Have you seen this Chipotle commercial, an animated feature with accompaniment by Willie Nelson?
Chipotle makes it look like Good vs. Bad is as identifiable as Domestic vs. Industrialized Farming. Stop right there! This is where we need to Think about how we know Good Guys from Bad Guys. First, is it ever fair to make such a blanket statement, to say that local organic farmers are inherently Good, while corporate farmers are inherently Bad? What if the line of Good and Bad were drawn down the heart of every farmer (not to mention everyone), measured out with every decision he or she makes? Let’s “give thought to our steps” here and process what we’ve just watched with "prudent" questioning.
- Is it bad to fence in a pig? Is it bad to build fences in general? Almost all breeds of livestock were bred by humans that desired for their animals to be dependent on them for protection and food. This keep them from wanting to run away, and the livestock animals we have now are not built for survival in the “wild.” They are genetically wired to be satisfied by the human care they are given, as well as produce milk, meat, and wool to a greater extent than their wild cousins do. That means their nutritional needs are more than what a wild environment can supply. Indeed, fenceless swine farming is widely in practice, far more so than free-ranging cattle. These pigs still roam free and are an absolute menace to the environment, human safety, and agriculture of the southeastern U.S.
- Is it wrong to build an enclosed, climate-controlled barn for dairy cattle? Visit a dairy. These cows have a sweet life. Remember, unlike humans, animals don’t believe they have a “right” to A/C anyway.
- Could the space they have be adequate for animal happiness and health, while minimizing the environmental impact and landmass impact of each additional pig? Land is precious here on this planet of 70% water. See Is the Grass(-Finished Beef) AlwaysGreener? And also Capper, 2009
- Do pigs really grow in a crate and then fall 2 stories down to an assembly line? Um, no. See these Swine Welfare Research documents if you’re curious about the pork industry, and Hard to Swallow.
- Are they fed elephantine capsules and given an evil green witch’s brew? Um, no, but antibiotics are used to combat swine illness…see Pork.org’s rationale for antibiotic use and Vive la résistance? (Antibiotics).
- Do they grow unnaturally large? Do they receive hormones? ARTIFICIAL* HORMONES ARE ILLEGAL IN RAISING PORK. (*artificial = any hormones introduced into an animal's body in addition to ones internally produced)
- Are they mechanically transformed into meat? Pork is always hand-butchered unless you are consuming a processed product that specifically lists in its ingredients “Mechanically Separated Pork.”
- Do they receive drugs? Does green slime get into our water supply? CAFOs and packing plants are stringently regulated and must abide by an oblivion of EPA rules. Free-range farms may allow animals to freely excrete in waterways with far less accountability. See EPA’s CAFO Regulations and the National Resource Conservation Service on livestock operations
- Does the final halcyon farm scene demonstrate the best relationship between farm animals and people, or can deep care and affection for animals exist in the industrialized scene? See Feedlot, Rediscovered
- I'm going back to the start...when the ancestors of domesticated pigs roamed free with Adam and Eve on the planet? Can we take 7 billion people with us “back to the start”? See…Capper, 2009 and Organic, Or Not?
- We are asked to cultivate a better world, but better in what way?…reducing world hunger, reducing environmental impact, increasing the aestheticism of agriculture…? See (Re)Defining the Terms
- Um, What’s in it for Chipotle?
- What do you Think?