- Þ Factory farms are actually called CAFOs Concentrated (sometimes Confined is used instead) Animal Feeding Operations. No need for editorializing, the name says it all.
- Þ Confinement truly means confinement. Movement is restricted and normal animal behavior is not possible. Physical alteration is also the norm, including de-beaking of poultry and docking (tail removal) of cows and pigs.
- Þ While the number of hog farms drops dramatically each year, hog production remains stable. 80% of hog farms have a head count of 5,000 or more. The percentage of hogs produced through contractual operations increased from 5% in 1994 to 67% in 2004 (this is significant because it means that huge profits are shifting from small, local farms to giant agribusiness corporations that control the contracts).
- Þ On average in CAFOs three full sized (roughly 250lb) hogs share a space approximately the same size as a twin bed. (It should be noted here that pigs are highly intelligent, social creatures. In their natural habitat, they are clean, curious, playful, and form strong social bonds. In the ranking of animal IQ, pigs rank 4th behind chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants. It is because of this level of intelligence and social complexity that their treatment is exceptionally cruel in this environment. We would never allow dogs to be treated this way, but because we enjoy pork – and don’t eat dogs- we look the other way and continue to allow this inhumane treatment of pigs on a MASSIVE scale.)
- Þ Male chicks are particularly useless in the poultry business. Unfortunately, almost half of all chicks hatched are male. Because they offer no source of revenue, most are destroyed (in other words, killed rather unpleasantly). Bull calves in the dairy industry usually do not fair well either.
- Þ Anywhere from 50% - 80% of all antibiotics made and sold in the US are used in food production. (Real numbers are hard to come by as there is little to no regulation of antibiotic use in agriculture. No prescriptions are necessary.) A nifty little side-effect of antibiotics used in treating animals was discovered in the 1940s – treated animals grew bigger, faster. So, now animals are continuously fed low doses of antibiotics in all of their feed in order to artificially expedite growth (and increase profits). The problem with this use is that it is completely unregulated and it diminishes the effectiveness of antibiotics in their intended use – to treat illness in humans. Microbes are resilient and when exposed to the low-dose levels of antibiotics in animal feed, they become resistant, requiring stronger and stronger antibiotics to fight disease and illness. The CDC recommends the discontinuation of antibiotic use in feed, but the FDA refuses to enforce that recommendation. In fact, the FDA is set to approve the use of the most potent antibiotics currently available (our last lines of defense against microbes) for use in animal feed.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
You may think that the resulting plant produces a seed that the farmer can then plant again in the future. You would be wrong. You see, genetically engineered crops (let’s just call them GE to spare my typing fingers) cannot be used for seed (in other words, they are not sustainable). The farmer must return to Monsanto every time they wish to plant a crop, creating a dependency between farm and company. And the farmer must pay a patent fee (every year) for the privilege of using these GE seeds. Yes, a patent fee for seeds (and here I thought God owned the patent on those!).
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Monday, January 2, 2012
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Happy New Year! I hope you are as excited about 2012 as I am! Not only am I glad to see 2011 in the rearview mirror, but I can’t wait to see all the good things that are coming our way in 2012. I hope this new year brings you great peace, prosperity, happiness, and success!
The new year is typically a time when we are particularly aware of renewal, rejuvenation, renovation, and of course, RESOLUTION! As you consider your resolutions for this new year, I ask you to throw two more into the mix.
The first resolution that I ask to you consider embracing this year is to remove meat from your diet one day per week. Whether you choose to do Meatless Monday or choose any other day of the week (like Vegetarian Wednesday or Spill-No-Blood Sunday – sorry, that one was a bit graphic!), just be sure to set aside a specific day each week. To make it easier to keep this resolution, you should choose the day carefully… make it a day that is easy to prepare ahead for and is generally pretty routine. Eating satisfying meatless meals is a simple enough thing to do, but it will take some planning and preparation. For more reasons about why you should consider going meatless just one day per week and helpful suggestions on how to do it… check out www.meatlessmonday.com.
The second resolution that I propose, is to make a conscious effort to buy food locally as much as possible. And the local grocery store doesn’t necessarily count. J Try to find food that is grown and produced in your area. Meat that comes from a local farm is healthier for you, good for your local economy, and great for the environment. It’s a win-win-win situation. How often do those come around? A great place to start your search for locally produced food is at the farmer’s market. However, not all communities have one and not all markets are available year-round. An excellent online source for finding locally produced food in your area is www.eatwild.com. You don’t have to go all out, start small. Find a dairy or meat product that is the most convenient for you to buy locally and start with that one thing.
I’m not going to lie to you, it isn’t easy to fully commit to a life without factory farmed products. I’m learning that as I write this. Literally. That is, of course, the point of this blog… to share with you my experiences as I try to do just that. And I’m not there yet, but I’m taking steps in that direction. And, further more, I believe that it is possible, not only for me to do it but for us to make the changes necessary to do it (dare I say) as a nation. I hope you will join me on my continued journey this year and I ask you to consider taking steps (as small and as few, or as large and as many as you care to) away from factory-farmed goods and toward sustainable, humane, and wholesomely produced foods.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(The photo above was taken from horseback, the cows we ride past are always so curious and want to see the horses up close. It is my hope that more cows in 2012, get to live out their lives in pastures as God intended instead of ending up in feedlots prior to slaughter.)