By now, anyone who has a TV or computer has seen appalling scenes of farm cruelty against chickens, turkeys, calves, cows and pigs. Are conditions as bad as the activists say or do they have an "agenda" which is to make people go vegetarian?
Sadly, US commercial farms are as bad as they say and many reporters have exposed the same conditions.
In 2004, the Chicago Tribune's Andrew Martin reported that "dozens of dead piglets are dumped in piles or encased in pools of manure beneath the floor, having drowned there after falling through a hole," as he visited the HKY Farm in Bloomfield, NE. "Dead hogs remain in their cages, discarded and stiff in walkways or rotting in pens as other pigs gnaw at their carcasses. Many of the 1,800 or so pigs that are alive are emaciated, crippled or covered with open sores, having been poked by jagged iron bars from broken cages or fallen through slats that separate them from the manure pits below," he wrote.
Then, Rolling Stone ran an expose about Smithfield hog operations called, "Boss Hog," two years later with a photo of a mountain of dead, pink pigs looking eerily like children."
The liquid in the infamous the "holding ponds" of manure, is not brown, says author, Jeff Tietz. "The interactions between the bacteria and blood and afterbirths and stillborn piglets and urine and excrement and chemicals and drugs turn the lagoons pink," he writes. "Even light rains can cause lagoons to overflow; major floods have transformed entire counties into pig-sh** bayous. To alleviate swelling lagoons, workers sometimes pump the sh** out of them and spray the waste on surrounding fields, which results in what the industry daintily refers to as 'overapplication.' This can turn hundreds of acres-- thousands of football fields--into shallow mud puddles of pig sh**. Tree branches drip with pig sh**."
Meanwhile, National Public Radio contributor Daniel Zwerdling gave graphic coverage of chicken slaughter for the now defunct Gourmet magazine, almost unprecedented in a foodie magazine, including the one million birds a year that the chicken industry admits are boiled alive because they miss the stunner.
Revelations of cruelty can have immediate, viral results. Food giants often suspend the suppliers caught red-handed. Yet until prosecuting attorneys take charges against animals and specifically food animals seriously the cruelty will continue.