What Parents Need to Know About Factory Animal Farms
By Ketura Persellin
You probably care a lot about how your fruits and vegetables are grown. You
may not think as much about where your family’s animal protein comes from,
but the conditions in which most meat, poultry and even dairy is produced
may give you and your kids pause — even those most likely to clamor for yet
another burger or hot dog.
Americans eat a lot of meat and poultry — 27 billion pounds of beef were
produced last year alone, most of it in “factory farms
All those animals produce lots of manure — quite literally tons of it. The
775 animal operations in the Maumee Basin of Western Lake Erie alone
produce 5.5 million tons of manure each year. The coastal plain of North
Carolina has 1,500 factory farms that produce as much as 4 billion gallons
of wet swine waste and 400,000 tons of dry poultry waste.
The mountains of waste smell terrible, but the stench is far from the worst
problem it creates. Bacteria
such as from hog feces
can get into the homes and lawns of neighbors and endanger their physical
and mental health. And the problem is getting worse
From 2005 to 2018, the amount of manure produced in the Maumee Basin rose
by more than 40 percent.
All that waste has to go somewhere. Manure from large-scale animal farms
runs off into groundwater, lakes, rivers and streams. It pollutes drinking
water, hurts air quality and triggers tremendous stress for local
residents. That may be one reason life expectancy
North Carolina communities near hog farms is particularly low, even after
adjusting for other socioeconomic factors.
Kids may love poop jokes, but the production and consumption of animal
protein is no laughing matter. You and your children might find the
conditions the animals that you eat are raised in outrageous and disgusting
— perhaps enough to drive even the most enthusiastic carnivore into the
ranks of committed vegans. The animals live in crowded, dirty conditions
often infested with flies and rodents. The water they drink or that’s used
to wash down the facility can get contaminated with any number of these
Here are a few other things to consider – and point out to the kids when
they clamor for yet another burger, hot dog or order of chicken McNuggets:
– Not all meat is produced in a factory farm. By buying certain kinds of
meat, you can avoid supporting a great deal of the harm of factory farms.
Look <https://www.ewg.org/research/labeldecoder/> for grass-fed,
pasture-raised or “free range” meat in lean cuts that have no antibiotics
or hormones and are certified organic. Check out EWG’s label decoder
<https://www.ewg.org/research/labeldecoder/> for help.
– It’s not just livestock raised for meat that’s raised in
industrial-scale animal operations — dairy cows are too. So if you’re not a
fan of large-scale animal production, you’ll may want to change your dairy
consumption habits, too. Buying organic milk, cheese and other dairy
products will be better for your family’s health and for the environment.
– Crowded living conditions in factory farms make animals sick, which
has driven the overuse of antibiotics for livestock. This has led to the
development of strains of bacteria in animals and humans that are
resistant <https://www.ewg.org/research/superbugs/> to life-saving
medicine — the last thing most parents want.
– Manure runoff contains chemicals that algae feed on, such as nitrates
and phosphorus. They’re responsible for the toxic algae blooms that
pollute <https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/toxicalgalblooms/> many
lakes and rivers (and sometimes make them off limits for swimming and
fishing). If you’ve seen “Do Not Swim” signs recently at the beach or your
area lake, or greenish scum floating on the water’s surface, you’re often
looking at the direct consequence of industrial-scale animal production.
– Factory farms aren’t going away any time soon. The amount of red meat
and poultry consumed in the U.S. fell after the Great Recession of 2008 but
rebounded and was projected to reach 222.2 pounds
person per year in 2018. It’s expected to go up in the rest of the world,
too. Dairy consumption in this country is also on the rise. Your family can
do its part to avoid adding to the problem. For starters, consider going
meatless <https://www.meatlessmonday.com/> (and without dairy) once a
*If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they
went. (Will Rogers)*
*the wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. he is in front
of it – axel munthe*
*”Never doubt that a small group of dedicated citizens can change the
world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead*
*Until every cage is empty. Until every animal is free*