Factory Farms, A Cruel Depiction Of America’s Food Essay, Research Paper
Sarah PelletierCollege WritingRough Draft Factory Farms: A Cruel Depiction of America s Food Industry There is no happy little farmer milking his cow on a nice farm anymore; this is the food industry; it is dirty; it is unsafe, and it is a massacre of innocent animals. Cows, chickens, pigs and other animals processed into food are not kept on a farm; they are crowded into pens and cages that are too small to even allow the animal to turn around (Krizmanic 36). People don t have to be victims of ignorance; they don t have to be fooled by the nicely packaged meat in the supermarket s freezer; this is a filthy business. If people only knew what actually went on in the food industry and the risks that were taken with their dinner, they would and should change the way they eat and live. So if the animals aren t growing up on farms, where are they? Animals are raised at places called factory farms (Krizmanic 36), which is also known as intensive animal agriculture (Kamrin NA). A factory farm is just that, a factory. Food is brought to the confined animal on conveyer belts, and eggs and other products are taken away on conveyer belts (Krizmanic 36). Crowding, rough handling, mutilation, force feeding, genetic manipulation and loss of offspring are the normal and standard operating procedures (Kamrin NA). 90% of all slaughtered animals are raised in confinement (Krizmanic 37). At these farms , nine million chickens, turkeys, pigs calves and cows are slaughtered every day (Robins NA), so that most of the United States meat, milk and eggs come from intensive confinement factory farms (Sequoia 45). These animals are not just raised on animal feed alone. Animals are immobilized by machines and transported on assembly lines into darkened factories, to be injected with many toxic substances (Sequoia 45), including antibiotics and hormones to make them grow faster and meatier (Krizmanic 37). 40% to 50% of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to these animals without medical supervision (Sequoia 46). In the actual feed there are fungicides, recycled wastes and insecticides (Sequoia 46), and even steroids have started to become the norm (Fox 25). Now, to make animals eat more, electrodes are being implanted into some animals skulls, which works to stimulate the hunger centers of animals brains (Fox 25). An act called the Humane Slaughter Act in part that animals are supposed to be unconscious before they are killed (Krizmanic 37). This act would make animal slaughter more humane, except that there is little inspection to make sure that those animals are protected, and most are still fully conscious when they are killed. Another fault with this act is that birds are not covered by this act because they are not classified under the animal category (Krizmanic 37). Animals do have rights, but with these fallible laws, they are not being defended. Cows are one of the most popular sources for meat, and we get many of our food products from them including beef, milk and cheese. A beef cow, by one year old is put on a feedlot to gain weight along with the help of growth stimulants (Shapiro 55). Here they are branded and de-horned without any anesthetics (Krizmanic 40). Cattle feed is grown with herbicides, and their pens are sprayed with insecticides (Shapiro 55). When a cow is large enough, they are moved from the feedlots to the slaughterhouse (Krizmanic 40). On the way there, sometimes cows fall down or become injures on the trucks. These cows are called downers and they are prodded and dragged with chains to get off of the truck. Some downers are left to die on the side of the road without food or water, and others are still processed for humans to eat, even though the cow may be sick (Krizmanic 40). Milk cows are very overworked as they are expected to produce milk continuously. To do this, the cow must birth every year and make ten times the amount of milk that they naturally would (Krizmanic 40 41). A mother s calf is taken from her when it is just a few days old, so that it doesn t drink her milk (Krizmanic 40-41). Then the mother is hooked up to an automatic milking machine (Kamrin NA). Cows are milked two to three times a day by the machines, with leaves them with swollen and diseased udders (Krizmanic 40-41). Milking sows are also injected with BGH (bovine growth hormone) to boost the production of milk. When the cow s milking days are over, she is slaughtered for her meat (Krizmanic 40-41). Every year, one million newly born calves are taken from their mothers to be processed into veal (Krizmanic 41). They are kept in narrow crates and are chained at the neck so they cannot even lie down (Krizmanic 41-42) or clean themselves (Regan 220). In these crates, no straw bedding is provided, as the baby cows would eat it (Krizmanic 42). They are deprived of hay because the iron nutrient in the hay would darken the meat, and veal meat is supposed to be processed with a light color (Fox 29). The baby cows are kept in the dark most of their lives (Regan 220). Veal cows are deprived of exercise, as that would cause their muscles to develop and toughen (Krizmanic 42). The baby cow s main source of food is an iron-deficient milk replacer type of gruel to keep their flesh white. Because of the lack of iron, the calves often become anemic, and some die even before making it to the slaughterhouse (Krizmanic 42). The babies that do make it to the slaughterhouse are cripples and can barely walk to greet their death (Fox 29). Every year more than 5+ billion chickens are raised for consumption, and every bird raised uses 5+ gallons of water for drinking (Kamrin NA). These broiler chickens as they are called, are killed as early as 6 weeks old (Fox 31). At an average size factory farm, more than 100 chickens are crammed into small windowless sheds (Kamrin NA). In these sheds, chickens are crowded onto floors covered with wood shavings (Fox 31). They have to stay on these shavings, soaked with their droppings, which creates an ammonia-rich environment, which leads to birds with eye diseases, respiratory problems and contact burns on the bird s skin (Fox 31). These birds become agitated and start pecking each other (Krizmanic 38). To avoid this, the farmers remove their beaks with a hot blade while the animal is fully conscious (Krizmanic 38). They are also declawed, and some have even been fitted with rose colored contact lenses to reduce their stress (Fox 26). Chicken feed is made up of grains and old chicken parts, which can include salmonella bacteria (Sequoia 46). Turkey and other fowl are also processed in the same conditions (Krizmanic 38).
In an egg-laying factory, there are hundreds of thousands of birds that are packed into small cages, which allows for + foot of space for each bird (Krizmanic 38). Shock treatment, which is a method that forces birds to lay eggs by depriving them of food for up to ten days, kills many chickens (Fox 30). Sometimes baby chicks are allowed to be born, and if it is a male, they are often gassed and tossed into plastic bags or ground up alive as chicken feed, just because they are not egg layers (Krizmanic 38).Pig factory farmers raise mostly female pigs (Krizmanic 38). These sows go from pregnancy to pregnancy without a break. Farmers also inject hormones to make the sows have more babies at one time, inexpensively (Krizmanic 38). Sows are penned to breeding stalls (Kamrin NA). Here, they are either chained to the ground with a heavy collar around their neck or shoulders, or they are kept in narrow stalls where they can t turn around (Fox 30). The rows of stalled up sows are in semi-darkness on concrete, without bedding (Fox 30). These pigs often develop foot; ankle and leg problems from being forced to stand on concrete slabs (Krizmanic 39). They sometimes suffer from lung damage and pneumonia from the ammonia and other toxins that form around the factory. When pigs are ready to give birth, they are put up in metal crates that restrict almost all activity. Pigs are usually calm and friendly, but confined pigs will bite each other s tails. Farmers prevent this by removing the tails and teeth of newborns. They also notch the pig s ears to tell them apart by cutting them or using a hot blade (Krizmanic 39).It is not easy to escape cruelty to animals in the food industry, not even with fish. Fish have a central nervous system and feel pain too, so no method of fishing is humane (Fox 46). Fish factory farms are floating cages that are too crowded. Many fish die or get sick because dead fish aren t removed from cages (Krizmanic 42). Commercially raised fish are treated with various drugs to treat and prevent stress-related diseases, which in turn contaminates other fish in the water as well as other aquatic animals (Fox 36). Another factor that adds to unhealthy fish is that many of their habitats are open to animal waste deposit spots, so their flesh is contaminates when those waste products are dumped (Fox 36).There are many health risks that go along with these meat and dairy products. In Mason s book, Animal Factories, P.F. McGargle said it best.What happens [in slaughterhouses] to the 15 million pounds of animal tissues which are too severely infected with cancers to be used? They are processed into hog or chicken feed. The result is a recycling of potential cancer substances repeatedly through the human and animal food chain (67).Many health problems have been related to the consumption of meat and animal products, including food poisoning, salmonella poisoning, allergies (from the antibiotics residual in meats), arteriosclerosis, breast cancer, colon cancer and osteoporosis (Fox 44). Salmonella poisoning resulted in 5 thousand deaths in 1988 (Kamrin NA). Most sales of contaminated meat are sold to schools at bargain prices (Fox 23). A large amount of meat is not adequately inspected, and most inspection is done by factory farm workers instead of USDA employees (Shapiro 55). These inspection procedures are very lax so that diseased and contaminated cattle are regularly approved for consumption (Shapiro 55). In a 1990 test of milk distribution in the New York area, it was reported that the milk contained tetracycline and sulfa (Sequoia 46). There are many good things that come from decreasing meat and dairy products in the diet; by reducing consumption of meat by 50%, one can reduce the risk of a heart attack by at least 45% (Sequoia 46).Even the environment suffers from processing meat and diary. One half of the water consumed in the US is used in factory farms (Sequoia 47). 90% of the oats and corn are eaten by livestock (kind of an inefficient way of feeding people) and production of one pound of meat takes up about 2,500 gallons of water (Sequoia 47). In 1979, for the 145 million tons of grain and soy fed to animals, only 21 million tons of meat and dairy was produced (Kamrin NA). Every year, 85% of 4 million acres of topsoil is lost because of raising livestock (Sequoia 47). So many animals are concentrated on these farms that animal wastes are a major source of ground water pollution, air pollution and contribute to global warming (Sequoia 47). The intensive farming also uses immense amounts of energy resources (Kamrin NA).Intensive agriculture takes a big toll on the rainforest. Central American forests from 1960-1978, reports State of the world 1986 declined from 72 million to 42 million acres, while cattle numbers grew from 7 million to 12 million (Kamrin NA). A total of 260 million acres of oxygen producing trees have been cut down for a meat-centered diet (Sequoia 47). Rainforests that can absorb global warming carbon dioxide are being cleared, and cattle are moving in (Kamrin NA), which is pushing many rainforest inhabitants toward extinction.There is a large number of people who are opposed to a major change in their meat eating lifestyle for reasons of tradition, health and ridicule from other meat eaters. Humans are made to be omnivores, as we have teeth to eat meat, grains and vegetables. Though vegetarians do not deny this fact, the problem lies with how the meat is raised and brutally slaughtered for our personal enjoyment. There are many victims of deception in the food industry. Factory farms are unsanitary and downright unsafe. They perform many violations of animal rights and USDA policies. This is a dirty industry. BibliographyFox, Michael W. Inhumane Society. New York: St Martin’s Press, 1990. Kamrin, Michael A. “Factory Farms and Meat.” IN Ethics. Vol 3. Art.70. Boca Raton, FL:Social Issues Resources Series, 1990. Krizmanic, Judy. A Teen’s Guide to Going Vegetarian. New York: Penguin, 1994. Mason, Jim A., and Peter Singer. Animal Factories New york: Crown Publishers, 1980. Regan, Tom. The Case For animal Rights. Los Angeles:University of California Press, 1983. Robbins, John. Diet For A New America. New york: Harper Perennial, 1990. Sequoia, Anna 67 Ways To Save the Animals Harper Perennial,1990. Shapiro, Laura. “The Bad News About Beef” Newsweek 6 April. 1992:55.