Social Justice Articles 3
Your recollection of livestock life from your childhood is almost non-existent today.
According to the latest figures I've been able to attain, less than 1 percent of livestock in the USA are raised in "non-factory farm" settings. Have you visited any of the factory farms? I have. When I was a chaplain with Pender Correctional Institution I had to visit inmates who were assigned to work release in eastern North Carolina. Many worked in various aspects of factory farms to include the slaughter houses of Smithfield Farms and Carolina Turkey.
Perhaps animals are not equal to humans, but I have come to the conclusion that it is a more a matter of degrees in our differences. It is absolutely horrible the treatment livestock animals receive from birth to death in factory farms. If there is a higher power in the universe, humanity will surely pay for this evil we have created.
I do express great horror for the way that corporate farms house and treat animals. I avoid veal because I know how the calves are treated so their muscles will have never been used. Animals should be allowed to move around freely antreated cruelly even though they were to become human food.
I have been near enough to the animal farms that you speak of that I know the horror of them. I felt better that you softened your view of animals "perhaps they are not equal to humans" so we are getting closer in our views. We did not eat great quantities of meat growing up because ours was such a marginal farm that anything that could be sold for money, did not go on our table. My years of piano lessons were paid for with milk, butter and produce from our huge garden.
I married into a German "meat and potatoes" family and was that ever a shock to see the huge quantities of beef they ate. No wonder they were over weight and had clogged arteries. Moderation was not in their vocabulary. Almost all the super market chains now have half their produce sections as "organic" but one does not know how pristine clean the stuff really is. We have a certified organic farm within sight of our house. I don't buy everything there but do shop there.
One event that I thought of afterwards that I wished I had described to you---Our daughter lives in the country outside Franklin, VA. That was the only place they could find to put a manufactured home that they could afford. On one side of them is a cotton field and on the other is a soy bean field. I was there for a visit and she was telling me that the cotton was being grown as a "no-till" crop. I thought "Great!" and boy was I fooled. The next day a tractor with a sprayer that must have covered a fourth of an acre in each swath spraying the field like crazy. We had to stay in the house with the windows and doors closed because it was making such a fog. It criss-crossed the field several times. When I stopped there 10 days later on my way back from Rose Hill, everything on the field was dead. Then they came in with planters and planted the cotton without plowing. The process made me so heartsick that it made me never want to admit that I am a farmer at heart. It sure is different from back when we picked the tobacco worms off the plants by hand before there were insecticides to kill them.
Vernon Chandler and Peggy Rawheiser are board members of the UNIVERSALIST HERALD.
DOWN ON THE FARM
A conversation between Peggy Rawheiser
and Vernon Chandler about chemicals in our food and our world
After re-reading your "Everyday Fear Factors of a Meat Based Diet" which was published in the Herald some months ago, there are several points that I want to discuss with you.
Having grown up on a farm and around animals of all sorts, I heartedly agree with you on some of your views but not for the same reason that you do.
I have for many years been greatly concerned about all the antibiotics and chemicals that are fed to animals for human consumption, knowing full well that they are passed on to those who eat the meat. I have not gone as far as you to eliminate meat from my diet but I have watched for results of any research or programs that advocate not using all those chemicals on animals and have cheered when I hear of farmers who no longer use them. I feel the same about the chemicals and pesticides that are put on plants and fruit of the trees. I know that we are being slowly poisoned by that, so the little that I can do is thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables with a cleaning agent and hope I remove some of it. I don't hear you proposing not to eat fruit and vegetables for that reason that you use as a reason not to eat meat.
I share your concern about chemicals/poisons on fruits and vegetables. This is why Nataliya and I only buy organic vegetables and fruits (which are much easier to find in Europe since all grocery stores have an organic or bio section.)
You don't mention that now there is a mad rush to use great amounts of corn and plant material to make ethanol to burn in our cars so that they can produce tons more of Ozone to poison our air. I would rather that those plants be used for human consumption. Now even the price of food has gone up because all that corn is being diverted to the production of ethanol. Soy bean farmers saw the possibilities of great profits from corn so they switched to corn and that made the price of soy beans go up.
I realize that water is not the completely renewable resource like some people assume. In California where there are fights over the water rights to the Colorado River, I gasped to see rice paddies. When I asked why in the world they were so crazy to use that water for rice paddies when other farm crops were being denied water. The answer was that Japan will pay a high price for the rice. That is so crazy.
I feel that there is as much ecological damage done from over use of fertilizers and pesticides which wash into our streams as there is from animal waste. All of that waste concerns me. I can't be talked into just being concerned about the animal waste pollution.
Now so many streams and ponds in eastern North Carolina are covered with algae and scum. These bodies of water are dead and this has been caused by hog farms as well as chemical run off. Now it has been revealed that our drinking water after having gone through a filtering plant is also contaminated with potent prescription drugs. Since most bottled water comes from the same sources, those drugs are also in bottled water which most people think is pristine clean.
As I said in the beginning, we had all sorts of animals on the farm and we played with the little ones and took care of them but NEVER with the feeling that they were put here to be treated like people. We knew they were for our own consumption and that of others. I cannot accept that they are on the same level of existence as people and must be revered as the Hindus do. Even the cave men depended on animals for food and I have no thought that there is any difference today.