Factory vs. Free-Range Meat

Before you bite into that chicken sand­wich or that BLT, let me ask you a question: Do you know what you are eating and how it got to the marketplace? We often don’t think about the logistics of our food source, but let me assure you, we need to start.

People are always looking for ways to increase productivity in whatever product they are selling. The more product they can produce, for the least cost, will make for more profit. Whereas I cannot argue with this from a business perspective, there are some businesses in this world whose “products” are living, breathing creatures. This raises a question of ethics: How are the animals being treated, while they are maturing to the point of being ready for slaughter?

According to Compassion in World Farming, most market chickens live a mere 6 weeks before slaughter. These chickens are pumped full of antibiotics which quick-grow the chickens while simultaneously reducing their appetite. Though very cost-effective, these antibiotics are present in the meat that you eat. Not to mention, have you seen how these chickens live? In large warehouse-like facilities, stacked in small cages. They end up covered in their own (or their upstairs neighbors’) drop­pings. This cruel lifestyle is not the only way to produce chickens.

Free-range and organic farmers take a more humane approach, raising the chickens in their natural environment and producing birds without the unnecessary presence of antibiotics. These chickens live a natural life and are not slaughtered until 8-12 weeks. Free-range farms are not all organic farms, but all organic farms are free-range. Read your labels carefully to learn which chickens are properly raised and fed and live a more natural, humane life.

Just about finished with that BLT over there? Before you finish your sandwich, let me tell you about that pork you are eating. You see, factory-raised pigs are in tiny pens indoors, their space is so con­fined that they can’t even turn around. When they are bred, and come to full term, they cannot nest, nor prepare for the birth of their piglets. After only two weeks with their young, the piglets are removed.

Professor Bernard E. Rollin of Colo­rado State University spoke of the intense impact on the pigs social behavior and psychological well-being. The pigs de­velop neurotic tics as they are subjected to this constant confinement.

“I have personally witnessed ordinary people’s response to their first experience of these crates, and have seen eminent academics emerge from a sow barn un­abashedly in tears,” stated Dr. Rollin.

Now I am not suggesting that all people should become vegetarians, that is a personal choice. I am simply suggest­ing that we can shave off a few dollars somewhere else, so that we may pay a couple dollars more to support free-range and organic farming. While these animals may provide nourishment for our bodies, they are still living, breathing creatures. They don’t deserve to live in conditions so inhumane. Although it costs more to ethically raise animals, it’s worth it to know they enjoy a wholesome, natural life in a pleasing environment. It’s better for you, it’s better for the farmers, and it’s way bet­ter for the animals.