great articles on factory farming
Trigger Warning: Graphic discussion of animal slaughter and abuse, worker abuse and work-related injury, illness and disability.
Mother Jones is knocking it out of the park with this complimentary pieces on the complicated problem of the modern American meat industry.
In May 2007, Ballesta was at a son’s high-school commencement when he noticed his legs starting to feel tight and numb. Within days, his right hip and thigh were throbbing, and it was as if the soles of his feet were on fire. At first, he chalked it up to fatigue, so many extra hours standing, but soon he was having trouble walking from the QPP parking lot to the plant door.
Ballesta wasn’t alone. Miriam Angeles, who worked near the head table removing remnants of spinal cords, had started having burning pain in her lower legs, too, and now her right arm had begun falling asleep—both at work and at home, when she tried to feed her infant daughter. Susan Kruse, who cleared neck meat from the foramen magnum—the aperture where the spinal cord enters the skull—had a knot in her left calf that wouldn’t go away. When the cramps spread to her right leg, and stiffness in her hands turned to tingling, Kruse finally went to the doctor. Even Pablo Ruiz, a process-control auditor who only passed by the head table, was starting to have numbness in his legs and once fell to the plant floor.At first, Ballesta chalked it up to so many extra hours standing, but soon he was having trouble walking from the parking lot to the plant door. In the meantime, Mayo doctors had prescribed Matthew Garcia a steroid to calm his nerve inflammation, and he’d improved enough to get around without a walker. He had lost pelvic floor function, robbing him of bowel control, and had to catheterize himself, but he managed to return to the brain machine in May. Within three weeks, though, Garcia couldn’t stand again. Relatives rushed him back to the emergency room.
As these companies lurch along, forever looking to get bigger and cut corners to maintain profitability, society pays a steep price for all the cheap meat they churn out. Genoways nailed how workers fare under our cheap-meat regime. Abuse of animals is routine. Entire ecosystems get trashed, as is the case of the Chesapeake Bay—once one of the globe’s most productive fisheries, brought to near-ruin by runoff from a stunning concentration of factory chicken farms. Family farmers are literally turned into serfs as they scale up to meet the industry’s demands. And we all face the menace of the antibiotic-resistant pathogens now brewing up on animal factory farms, which now consume 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States (both to make livestock grow faster and keep them alive in cramped, filthy conditions).