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Friday, April 7, 2017

The Truth Behind Our Food

By: Thalia Greenberg, EarthScope Intern (Tam High)
April 6, 2017

        Devouring the juicy hamburger, sipping cold milk with warm chocolate chip cookies, crunching on crispy bacon, and cracking eggs to bake a cake. All of the foods mentioned are from animals or are the animal itself, animal abuse is a big issue in America. You may not know it, but 99% of the animals in factory farms are abused, according to This way of farming domesticated animals is known as factory farming. In class, my classmates and I had the opportunity to interview the CEO and founder of Farm Sanctuary, Gene Bauer. Farm Sanctuary is a place where abused animals come to regain health and prosper. Sanctuary Farms works to investigate and expose the cruelty of animal agriculture. Bauer vividly explained the ways animals were treated in these factory farms and it was chilling.

        Egg laying chickens are kept in crates about ⅔ the size of a sheet of paper. Their wings scrape against the walls of the crates causing their feathers to come off and bruises to appear. These chickens are genetically modified to be smaller than normal so there is more space for larger quantities. When these hens are done laying eggs, they are called spent hens. These spent hens are in no use of the farm anymore and have barely any meat on their bones. No slaughter house wants them and the farmer doesn't either. In one case, a farmer put his spent hens in the wood chipper. His neighbors reported him and eventually he was found not guilty.

        In the case of chickens for meat, they are fattened up and killed at 3 weeks old. You may have heard of free range chickens, it is much better than it sounds. Chickens that are free range are not locked up in crates. They are roaming freely around a barn and have to have an outdoor space of some vicinity. The bad side to this, is that thousands of chickens are packed so tightly together indoors that there is no room to move. The barn is over it's capacity and the outdoor space is rarely in use because there are no regulation sizes and usually only a dozen or so chickens can fit there at one time.

        Remember the crunching into the crispy bacon? Pigs in factory farms are kept in gestation crates their entire life until slaughter. These crates are so small that they cannot turn around. Most female pigs live a cycle of impregnation, birth, and motherhood. When they give birth, the pigs are moved into a larger crate where their babies nurse between the bars of the crate. Male pigs are in no use of the farm because they cannot reproduce and are sent off to slaughter at the most profitable time. This time is usually around a couple months because they grow fast the first few months and keep growing later on but at a much slower pace.

        Cows are always what first comes to mind when I think of a farm. I picture them grazing on green grass and sleeping peacefully. What I didn't realize was the over production of the milking and birthing processes. Just like the pigs, female cows live a cycle of impregnation, birth, and motherhood. The babies are taken away from the mother cow within the first few hours of birth and this creates a lot of stress for the baby cows. They usually cry, deprive themselves of food, and become sick. Males are fattened up and slaughtered. Females are prepared for the cycle. These female cows can only produce milk when pregnant. In factory farms, the majority of cows spend their lives indoors. Nearly all cows are slaughtered for meat. At just three years old a female cow is considered “spent,” and is slaughtered. Normally, a cow can live a healthy life of twenty years.

This is why Gene Bauer, Founder of Farm Sanctuary, created a safe haven for farm animals. These same farm animals can live four times their age when they are at Sanctuary Farms rather than at the factory farms.

        There are thing stat you can do as a consumer. You can be informed and eat differently. For example, there have been many new vegan foods produced. These include dairy free ice creams, veggie burgers, etc. When you are at the grocery store looking for animal products or at a restaurant ordering, don't be fooled by the false labeling and advertising because factory farms and corporations make animal conditions sound much better than they are.

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