how are ya? it's your resident dork checking in :)
you know that post i wrote on interpreting food labels? well, since i can't leave well enough alone, i just had to write about the other side of our food, too. what most of us don't even know exists.
ever overheard someone talking about what's in your food, only to shout "LA LA LA I DON'T WANNA KNOW!!!"?
yeah... guilty as charged. i pretty much lived that my whole life until mom got sick. funny how when your heart gets involved, your perspective on life starts to change, right?
fast forward a few years, and i'm still on the same path - researching, pondering, and learning. fortunately (and unfortunately), some discoveries have ended up really disturbing me (i'm looking at you, MSG!). i stumbled on my most recent freak-out researching factory farming techniques for the labels post, and details i couldn't shake just. kept. haunting me.
all that to say, i pour my heart and soul out to you guys. anything that breaks my heart, fires me up, or makes me sing with joy, you guys hear about it. so this isn't my attempt to "convert" or guilt-trip anyone - it's simply my desperate desire to see each one of you thrive. i want you to live your BEST life!
the following practices are standard procedure at america's farms. as in, you'd be hard-pressed to find an exception in the grocery store. any exception (currently 99% of animal products in the US). this is the state of america's industry.
artificial insemination - to make more profit, farmers feed their livestock to grow as large as physically possible. one of the downsides is that farm animals can't reproduce on their own - yes, i'm telling you they can't physically have sex. almost 100% of turkeys, 85% of pork, and 75% of beef must be artificially impregnated to reproduce because of their bodies genetic modifications (and turkeys often die of heart attacks before they make it to slaughter due to their enormous breasts).
battery cages - most common practice of housing egg-laying hens. these cages are smaller than a sheet of printer paper, which means the hens live and die without ever stretching their wings, and most are never able to stand up, causing osteoporosis. the cages are stacked many stories high, and when the hens on the higher levels poop... well, you can imagine what the ones below look like. the percentage of eggs with salmonella is exponentially higher in battery cage eggs than on that of a traditional laying farm (hello, recent outbreak?!?).
embryo transfer - similar to artificial insemination, farmers use this technique to control the genetics of their livestock. they impregnate their best female for choice genetics, then extract the embryo and impregnate a lesser quality female to carry the pregnancy so they can more quickly re-impregnate the genetically superior female. the high quality female's DNA ensures she will constantly be pregnant.
debeaking/branding/castrating - egg chickens' beaks are removed with a superheated knife to prevent attacking other chickens out of stress. chronic pain, infection, and starvation are not uncommon. branding and castrating are routinely practiced without anesthesia, and also cause chronic pain.
gestation crates - cages pregnant cows are transferred to in an effort to quicken pregnancy weight gain and ensure the babies are not crushed. the crates prevent standing or turning around for months at a time, and the pregnant cows often crack their skulls or chew through the cage out of boredom.
veal - obviously, dairy cows are only females, so when they have males, farmers turn to producing veal - a tender, expensive cut of beef. how do they make it so tender? the boys are kept confined from birth to prevent their muscles from being toughened through exercise, and are slaughtered between a few days to a few weeks after birth.
by-catch - all living things caught unintentionally while fishing. most fishermen drag their nets from the boat to the sea floor, bringing up everything in its path. they pick out only the species they sell (like salmon fishermen only keep mature salmon) and throw everything else back. by-catch wouldn't be so bad except most other fish die in the catch process - a ratio as high as 30:1 dead by-catch to the fish they're actually fishing for. today, most endangered aquatic species face extinction not because of over-fishing them, but because of by-catch.
slaughter - i won't really go into too much detail here because i get kinda gaggy thinking about it, but suffice it to say that farm animals are paralyzed, hung upside down, their throats slit, electrocuted alive, then boiled alive so their skin peels off nice and easy. yum.
spent hens - when chickens get too old to lay eggs, farmers pass them through the wood chipper. the ground-up parts are reused in feed for the rest of the laying hens. since boy chickens can't lay eggs, they usually suffocate them in a dumpster.
environmental effects - factory farms use 70% of the US' water, produce 130 times the waste of US' human population, 22% of greenhouse gases, and cause exponentially more pollution than the automobile industry. they defile the surrounding bodies of water, spoil the soil, and produce a "manure mist" that causes thousands of deaths, chronic diseases, and illnesses nationwide. each factory farm owns many tank dumps that are many stories high where they store the waste of the animals. for more impacts on the environment, check this out.
and for another resource on animal welfare, look here. it's written by an animal activist, so their opinions are obviously biased, but the treatment techniques are fairly universally practiced.
* as always, i spend countless amounts of time on my figures, and i stand behind what i post. if you are curious about my research or want to know more, please email me!
i've said it before, and i'll say it again: i will never judge you for your dinner. i'm not an animal lover or a peta supporter... i just beg you to make an informed decision! i hope this helps open up a world that maybe you haven't heard of before. nothing will change if we don't have access to the whole picture.