Factory farmed chickens have it bad, but in Christopher Leonard’s new meat industry exposé The Meat Racket, it’s the farmers who get plucked. Leonard, a former agribusiness reporter for the Associated Press and now a fellow at the New America Foundation, subtitled his book The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business, and he’s not kidding about the “secret” part. When Leonard set out to investigate how four huge companies came to more or less dictate the state of our meat supply, he ran into balky bureaucrats and fearful farmers. Read more
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This article was originally published by OnEarth magazine.
Before I even stepped from my truck onto the gravel outside the New Fashion Pork hog confinement facility, Emily Erickson, the company’s animal well-being and quality assurance manager, handed me a pair of stretchy white plastic footies to put over my shoes. It was a blustery day in September, the sky threatening snow—the first hint of winter, when cold, dry air stabilizes viruses and biosecurity becomes a topmost concern. Read more
Food scientists don’t get the best rap in the sustainable food world. And that’s understandable, since most spend their days working to improve the mouth feel of Velveeta and perfect the flavorpacks in Tropicana.
But not all food scientists are the same. Take Joshua Klein, of Hampton Creek Foods, for instance. He’s the head of biochemistry research and development for a start-up working furiously to replace eggs in many of our most popular foods with more humane and more affordable plant-based proteins. And he might make some people think a little differently about the role scientists can play in fixing what’s wrong with our food. Read more
I live in Washington State, but for 20 years have relied on wild Alaska salmon to earn a living. Many of my friends earn their livings catching the sockeye salmon of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The silver-sided fish fill our boats and feed the world. Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final watershed assessment for Bristol Bay, outlining the potential impacts of large-scale mining on the most productive and economically important sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Read more
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 317 people in 20 states had confirmed cases of Salmonella caused by chicken traced to a California processor. This should be (yet another) wake-up call that it’s time to make serious changes to the way U.S. chickens are housed, raised, and processed in the factory farming system. But there is an even deeper issue at the heart of this problem: The fact that chickens are deliberately bred for excessive growth. Read more
On April 29, 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) released the findings of a two-and-a half-year examination of the food animal industry to the nation. Their conclusion: The current system of raising animals posed unacceptable risks to public health and the environment. Five years later, an in-depth analysis by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) determined that instead of getting better, the problem has actually gotten worse since the commission released its seminal report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America. Read more
Few contemporary artists have been the subject of quite so many rumors as Banksy. Depending on what you believe, the anonymous, larger-than-life British graffiti artist is not one man, but a collective of people. He participates in social media–or not. His identity has been revealed several time–or not. Oh and he’s might actually be a she.* Read more
The Meatless Mondays campaign encourages consumers to skip meat one day a week in favor of plant-based foods, and highlights how this simple action can help improve their health and reduce the environmental impacts of their diets. Seems small, but the collective impacts are potentially anything but. According to estimates by the Humane Society of the United States, if every American embraced Meatless Mondays, we would need to raise 1.4 billion fewer farm animals. That translates into a lot fewer toxic chemicals, reduced climate pollution, healthier soils and waterways, and a lot less animal cruelty. Read more
Rolling across North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, California, and today, eastern Michigan, I’ve seen first-hand the impacts of industrial dairy, poultry, and hog factories on rural communities. I admire the people who fight back against the invasion of factory farms. I seek them out, trying to see the land from their eyes. But no matter how many times I experience it, I still find unpalatable a business model that’s based on marginalizing animal welfare and polluting your neighbors’ air, land, water and quality of life in the name of profit and cheap food. Read more