Farms or Factories

Jul 6, 2015 by

So when is a farm not a farm? And when is it a stretch to call someone a farmer? You know the Truly Irish advert with a “farmer” standing in a lovely green field talking about his pigs? Except there are no pigs to be seen. I’m fairly certain if the advert had shown the reality, sales of Truly Irish pork and bacon would have nose dived (at least initially). Consumers have very short memories.

We are used to seeing cattle grazing on lush green grass here for 6-8 months of the year, sheep all year round. But how often have you seen any quantity of pigs or chickens?

Pigs and chickens are reared here in what they call CAFOS in the US. Concentrated animal feeding operations. Over there most beef is produced in these. We just produce pigs and chickens in cafos.

The animals are raised intensively with little space and with little chance to behave as animals are supposed to. Cattle in feed lots can’t graze and are instead fed concentrates of corn/soy – for the most part genetically modified. These cereals are primarily modified to withstand repeated applications of Roundup, the herbicide that the WHO has acknowledged to be “probably carcinogenic”.  Cattle are natural grazers and this is an unnatural diet. Because of this, a harmless gut bacterium called E. coli has mutated into the very dangerous form, E.coli 015:H7 or hemorrhagic E. coli. The bacterium is spread rapidly through all the animals as they live knee deep in their own excrement for their lifetime.

  • Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) is a bacterium that can cause severe foodborne disease.
  • In most cases, the illness is self-limiting, but it may lead to a life-threatening disease including haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), especially in young children and the elderly.

E. coil 0157H7 has now become so widespread it is being called an epidemic. Official estimates reveal that E. coli is killing as many as 500 people a year and causing another 20,000 people to become sick.

Pigs are raised in concrete houses and are not given bedding. This is supposedly to prevent the spread of disease. Animals that are natural rooters cannot root on concrete and so resort to eating each other’s tails. To prevent this they have their tails docked. They often have their teeth removed as well. If anyone doubts me go to an abattoir on a kill day and look at the pigs being unloaded. Apart from the fact that they absolutely stink, they have had their tail stumps bitten and are often bleeding, they have excrement smeared all over their bodies. They also have to be fed antibiotics as a prophylactic (just in case) and this excrement is pumped out of giant pig housing units into the environment. Methicillin resistant Staph aureus MRSA is the result of this practice.

MRSA is the bacteria that you do not want to become infected with post op. If you do, you should bend over and kiss your ass good bye, as someone once memorably said to me as I was about to jump a huge drain out hunting.

Chickens and eggs are produced the same way even, “free range”. I have written at length about this in previous posts. I worked in an intensive turkey plant for 4 years so I have extensive experience of it.

So how is this style of food production still being called farming?

“New guidelines on food labelling have been issued by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which it says will help ensure consumers are not misled by the use of marketing terms on foods.” Read more

So why is farming not being defined? I for one do not consider intensive animal production is farming. In order to satisfy the demand for cheap food we raise animals intensively. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch and if we have caused bacteria to mutate and become resistant to antibiotics or at worst deadly then we are paying a very high price indeed for our cheap pork chops.

Apart from the cruelty (can you imagine the outcry if dogs or cats were treated in this manner?) Even if you don’t care about the cruelty and you have no interest where your meat comes from. Even if as far as you are concerned, the cheaper the better, think about this……

How would you feel if a member of your family in hospital after a minor surgery becomes infected with MRSA, which does not respond to the cocktail of antibiotics administered?

How would you feel if your small child or your elderly parent ate meat contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 and died from kidney failure?

I think this image says it all. Is it not time we started to ask the question?

What is farming?

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  1. Thanks Caitriona 😉

  2. Thanks Lily, trying to source chicken myself 😉

  3. Excellent article Margaret. I only buy pork from a couple of sources and I know them both. They're farmers, not factory owners. I haven't managed to do the same with chicken, but I'm in the process of figuring that one out.

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