In the 1950s the people of the US were looking for ways to get faster, cheaper, and bigger foods. Eventually this was obtained with a newer food production system called factory farming. Unfortunately with cheap food came a price to our environment, our animals welfare, our economy, and our health.
It's revealed that according to the World Society for the Protection of Animals big factory farms affect the animals in various negative ways. For example, when chickens are put in factory farms for their eggs, they're crammed in these small cages where they have no more than a sheet of paper's worth of space to move around for all of their lives. Dairy cows can never go outside and their calves are often taken away from their mothers just a couple of days after they’re born to be raised for veal in these veal crates. While the mother cow is received injections of hormones that have been banned in Europe and Canada to produce unnatural amounts of milk,walking knee deep in her manure, and is overly milked. For meat animals it's just as bad. In the industrialized pork farms pregnant sows are put into filthy gestation crates all of their lives where they can't turn around or go outside. Worst of all piglets are often put into large crowds where they have their tails docked, teeth pulled out, or are castrated at just a couple of weeks old. For meat chickens they're often crammed into these barns where they have to have the tips of their beaks cut off, they walk in their own waste everyday, and grow so fast that they can barely move around. As for beef cattle they are often contained and crammed in these feedlots where they are fed an unnatural diet of corn, candy wrappers, and animal by products. They're also walking around in their manure constantly and never eat a single blade of grass their entire lives putting them at risk for respiratory diseases, and sometimes have to have a hole made in their bodies in order to get any junk they're eating out. What's also in most of the animal's feed has affected our health in a negative matter just as much as how they're raised.
Various reports indicated that eating factory farmed animal products put people at a health risk in short and long terms.As revealed by Melissa Lee's petition to get drugs out of Trader Joe's meats, her 10 month old daughter was sickened by a drug resistant salmonella infection that was linked to ground turkey with antibiotic residue. But this isn't the first time something like this has happened, within the last few years there has been multiple reports about meat and egg recalls across the US due to making people sick with strings of mad cow disease, e-coli, and salmonella. Worst of all is that this kind of meat was given antibiotics and hormones in order to make the animals grow faster. In a short term when people consume this kind of meat the germs that enter their bodies become resistant to most antibiotics making most simple diseases that were once treatable with antibiotics harder to cure. Also, with the manure runnoff in our waters from these big farms, antibiotic residue that was given to the animals wind up in our drinking water. In the long term industrialized meat often uses hormones and chemicals that can take away nutrients, trigger hormone based cancers such as breast cancer, and obesity. What's at a bigger risk is the environment.
Environmentally, factory farmed meat has a gigantic carbon footprint. According to various sources it takes over 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, most of it used to irrigate the feed canals. But with so many animals being crammed in at once how these kind of farms obtain and grow the corn for the animals to eat is by cutting down and destroying forests and grasslands crucial to balancing global warming. However, these farms also produce literally tons of manure runoff that pollutes the soil and waters and the methane that comes from these crammed animals and manure is 25 times more deadly than CO2 and is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gasses. On smaller family farms the heards can be managed responsibly so they don't overgraze or root the land, and waste can easily be recycled back into the earth and the plants grown from it can easily absorb greenhouse gasses. With factory farming all of the air, water, and soil near them wind up contaminated and unsafe for any sort of use. On top of that, this kind of farming is not sustainable since there are piles of dead livestock outside these farms that can't be eaten, stressed out animals create less meat and more fat than relaxed animals, and it takes literally over ten pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. We do have enough food to feed everyone but these big factory farms are one of the causes of hunger since a large percentage of grain that could be used to feed people across the world is used to feed livestock animals this unnatural diet.
Also, these factory farms are ruining the economy and small businesses. For example, with small family farms supplying food, communities are able to get their meat locally, farmers were able to support other local businesses, help create jobs, and provide job experience to volunteers. With big factory farms being the source for most meat, many family farms have gone out of business and have replaced many workers with machines that barely need to be repaired. If you look at Brazil, in the 90s there were hundreds of thousdands of free range meat farms, today thanks to big factory farms and cheap meat there's only about 16,000 of those farms left. We can easily equate that to why small family farms are considered endangered these days in America. Also, with local farms gone we had to start importing food from across the world basically shipping American jobs overseas. Even worse, jobs in factory farmed meat processing plants are considered one of the most dangerous jobs for workers since the line goes by so fast in so little time, and workers are often not unionized.
Now even though I'm not a vegetarian I am concerned about where everything I buy comes from, and I'm an advocate for free range farming. So I along with others who want better standards are asking for the US to phase out of factory farming. And if you must know, free range farming is sustainable for the US. For example, in the EU they never allow their farmers to use hormones and antibiotics in their meat, have already set bans for caged egg laying hens, veal crates, and by 2013 all pork is required to be raised with no crates for sows. While over here veal crates have been banned in several states, while in the state of California and Michigan caged eggs have been banned, and in almost 10 states, the practice of gestation and farrowing crates for sows has been banned. Currently more people are asking for more sustainable and local meat farming, and 86% of Americans are asking for meat without drugs. Many companies have even responed to this. Currently Hellman's Mayonaise has converted all of their eggs to 100% cage free, major fast food companies are starting to phase out of gestation crate raised pigs and caged eggs in the future, and Whole Foods market has made a milestone by selling meat that was never raised in another country, never given antibiotics or hormones, and most with no factory farming for that matter.