Death to Factory Farms

Factory farms and the living conditions within them throw into sharp relief the need for love and attention for animals of all types.
By Piero Sardo
May 2014
Add to My MSN

Factory farms take us further away from a common bond between mankind and animals that help us exist and thrive, the author argues.
Photo courtesy Slow Food
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Food First Delegation Explores Slow Food and Sustainable Agriculture

Tour will highlight food and farming systems in Italy’s northern piedmont region.

HOMEGROWN Life: It’s Cold Out There for a Farmsteader

HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce shares 5 things to consider before starting a farmstead—not the least o...

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

This week is the 12th annual National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.

Smithfield Foods, Exposed

Smithfield's hog farms produce a lot of meat and make a lot of money, but at what cost? Can we conti...

Slow Food Almanac (Slow Food, 2013) argues that something valuable has been lost in this era of fast food and instant gratification. Humanity needs the pleasure meals made with love and attention, and from locally grown ingredients. A global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world, Slow Food International promotes the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. Factory farms are discussed in this excerpt, and the author makes a call for a human treatment of our animal partners.

Welfare for All

One day, many thousands of years ago, probably in Iraq, or somewhere else in the Fertile Crescent, a man approached a wolf, one with a friendly nature, less aggressive than its companions. He began to spend time with it and feed it, separating it from the pack and controlling its reproduction by selecting only the most docile pups. In short, he began to domesticate it, initiating the extraordinary relationship between humans and dogs that has continued ever since.

Domestication

From that initial approach, followed by domestication and the use of animals by humans, the story of humanity changed and the unstoppable evolutionary phenomenon that we rush to call “progress” began. The domestication of animals stimulated an immense leap in the history of civilization, to the point that the populations that domesticated animals dominated those that did not. But that initial gesture of approach between two species of mammals also meant an assumption of responsibility by humans towards these living beings subordinated to their needs.

For a long time, humans paid no heed to this aspect of domestication. For centuries, useful animals were considered little more than things, to be kept alive and fed, it didn’t matter how, and then slaughtered. It was only the gradual rise of the “ethical” factor in social relationships, which dates back only a few decades, which drew the attention of humans to animals. This entirely modern sensitivity is expressed in life-styles that increasingly abandon or limit the consumption of meat, in laws that protect animal welfare and in a broader love for and attention towards animals of all types, wild and domesticated.

Exploitation

From around the post-war period onwards, a new phenomenon developed in the relationship between humankind and animals: The arrival of industrial capitalism in the agricultural world and the distortion of methods of cultivation, food processing and raising livestock. Living beings of use to humans have returned to being considered things, and there has been no limit to their exploitation. Everyone tends to ignore the fact that this tragedy is taking place just a few steps from our homes. An enormous contradiction has ensconced itself in our contemporary world: Millions of pets are pampered inside our houses, while just around the corner but out of sight, millions of pigs, chickens, cows and lambs are forced into lives of incredible suffering.

If we don’t demand the closing of these concentration-camp farms, if we do not connect the meat on our plate with the terrible fates to which we condemn innumerable animals, how can we call ourselves animal-lovers? Closing factory farms must be the first, inescapable demand if we want to talk about animal welfare. And in front of the inevitable laments of those who will rant against this assault against the economy, food security and free enterprise, we must reply that, apart from the obvious obscenity of intensive animal farming, a farm of 400 dairy or beef cattle is madness from all perspectives, employing barely a dozen workers and consuming immense quantities of land, water, energy and medicines. Wouldn’t it be much better to instead divide this enormous herd between 10 or 15 small farms, maybe in marginal areas, teaching small-scale farmers good cultural and environmental practices? Certainly, it would be a less efficient type of production, but it would be better from every other point of view. The question is, do we want to pursue the lowest cost with efficiency or the fairest cost with small and medium multifunctional farms that consume and waste less? Every argument about animal welfare must start from this precondition: close the concentration camps and mega factory farms. Animals are not things, and the wellbeing of a civilized society is equal to the welfare it guarantees animals. All animals.

Interested in learning more about the slow food? Read Inside the Slow Food Movement.


Reprinted with permission from Slow Food Almanac edited by Silvia Ceriani and published by Slow Food International, 2013.  Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.