Animal Farming Exposed
Animal Farming Exposed
Even a cursory review of prawn farming, "free range" chicken farming, salmon farming and many aspects of animal farming industries, will expose the ugly behaviour of Mankind that lacks transparency and accountability.
Is there anything that we humans do in which we can claim to be acting more responsibly than the rest of the animal kingdom?
We dominate simply because of our ability to organise ourselves on a mass scale. However, that absolute power has corrupted us.
Most, if not all, wild animal species have been in decline or are already extinct since we ‘took over’ global dominance of the animal kingdom. Meanwhile the domesticated species of animals grow exponentially – estimated at over 500 million dogs, 600 million cats, nearly a billion head of cattle and 19 billion chickens (at any point in time, or annualised at 50 billion chickens). Big numbers indeed for a 7 billion human population.
If it were not for extensive policing and regulation, who knows what would be left of the animal world after the human juggernaut had done its miserable poaching.
One aspect of our dominance is our ability to mass farm other animals for our very own food chain. We farm animals on an ever-increasing scale with little regard for our health, the wellbeing of those animals, the environment and excessive waste (of animals’ lives).
This article is not about ‘becoming vegan’. It is about Transparency. It is also about consuming less meat and when doing so, being mindful of the animal’s life and the entire animal carcass, not just those ‘choice’ bits.
Humans farm, kill, process, store and market animal produce so ‘effectively’ that it is kept well away from the eye of the public.
The consumption of animals seems to correlate to the wealth of the nation. Americans, Australians and New Zealanders lead the way, consuming meat on a whopping scale at over 100 kilograms of meat consumed per person per annum! Humanity consumes on average about 40 kilograms of meat per person per annum; which is still a big number even though it is dwarfed by the feat of the Australians, New Zealanders and Americans. Humanity eats too much meat. Most of humanity eats too much of everything.
The ‘league’ of the most horrific living conditions endured by animals is headed by pigs, salmon and chickens. Cattle too, but mostly they get some outdoor activity and freedom to move. None of mass animal factory farming is pretty. Most of mass animal farming is hard to take and is irresponsible.
Eaten in moderation, meat is a good source of protein and a great source of important vitamins and nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamins B3, B6, and B12. But a diet too high in red and processed meats can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Eating, in moderation, organic, pasture-raised livestock can alleviate chronic health problems and can contribute to an improved environment. Grass-fed beef contains less fat and more nutrients than its factory-farmed counterpart and reduces the risk of disease and exposure to toxic chemicals. Well managed pasture systems can improve carbon sequestration, reducing the impact of livestock on the planet. The use of fewer energy intensive inputs conserves soil, reduces pollution and erosion, and preserves biodiversity.
Dr Perlmutter, neurologist, Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and author of nine books, said in October 2016: “Differentiate between grass-fed beef, (which is) high in Omega 3 (inflammation reducing) as against the high Omega 6 grain-fed animals that have been given antibiotics and have been eating grain that has been treated with glyphosate – that is a powerful threat to your health, I would not go near the stuff ... glyphosate is the largest used herbicide on the planet ... we are putting poison on our food!”
Danielle Nierenberg, Director of the Nourishing the Planet Program said: “Eating less meat and supporting pastoralist communities at every level is essential to combat the destructive trend of factory farms.”
Commenting on aquaculture, well known nutrition writer Larry Olmsted (Real Food, Fake Food) said: “If your goal was to avoid the things that are used in aquaculture, which include vaccines and antibiotics, then you're really getting doubly defrauded. You're getting ripped off financially and you're getting ripped off, at least from your perception, of what's healthy and what's not."
The key to arresting this irresponsibility on a massive scale is “Transparency” and “Accountability”; both behaviours are largely missing in the farming and food production industries.
If the public were truly exposed to seeing and experiencing the farming conditions of most chickens, pigs and cattle (for starters), they would modify their meat consumption habits. The excellent TV series "For the Love of Meat" offers ample proof of the emphatic reactions by the public when they are exposed to the harsh conditions of mass animal farming.
Consider a few facts of aspects of animal factory farming:
- Prawn farming – prawns require a diet high in protein. The feed for prawn farming comes from indiscriminate dredging of the ocean floor, destroying whole ecosystems which are being uprooted and removed to cherry pick for the prawn feed. The ecosystems where these animals (including prawns) need to breed and live are being annihilated
- To produce 1 kilogram of:
Bread – takes the equivalent emissions of driving a car 3 kilometres.
Chicken – takes the equivalent emissions of driving a car 8 kilometres.
Pork – takes the equivalent emissions of driving a car 18 kilometres.
Beef – takes the equivalent emissions of driving a car 74 kilometres.
Stunning environmental issues at play here!
- Interestingly the much sought after ‘rib-eye’ fillet represents a mere 3 - 5 kilograms of the 500-kilogram cow, or less than 1% of the cow’s bodyweight. Most consumers eat very little of the secondary cuts (cheeks, liver, tongue). How many steak consumers are aware of what happens when the carcass is divided up and what pieces end up where and costing how much? Is it time to develop a relationship with the entire carcass?
- A breeding sow spends more than 50 days a year (producing on average 2.5 litters per annum) cooped up in a farrowing crate where her movements are severely restricted – astonishingly tragic conditions that every consumer of pork should experience. What would it be like for a human (breastfeeding mother) to be nearly immovably caged for this length of time?
- The debate over ‘free range’ chickens is largely about how many chickens are housed in a single square metre; the conditions are almost without exception shocking and would never be acceptable to the viewing public if they were ever get to witness most means of chicken factory farming. As reference, the global population of chickens is estimated at approximately 50 billion (annualised)
- Salmon, the most consumed fish by humanity, is mostly farmed in pens and the conditions from spawn to harvest are crowded places that re-cycle the excrement of fellow inmates. Wild salmon is usually pink from the diet of krill and shrimp that contain a reddish compound called astaxanthin. Salmon farmed in pens cannot get to their normal diets so instead they are fed pellets made of petrochemical compounds to effectively “turn the salmon meat varying degrees of pink”. Crayola even named a crayon colour after this ‘salmon pink’. The more added astaxanthin, the more expensive the pellet becomes, the pinker the salmon, the higher the market price. “Do you want petrochemicals with your fish Madam and if so, how pink would you like it to be?” In truth, surveys tell us the naturally dull grey look of farmed salmon, if left without artificial colouring, would be very difficult to sell at any price
- More than 70% of the global annual antibiotic production is used on animals and for a very good reason – to keep the animals infection free! The need for this medication is due to the obscene and unhealthy living conditions of these farmed animals. Humans consume the animal-ingested antibiotics via their meat consumption. Animals living in the wild do not have any antibiotics . . .
- Animal waste releases methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that are 25 and 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide respectively. Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20% in just the last 10 years, thus playing a huge role in polluting the earth’s atmosphere
The list of factory-farmed animal issues, consequential environmental issues and morality issues is immense.
The more transparent the food industry needs to become, the more exposed it will be for its contribution to the misery of animals, the health of nations and our environment.
Transparency starts in the schools and with education for all.
Transparency should not only be limited to the factory farm process. Transparency needs to be in the packaging, in the supermarkets and in every restaurant and café – and more so at the point of consumption where there is hardly any accountability.
After all, what restaurant client will order pork if he knows the misery of the life of a sow? What café will peddle chicken if the menu is required to disclose the living conditions where the chicken lived entirely cooped up in a factory farm for its 6 - 7 week life. What hotel Maître D will recommend salmon if he is required to reveal which compound of petrochemicals was used for the darkest of the pink fillets? Which burger chain is going to attach its brand to the environmental issues caused by the cattle farms from whence those meat patties are derived?
It’s all about transparency. Those governance statements in the annual financial statements of Food Corporations stand for squat if the production and marketing methods are kept schtum, hidden from the critical public eye.
Exposed to the public, these producers will be forced to make radical changes to their irresponsible and abusive ways.
But at the end of the day, very few food producers will act responsibly, willingly so; there is simply too much money and too many jobs at play. We, the public, are ultimately responsible for the choices we make and for the stories we buy into. And for the stories we chose to avoid. We can start by demanding transparency throughout the food chain, right up to and including the restaurant menu.
Besides, consuming the equivalent emissions of driving a car 7,400 kilometres (emissions resulting from 100 kilograms of meat production) is way too much consumption for our health, our planet and for animal welfare. Most need way less meat in their diets. We all need more transparency at the point of consumption and a complete re-think of the entire meat production process.
Most importantly of all, we the all-powerful consumers, need to change our buying habits. If the restaurant, café, hotel, butcher and supermarket do not join the disclosure and transparency ranks, then we need to jettison them from our spending.