  (p 140)
6. Destroy species
For every ten tuna, sharks, and other large predatory fish that were in our oceans fifty to a hundred years ago, only one is left. (p 33)
[Shrimp] trawlers sweep up fish, sharks, rays, crabs, squid, scallops—typically about a hundred different fish and other species. Virtually all die…. The average trawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures as bycatch overboard. (p 191)
7. Pollute
Farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times as much waste as the human population—roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second. The polluting strength of this shit is 160 times greater than raw municipal sewage. And yet there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals. 174
Conservative estimates by the EPA indicate that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has already polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in twenty-two states. (p 179)
8. Contribute to climate change
According to the UN, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 percent more than the entire transport sector—cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships—combined. (p 58)
9. Violate the human rights of their employees
[Undocumented immigrants] are often preferred, but poor recent immigrants who do not speak English are also desirable employees. By the standards of the international human rights community, the typical working conditions in America’s slaughterhouses constitute human rights violations. (p 131-32)
10. Change or ignore regulations in order to make more money
High-speed machines commonly rip open intestines, releasing feces into the birds’ body cavities. Once upon a time, USDA inspectors had to condemn any bird with such fecal contamination. But about thirty years ago, the poultry industry convinced the USDA to reclassify feces so that it could continue to use these automatic eviscerators. Once a dangerous contaminant, feces are now classified as a “cosmetic blemish.” As a result inspectors condemn half the number of birds. (p 134)

1 comment:

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Hello fellow Blogger!

I thought I’d come by and leave a comment on your blog. You have some really great points here. We grow our own food at home and try not to buy any foods we dont know the source.

I’m currently raising funds for a cat with a broken leg at a local NO-Kill Humane Society. I’m challenging people to donate $1. If everyone donates $1 and all their friends donate $1, we’ll hit our target in no time!!

Please stop by and take a peek

We can't change the world but we can make our corner of it a little better.

Thanks …
Have a great day!