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Getting to Know Your Bacon

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Take bacon as an example: Most of the bacon consumed in the United States comes from hog “factory farms” where the animals are raised in staggeringly crowded conditions. Often more than 10,000 animals are packed into a single production facility, producing a tremendous amount of concentrated waste that can pollute rivers, groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Catastrophic failures of “manure lagoons” have led to massive fish kills in nearby rivers, such as a spill from a hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina in 1995 that killed 10 million fish in the New River and halted shellfish harvests from hundreds of thousands of coastal wetlands.

On the other side of the spectrum is our co-op farm, a diverse patchwork of fields and forests with a small stream running through it that’s shaded by a wide buffer of trees. While not certified organic, the farmer is culturally predisposed to low-input farm practices. His animals have plenty of room and, simply due to dramatically different densities, do not produce the concentrated wastes that can be so harmful to clean water.

I sometimes worry that buying local, low-input farm products is the privilege of the American middle and upper class and that feeding the world’s growing population will require truly intensified agriculture. The grim business of ensuring that the projected 9 billion people in 2050 have enough to eat will have no patience for the kumbaya preferences of “locavores.”

But wait. This Mark Bittman essay suggests that low-input agriculture shows great promise—not just in reducing impacts but in actually meeting global food demands.

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88 comments

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6:26AM PST on Dec 24, 2011

Dep You are so right when you say: 'It's not likely anyone could make the claim that the rest of the world should or could go without eating meat. That is a profoundly dangerous thing to imply.'

I know many people who got very sick on the vegan diet and many of us have permanent damage to our body systems.
I don't recommend it to anyone. Some people can manage to thrive on it, but many are either obese or have eating disorders and are not optimally healthy.
The vegetarian diet is much safer and more nutritionally balanced, but the Mediterranean diet seems to keep proving itself to be the most healthy diet.

8:02PM PST on Dec 23, 2011

Dep P, speaking for myself and every vegan I have ever met I will attest
to the fact that since we omitted animals from our diets we eat more of
a variety of tasty, nutritious foods than we ever did when we ate meat.
I have happily learned to become more creative in the kitchen and am
always learning new food/recipe ideas. One thing I have observed is that
most meat eaters tend to stick to the same foods and rarely try anything
different, whereas most vegans are constantly seeking new and exciting
foods to try. We NEVER get tired of the foods we eat.

Also, our bodies are not exactly designed to eat animal corpses. They are
better designed to eat plants. Check out The Comparative Anatomy of Eating:
http://www.earthsave.ca/articles/health/comparative.html

The fact that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE cause of death in the U.S.
and meat and animal products are causing heart disease, speaks volumes.
Meat consumption is linked to SEVERAL serious diseases. A well balanced, whole foods, organic, non GMO plant based diet isn't linked to ANY serious diseases.

10:57AM PST on Dec 23, 2011

Thankyou....

11:51PM PST on Dec 22, 2011

It's not likely anyone could make the claim that the rest of the world should or could go without eating meat. That is a profoundly dangerous thing to imply.
Peoples chemistries are different and go beyond the foolish ideas of the length of our intestines as though we're not made to eat meat. We are. We are because we have got the hydrochloric acid to break down whole proteins and the enzymes to tag each amino acid.
In order to eat otherwise would mean eating and or gazing all day long on veggies and nuts that you will get sick of.
It requires creativity all right. All the time. I don't know about any of you, but, I don't have that desire or time eating nuts and what ever other of anything to get my protein out of.
I can only imagine getting tired of food completely.

5:57PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Hard issue...

9:53AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

I'm NOT preaching, but you know why both Judaism and Islam ban the consumption of pigs? Now that was thousands of years ago when man had no real science, nothing, but guess what modern science proved? That no matter how well you cook this animal's parts, they still contain this tape worm that its' born with.
Again, not preaching, and I believe people who say it tastes great, but its not exactly a "clean" animal, you know? :/

7:51AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Getting to Know Your Bacon? Hmmmm...

6:19AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Great article. I eat very little meat and do not mind if others do and love the humane living. Pork is last on the list but I am definitely having Cuban sandwiches for the holidays this year but clean living kind of pork.

6:03AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Mmmm I love bacon!!!!!

6:19PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

I only eat happy animals...

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