As I wrote a couple weeks ago, the U.S. has seen unprecedented growth in factory farming in the past 5-10 years. It is a huge concern and doesn’t take a bleeding heart to see that. One look at the way animals and birds are treated on these factory farms will make your stomach turn, and learning about this issue alone has turned countless people into vegetarians and vegans.
For a little (not too harsh) intro, if you don’t know much about it, here’s what Sally Deneen of The Daily Green recently wrote about factory farming:
If you took a guess, would you say that caged chickens in the egg industry are never able to: A) Spread their wings; B) Walk around; C) Lay eggs in a nest; or D) All of the above.
The answer, says the Humane Society of the United States, is D. More than 90 percent of nation’s egg-laying hens live in so-called “battery cages” and never touch the ground or go outdoors. Meanwhile, HSUS says, six million breeding female pigs and a million calves raised for veal spend practically their whole lives in crates too small for the animals to turn around. In short, the mental picture of a bucolic farm with rolling hills dotted with happy cows is passé. It doesn’t apply to today’s industrialized farms.
Animal Welfare is Important to Americans, but How to Improve It?
A study by food research group Technomic has found that over 50% of consumers consider animal welfare to be one of the most important social welfare issues related to food and 89% believe that “companies are ‘doing the right thing’ when they require farmers to improve their animal care.” The question now is, how can consumers influence the way animals are treated and raised?
Of course, we can do our own in-depth research of the topic and of each food product we buy, but that is very time-consuming and it would be completely unrealistic to think that more than a small percentage of the population would ever do this.
A more realistic option is having a standardized labeling system (or maybe more than one) for “humane” products. With companies like Whole Foods and Safeway committing to selling more humane products lately, it seems the time might be now to initiate a system that independently verifies what humane means. Especially since, as Farm Sanctuary writes:
while some animals may suffer less than others, they still suffer, and the claims made on these labels can mislead consumers about how well the animals are actually treated. The ways animals are raised for the “humane” market vary widely, and they may not be consistent with what consumers envision.
For a lot more on these topics, check out the link above.
Photo & Caption Credit: Farm Sanctuary