Factory farming subjects animals to so many shocking and outrageous cruelties that it’s hard to imagine there could be one more we haven’t thought of. Sadly, we’ve been proven wrong. In Guelph, Ontario, Canada, pigs can plummet into their own waste and die.
For reasons not yet determined, on May 6, 2014, the floor of a barn housing 2,500 pigs collapsed around 9 p.m. It was not just any floor, though. Reports describe it as an eight-foot suspended platform that held the pigs above a “liquid manure holding tank.”
When the floor gave way, all 2,500 pigs were flung down those eight feet into the tank below and onto one another. The fall killed many outright, say reports, but hundreds of others were stuck in the tank with the liquid feces.
Can you imagine the scene? The frantic squealing, the pigs climbing over one another, covered in waste, fighting for their lives and scared out of their wits?
“Efforts were made by those on scene, including local farmers and emergency services, to save as many pigs as possible,” a police press release said. Rescue efforts continued into the afternoon of May 7.
All told, a heartbreaking 2,000 pigs died in that manure tank. Only 500 could be rescued. The concrete 60- by 300-foot barn was reportedly only a year old, so this wasn’t a matter of old equipment. No one knows why the suspended floor gave way. Two workers in the barn at the time escaped injury.
It‘s Time to Do Away With Factory Farms
Is there any indignity we won’t inflict upon pigs to feed humankind’s apparently insatiable desire for bacon? Must they die frightened, injured and flailing about in their own waste? This situation is just one more in an endless parade of horribles we impose on the animals we call “livestock.” the egg industry, male chicks are unneeded and so they are either thrown away or ground up alive by the millions. Female chicks are “debeaked” which means their beaks are “trimmed” off using a heated blade. If you have the stomach to watch, you can see debeaking here, and see chicks being ground up here.
“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of cows go through the slaughter process alive,” IBP veteran Fuentes, the worker who was injured while working on live cattle, said in an affidavit. “The cows can get seven minutes down the line and still be alive. I’ve been in the side-puller where they’re still alive. All the hide is stripped out down the neck there.”
There are endless examples of the inhumanity of modern factory farming. These are just a few of the highlights. We haven’t even gotten to the environmental impacts yet — the pollution, the fact that half of the world’s grain supply goes to feed livestock rather than people, and so much more.
If the world doesn’t wake up to the fact that factory farming is both cruel and ill-considered, we will have a monumental problem on our hands. In fact, we already do.
Raw Almonds. In the US, all “raw” almonds are pasteurized. This is accomplished in any number of ways, from high heat, chemicals, steam, to irradiation. As with most pasteurized products, this compromises the nutritional value of the nut. How do you get truly raw almonds? You can buy them imported, like these, from countries where pasteurization isn’t a requirement. If you don’t mind pasteurized nuts, make sure the company you choose uses the steam pasteurization technique. This will help you to avoid the chemical residue and seriously denatured nutrients of other processes.
Olive oil. Unfortunately, heart-healthy olive oil is not always as pure as you would hope. Even if olive oil is listed as the only ingredient, many Italian olive oils use canola oil as a filler. Sad but true. You are far better off buying California olive oil than Italian.
Honey. If you are not buying local or raw honey, your prized stash of golden ambrosia could be spiked with corn syrup. Many supermarket, highly processed honeys are cut with (GMO) corn syrup to cut costs and increase profits. Is your honey labeled “pure honey”? Unless is says “100% pure,” odds are it is not as wholesome as you may have thought. On that note, it is probably best to steer clear of supermarket honey altogether and buy raw and local. Raw, local honey retains honey’s incredible nutritional value, supports the local economy, and will definitely taste better.
Wild Salmon. Yes, that wild salmon you just served for dinner may not have been as wild as you thought. Under current rules, “wild” salmon can technically spend up to half of its life in a hatchery before being released into the wild. That means the salmon are living in a chemically toxic environment for half of their lives — toxins which stay in their bodies once they are released into the wild. How can you avoid this? Well, for one, if the price tag looks like a deal, then the salmon probably isn’t truly “wild.” Also, fresh salmon sold on the off-seasons between November and March is more often farmed at some point, even if it is labeled “wild.” Another helpful tip is that sockeye salmon can NOT be farmed, unlike Alaskan, so sockeye is a much safer bet.
Maple Syrup. Aunt Jemima is not maple syrup. Ironically, there is not a drop of maple in it. It is a heinous concoction loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and GMOs. These fake maple syrups are usually labeled “pancake syrup,” “maple flavored syrup” or the like. If you want the good stuff, look for the words “pure maple syrup” on the label. Go for Grade B if you have the choice, as it has more antioxidants and nutrients than its lighter colored counterparts.
Pumpkin puree. Perhaps the least atrocious of the list, pumpkin puree is often mixed with other squash (not listed on the label). This is of course, still an issue. Why are companies allowed to sneak ingredients into their products and not list it on their packaging? Wouldn’t it be nice to purchase a product and feel confident that you know exactly what’s inside the can? Worry no more. This brand only uses 100% sugar pumpkin and has a BPA-free lining.
Do your research — find quality products and stick with those, let your friends and family know about mislabeling, and support local, honest products.
TRANS FATS IN OUR FOOD
JB Comment: Is there really need for all these hidden poisons and things in our food ?
A two-day clean-up effort has recovered 3,323 dead pig bodies from the Huangpu River, which cuts through the middle of Shanghai. Local media are reporting that the pigs came from Jiaxing, in Zhejiang province, where over 20,000 pigs have been found dead in villages since the beginning of the year because of swine flu [zh]. While the public is very anxious about the potential pollution caused by the decaying pig carcasses, local authorities quickly asserted that the dead pigs had not polluted the water supply. Shanghai’s water comes from Yangtze River and authorities claim the pigs died of cold weather, not a virus. However, most netizens are skeptical of these claims.
1. White Tuna
What the heck is white tuna? Well, you might not have to worry, because that’s probably not what’s in your sushi anyway. Many markets are using escolar, a cheaper fish that, by the way, can cause food poisoning thanks to the waxy esters it contains (it’s also known as ex-lax fish if you want an idea of the symptoms you’ll experience). Escolar is such a concern that some nations have banned it from the market.
2. Pomegranate, Apple, Orange Juices and More
Fruit juice is a big hit these days thanks to the antioxidant punch it packs, and it’s also pretty expensive. So if you see some pomegranate juice with a price tag that seems too good to be true, it probably is; apple juice and other less costly fillers may have been used to bring production costs down. Other juices like apple and orange may include pesticides, sugars and other added ingredients that most definitely don’t appear on the label. Juices may also contain ‘clouding agents’ to make them look fresh, and some of these could make you sick.
3. Olive Oil
Olive oil’s a biggie in a world where many people are trying to eat a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. In addition to being cut with less expensive oils that can alter its nutritional profile, flavor and performance in the kitchen, olive oils can also be mislabeled in terms of processing and origin. That ‘extra-virgin Italian olive oil,’ in other words, may be a secondary pressing from somewhere else entirely.
4. Honey and Maple Syrup
Ah, natural sweeteners. Think again! Honey and maple syrup may be processed with corn syrup and other sugars to increase their sweetness, and to dilute them; both products are expensive to produce and process, and a low-cost filler can make them stretch further.
Even milk?! Yes. Cow milk may be cut with sheep, goat, and other species, along with various filler materials, some of which aren’t so great for human consumption — like melamine in infant formula. If you’re avoiding cow milk for ethical or allergy reasons, be aware that contaminants have also been found in goat and other species.
Saffron, an extremely expensive spice, is a common culprit, but it’s not alone. Many packaged spices contain adulterants, especially if they’re sold in powdered form, because the original spice is so costly. Borate, glycerin, barium sulfate, and a variety of other unpleasant visitors have been found in spice jars.
7. Coffee and Tea
Before you brew a cup, you might want to think about what you’re drinking, because ground and instant coffee along with teas may contain twigs, paper, malt, chicory, starch and various grains. Wondering why you get an upset tummy after drinking coffee? If you’re gluten intolerant, you may have just unwittingly downed a cup of gluten.
Mislabeling of fish is a recurrent issue; a 2012 study by Oceana discovered that almost 40% of fish sold in New York City was mislabeled. It may be advertised as wild caught when it’s farmed, or as a totally different species. And when fish is sold in fillet or frozen form, it’s hard to tell what it is and where it came from without genetic testing.
If you love deep-fried squid as much as I do, this is a real blow. In This American Life, Ira Glass recently explored the fact that pig anus (“bung” in industry terms) can be seamlessly interchanged for the real deal on a seafood platter. He was reacting to a tip that a meat plant was doing just that with its products and it makes you wonder what other pig parts might be passed off as something else.
Love rice, lentils and baking with a variety of grains? You’ll shudder at the adulterants that have been discovered in them, including herbicides and pesticides along with other toxins like melamine. Many are also mislabeled, with incorrect information about their region of origin reflected on the label. Yum!
What can you do about food fraud as a consumer? Well, one piece of advice is to buy whole and close to the source. It’s harder to pass adulterated food when you’re looking at the fresh product; for example, pepper is frequently cut with fillers like millet when it’s ground, but you know what whole black peppercorns look like, so you can inspect the pepper you see for sale to see if it’s authentic. Buying from local farms, fisheries and butchers can also increase the chances of getting what you actually pay for.
Don’t be seduced by cheap prices, either. If something is radically on sale or is consistently priced lower than competing products, that might be a sign that it’s not what you think it is. If you have questions, contact the company and demand information. Want to know if those “free-range” eggs are really produced in humane conditions? Contact the company and the certifying agency, and think about asking for a farm visit so you can see for yourself.
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