I recently watched a 2.5 minute video showing undercover footage of the mistreatment of farm animals inside of one of the USA’s largest pork producers. (Yes, I am talking about factory farming and it is much worse than you may expect). The graphic images shook me up and I wondered “How can this be true? Don’t we have laws for this?” The video speaks for itself, so if you choose to watch it (not recommended for children) you will have an opportunity to formulate your own opinion according to your conscience, just as I did.
First, let me share that I have no problem with choosing to eat healthy animal products, just as I have no problem with choosing not to eat animal products. We live in a beautiful and free country where everyone has an opportunity to nourish their body with food as they see fit, in accordance with their beliefs, culture, and conscience.
What I do have a problem with is the ongoing abuse of factory farm animals being covered up, and then spun to the public as pristine, wholesome, healthy, and safe. If a household pet was treated like these animals, the owner would be charged.
Do you know that factory farms now consume 80% of antibiotics in the USA? This means that the fallout of this practice is being ingested into your body everyday. Think about this the next time you prepare a meal for your little ones – or yourself. In case you’re wondering, the antibiotics are used to “make livestock grow faster and keep them alive in cramped, filthy conditions.” (Source: How the Meat Industry Turned Abuse into a Business Model by Tom Philpott, June 2011).
So what to do? Faced with this question, I decided to use Google and educate myself on this issue. Here is what I came up with as a starting point – perhaps you will find it useful:
1. Ask yourself “Where did this meat/pork/ poultry on my plate really come from?” Better yet, ask this question to your grocery store manager. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer that is in alignment with your personal beliefs, culture, and conscience consider taking your business elsewhere.
2. Support your local farmers and farmer’s markets. There are plenty of small farms that are doing an excellent job raising beef/ pork/ poultry/dairy. They respect the farm animals and are happy to take you on a tour of their operation. Remember that food producers that have nothing to hide welcome a chance to educate and interact with their valued customers.
3. There are many on-line groups rising-up to tackle the issue of unethical factory farms. Simply search “factory farms” on Google because there is sure to be a group that fits your lifestyle, conscience, and perspective. These groups often have educational articles, resources, practical next steps, and Facebook/Twitter options. Mercy For Animals is a good place to start; then perhaps Sustainable Table or Choose Veg. In Canada, check out the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA).
4. Contact your local MPs and demand that time and attention be directed to this issue. Please don’t assume (as I did) that the Canadian anti-cruelty laws protect farm animals from suffering. As stated by the CCFA, “sadly Canada’s anti-cruelty laws do not protect farm animals from suffering caused by factory farming systems provided they are considered industry practice. The tragedy is that standard industry practices are responsible for some of the worst animal cruelty imaginable.”
Know in your heart that your voice counts, so please stand up and use it. For inspiration, here is a ancient story called The Hummingbird and the Fire: