Tag Archives: factory farming

Facing Factory Farms Salon Recap

Facing Factory Farms (large)

On June 16th, 2015, Change Food reunited with TEDxManhattan 2015 speakers Michele Merkel of Food & Water Justice and Kendra Kimbirauskas of the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project in New York City to host the Facing Factory Farms Salon. Joined by a diverse group of attendees, we sought to accomplish three goals:

  1. Generate actionable ideas on how to fight the growing presence of factory farming in the U.S.
  2. Discuss how to involve urban residents and students in fighting factory farming and other food issues.
  3. Use this Salon as a template for other interested individuals to create their own event around a food issue.

After showing Kendra and Michele’s talks, each speaker gave a brief update (below) on their work.

Despite Kendra Kimbirauskas’ work as an anti-factory farm organizer and the growing number of people increasing their involvement and education on the issue, factory farms continue to expand, affecting more and more communities . CAFOs dramatically degrade the land, and excessive waste and poor containment severely contaminate water sources. Further, AgGag laws make it illegal to take photos and document animal cruelty on CAFOs, making it difficult to expose factory farming practices.

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Offstage at TEDxManhattan: Lance Price

Lance Price, a Professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, spoke backstage at TEDxManhattan about how consumers can fight back against the overuse of antibiotics in meat production.  See his brief interview, or watch his full talk, “Factory Farms, Antibiotics & Superbugs.” 

Offstage at TEDxManhattan: Andrew Gunther

2014 speaker Andrew Gunther of Animal Welfare Approved was interviewed offstage about the organization and its certification program.  “Spend five minutes a month just learning where your meat comes from and how it was raised and who raised it,” he urged.  See his full talk here.

TEDxManhattan Speaker Profile: Steve Wing

Steve Wing

Steve Wing

As TEDxManhattan approaches, we’ve asked this year’s speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. Today we feature Steve Wing, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.

1) What’s the topic you’ll be speaking about?

Environmental health impacts of industrial farm animal production.

2) Why do you feel this is important?

Most meat, milk and eggs come from factory farms that pollute the environment and impact the health of farmworkers and people living nearby.  Factory farms also pollute larger regions and release greenhouse gases that cause climate change.  Raising awareness about the negative impacts of industrial farm animal production can help build a movement for a healthier food system.

3) Are there other projects you’re also passionate about right now?

I work on other health and environmental issues related to agriculture, waste, and energy including sewage sludge and nuclear radiation.

4) Where can more information about your project be found?

See this article from The Environmental Factor, published monthly by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Steve Wing received his Ph.D. in epidemiology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is currently an associate professor.  Recent work has focused on environmental injustice and health effects of ionizing radiation, industrial animal production, sewage sludge, and landfills.  He has collaborated on health and exposure studies with communities and workers impacted by threats to environmental and occupational health.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Sustainable vs Industrial

hog-cafoIn the past two weeks, we’ve talked about sustainable and organic food, as well as industrial agriculture and factory farming in our Guide to Good Food. This week, we’re going to compare sustainable with industrial so you can see a side-by-side difference.

In general, the biggest differences between sustainable and industrial farms are the size of the operation (industrial farms are much bigger), the amount of pollution/effect on the environment (sustainable farms do not pollute the environment and they replace the resources they take), and the quality of food you get (small local sustainable farms provide fresher foods that not only taste better, they’re better for you).

To break it down and give you more specifics, I’ve done a comparison of the two types of farming so you can see how different these practices can be.

Health
Industrial farming: Industrial crops contain more nitrates and are often heavily sprayed with pesticides. Unsanitary conditions on factory farms and in industrial slaughterhouses cause high levels of meat contamination, which can cause food poisoning. In the U.S., food borne illness sickens 76 million people, causes 325,000 hospitalizations and kills approximately 5,000 people a year.

Sustainable farming: Food is grown with minimal or no use of pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. It can be healthier and more nutritious than industrially-raised food. Organic foods have been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants, which help fight certain types of cancer. Some types of organic crops contain more vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.

Antibiotics and Hormones
Industrial farming: Low doses of antibiotics are given daily to animals to ward off illness and disease that can develop from unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. This contributes to problems with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans. Both antibiotics and hormones are used to make animals grow faster.

Sustainable farming: Antibiotics are only given if the animal is sick, and hormones are never given to the animals.

Environment
Industrial farming: Responsible for massive topsoil erosion, depletion and pollution of underground water supplies, and the reduction of genetic diversity. Industrial farms also pollute our air, surface water and soil with animal waste, hazardous gases, toxic chemicals and harmful pathogens.

Sustainable farming: Protects the natural environment, with farms managed in a responsible way, maintaining the fertility of the land and preserving resources for future generations. Sustainable farms use waste as fertilizer and don’t raise more animals than their land can handle.

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Factory Farming and Industrial Agriculture

cows21Last week we talked about sustainable and organic, and the difference between the two. This week, we’re going to delve into the real issue – factory farming and industrial agriculture. The differences between sustainable and organic aren’t as big when you compare them to industrial food production.

Factory farming and industrial agriculture are unsustainable systems that produce large volumes of food but have little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare, soil and water quality, food safety, worker rights, farmers or local communities. The focus is on maximizing profit and efficiency – but at great cost.

The terms factory farming and industrial agriculture are used interchangeably, though factory farming is generally used to explain industrial animal production and industrial agriculture tends to describe or include intensive crop production.

What is a factory farm?

A factory farm is a large industrial operation that raises many animals (usually cows, pigs, chickens or turkeys) in overcrowded, confined conditions. Some animals are raised indoors in metal sheds, where they never see sunlight and often live on concrete slats, their feet never touching the earth. Other animals (cows mainly) are raised outdoors on large feedlots, huge tracts of barren land, where they stand in mud and their own feces, with no grass or trees nearby. These animals are not permitted to carry out their natural behaviors, like rooting, pecking and grazing.

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