This is a post I have wanted to write for a long time but kept putting it off because I knew it could cause some controversy. I happened to cause some controversy on my latest post on BlogHer so why not cause some more over here? I haven’t been one to shy away from controversy in the past, why start now?
If you have been a reader for very long you likely know my diet is almost all organic, either certified or from local farms that use organic or better standards. I LOVE organic, real food. I joined the local food coop a few months ago and love finding new local food to try. The other day I made some local purple asparagus, which is awesome by the way. So I love farmers and their farms. But there is one kind of farm I’m not a fan of and this is where we get controversial. I don’t like factory farms.
But what is a factory farm anyway? They are sometimes known as CAFO or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. In these farms, according to the EPA, animals are kept confined for more than 45 days during a growing season in an area that does not produce vegetation and meets certain size thresholds.
According to the ASPCA, “over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of the animals’ welfare.” They go on to talk about common conditions in a factory farm, with animals packed in spaces so tight they can hardly move and many don’t have access to the outdoors.
The ASPCA also talks about some other things that happen in many factory farms. Air is often unclean because of all of the animals being so close together, often indoors, animals often get medications for non-therapeutic reasons, female animals are often pregnant for most of their lives, some undergo painful mutilations like removing beaks, toes, horns, etc… without painkillers to make the animals more “manageable.”
Now meat eaters, I still eat meat, this isn’t a “go vegan” blog, though more power to the vegan readers. You can eat meat without supporting these kinds of things, it does take some work but it’s totally doable. There is one certification to look for that can help and that’s the Animal Welfare Approved certification. This certification is third-party verified and the standards include,
- requires animals to be raised on pasture or range
- prohibits dual production
- awards approval only to family farmers
- charges no fees to participating farmers
- incorporates the most comprehensive standards for high welfare farming
You can also talk to local farmers and ask to go to see their farm. Many small farms are happy to have you come out and show you around. And ask questions, I have yet to find a family farmer that didn’t want to talk about their farm. If you want to find out about factory farming in your state, check out Factory Farm Map, there is a ton of info. I learned there are a lot of factory hog farms in my area, I had no idea!
So if you eat meat, know where your meat is coming from and how it was raised. If we all start asking questions and shopping more ethically we can make a big difference.
I know this is a hot topic so please everyone be nice and respect each other in the comments.
Photo Credits- EPA website