How much do you know about your Thanksgiving turkey? If you buy your turkey from a typical grocery store–and most Americans do–you might not realize that the approximately 46 million turkeys consumed every year come from a factory farm.

But if Thanksgiving is truly about offering gratitude for what we have, it seems fitting to also be grateful to the turkey that many of us will eat for dinner. We ought to think about how that turkey lived before ending up on our tables. Read more

When most people think of factory farming they typically think of feedlots, hog factories or chicken operations–not massive open net pens growing millions of fish in our oceans. However, factory fish farming will soon pose many of the same threats to the environment and to consumers as its land-based counterparts.

Growing fish in a crowded environment in open net pens or cages and giving them antibiotic-laced feed inevitably leads to pollution. The waste, which includes excess feed, antibiotics and the chemicals used to treat the cages, flows directly into the ocean and, ultimately, on to our plates.

Food & Water Watch’s new report reveals that if the government used factory fish farming to reach its stated goal of offsetting the U.S. seafood trade deficit (that is, importing less seafood than it exports), 200 million of these fish would need to be produced in ocean cages off U.S. coasts each year. Calculations show that this could result in the discharge of as much nitrogenous waste as the untreated sewage from a city nearly nine times more populous than Los Angeles. Read more

Having spent several years working to raise awareness about the problems created by factory farms, I’ve fielded a whole lot of questions about industrial livestock production–so many, in fact, that I’ve often considered publishing a pocketsize list of factory farm FAQs.  You know, a little something to inspire lighthearted cocktail party conversation or to use as an icebreaker during first dates.  Instant commercial success, guaranteed.  Anyway, at the top of the list would be the question, “where are these factory farms?” Read more

We get asked frequently at Farm Aid what a family farmer really is, how to spot a factory farm, or if someone can be both a family farmer and run a factory farm. We also receive questions from farmers themselves who want to know if we consider them a family farm or a factory farm. You name it — we’re asked it.

At Farm Aid, we consider these questions seriously. After all, our mission is to keep family farmers on their land. So, what do we mean when we say family farmer? How do we identify a factory farm? Is there any real definition to these terms? Read more

President Obama made a speech yesterday before the National Academy of Sciences – and mentioned the important link between scientific knowledge and our national health and security. According to The White House Blog, Obama said:

Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before.

And if there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it’s today.  We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. And this is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert.  But it’s not a cause for alarm.

So, the question is: what does science say about the causes of the current swine flu epidemic? Read more

It is necessary to question our movement. Without a cold, hard look at the snags in implementing a sustainable food system, someone ill-informed will crawl out of the woodwork clinging to their credentials and poke holes in our arguments, whether with valid points or not, possibly shilling for Big Ag or just looking to market themselves as a contrarian.

Today, a free-range dissenter ended up in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, seemingly to defend factory farmed pork. Read more