Pigging out…Pt.3

Featured Image : dothegreenthing.tumblr.com

We buy meat because it’s easy, it’s readily available and for the most part, it tastes good. Is it really easy? My favourite, psychologically scarring advertisement (I cannot find online after an hour of searching) used to be on television but no longer airs….probably because it was f*%@ing up too many Mummy’s and Daddy’s days as their kids cling to the bottom of their trousers pleading, “That’s not where our meat comes from, is it?” Because honestly, this ad was confronting.

It showed a middle aged, very together looking woman strolling down a grocery aisle with a flickering smile and an innocent looking shopping list. She is looking for bacon and then all of a sudden the big double doors in front of her loudly judder open leading her and her trolley into a dark, dinghy warehouse full to the brim of factory farmed pigs and piglets writhing around on the floor of tiny dirty stalls screaming, the way pigs scream, when they are distressed. This is real footage of factory farming.

Now, 13 year old Me, is very fragile (not unlike 24 year old me today) and bursts into tears with a gripping jolt of panic and urgency. Does everyone know about this? Why are we still eating meat? Quick! Let’s scream it from the rooftops, pick up the phone, write a letter…something! I don’t know how, but as far as I can remember this was my first exposure to industrialised meat products…..apart from actually eating the stuff. Up until this point, I really had believed that those twee little farms I had visited throughout my childhood, not unlike Old Macdonald’s, was as bad as it got.

Not shockingly, this ad only lasted a couple of months. Perhaps it was too real, too traumatising. People all over NZ shielding their eyes in front of their TV dinners, “Please. We are trying to eat!”. It has popped up every now and again over the years, but I can’t imagine advertisements like this doing anything good for the ‘clean, green’ image of the NZ farming industry or associated meat sales.It seems like the driving factor behind creating a poster image for the meat industry has nothing to do with good ethics, conservation or climate awareness. It is directly to do with sales and that illusive beast….the economy.

All power to you if you strictly buy fresh, locally sourced, organic, free-range/grass fed meat. Even more power to you if you traipse into the wilderness camouflaged in khaki with a hefty survival bag full of wilderness essentials, not forgetting a gun or two, and shoot yourself a wild piece of venison or pork. Some of my closest friends will often disappear for days into the bush and return back with a freezer load of freshly butchered pig. After all, up until quite recently, we as a culture depended on this instinctive, primal activity of hunting and gathering. Now, we find ourselves confronted with meat products everywhere we go. Getting our hands dirty (in the physical sense) for a meal is no longer a necessity. The sad, tormented fact is, most people just don’t consume meat the old fashioned KIY (Kill-It-Yourself) way anymore.

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Despite wholeheartedly loving the Ron Swanson mentality, I don’t eat meat because I feel that the current industrialised era of food production and the idea of sustainability, just cannot go hand in hand.

I eat eggs sometimes (the real free range kind), I take cream in my coffee, I eat yogurt and I honestly don’t think my life would be worth living without cheese. Everyone is different and a lot of people are limited by their financial situation or by their dietary restrictions. I believe it is all about what works for you, while acknowledging the wider problems and doing your best to not directly contribute to them on a day to day basis. My food ethos is built around trying to reduce my consumption of meat and animal products. If I were financially stable this commitment would be much easier. At the moment I struggle with keeping my meals varied and nutritious. How many cheese and spinach toasties does it take before one turns into a giant, stringy toasted sandwich oneself? I will keep you updated.

 

Pigging out…Pt 2

Now back to that sticky topic nobody likes hearing about, or talking about for that matter.

One of the biggest causes of carbon dioxide emissions, it is responsible for the decrease in bee population through the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, it is a major polluter of our water sources, a cause of soil erosion and it is a completely unsustainable practice which does not make the most of our resources. When I talk about industrial agriculture and meat production practices, I am more specifically referring to intensive animal farming, industrial livestock production or as most of us call it, factory farming.

10 years ago, the United Nations released a report called Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, which discussed the environmental problems associated with meat production and how we, as a global collective can work to mitigate the surrounding issues of pollution. The report states; “the livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.” Dr. Henning Steinfeld, LEAD (Livestock, Environment and Devolpment Sector of the UN) Coordinator states that industrial-scale meat production is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems” and that “urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” If you want a bit  of light reading, here is a copy of the report. If you ain’t got time for that, then here is a neat wee summary.

The ‘livestock sector’ and how we interact with it is politically and socially important, so why have we as a species not radically changed our practices in the 10 years since this significantly informative report was released? The majority of scientific research supports this report. Yet somehow the literature outlining agricultural problems is all too depressing and most of it can be overshadowed by the distraction of mainstream media and propaganda pushing.

 

 

Does meat somehow link to this archaic idea of manhood?

Please.

 

 

 

Pigging out…Pt.

Old Macdonald had a farm, ee eye ee eye oh…and on that farm he had a pig.

This Old Macdonald guy was a modest fella who knew what he was up to. One of each farm animal. You can milk the cow, make some cheese and cream and whey and then just sit around chilling with your other farm dwellers, making friends with the duck and eating the eggs that the chicken so kindly produced. Man, back in the day Old Macdonald had it goin’ on. I remember flicking through this narrative rhyme and thinking “When I grow up, I want to be just like Old Mac, so I can have the biggest family of furry friends”.

So whatever happened to this idyllic image of farming?

Now the typical farm uses intensive practices which require a much different attitude; worlds apart from this neat, bucolic method outlined in the oversimplified childhood story. It seems while we were all looking the other way the agricultural industry has spiralled out of control.

Monoculture can be seen in the majority of American farms. This is a well practiced concept which involves concentrating all of your energy, as a farmer, on growing one specific kind of crop only, on a huge scale. Kind of putting all of your eggs, or grains rather, in one basket. The scary part is, to do this usually requires some kind of chemical intervention, which ultimately puts the consumer at risk, as well as the natural environment. An in depth breakdown of this practice is provided here

If we were to think of the agricultural industry and the practices of large scale companies or independent farms as being situated on a sliding scale of sustainability; farms which prioritise sustainability and safe practice would be on the far left side of this spectrum.  Mega agrochemical users who prioritise profit over all else (including our lived environment and the creatures homed by it) are way over to the right. Head down to your local farmers market to see how the far left operate in real life. Stalls of locally grown fruit, veg, artisan cheese, wine, cakes and breads. Here in Dunedin, the farmers market is a weekend event. It unites a large chunk of our city who enjoy strolling the stalls coffee in hand, with bags full of fresh produce.

No doubt, you’ve heard of the powerful agricultural, ‘biotech bully’; Monsanto. This company is at the forefront of agrochemical use and they are one of the most powerful corporations in the world, sitting at the untouchable far right of this sliding sustainability scale. Their latest invention; spraying corn, alfalfa, sorghum and many more crops with RoundUp and then distributing them, business as usual. They have created RoundUp resistant crops which allow farmers to spray with highly toxic weed killer while their crops continue flourishing. Extensive research studies have proven this practice to be highly dangerous to humans, our water supplies and our environment.

There is a hoard of  information available online regarding Monsanto and their use of glyphosate (one of the active ingredients in RoundUp) and the hundreds of other chemicals used by Monsanto on an immense scale. Labelling themselves as ‘Sustainable Agriculture Leaders’ highlights how full of sh*t they are and what little care they take for those who consume their products.

Last month, an environmental group petitioned Argentina’s Supreme Court, seeking a temporary ban on glyphosate use after an Argentine scientist and local activists reported a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people living near crop-spraying areas. Scientists there also linked genetic malformations in amphibians to glysophate. In addition, last year in Sweden, a scientific team found that exposure is a risk factor for people developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Read more at http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients

There are countless stories of Monsanto’s immoral practices and their attempts to become the oligarchy of agriculture. Vanity Fair published an expose of Monsanto which exposes Monsanto as the embodiment of the classic schoolyard bully. Neil Young recently made a short film about the intimidation tactics Monsanto use against independent farmers who continue their traditional, chemical free, sustainable farming practices.

“Monsanto is one of the largest pharmaceutical and agricultural companies who produce a wide range of genetically modified foods and seeds, drugs and pesticides and herbicides. This multibillion dollar company has branches in 100 different countries and is the main producer of genetically modified crops and seeds in the world.” See more at:SOR.com. Monsanto hide behind lawyers, corrupt politicians, CEO’s and unlimited financial funds. There is a global grass-roots movement to strip them of power and boycott their products, but Monsanto continue to produce GMO filled crops which are poisoning habitats and people worldwide.

The sheer size of Monsanto is overwhelming. How do we, the ‘little people’ avoid toxic corn, soy, cotton and grains? Well, here is a list of known brands who readily associate with and rely on Monsanto crops. If Monsanto are as powerful and corrupt as evidence has shown, we must assume that the true scale of their infiltration of consumables is much wider than this relatively small list of associated brands.

José Graziano da Silva the director general of the Food andAgriculture Organisation says “Nothing comes closer to sustainable food production than family farming. The preservation of natural resources is rooted in their productive logic; and the highly diversified nature of their agricultural activities gives them a central role in promoting the sustainability of our food systems and ensuring food security.” Basically, if we want to be on the safe side (while encouraging local businesses) we should be supporting and buying from small, local agricultural independents. It costs a little more financially, but hey,  I would rather spend an extra $3 a pop for organic, locally grown produce than spend my hard earned pennies lining the pockets of unethical, corrupt agrochemical giants. 

 

 

 

 

Feature image: Belongs to EC, creator of this blog

Shot with 35mm film