Avoiding Foods from Factory Farms

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This is the best practical guide to buying well-sourced meat and animal products I’ve ever read. It’s just a few pages and full of concrete strategies for better eating–well worth printing and keeping on the fridge. The author’s introduction reminded me of my own experiences:

To avoid the products of factory farms, I became something of a food detective. My groceries were the subjects of my investigations. Where were they coming from and how they were produced? I roamed grocery store aisles carefully reading product labels, but there was little to no information about the conditions in which the animals were raised… The food system’s lack of transparency was frustrating. Eventually, I mostly gave up on supermarkets and began exploring new ways to get at the good food I was seeking. Although the task was daunting, my goal was simple: I wanted all my food to come from places I would enjoy visiting.
–Nicolette Hahn Niman

3 thoughts on “Avoiding Foods from Factory Farms

  1. Do you think anyone would enjoy visiting any sort of slaughterhouse? How can anyone eat meat without it having to pass through some sort of slaughter? That seems to be a big issue that Niman avoids.

  2. Glenn,
    I take your point; I don’t think anyone would actually enjoy visiting a slaughterhouse. I do think that if one is going to eat meat, one should be willing to think about, if not witness at least once, the actual fact of the slaughter (I admit I have yet to do that). If the USDA would allow on-farm slaughter, animals could be killed quickly, and as painlessly and free of fear as possible. It could also happen outdoors, without animals being transported. The slaughter would be done seasonally, by the farmer that raised the animals, not a desensitized minimum-wage laborer who must slaughter all day, every day.

    That said, I think our big difference is whether animals are “ours” to raise and then then take their lives (or their eggs or milk) for our food, however quickly or painlessly we do so. In this regard, I fully respect your stand.

    As you may have gathered, I’m not philosophically opposed to eating meat, providing the animal was humanely raised and slaughtered. At the same time, I find myself dramatically reducing my consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy and moving closer to a vegan diet, given that the “good” animal products are hard to find and the treatment of factory farm animals is an atrocity beyond comprehension. Also, of course, the planet cannot sustain a human diet that includes these things in the amounts we are currently consuming.

    In an earlier comment, you wrote, “You can’t eat meat and advocate for an animal’s rights. The right to life is fundamental, and if we take that away what is left?” I don’t think we need to get into an argument about this, but I hope you can recognize that reasonable, caring people can thoughtfully consider the realities of the impact of their diets and still make the choice to eat well-sourced meat and animal products.

    And obviously, I believe that thinking and talking about the source of our food is important, no matter where we land personally, so I am grateful to you for reading and writing.


  3. Kama,

    I just found your blog and looking forward to reading more. I work in ag and strive for consumer awareness AND transparency of the industry. I just read this article that I think you would be interested in:

    I think you will find a lot of people working in ag or directly on the farm who are more than willing to share with you their experiences.

    If you ever get frustrated with not finding information you are looking for, please feel free to contact me!

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