It is widely recognized that many of the farming practices within the industrialized ‘North’ have serious issues. Chickens with their balloon-like bodies that are pumped with growth hormones, de-beaked, or trampled to death by other chickens or the millions of males chicks slaughtered annually because they can’t produce eggs. Pigs and cows confined to metal cages for the entirety of their lives used as incubators for the next generation of ground hamburger. In addition, newborn calves are often ripped away from their mothers at birth to be held in confined cages to keep them from moving so their muscles are supple for consumers of veal. This doesn’t include the 441 gallons of water that is used to produce 1lb of beef, coupled with the huge amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the production and distribution of these meat products.
Not only do animals and the environment face injustices, but so do the agricultural factory workers. Within the UK packing industry some migrant factory workers have experienced 90-hour workweeks, sexual and physical harassment, severely swollen hands and feet, and have attributed miscarriages to poor working conditions. One man from Brazil said “I’ll never forget it … I’m not a slave. I just can’t speak English. He talked to me like he talked with an animal. It is so terrible … sometimes I don’t even sleep in the night. Because the next day, I need to go to there [to that] horrible place.”
So, what now? We have all heard the horror stories, but honestly what does one do when they like scrambled eggs and bacon? Do we feel helpless, paralyzed by guilt and shame? The reality is that most everything that we come into contact with is stained with some layer of blood and injustice. What can individuals do? We can begin to understand our connection with the world and the things around us. One way being through this very form that you are engaging in right now… writing. But this is not some ploy to sway you, the reader, to veganism, or to get you to trade your local grocery store in for the high-end, super expensive organics-only boutique grocer, or to seduce you into a deep pit of consumer self-loathing.The goal here is to begin to ask questions. To start to look into what you are consuming, reading, purchasing, watching, etc. and to see that there are other local, organic, or vegetarian options when consuming food. I hope that if this makes you angry or curious or sad or hungry, that you will look a little further at what it takes to get your food to your plate.