5/19/2007

dodging the issue: is it worthwhile to challenge factory-farming practices behind fast-food?

an interesting news tidbit from earlier this week -- apparently the Animal Legal Defense Fund is suing Farmer John®, the brand of hotdogs sold at LA's Dodger Stadium. the ALDF also published their letter encouraging the stadium to stop using the brand for their famous "Dodger Dogs."

the lawsuit alleges that Corcporc, Farmer John®'s pork supplier in Tulare County, is in violation of California state code which requires that livestock kept in confinement have access to some kind of exercise space, and furthermore that Farmer John® misrepresents the conditions under which the meat for its products is produced.

while i'm always glad to see attention drawn to the appalling living conditions of animals on factory farms, i think this approach raises some interesting questions. to a large degree, i think it's probably an effective strategy to promote awareness of how popular foods and meat products are really produced, and to try to reform or improve existing farms and regulations, rather than mass convert Americans to give up on meat entirely (an outcome that might be healthier for both Americans and our environment, but is unlikely to take hold anytime soon).

on the other hand, even if the sows at Corcporc had a little more breathing space, would that really begin to address the problems inherent in mass meat production? as long as fast-food is such a bloated, oversized and profitable industry, it seems unlikely that small-scale, pasture-based models of raising animals will prevail. so is it worthwhile to try to promote more humane models for industrial animal husbandry?

2 comments:

Camilla said...

Absolutely. Incremental change is better than no change at all. As you rightly point out, changing an entire nation’s eating habits overnight is not going to happen. Nor is dramatic and wide-scale reform of an industry that seems to exist in a moral vacuum – in which anything goes, as long as it results in profits at the end of the line.

Bringing factory farming methods into the public realm for discussion and debate is vital. But it’s normally a difficult subject to get raised in the mainstream media - it touches a raw nerve. Many meat-eaters express a vague uneasiness about the way that factory-farmed meat is produced, but find it more palatable to just not think about it, than to have to confront their consciences and question their moral choices. For this reason, the secretive veil that exists over the actions of the meat industry seems to be happily condoned.

If this lawsuit helps to raise these issues in the media, then surely it can only be a good thing. Pushing for more humane methods of intensive animal-rearing doesn’t have to mean that we condone factory farming, it just means that we’re tackling the problem realistically and incrementally…

naturebunny said...

I love your blog.
In response to this post, I do think that making people more aware of how animals suffer does some good. While it may not change the whole world's eating habits overnight..or even in the next century.. for me saving the life of even one animal is worth it. And minimizing their suffering is as well. I became vegetarian because of a friend and because I read about factory farming. Now one of my friends is going veg as well. I have also influenced some family members to choose free range meat for thanksgiving turkey dinner instead of your conventional butterball cruelty plant! I think little things like this are always worth it .. "no one made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." ~Edmund Burke~