Monday, August 6, 2012

Feeling Corny

Several of our chickens have discovered our corn. Lucky chickens. Not only do they get to freely wander in the rain and sunshine, they can gorge themselves on things they like -- for a while. Their counterparts in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), the homes of most of the animals Americans eat, exist on the floor of a warehouse filled with up to 40,000 other chickens. They might finally get to see daylight on their final day, when being trucked to the slaughterhouse, but then who needs a range to tour if you can't walk because you've been bred for your breasts, not your legs? Those breasts put the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue to shame. In 1920, it took the birds 16 weeks to reach 2.2 pounds. Now, they can reach 5 pounds after only 7 weeks.

Any egg eaters thinking about congratulating themselves for not eating meat might want to reconsider. Egg-laying chickens find their homes in 12" by 18" battery cages, which they share with up to 5 other layers, stacked in a large house that may hold more than 80,000 birds. What a delight!

No windows? Well, there might be windows on the neighbors' houses, but they stay closed most of the time. All those chickens stink.

Chickens are enough for today, except did you know that in 2002, two Iowa counties had more than 800,000 pigs? In February 2012, the governor of Montana was trying to entice Chinese investors to open a pig plant in Shelby that would house over 800,000 hogs. A feeding operation with 800,000 pigs would generate over 1.6 million TONS of waste per year? That's 1 1/2 times the annual sanitary waste of the City of Philadelphia. Now that's a factory, not a farm.

How do we feed the world without doing things this way? Joel Salatin tells how, in his fascinating book, The Sheer Ecstacy of Being a Lunatic Farmer. 

"Isn't he the guy who says true American heroes don't go overseas to empire or nation build; they stay home, farm, and fuss with government workers who enforce regulations inspired and lobbied by the military-industrial complex?" says Virginia.

Maybe so.

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