Michael Pollan is a wonderful writer. This article shouldn't surprise anyone who spends time thinking about the food they put into their body and where it that food is sourced.
The mega-corporation-owned, gigantic scale, chemical-laden industrial agriculture presented here is a nightmare...
It's also worth mentioning that these are probably the better food operations out there (most wouldn't allow cameras).
Agriculture is ugly, and always will be.
Wrong! Agriculture is a low profit business. If you're cruel to animals or take shortcuts you will go broke. I used to work with farmers as a fertilizer guy and I've seen it all the time.
First off most of these truly are family farms. It may not look that way but because of the high degree of automation available a single family with a couple of employees can farm thousands of acres or milk thousands of cows.
The outstanding farms care about their employees and their livestock. I knew one farm where every one of 1500 cows had a name. Not USX1102 but NancyJo or William. Every profession has outliers. Usually when you see a documentary it's that exceptionally bad farm.
I've been on hundreds of pig, cattle and dairy farms and you're seeing the exceptions in those documentaries. It's sad but it drives city dwellers to get entirely the wrong impression of today's farmers.
Because farmers are concerned that reporters are out to portray their operations as more inhumane or less safe than they really are. For example, nursing sows are kept in very small cages so they can't roll over and kill their piglets, but farmers know that most journalists would only see (and thus talk about) the claustrophobic quarters.
> Agriculture is ugly, and always will be.
I grew up on a farm; while there's certainly room for improvement, most farming operations are very humane. I can't speak to the extreme "big ag" end of the spectrum, but family farms--even large ones--tend to treat their animals well.
This totally misses the point. Big Ag is where most of the supply comes from (and with demand, will continue to come from), therefor the practices in those environments should be the focus, not family farms. Focusing on the potential good does not in any way make the bad disappear. I just can't understand being ok with the proven, horrible conditions of large operations just because there are better examples out there.
We should be judging the state of things based on the worst examples, not based on the best...
If you'll excuse an ignorant question, how did pigs ever survive before this practice? And is it necessarily "humane" just because it reduces one kind of risk?
This was given as an example of something that looks more inhumane in pictures than it really is. The reason it looks inhumane is because one imagines the sow would prefer freedom of movement, as other living things do. The reason why it is done is certainly relevant, as is how long they are kept in that position, whether they ever appear to be in distress trying to move about, etc.
None of this is visible in a photo, and needs to be explained. However, I don't buy the argument that people have no right to see where their food comes from because they just wouldn't understand what they're seeing. A system where living things are raised for our benefit seems like a place where more transparency is called for, not less.
Whenever I feel like having a Kebab I check Youtube for some food industry reality check and watch how these fairly intelligent animals are treated. Usually cures me of that need.
> A reality where animals can regularly accidentaly kill their own offspring as a circumstance of how they are being kept is crazy and the idea that their movement should be restricted even more is truly insane.
There's nothing insane about this claim. This is a well-documented problem.
Idea being that restricting movement for the animal is terrible - can you relate to how that pig feels?
Staffing costs are much lower along with the subsequent disasters and animal problems caused by thoughtless staff. The cows are happier than ever and milk production is record-breaking.
I remember seeing DeLaval say that the back scratcher is their most popular product --- among both humans and cows!
Their corporate website looks a bit threadbare (last update 2015), but their Youtube channel has recent videos; I hope they're doing all right, but their products look amazingly cool.
The first milking robot was manufactured in _1994_!
Dairy farming has come a long way. Automated farms already exists where cows just wander into a shed at their leisure and are automatically milked.
One thing I wish is that they had Mitch Epstein do the commission ala American Power. Not to knock Steinmetz, I just like how Epstein takes in a scene and presents it ambivalently great and obscene.
Already in production. The cow's view of a competing robotic system.
I feel like we're at peak long-form journalism, podcasts, and binge-worthy tv. I could (I do not) devote 2+hrs a day to the good stuff and still be way behind.
It does puzzle me though why in Spain, among most other food, bread is 1/5 and Tomatoes 1/10 the price. Particularly odd is that US boxed cereal and California wine are also cheaper.
But that is off topic I'm sure.
They only spend a small part of their life there. And they're cows, so they're not used for meat.
Yeah right, being separated from your mom at birth, enslaved from your first day, raped and made pregnant once a year is not such a bad deal. At least you're not dead...
If a calf is allowed to suckle as nature intended it will learn to like the process (and the milk) and take longer to get onto a dry feed diet. In a commercial operation there's no time for that.
Source: 3 years on a dairy farm.
Mankind has basically hit eldritch horror in terms of how we use livings beings in our machines.
They do have at least some exposure to one another - if you look closely at the photos you can see a bunch of them out of the pen and near each other.
And the text says they are in group pens when they get older.
They must have some reason for separating them though, it looks like a ton of work to implement and they wouldn't do that for nothing. Don't know what though. Maybe some of them get bullied otherwise?
The vat based solution is more scalable in the long run, and not impossible (we do it with beer).
I have an old book somewhere that says the milk cow is the most efficient means of converting a rocky hillside covered with grass into human-usable protein.
Yeah, that's scalable.
It's weird how much people try and peddle different solutions and proteins like "low methane cows" or crickets!" Instead of something much simpler and already tried and true, beans nuts, grains, etc...
Because very, very many people enjoy eating meat and meat-based products. Therefore, we're looking for alternative, better solutions.
Nothing weird about that.
Perhaps my original reply was a bit too down on them, because I do agree that research is good!
No, alt-meat is a solution to a problem of how to influence behavior to create particular results that is rather emphatically not solved.
The problem isn't what's going into the workers, it's what's coming out of them.
People can complain about conditions and what not of mass produced food but it's a big demand. I think it's ingenious the designs of these various mass-production facilities.
Sure, treat the animals with respect. Does suck to think you're born for food.
That line of cows being inseminated and sent back to where they came from. Shit. Sounds dirty haha. Poke. I don't know how they do it though so just speculating.