You can see clearly pictured one of the pink lagoons mentioned in this article. If you zoom out a little, you see scores of them.
Edit: most of the fields you see surrounding them are producing crops that are dangerous to eat due to their nitrate levels (according to the article)
1) More research into sustainable farming techniques
2) More research into automation that makes these sustainable techniques feasible at a market cost
Unfortunately, the companies that can afford to do that research are too busy using their money to genetically modify their crops and pump their livestock full of drugs.
If the government forced these guys to cut back through sanctions, the cheapest food might not be the most unhealthy anymore. Issues of environmental and public health concerns are one area where I actually agree with stronger governmental powers vs corporations - people won't vote with the dollars because it's a) necessary to live and b) they usually live so far away from the heinous conditions that they don't even know about it - or worse, don't care.
I could be old-fashioned and myopic, though. Maybe someone can figure out a way to have the best of both worlds.
Regarding cost, I no longer worry about the amount of money my family spends on groceries. Yes, we spend $5/pound for beef, and $2.50/pound for chicken, but this is stuff we are putting in our bodies--it's what keeps us alive. I feel that price shouldn't be the driving factor in what we eat.
Raising animals is such an inefficiant way to farm food, people seldom question this. Unless you can't use the land for anything else. There simply isn't enough land to go around.
In other places, such as here in Austria for example, nobody is going to use the alpine pastures that cows graze on for growing anything else.
I am pretty sure it is the same in Switzerland and Bavaria, and probably other mountainous regions such as in Japan and Greece (although the grazing livestock in these places might not be cattle).
And you Austrians really have to care for the cows in winter (prepare some sheltered and warm barns, with feed - I've been there, and was surprised at how easy we Uruguayans have it with our cows)
Why doesn't he charge more?
* 51 storm-related deaths in North Carolina, 90 on the East Coast, making this the deadliest storm sinceHurricane Agnes in 1972, where 122 died.
* 30,500 hogs, 2,000 cattle, 250 horses, 2.1 million chickens, and 737,000 turkeys lost in North Carolina.
* Four hog waste lagoons burst and 47 overflowed; 24 water treatment plants flooded.
* Over 7,000 homes were destroyed; 17,000 rendered uninhabitable, and at least 10,000 people were displaced in NC alone. Almost 70,000 people in the state applied for emergency assistance.
* Overall damage in NC exceeded six billion dollars, making it NC's most costly natural disaster ever, exceeding Hurricane Fran in 1997. New Jersey also listed Floyd as its worst natural disaster.
* Thirty-seven counties in eastern NC with a combined area of 18,000 square miles (an area twice the size of Vermont) flooded.
* Ten states were declared disaster areas...."
"A Few Good Reasons to Not Partake of the Swine": http://indiejade.livejournal.com/23835.html
I became a vegetarian before reading this book, but reading it only made me more convinced that to stop eating meat and fish was one of the best decisions in my life.
I can get local grass-fed beef for $4.50/lb that is from very happy cows. Expensive as hell but pretty much an ideal food.
Federal regulations play a role in this too. Anybody other than a factory farmer is at an immense disadvantage when it comes to meeting the often arbitrary and pointless regulations.
Check out "Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front" by Joe Salatin if you're interested.
Yet, we have quotas on selling to the US, because they have to maintain the subsidies on farming (it doesn't make sense if growing cattle in the US is so much more expensive). And the EU is way worse than the US in its subsidies - I've seen cattle in Austria, it is VERY expensive to raise it there - of course you want to maintain some local livestock for strategic purposes if nothing else, but it is still extremely inefficient.
And I pay about U$ 1/lb for very good grass-fed beef :)
As Paul McCartney puts it: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."
I also put down my dog when we had to (which was way more distressing than that), so it might not be for everybody.
There is a world of difference between slaughtering an individual animal and a modern factory farm slaughterhouse.
So I thought that if you're willing to kill the animal yourself, then maybe you're able to condone the slaughterhouses even if you see them through a glass wall
(maybe it will diminish your appetite, though :P - I wouldn't want to see it while eating!).
Remember the original swine flu? Not the 2009 H1N1 human outbreak, the ones before that killing vast numbers of pigs in industrial farms.
The material really was disgusting: workers beating animals to death, throwing transportation boxes (thus, breaking the animals' bones) etc.
I'm not a hardliner-PETA-animal-rights-activist, but I think there is good reason to not naively believe those statements of companies like Smithfield.
Either way it doesn't make it alright.
This article has pushed me over the line; I'll probably toss the batch I have. It was one of the bad ones anyway.
What's this got to do with Hacker News, in any case?
It shows you how big operations can go wrong, if safeguards are not put in place. The numbers here are mind numbing, this is collossal murder.
There has been a series of programmes on industrial modern farming on the bbc recently in the UK. Which focussed on the best parts of technological innovation in farming. Whereas this article exposes all that's wrong with factory farming.
As an Englishman I find it hard to comprehend the scale of things in the states. It horrifies me. The London circular felt huge to me, until I witnessed a freeway. Now it appears small and the cars look like toys.
We had the BSE outbreak in the UK, which has led to a change in consumer opinion. BSE was reportedly a result of canibalism. Recyling your outputs to inputs is a nice idea, but it's risky practice.
There's no mention of the quality of life these pigs are living. My uncle used to run a small factory pig farm in the UK and that was horrendous enough. That put me off of pork. Later working at an egg farm ensured that, I no longer ate eggs or chicken. There is something incredibly powerful about seeing things first hand. Animals deserve a better life than that, they surely deserve to see daylight.
The computer industry, has it's own issues with energy usage and pollution. The silicon valleys are known for poisoning rivers. There are parallels here. Consumeres need to be aware, to put pressure on industry. We can be ethical consumers, we can vote with our wallets. We can speak out, against injustices and barbaric practices.
Hacker news is full of talk about start ups and web entrapaneurs. Money is not the be all and end all. There is a social and environmental dimension to every business.
If the article does not shock you, or fill you with bile, then alas I feel there is something inherently wrong with you.
I do not delight in discovering injustices, whether it's Ethiopian farmers getting ripped off for the price of coffee or animals suffering. And I have a compulsion to put these injustices right, if I can. Though sometimes our impulses can blind our moral judgement.
I read a book that was published over a decade ago, that reported that every one of North America's great lakes had been overly polluted. A lot of the world's seas have been overfished, there are many dead zones, look on Google Earth.
You'd hope that with the advancement of science and the freedom of knowledge we could become a better race of people. This really saddens me. I believe the hacker spirit, is one that aims for solutions (possibly perfection), and I hope that that same spirit is well concidered and respectful.
Things change in a decade.
> The silicon valleys are known for poisoning rivers.
While fabs are full of toxic things and some of the disposal early on was suboptimal (I'm still waiting for the Sunnyvale city govt to create its own Love Canal by grabbing some of this land for housing), "silicon valleys" have not poisoned rivers.
And no, that's not a metaphor. A metaphor is an analogy between thoughts, ideas, or things.
If you're not correct on the details that I can check/know personally ....
A decade is no time at all.
What are you arguing? My point was that electronic waste has a high environmental cost, probably more so than farming.
Whether or not that's true, your claim was about the great lakes.
> What are you arguing?
I'm pointing out that your claims have been false. When someone points that out, you respond with different claims as if that somehow justifies things. It doesn't. (Neither does good intentions.)
> My point was that electronic waste has a high environmental cost, probably more so than farming.
One can make that point without engaging in falsehoods. You didn't bother and don't seem to understand why that's relevant. You don't even seem to care about getting things right.
I do not think I have stated any falsehoods. If I have supply counter evidence, rather than just poo pooing me.
The reference to the great lakes was that it was a classic and very well known example of human pollution. And that was a main theme of the article.
The Silicon valley reference was to highlight the huge environmental impact of the high tech industry. That may be in North America, or India. If they have cleaned up the industry in recent times, then that is great, have they?
True, but that doesn't make your claim about the Great Lakes true.
> The Silicon valley reference was to highlight the huge environmental impact of the high tech industry.
Silicon Valley isn't the high tech industry. It is a specific place in California.
As I suggested you're arguing "the truth of my claims doesn't matter because I mean well." That's both wrong and counter-productive for both your credibility and your cause.
> That may be in North America, or India.
In other words, you have no idea if it actually happened.
And you don't care.
Which rivers did "the silicon valleys" poison?
What to Submit
On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
Did you intend that to be self-referential or is it just a happy accident? :-)
If you're an inhabitant of Earth then large-scale environmental damage driven by global spending habits concerns you too. Sorry about that!
Edit: let me expand that a bit more. There are many things that I think are far more important than startups and hacking. Politics (in the US, Italy, the EU and worldwide), the economy (as above), the environment, child rearing, and so on and so forth. However, these tend to be "flame-bait" topics which are best left to other sites lest they overrun this one.
It's great that some people get their animal products from the sustainable farm down the road. That is better. But let's also not pretend it even makes a dent.
During World War II, about 70 million people were killed over the course of the conflict (1939-1945). In just the United States alone, we will kill that number of animals in less than three days. If you were to compare the entire loss of American life in that war, it would take you about 20 minutes to achieve in our factory farm system.
If you still don't see it as evil, animal agriculture is far and away the number one source of global warming pollution (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772&CR1=w...).
(And also, you are going to compare loss of life in war to animals killed for meat.... Seriously?)
People eat more meat at more meals than they ever have in history. The truth is that it's unsustainable and it causes huge long term problems for our environment. The fact that we have always done it doesn't really matter. We know we can live without it and be healthy. The question is should we continue to do it and if so, at what cost? And as hackers, we might ask if there's a way around it.
Comparing loss of human life in the deadliest war that humans have ever fought (where most of us have no problem labeling certain actors evil) perfectly illustrates the magnitude of the "magic" large numbers. The very best killing apparatus that war has ever seen is beat by factory farming in one country in 3 days. I find that to be truly incredible.
Maybe you don't want to stop eating meat. But maybe you do care about some of the problems the world faces because of it (water shortages, global warming, human famine, rainforest depletion, run-off into other food and streams, mad cow or swine flu, etc).
For many people this is a truly emotional issue. A judgement about factory farms feels like a judgement about themselves. I was once at a very expensive conference (like $2k a ticket) and after a speaker suggested that people cut their meat intake to solve some the world's problems about a 1/3 of the people got up and left. But most people who don't eat meat today did at one point in their lives. I'm part of a family that until I left college ate meat at every meal.
It's not enough to say we're going to keep doing what we're doing because we've been doing it forever. As hackers and entrepreneurs we know that human behavior can change and we often try to be the ones who cause it. We don't happily accept the status quo. So why do so many of us readily do so when it comes to eating meat?
First: the most efficient war killing methods are still very inefficient. This lies mostly in the fact that the other side consists of free-range actors, who are actively trying to kill and not themselves be killed.
Second: Killing a person, for the purpose of making a point, is different than killing a person for food. Further killing a non-person for food is even more different. My species is more important to me than theirs.
Third: The animals are domesticated, therefore are part of a symbiotic relationship in which they get to live fairly well, without so much worrying about getting to eat, breed etc, in exchange for being docile, and eaten at the end of the road. Death by bad slaughterhouse is less painful, less terrifying, and quicker than death by wolf. People are not on the eating/killing end of such an agreement.
Finally: regardless of the ethics/morality of eating meat, appealing to emotion is still a logical fallacy.
Your comparison is roughly the same as: "I cannot believe that there are 100K new porn vids (not including cam girls!) released every year. Its unconsciable. By comparison, the catholic church, the most efficient child raping organization ever, only managed a few hundred boys per year. Thats just 3 days of filming in just our country."
 not a belief of mine personally, just a random "fact" like wwii being the most efficient at killing.
(1) "My species is more important to me than theirs."
Our species is only more important in a very big way: we are the scourge of the Earth. We have destroyed our planet and its inhabitants beyond comprehension, and people like you -- likely among the more intelligent of our precious and wonderful species -- cannot find it in their self-pronounced greatness to be good. We are extremely important in that we annually torture and kill 50 billion fellow animals, sensitive creatures all, for the sake of our own convenience and culturally imputed preferences.
So yes, we are extremely important. Catastrophically so.
And by the way, your species-ism is shamelessly fallacious. You are not better or correct or more valuable simply because you belong to homo sapiens, and your fellow species members are not better or correct or more valuable simply because they belong to the same species as you do.
Moreover, comparing human value to pig value in support of factory farming is a complete canard. It's a moot point whether or not humans are "more" valuable, because we do not need to factory farm other creatures in order to live healthy, happy lives ourselves. Indeed, factory farming will be a primary reason why humans in the future will have horrible lives indeed, on a hellscape formerly known as the green planet.
(2) "The animals are domesticated, therefore are part of a symbiotic relationship in which they get to live fairly well, without so much worrying about getting to eat, breed etc, in exchange for being docile, and eaten at the end of the road."
You are so amazingly incorrect about this. The animals do not "live well." Here is a sampling of what is routinely done to animals on factory farms, in no particular order: confinement in spaces so tight they can't move; traumatic mutilation, including tail-docking, hole-punching, de-beaking, and castration; living in piss and feces, their own and others; rampant disease; unnatural food, including corn and other animal product waste, that causes them to be sick and so overweight that their bones break; and many more abuses besides. The animals literally go insane after a short while, and you would too, believe me. And yes, then, after they have lived in these conditions for they are slaughtered.
"A symbiotic relationship?" "Living well?" Couldn't be further from reality.
Second, you say you think "killing [animals] for food is OK." Can you please at some point contend with the fact that this killing is completely unnecessary? Can you contend with the fact that the "killing" we are talking about also has catastrophic effects for the environment, both in localized ecosystems and in the atmosphere of our planet?
You can make simple declarations all day ("Killing things for food is OK"), but that doesn't amount to justification at all.
Why is killing animals to produce food for people an "unfathomably evil" thing?
Everyday, science learns that humans aren't all that special in our capacity to feel pain, plan for the future, find enjoyment out of life, care for our offspring, etc. This is one of those issues where eventually we will all be horrified at what we allowed to happen.
But any time that we make a judgement call that some being's suffering and untimely death is okay because it's lesser than us, that says more about us than it does about those beings. As a species, we've certainly been wrong about these things before.
In addition to the incomparable suffering that animals who spend their entire lives in factory farms experience, a few good reasons are:
1. It is the number one cause of global warming
2. It's one of the main causes of deadly health problems in humans (heart disease, cancer, obesity related diseases).
3. It's a big reason why people go hungry. You can grow way more food to feed people through plant based agriculture. When you allocate land to meat production, you deprive people of food.
4. The reason why 60% of the rivers in America are classified as "impaired" due to runoff.
There are lots more reasons if you look and I suggest you do.
Just because we've done something for a long time doesn't mean we should keep doing it. Wouldn't you say that the conditions of the world have changed considerably since we were hunter-gatherers a few thousand years ago? Well, we need to evolve. The very best thing you can do for the planet, other humans, and yourself is to eat less meat.
This tactic of yours is frequently used by politicians and other extremist groups and I want to see it stopped.
You get to be the first one. Start researching your position and prove to me that you are right.
The reason I asked for people to justify their eating of meat is that this is the first logical step in any of these debates. It is not up to me to tell you why your behavior is unjustified before you have even attempted to justify it yourself. Of course, whether or not humans evolved to eat is a separate question from whether or not it is moral to cause unnecessary suffering.
You can deride moral beliefs as mere "opinions," but moral propositions -- like all propositions -- contain ontological commitments. Those moral propositions that are founded upon false ontological propositions are bad moral propositions. Opinion doesn't come into that equation. Those who value their own suffering but do not value the suffering of others have breached logic and upheld falsehoods.
"How about this: you prove that eating meat is justifiable? That would be something."
Whoever did it, you're realllly smart.
Anatomically the case for human herbivorism, or at least heavy-plant omnivorism, is strong. Check it (I hope this formats okay):
Meat-eaters: have claws
Herbivores: no claws
Humans: no claws
Meat-eaters: have no skin pores and perspire through the tongue
Herbivores: perspire through skin pores
Humans: perspire through skin pores
Meat-eaters: have sharp front teeth for tearing, with no flat molar teeth for grinding
Herbivores: no sharp front teeth, but flat rear molars for grinding
Humans: no sharp front teeth, but flat rear molars for grinding [we're talking about actually sharp teeth, not so-called human “canine” teeth]
Meat-eaters: have intestinal tract that is only 3 times their body length so that rapidly decaying meat can pass through quickly
Herbivores: have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length.
Humans: have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length.
Meat-eaters: have strong hydrochloric acid in stomach to digest meat
Herbivores: have stomach acid that is 20 times weaker than that of a meat-eater
Humans: have stomach acid that is 20 times weaker than that of a meat-eater
Meat-eaters: salivary glands in mouth not needed to pre-digest grains and fruits.
Herbivores: well-developed salivary glands which are necessary to pre-digest grains and fruits
Humans: well-developed salivary glands, which are necessary to pre-digest, grains and fruits
Meat-eaters: have acid saliva with no enzyme ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Herbivores: have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Humans: have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains
To answer your question, these are simply the most clear-cut traits that are present in herbivores versus omnivores and carnivores. The "front-facing eyes" is an out-of-date meme from high school textbooks.
I thought it was very interesting that they had to scrub down before they could enter for fear that they might introduce germs to the pigs.
This made me go woooot!? Clearly an article written to raise emotions than discuss anything serious.
PETA crawling to HN, scary shit.
As an aside, did it occur to you that your post is written in the same style, of one trying to raise emotions rather than discuss something seriously?