Remember these names: Seaboard Foods, Prestige Farms. They are among the U.S.’s largest producers of the pork that ends up on American tables. They supply tons of pork to Walmart stores.
The Humane Society of the United States went undercover to film their treatment of pregnant sows and their piglets. Fair warning: the video will sicken you. Try to watch it anyway. Be offended. Be horrified. Then act.
Pigs are high on the intelligence scale. They are sociable creatures and good parents. They seem to expect the best of the people who look after them, or at least the ones I used to raise did. They were remarkably sensual, glorying in the taste of apples, the coolness of mud on a hot day, the joy of a belly rub, the softness of freshly shorn wool (the bits we gave them because they were not of a quality to sell).
The video was excruciating for me to watch. I forced myself to do it because I never want to forget that a slice of crisp bacon or salty ham or a chunk of tender pork roast likely came from one of these tortured creatures.
Though I eat little meat, I am not a vegetarian. I am just fussy about the provenance of any meat I do eat. Livestock on small farms can play a significant role in the sustainability of grassland and the fertility of soil. So I choose meat from farms where people care about the health of their land and the quality of life of their livestock.
Factory farms degrade soil, water and air. They are dependent on grains produced through monocropping that requires massive inputs of fossil fuels, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. They overuse antibiotics. They overcrowd their animals and jeopardize their health in order to force faster growth. Far too often, they subject them to deplorable treatment.
Every day we make compromises with life. Our food, clothing and houses, our computers and tech toys, our appliances, vehicles, energy and roads — essentially everything we touch — come to us at a cost to the earth, the creatures on it and the people involved in the supply chains. If we were unwilling to make any compromises, we would be paralyzed into inaction.
And so we choose. One of my choices is to refuse meat that comes from CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations). I make that choice because I have read the reports and watched the videos that document what happens to factory-farmed animals.
You will make your own choices, and the Humane Society wants those choices to be based on acknowledgement of the consequences.
I urge you to watch the video and then to take steps to bring an end to the abuse. Some companies have improved their practices, but as demand for meat rises, billions of animals will suffer and we are complicit in their suffering.
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