Eating Smart ("Pork's Dirty Secret")

Recently in my ethics course, we began reading a book entitled The Way We Eat by Peter Singer, who is a noted animal rights activist and has written many essays on the ethics surrounding the treatment and mistreatment of animals. Not only do I recommend this book to anyone concerned about animal treatment and environmental issues, but I have to say that it has completely changed my opinions of the factory farming industry, and indeed the meat industry in the US as a whole.

Factory farms in the US treat chickens, pigs, and cows in a horrendous manner from birth to death, raising serious ethical concerns for the suffering of these animals which largely goes unnoticed. Most people have no idea that 99% of the eggs in the country come from farms where hens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade to prevent pecking, after which they are stuffed into a 72" square crate with twenty-five of their fellow hens with barely enough room to turn around, and no room at all to move or perform normal hen-like behavior. The emotional and physical trauma induced upon factory farmed animals is appalling, and as I said earlier, unnoticed.

Factory farming also raises huge health and environmental issues. Pig farming alone produces billions and billions of tons of untreated pig waste every year which runs into rivers, streams, and oceans. In the Gulf of Mexico, pig farming has created massive "dead-zones" of ocean in which no life is sustainable at all. Farmed fish also create unbelievable amounts of waste, in addition to weakening the populations of similar wild fish, by escaping and interbreeding, weakening their immune systems and spreading disease.

Shrimp trolling destroys coral reefs, and in some areas" bycatch" (or the miscellaneous fish which are caught in addition to shrimp or other fish) can be as high as 14 lbs for every 1 lb of shrimp. Most of this bycatch dies on deck before being swept overboard.

I encourage you all to read this book and become more conscientious of the meat products you choose when going to the supermarket. Buying organic meat is simply not enough, because slapping an "organic" label on a product does not certify ethical animal treatment. Look for free range labels, and if you are in my situation (eating in a fixed dining hall for 9/10 meals) ask your food provider where your meat comes from.

Talk to your friends about the horrors of factory farming and spread information about this situation. Obviously the opinions of most Americans will never change on meat eating, but if we can increase awareness perhaps the factory farming industry will see that people in the United States want a change. We can only hope.
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