Know Your Food | Kaylee Kinninger

by Kaylee Kinninger

The American food industry has chosen to prioritize profit and productivity over health and morality. Over 99% of farm animals are raised on factory farms where they have no space to roam, no access to sunlight, and no access to pastures. The unnatural lighting, polluted air from the piling of feces, over consumption of hormones, and surgical mutilation with the purpose of  mitigating behavioral problems inhumanely subdues animals until they die from illness or slaughter. Not only does this torture affect the animals, but the lack of care for animal welfare affects human health and the environment. Salmonella and E. coli spread swiftly through the unsanitary factory farms, prompting farmers to overdose their animals on antibiotics. Runoff from factories pollute surrounding areas, such as water sources and the air.

Chicken nuggets have served to create a large market, tempting people through a clown with a painted face chanting “I’m loving it”. But who's not loving it? Animal rights advocates and the animals. Mercy for Animals went undercover into a McNugget supplier where birds were seen packed in warehouses and brutally stabbed with a nail on a club. However, this treatment does not just pertain to McDonalds. Birds experience the most mistreatment and torture on factory farms. About 8.54 billion chickens and 238 million turkeys are butchered every year for consumption. 300 million hens are packed into pens to produce eggs. Though banned in Europe and now California, ¨battery cages” continue to trap hens in America. They give less than the size of a piece of paper for each egg-laying hen, according to ASPCA, a non-profit organization with an anti-cruelty mission.

Due to an unnatural amount of production of eggs, many hens lack proper calcium levels, causing bones to break. No veterinarians come to help these hens; they remain in pain for the rest of their lives until they die. Male also face a horrific fate. Males killed for meat live their transient lives within sheds packed with over 20,000 other males. Not only do the chickens suffer from unsanitary conditions, but also from selective breeding, making them grow three times faster than chickens before the late 1930s. They grow unnaturally and dispportationally, causing breathing problems, uneven weight distribution, heart failure, etc. Many are left to die and decompose among the living, further distressing the crammed population.

Brutality and cruelty towards animals continues as people look the other way. The most obvious form of action is veganism. However, most would not prefer to take such an extreme form of boycott, as evident considering only 7% of America is vegan. But taking actions such as committing to Meatless Monday and donating to nonprofits who work toward ending cruelty can be extremely effective. The only things stopping people from making a significant change is ignorance and fear. Start looking for the word organic on food and take time to visit a local farmer’s market and have a conversation with the vendor. Get to know where food is coming from and don’t be afraid to try something drastic and experiment with vegetarianism and veganism.