Discover More…The vast majority of the food produced in the United States comes from industrial-sized confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Ironically, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen one – they are typically hidden from public view, and their operators don’t want you to see what’s really going on out of fear that you would turn away in disgust at the thought of eating their “food”.
But it doesn’t take much to see that the modern industrial system of meat and poultry production exerts serious toll on animal welfare, the environment, and human health. If these things don’t merit a prompt call to action, then I don’t know what will.
The First Victim: LivestockIn this infographic, I’ve provided a picture of what happens to chickens, pigs, and cattle in factory farms under factory-farm conditions. For starters, hundreds of millions of male chicks are killed each year upon hatching because they will not grow up to lay eggs!
Disease is rampant among these CAFO animals: they live in cramped and unsanitary living conditions, a natural consequence of raising animals in unbelievable numbers.
It is just as highly disturbing how CAFO animals are routinely administered a variety of drugs, including antibiotics. They’re given drugs whether they’re sick or well, because it’s important to keep as many of them as possible alive until it’s time for slaughter.
And what is the result of routinely giving antibiotic to the animals? Significant growth boosts, a purely a financial motive – larger fatter animals equal higher profits.
Waste and Pollution on a Massive ScaleRaising tens of thousands of animals in one facility translates to a load of waste. Animal manure is traditionally regarded as an important fertilizer when produced on a much smaller scale, but it has become one of the most polluting substances in the country.
When this waste is produced in massive quantities, it becomes hazardous. But another irony lies here: federal legislature forbids animal waste from being defined as “hazardous.”
According to a report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (IFAP), the annual production of manure produced by CAFOs exceeds that produced by humans by at least three times. Animal waste in such volumes may go beyond the capacity of the land to absorb the nutrients and attenuate pathogens.
Factory farm runoff also carries the following:
Hormones and antibiotics such as Tylosin: A widely
used antibiotic for disease treatment and growth promotion in swine,
beef cattle, and poultry production. Tylosin decays rapidly in the
environment but can still be found in surface waters of agricultural
Heavy metals: Especially zinc and copper, added as micronutrients to the animal diet
Pesticides: Which are used to control insect infestations and fungal growth
The Adverse Effects on Human HealthCAFOs serve as breeding grounds for disease not just among animals, but also the farm workers and the rest of us. Feeding livestock continuous, low-dose antibiotics create an environment conducive to widespread disease proliferation.
Antibiotic-resistant disease is particularly concerning. Among the many resistant pathogens, today is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which has so far been responsible for more than 94,000 infections and 18,000 deaths in the US each year.
A lesser-known issue is the antibiotic-laden manure from CAFOs contaminating the rest of your food supply. This means that even your lettuce may contain antibiotics.
Move Toward Organically Raised, Drug-Free, Grass-Fed or Pastured Animal ProductsIt is likely that these grim realities of the food supply will continue for a long time, as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refuses to impose stricter regulations on CAFOs. What the FDA simply does is ask food producers to voluntarily limit their use of certain antibiotics.
Don’t let yourself, the animals, and the environment bear the brunt.
The best possible way to avoid CAFO products is to support small family farms in your area, specifically organic farms that respect the laws of nature and create synergistic, self-supporting, non-polluting, non-GMO ecosystems.
This infographic will also let you in on organizations you can go to if you want to know more about this cause.
It’s time for you to decide on what type of food system you’re willing to support. After all, knowing the source of your food is a critical aspect of taking control of your health.
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