Since the Web and nanotechnology surfaced, many animal rights activists have gotten agricultural jobs to show people video of the farm and slaughterhouse conditions Big Food doesn't want people to see. But before animal activists went undercover, the mainstream press often covered conditions.
New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff worked undercover for a month on the hog killing floor of the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, NC, the world's largest slaughterhouse, hired under his own name, to write the 2000 article, "At a Slaughterhouse, Some Things Never Die: Who Kills, Who Cuts, Who Bosses Can Depend on Race."
He describes black women "assigned to the chitterlings room, where they would scrape feces and worms from intestines," workers throwing "a piece of shoulder at a friend across the conveyor" just to get his attention, and prisoners who preferred their cells to work release at the plant. Think about that.
In 2004, the Chicago Tribune's Andrew Martin continued the pork charm offensive, and 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, as if the nation needed any more behind-the-scenes description of its pork cutlets, Rolling Stone ran another 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*t bayous. To alleviate swelling lagoons, workers sometimes pump the sh*t 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*t. Tree branches drip with pig sh*t." Yum.