Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eating Animals

There's a book I'd like to share with you. More-so, the information within it.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote a couple books I read in my late teens and early twenties. I don't know how I'd feel about them now, but they were amazing reads at the time. Since then, hes come out with a part-memoir/part investigative journalist account on the ramifications of eating meat in today's world, which means primarily eating factory farmed animals.

I have to admit I've been an omnivore my entire life. My mother claims she raised me vegetarian for the first couple years, but ever since I've had a choice, I've eaten meat.

I suppose I always knew "bad" things went on at factory farms. I've been showed the viral videos of animal slaughter, and I've heard rants from vegan friends on the health issues associated with consuming most animal products. But I was always the proof it didn't matter. Because I was alive and well, and eating meat.

This past year, I've had information trickle towards me to warn of eating factory farmed animals. But I really never gave it much thought. My actions never changed.

That is, until I read this book. Call me naive, but I truly did not know what goes on at these factory farms, or how tremendous of an impact factory farming has on global warming, ecology, ethics, and world-wide human health.

I'm not going to spell it all out here. You can do your own research. But let's just say, I've become a selective "omnivore." If I eat meat, it's going to be pasture-raised, grass fed (or other natural diet), and organic. Pasture raised is the biggest deal. Because apparently being labeled organic doesn't mean anything other than not being fed antibiotics.

Here's some living proof (well, I guess you have to take my word for it) that it's not all made up: After one week of consuming zero factory-farmed animal products, my energy is higher, my chronic digestive problems are all but gone, and I feel great (physically, at least).

Some highlights to consider:

1. "Animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause of climate change."

2. "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... Seventy to 90 percent are infected with another potentially deadly pathogen, camylobacter. Chlorine baths are commonly used to remove slime, odor, and bacteria."

3. "In his tremendous Rolling Stone article on Smithfield, "Boss Hog," Jeff Tietz complied a useful list of shit typically found in the shit of factory-farmed hogs: 'ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, phosphorous, nitrates and heavy metals. In addition, the waste nurses more than 100 microbial pathogens that can make humans sick, including salmonella, cryptosporidium, streptococci, and giardia'....

If all goes to plan, the liquefied waste is pumped into massive 'lagoons' adjacent to the hog sheds... A hundred or more of these immense cesspools might loom in the vicinity of a single slaughterhouse (factory farmed hogs tend to cluster around slaughterhouses). If you were to fall into one, you would die. (Just as you would die of asphyxiation, within minutes, if the power went out while you were in one of the hog sheds)...

The year before Smithfield built the world's largest slaughter-and-processing plant in Bladen County, the North Carolina state legislature actually revoked the power of counties to regulate hog factory farms...

A few years after this deregulation in 1995, Smithfield spilled more than twenty million gallons of lagoon waste into the New River in North Carolina. The spill remains the largest environmental disaster of its kind and is twice as big as the iconic Exxon Valdez spill six years earlier... In 1997, as reported by the Sierra Club in their damning "RapSheet on Animal Factories," Smithfield was penalized for a mind-blowing seven thousand violations of the Clean Water Act - that's about twenty violations per day.

Smithfield was fined $12.6 million, which at first sounds like a victory against the factory farm. At the time, $12.6 million was the largest civil-penalty pollution fine in US history, but this is a pathetically small amount to a company that now grosses $12.6 million every ten hours...

Conservative estimates by the EPA indicate that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has already polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in twenty-two states (for reference, the circumference of the earth is roughly 25,000 miles)."

That's not even close to the amount of terrible-ness this book explains. So yeah, I don't think I can financially support this industry any longer. My meat is now coming from a local/ethical farm, or not at all.


  1. Oh, and

  2. i'll have to check this out... thanks!

  3. what foods are you using to get your protein.