Just this morning, new footage of horrifying pig farming practices within Kentucky’s Iron Maiden Farms was released by the Humane Society. The clip shows workers pureeing piglet intestine and feeding it to the mothers.

In reaction, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Nicholas Kristof has published a New York Times op-ed entitled Is That Sausage Worth This?. The piece rips apart the defenses of the factory food industry, asking the American public to justify their consumer practices in comparison to the pain that the animals suffer.

Kristof writes,

[pullquote]”[Pigs] live out their adult lives without exercise or meaningful social interaction; it’s like a life sentence of solitary confinement in a coffin, punctuated by artificial insemination and birth. No wonder the animals’ muscles atrophy and they show signs of aggression and stress.”[/pullquote]

Photo: Fair Warning

The footage, although shocking, is not surprising to those who research the food they eat. Feeding dead pigs to live pigs is both legal and common. The same practice happens often within chicken farms—meal is created out of deceased chickens, then fed to living chickens. But this is only one of a thousand atrocities that occur within the walls of a food production facility.

Tom Burkgren, the executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, tells Kristof,

“Feeding the piglet intestines to sows is legal and safe but that hog farmers are increasingly finding that it’s more effective simply to use diarrhea from an infected animal to expose sows to P.E.D.”

While reel after reel of footage from inside factory farms leaks to the public, big farms are beginning to take a stand, attempting to create anti-whistleblower (“ag-gag”) laws. These laws would not only block attempts to report animal conditions, but also reports about poor working conditions for employees.

Some consumers are surprised by the endless list of gruesome details forthcoming about factory farming. But many American have some degree of awareness that cruelty exists and have turned a blind eye to the subject. The 2008 documentary Food Inc. opened many eyes to the problems in the American food production system. But it’s easier to buy prepackaged meat at a grocery store, and many swallow their distaste and do so.

Photo: TreeHugger

Photo: TreeHugger

It is up to consumers to change their attitude towards meat, and take an active role in their meat consumption by choosing local farms and sustainably produced meat. In the words of author Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals, “Not responding is a response—we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.”

[via The New York Times]

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