It wasn’t until 2009, when I finally decided to take the red pill. Let me back up. My older sister once labeled me “the blue piller;” this name stuck after she repeatedly badgered me to watch The Meatrix, a short 4-minute film about conventionally-raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.
Time after time, I refused to watch it. Why did I need to succumb myself to the gory details of animal food production? I already knew how the story ended: The animals die. We eat them. I got it. Ignorance was bliss in my book. Thus, I chose the blue “fantasy” pill vs. the red “truth” pill.
The Blue Pill:
BUT, the blue pill wasn’t just a fantasy. I have fond memories of visiting our family’s dairy farms. Huge black and white cows chewed on their cud and swatted flies away with their tails, while they basked in the hot summer sun. When the cows weren’t milked in the dairy barn, they happily grazed on a beautiful green pasture. My dad said there wasn’t a cow without a name. Our family took great pride working on the farm and caring for our animals and land. This was my view of U.S. farms.
The Red Pill: Fast forward to 2009, my life changed after I saw the Today Show air an under-cover video of a conventional farm. I watched an incredibly sick cow attempt to stand up on its weakened legs, while continually falling in what appeared to be gray, dark sludge. If that wasn’t bad enough, I then watched a fork lift push the cow through the mud as it continued to struggle and suffer in great pain. What was I watching? Where was the green pasture and sunlight? Why couldn’t the cow stand up? And, why the hell was there a huge machine pushing a live animal down and making it suffer?
Shortly after watching the real life horror film, I finally decided to take the red pill. I not only watched The Meatrix, I learned all about the food production “truths” at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I received my health coaching certification. I was exposed to the good, the bad and the very ugly dark secrets: factory farms.
What you need to know:
“Meat and dairy production in the U.S. has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Small family farms have been replaced by huge livestock facilities, where animals suffer horribly, workers are mistreated, the environment is being destroyed, and where rural communities are falling apart.” – themeatrix.com
A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of the animals’ welfare. Factory farms pack animals into spaces so tight that most can barely move. Many have no access to the outdoors, spending their lives on open warehouse floors, or housed in cages or pens. Without the room to engage in natural behaviors, confined animals experience severe physical and mental distress.
Factory farm practices include: unclean air, unnatural lighting, unnatural growth, non-therapeutic medicating (antibiotics/hormones), unnatural reproduction, denied veterinarian care, painful surgical mutilations, and shortened lives (most are babies).
- Public Health Risks: Farms that are not properly maintained can be breeding grounds for salmonella and E. coli, which are passed to humans through meat, dairy and eggs. To combat these unsanitary conditions, animals are fed large doses of antibiotics—but bacteria is constantly adapting and evolving. Antibiotic abuse creates the potential for dangerous, new drug-resistant strains of bacteria to develop and spread among people.
- Environmental Risks: Waste runoff from factory farms pollutes the water, land and air in neighboring communities, compromising both human health and quality of life. At the same time, these businesses consume massive quantities of precious, finite resources including water and fossil fuels.
What can you do to help avoid and/or stop factory farming?
- Buy from local, small farms: These animals are more than likely raised like farm animals, much like my family’s farms. By buying from small farmers you are casting your vote for the type of animal products you prefer…from actual farm-raised animals vs. conventional, factory-farm animals.
- Buy organic animal food products: These products have tougher guidelines; they are third-party certified to meet the following criteria: “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.” –USDA
- Reduce your animal product consumption; try meatless Mondays or try forgoing animal products for one meal a day or a few meals in a given week.
- Use your voice! Share your opinion! Take action! Here are many helpful resources:
As a mom of twins, I want my baby boys to live a healthy life with safe, nourishing food, and I want them to be surrounded by an environment that is sustainable for future generations. Thus, I will continue to take the red “truth” pill. Will you join me?