The Health-butchering Reality of Americas Meat Industry
As the sun shines down on the rolling, grassy, green California hills, the carefree cows contently chew the luscious grass, while enjoying an abundance of the joys of life – welcome to a typical dairy commercial. As the cows eat, talk and laugh and the camera rolls, a voice narrates, “great cheese comes from happy cows; happy cows come from California”– the foundational slogan for Real California Cheese commercials that ensures the dairy consumers that their products are natural and ethically produced (“Who is She” 2006). Why is it that farmers must ensure the meat consumers that the cows produced are happy and healthy? One word. Fear. The farming industry fears profit loss, while the American consumers fear disease caused by low quality meat and the expensive prices that follow with open-range-raised and grass-fed animal products. Farming is not what it used to be. Before the 1940s, farming was a way of life that required giving and taking from the land and the animals. Most of the farms in the United States were humble, family-operated and efficient in recycling the manure in the land to increase production. The farmers allowed the animals to graze in the fields because the cattle provided a natural source and distribution of fertilizer throughout the area. The family-farmed animals lived a balanced life. The executive editor of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review of 2009 – 2020, Ariele Lessing describes: the animals breathed fresh air, ate native grass, roamed the land and lived in a healthy, cattle community (466). The cattle were seen as productive animals – not machines. The traditional farm scene can be seen on many meat and dairy packages throughout the supermarkets. However, the pictures of red farms, green hills and healthy animals are becoming more of a comforting idea of farming rather than reality. So what’s truly going on behind the pretty picture of the traditional meat industry? Dark rooms. Cages. Disease. A continuous diet of fattening corn and a horrifying amount of medicine, hormones and “recycled” animals. Abuse. The stenches in the feces-coated rooms are barely tolerable. Growing up with an agricultural background of raising crops and animalss, I can’t help but ask myself: is this a farm, or a prison? Americas rapid change in diet over the past hundred years has evolved new means of farming – factory farming. Its effects are bone-chilling. Heart disease. Cancer. Mad-cow disease. These sicknesses are real, and the risks are huge. Dr. Julie Miller Jones, a board Certified Nutrition Specialist and Licensed Nutritionist wrote, “If a risk is immediate, direct, or involves an element of fear or major catastrophe, it creates much greater outrage and is much less acceptable than if the risk is delayed, indirect, or commonplace” (58). The effects of factory farming are more dangerous than most of America realizes. The rise of Factory Farming constitutes a legitimate fear of disease among American meat consumers; pumping antibiotics and growth hormones into factory-farmed animals, the money-hungry American meat industry is raising animals in unsanitary conditions and producing low quality meat which constitutes threatening health issues among American meat consumers – and many people don’t (want to) realize it. Danielle Nierenberg, a research associate at Worldwatch Institute, revealed that the idea of factory farming first came to life during the poverty-stricken period of WWII, when food and resources were scarce in America. Americans feared starvation and they were desperate for cheap food. A woman named Cecile Steele first practiced factory farming by using the least acreage for the greatest amount of chickens. Experimenting with in-house chicken raising and corn feeding, she discovered that the chicken meat gave greater profits than the eggs alone (Nierenberg, HM 14). She relished the high profits; after...
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