Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals

Have you ever wondered where your food comes from or how it gets made?

Factory farming is a reality in our country that not many people are aware of because the food industry uses supermarkets and fast food restaurants to create a veil between producers and consumers. According to Farm Forward, factory farms and their associated industrial slaughterhouses produce “cheap” meat, eggs, and dairy by externalizing their costs. Costs to the public from the ecological damage and health problems created by these practices are never reflected in the prices that consumers pay.

Farm animals are remarkable creatures that experience pleasure and have complex social structures. Pigs are known to jump for joy, and cows develop friendships as well as grudges over time. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), chickens can complete complex mental tasks such as comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and understand that objects still exist even after they are hidden from view.

So why do we, as a nation, allow the poor quality of life and inhuman treatment of these animals?

I have found that there has been very little media coverage on this issue so far. In the Belly of the Beast, an article published by Rolling Stone in 2013, provides detailed accounts of undercover investigation in factory farms:

Animals are held in captivity, so tightly packed that they can’t turn around or lie sideways. They never see the light of day and their eyes water constantly from the stench of their own waste. They are fed food containing growth-promoting drugs and sometimes-even pieces of garbage. Sometimes, they are unable to support their own unnaturally bloated bodies, causing them to collapse with their legs crushed and broken beneath them. Animals who are depressed and have no hope don’t fight back. They cry out with piercing shrieks of pain and fear, begging for mercy as they are dragged away to be killed.

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photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone is a prestigious magazine that has the ability to influence the awareness and opinions of a lot of people. Mary Beth Sweetland, the investigative director for the Human Society of the United States (HSUS), coordinated the infiltration operation discussed in the article. A bias arises from the investigators’ role as animal rights activists. The article frames factory farms as unjust and secretive. According to the author, Paul Solotaroff, these activists are our only lens into what goes on in factory farms. The Humane Society is “keeping an eye on the way American meat is grown.” Such a task is rightfully the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the agency is so short-staffed that it typically only sends inspectors to slaughterhouses, where all they do is check a small sample of animals before they are put to death.

The descriptions of what undercover investigators witnessed in factory farms are meant to inspire pity in the hearts readers. Rolling Stone takes this one step further by guiding us to imagine ourselves as factory farmed animals:

“You are a typical egg-laying chicken in America, and this is your life . . .”
“You are a typical milk cow in America, and this is your life . . .”

The use of the word “typical” implies that most of our nations farmed animals are raised under the conditions of factory farms. According to Farm Forward, factory farming now accounts for more than 99% of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the United States.

The entire article is written in the present tense to communicate that factory farming is a huge problem in America today. However, the solution is simple. Animals Australia’s video Here’s How We End Factory Farming explains how you can help:

video courtesy of Animals Australia

Choose kindness over cruelty and free animals from factory farms!

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