Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Farming Death

Many members of the socialist movement are vegetarian and many members are not. The general consensus of the Socialist Party is that a future socialist society's diet will be flexitarian, a mixture of  non-animal and animal-sourced food and to be more ecological sustainable, the preponderance of tastes will be the former rather than the latter. 

Present society, the capitalist economic system, has many weaknesses and how we produce what we eat is a major fault. This lengthy article from a journalist who has long reported on the topic of how we source our food is well worth quoting from. 

“About 70 billion land animals are produced globally for food each year, an estimated two-thirds reared in intensive conditions.”
“…through the trees, we spotted the lake. At the same time the smell reached us: an appalling stench, one of the worst smells I have ever encountered in my life. This was no lake. It was an open cesspit, a vast lagoon full of waste from the pig farm. Floating beneath the surface were the bodies of pigs in various stages of decomposition. Through the filth we could see snouts and curly tails. Everywhere was the detritus of factory farming – plastic syringe casings, needles and white clinical gloves – floating in the rancid pool and discarded on adjacent farmland. It was the first time I’d ever stepped on to a factory farm. It was a moment I would never be able to forget….”
“… The whirring of machinery, the clinking of chains, the animal cries, the shouts of workers, the steam, the blood and offal; carcasses swinging on the line. The animals may be stressed, but you wonder also what impact this has on the workers who do this, day in, day out…”
“…In the age of hyper-cheap food you can pick up a whole chicken for a few pounds, and a pint of milk for less than a bottle of water. Yet these prices fail to reflect the true cost of production. The terms dictated by supermarkets and processing companies put too many farmers in the grotesque position of losing money on the foodstuffs they’ve spent weeks, months or years producing.
“…And despite the furore around the spread of megafarms, size isn’t an indicator of the welfare standards they maintain; in fact larger, more modern units are often superior, with hi-tech systems and good veterinary care… But when things go wrong – fires, floods, disease outbreaks, equipment breakdowns, pollution – the bigger the farm, the bigger the consequences…”
Despite what I’ve seen, experience tells me that the majority of livestock farmers are decent, hardworking folk who do their best to make a living in an industry where money doesn’t readily flow down to the small guys, and where margins are often so slim that any unforeseen event can prove catastrophic…Many of these farmers are as much victims of the system as their livestock.”
“…It’s the sheer scale of production, driven by insatiable demand, that is the problem, fuelling bigger farms and more intensive systems – the more animals you can squeeze in, the more food you can produce, the more money there is to be made…this has unavoidably created a system which has turned farm animals into mere commodities. “Meat machines”…industrially produced chickens are no longer referred to as birds but as “crops”, in the same way as you might refer to a field of lettuces or tomatoes. Chicken producers can be referred to as “growers”, not farmers, and it comes as no surprise that they are not paid for individual birds, but for the weight each “crop” of chickens achieves...."

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