Smithfield Foods, Exposed

Reader Contribution by Staff
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If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that we’re overly critical of factory farms, take a moment to read this nauseating profile of Smithfield Foods’ hog farms from Rolling Stone magazine. 

Author Jeff Tietz reports that “Smithfield estimates that its total sales will reach $11.4 billion this year. So prodigious is its fecal waste, however, that if the company treated its effluvia as big-city governments do — even if it came marginally close to that standard — it would lose money.” That’s a lot of poop, people. 

The article goes on to tell about farms littered with pig carcasses (as many as ten percent of factory-farm hogs die before slaughter due to the conditions in which they live, according to one study), and about people succumbing to the fumes from hog waste lagoons. Lagoons, which, according to Tietz, contain a combination of toxic substances such as ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, phosphorous, nitrates and heavy metals (not to mention  your typical gut-wrenchers: salmonella, cryptosporidium, streptocolli and giardia). 

If, like any good capitalist, you want to send Smithfield a message by avoiding its products, here’s a list of brands that sell their meat. What is Paula Deen thinking, y’all?

Photo by iStockphoto/Bruce Works