Today we have a guest post from Maria Ramos:
Most shoppers have no idea about the severe animal abuse that takes place in factory farms, where animals are mutilated and forced to live in cramped cages with no access to fresh air or sunlight. They are also unaware of the effects this type of farming has on workers and the environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t new. “Food animals” are sentient beings just like the dogs and cats in our lives but billions of mammals and birds are exploited as commodities for profit each year in the United States alone. Fortunately, several documentaries and undercover exposés have come out in recent years to inform the public on their plight. Here are a few that are sure to open the eyes of consumers everywhere:
Seaboard Foods (2014)
This undercover video exposes the treatment of pigs in a factory farm owned by Seaboard Foods. Because this farm provides pork products to Wal-Mart, a large portion of the population has purchased meat from this supplier. These highly intelligent animals are forced to live in very tight quarters, and they are systematically mutilated by workers, who often remove tails and testicles of piglets. This film hits home for many viewers due to the widespread availability of this product in Wal-Mart stores throughout the country.
(Update May 16, 2016: The original video has been taken down and the workers were fired, but not charged.)
Koch Foods (2014)
This exposé focuses on a factory farm that supplies Chick-Fil-A with its chicken. It shows workers callously lifting and throwing chickens by their wings and legs, slitting the throats of still conscious chickens, and scalding live animals in hot water tanks. The workers appear to be so desensitized to the abuse they are committing that they no longer view the animals to be living, feeling creatures. Because Chick-Fil-A is the highest-selling fast-food chicken chain in America, a high number of viewers will have eaten food supplied by this farm.
From Farm to Fridge (2011)
Because it’s so easy to pick up food from the supermarket, most people feel disconnected from the source of their food. From Farm to Fridge, although only twelve minutes long, uses graphic imagery to shock the viewer into awareness. The film shows the brutality that cows, pigs, and chickens face in a way that will cause meat eaters to thoughtfully consider what they are eating.
Cock Fight (2015)
This thought-provoking documentary tells the story of Craig Watts, a farmer and whistleblower who shares his experience working for corporate farms. Cock Fight from the Fusion network (available to watch online) sheds light on the effect of factory farming on those who work in the industry. Workers have no control over the regulations they are forced to follow; as a result, they are forced to mistreat animals just to keep their jobs. Their income is also very unpredictable, causing 71% of chicken farmers in the United States to live in poverty. This film focuses mostly on the human impact of factory farming, which can lead viewers to think about the issue in a different way.
Butterball Abuse (2014)
This short undercover video exposes the treatment baby turkeys receive at the factory farm that supplies the well-known turkey manufacturer, Butterball. Newborn chicks are separated from their shells by a machine, a process which often mutilates them. Turkeys have their beaks and toes burned or cut off and are given no painkillers to ease their suffering. To dispose of injured animals, workers grind them up in a macerator while they are still alive. Many American families buy a Butterball turkey every year at Thanksgiving, and this video can lead audiences to question the morality of their traditions.
Eating meat has a part of American culture since the country was founded. Only in recent years have people begun to truly question it. Even farms who claim to be “cage free” and “free range” have their own issues that are just as bad as regular farms, making these terms meaningless. These documentaries open the eyes of the public to the realities of modern factory farms. By making people aware of the dangers these farms pose to people, animals, and the environment, we can become one step closer to recognizing that eating meat and meat products do more harm than good.
Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago with her two pet turtles. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.