Farm vs. Factory
In modern day America people are addicted to convenience and what comes to them in the most efficient manner but one topic in particular has caught the interest of millions of people across the world. This topic being mass food production and the prominent differences between farm fresh and factory fresh. For this essay some pressing issues will be brought up such as the treatment of animals throughout the raising and slaughtering process, workers’ wages, the difference between free range food and factory processed food and finally how people view the food industry.
A topic often avoided or forgotten about all together where food production is concerned is the care and wellbeing of the animals who will later be slaughtered to feed humans. “Farm animals represent ninety-eight percent of the animals raised and killed in the country. Around ten billion farm animals will be raised and killed in the United States this year” (Matheny, Leahy Farm-Animal welfare, legislation, and trade). This adds up to roughly one million animals slaughtered per hour. Within the past 10 years demands of food production have been raised astronomically and due to this pressure, the need for animals has also increased. To be able to keep up with this “modern genetics” is used to breed animals that are guaranteed to produce more than the average chicken or cow. When animals such as these are created they are fed high protein diets to be able to maintain a sustainable body weight, antibiotics and vitamin D are given to the animals to assure that diseases are a non-option. When all of these factors and technologies are put together it then becomes “factory farming”. Very well put in the article Animal-welfare, legislation and trade it is stated “When animal welfare competes with economics, economics usually wins: it can be cheaper for produces to accept losses due to disease and mortality than to prevent those loses” (Matheny, Leahy). Simply put if there is a choice between treating the animals or killing them, killing them is the best option because it is more cost effective. In more ways than one factory farming is very neglectful to animals it is proven that ninety-nine percent of U.S. farm animals never spend time outside (Matheny, Leahy), when in reality they live in overcrowded cages with other animals and in worst cases scenarios they are walking around in their own manure. This is a very sad reality that so many individuals don’t know about or would even think about when they hear the words food production.
While we all would like to think that our work environment is safe and, in most situations, it is, for Industrial food distribution workers this statement couldn’t be more far from the truth. “Twenty million workers employed in the food system earn lower wages, work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and are unable to collectively organize to demand rights at work (Yen Liu, Food Workers-Wages and race). For the unsafe and unruly working conditions, one would only hope the pay scale would be better then average but in the year 2008 food system workers were making and average of $11.05 an hour. For a single person this is well below the cost of living in California and multiple other places around the world. A study was specifically done by the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington for workers who lived in San Francisco. This study showed that for a family not even a single person to be able to live in the metropolitan area they would need to earn an average of $26 to $30 dollars an hour to survive. The first thought that comes to mind is the wages in California for even the most qualified of people such as, people with degrees or a higher level of education. Sometimes more often than not those higher up people don’t even make that much. Do the risks outweigh the benefit? Or is there even enough benefit to want to do this job? In 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in food processing suffered from some of the highest rates of injury and illness (Race, Poverty & the Environment, Yen Liu). With so many modern advancements over the last ten years the issues that still seem to be very apparent shouldn’t be an existing at all for this very reason we have labor laws that are heavily enforced when something is out of line or not working properly in the work environment but there is a lot of areas still needing help to make these workers feel they are appreciated and not under paid.
To clarify any misconception of farm fresh food and factory fresh food here are some simple definitions. Farm fresh otherwise known as “family farming” is a way smaller more personal way to produce meat and other agriculture with no chemical treatment or preservatives and if they are preserved it’s using natural methods, think qualitative versus quantitative. Factory Fresh otherwise known as “processed food” is done at a much higher rate and is less personal which means larger scale corporations are responsible for keeping up with the supply and demand, unfortunately with this hormone and chemical related treatments are used on the animals and agriculture to keep up with the demand, think quantitative versus quantitative (Lavin, Chad Factory Farms in a Consumer Society).
Lastly, I would like to talk about people’s perceptions of the food industry and all that it does for society. For the average person the thought of what they eat or where is comes from is the least of their worries but when informed and briefed on the current and ongoing issues at hand people seemed to not take kindly to what was brought to their attention. “77% of consumers are concerned with the welfare of animals used in food production and 67% of respondents would pay higher prices to purchasing welfare certified food products” (Gale, Cengage 2018). When over half of these consultants would pay higher prices for food that was treated humanly when still alive why wouldn’t the treatment of animals be put forth and emphasized more? For the very reason that humans would not like to be cooped up in pens with each other animals aren’t any different. Recently in August of 2018 twelve states banned mass animal confinement, but others choose to remain blind to the issue and advocate for the mass production. Due to such high demand placed on the industry since 1967 production needs have increased by almost 700%, eggs by 350%, and beef by 180%. David Leyonhjelm stated that “factory farming is essential to feed the world.” The views are vastly different on both ends of the spectrum and there seems to be no happy medium either people are either for factory farming or not.
As you can see there is a lot of inconsistences still in the factory world but more importantly in the food factories such as, animal misconduct, poor living conditions for animals, underpaid employees, and unsafe work environments. A lot of people are promoting these actions and also a lot against them but at some point, in time there has to be a cap on animal cruelty and employee neglect. Even if having farm fresh food is more expensive it is worth it for the health of people and wellbeing of the animals. In conclusion there still is a lot of progress that needs to be made in this world of food and agriculture but taking the initiative is what needs to be done.
Liu, Yvonne Yen. “Food Workers—Wages and Race.” Race, Poverty & the Environment, vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp. 10–12. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41555301.
This source gave me a lot of statistical information specifically on wage information for food workers and more importantly how it effects the environment and the people and animals in it. This article gave me a majority of the information I needed for a good portion of my essay.
This is credible because its from the Chaffey College Library and written by a credited author.
Lavin, Chad. “Factory Farms in a Consumer Society.” American Studies, vol. 50, no. 1/2, 2009, pp. 71–92. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41057156.
This article gave me reasons as to why the consumer society is against factory farms. And why we should seek foods from family farms or local small business for fresher and better-quality foods.
Credible resource from a dot org website. And credible author.
“Factory Farming.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, https://link-galegroup-com.chaffey.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/PC3010999252/OVIC?u=ranc95197&sid=OVIC&xid=238fc824. Accessed 17 Oct. 2018.
This article was the starting point for my essay it laid the way for a lot of key concepts and information I didn’t know regarding “factory farming” and allowed me to elaborate on the subject at hand.
From Chaffey College bookstore opposing view points.