Frankly, we don’t need any new reasons to resist factory farms. Perhaps it is the 50 billion animals they manipulate, torture and slaughter each year. Or the fact that they contribute to climate change at a level higher than all the cars and planes in the world combined. Or perhaps it is that our addiction to meat is causing heart disease and cancer deaths at astounding rates. And then there is the uncomfortable fact that poor, desperate immigrants do our dirty work in such farms so that we can eat artificially cheap meat. My new book argues that there are also good theological reasons to question factory farming as radically inconsistent with the vision God has for human/animal relationships.
Any one of these reasons should be enough for most of us to buy something other than factory farmed meat. Together, the case is absolutely overwhelming.
But if all of this this just isn’t enough, consider the growing fear in the medical and global health communities over our inability to treat Super-Bugs. The associate director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently told Frontline:
“For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about ‘The end of antibiotics, question mark’…Well, now I would say you can change the title to ‘The end of antibiotics, period.'”
Over 23,000 people die each year from Super-Bugs which are “pan-resistant” to all known antibiotic treatments, and that number is growing exponentially. Indeed, drug companies are now refusing to invest in new antibiotics because they don’t see a way to make money on them in the future. (Watch the whole Frontline piece for more disturbingly important details.)
But as Melinda Henneberger noted last week in the Washington Post, over 80% of the antibiotics given out in this country are given to animals in factory farms. The editors of the USA Today wrote a scathing editorial yesterday undressing the Obama administration for giving in to the lobbyists of big agriculture and not doing enough to curb the problem. And while government regulation is essential, the huge problem of Super-Bugs is the latest in a series of very important reasons individuals and smaller communities should refuse to cooperate with the grave structural evil of factory farms.
Especially as we head into Thanksgiving, let us reward businesses who provide us with healthy food that is produced justly, in line with the common good, and let us avoid businesses who do not do this.