If you’re going out to eat, or shopping at the supermarket, and they don’t tell you where the meat is from, you have to assume it’s coming from a CAFO.
CAFO means Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. These are places where animals are kept and raised in confinement. Definition from the USDA website: CAFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations in a small area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing because there’s no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area.
CAFOs replace land and labor with infrastructure, allowing meat to be produced cheaply and efficiently. In my opinion, however, the costs associated with this kind of “farming” are way too high. Confined to cages, not seeing the light of day, never going outside, unable even to stand up, in the case of mother sows… this is not a healthy or acceptable way to live. And because of the cramped unnatural conditions, disease is rampant, and the animals are fed low dose antibiotics continually, leading to all sorts of problems such as disease resistant super bacteria and antibiotic tainted runoff which disperses into our water.
In America, the huge majority (around 90%) of meat is produced this way. Being able to produce meat at 99 cents a pound has trumped all other considerations in our highly mechanized agricultural factories. Personally, I believe that those considerations are important. For example, what is in the food being fed to these confined animals? We don’t really know, do we? I’ve talked to one efficiency expert who evaluated the “feed line” at a pork factory, and he told me that the animals were being fed, among other things, plastic pellets, which were recycled after they were not-digested. Seriously.
Did I mention that CAFOs are how the majority of meat is being produced? It’s actually a fact. And if you’re not asking yourself if it is moral, healthy, and desirable, there is probably a reason for that. It’s because you don’t want to think about it. I can understand that, but I don’t condone it. Ignoring all of the crazy stuff just allows it to be perpetuated. And it’s not okay with me. I want us to think about it. I think we need to.
I own a butcher shop, and I know where our animals come from. I know the farmers who are raising them outside, on pasture, and I know what they are eating. I know their food was never sprayed with chemicals, and does not contain GMOs. Our animals aren’t fed antibiotics, are killed in an Animal Welfare Approved slaughterhouse, and are delivered to us every Monday by the same guy. This guy is a part of a chain which we are helping to establish which is made up of people doing things the right way, with integrity and accountability. An alternative to the CAFO.
I’m proud to be supporting this healthy, legitimate, people and animal based system, and I hope you will choose to support it as well. This is how we make it different.
Thanks for reading, Elisa Boulton