David Kirby, author of Animal Factory, said something funny at the AWA panel last week. He recalled the old Delta slogan, “Delta gets you there.” Then he said, “Well, isn’t that the very least you expect from an airline? To get you where you’re going?”
He wasn’t there doing stand-up; he was talking about industrial food production and the environmental havoc it is wreaking. So he added, “The least we can expect of the future is that it will be liveable.” Let’s hope the next generation can actually survive on this planet of ours.
To that aphorism I would add four more “the least we can expects”:
The least we can expect of a supermarket is that there is food within. As Michael Pollan says in In Defense of Food, “We are eating a lot of edible food-like substances… highly processed things that might be called yogurt, might be called cereals… but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods.” Most of these products involve some derivative of corn.
The least we can expect of labels is that they don’t require an oracle to decipher. Labels are written in the language of half-truth, misdirection, and obfuscation. Ultimately, most companies use packaging to sell product, and do everything they can to conceal or obscure the bad news.
The least we can expect of farms is that they will use air, sun, grass, and soil. Livestock and crops should be connected in the mutually beneficial loop that has sustained us for 10,000 years, but factory farming has little to do with nature. Many animals on CAFOs never see the sun or breathe fresh air, and none actually eat grass. On a real farm, manure would fertilize the soil. On a factory farm, it’s toxic waste because of what the animals are fed.
The least we can expect of food is that it will nourish us. ‘Nuff said.