Yesterday my friends and I took a trip to Farm Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is located just outside of Orland, CA and is home to more than 300 pigs, sheep, cattle, chickens, and other rescued farm animals that you can meet face-to-face. The Sanctuary is usually open from April to October, but due to some special connections we were fortunate to receive a private tour. From being rescued from factory farms to being abandoned, we met some animal ambassadors that survived some of the most horrendous cases of animal abuse.
So, ever thought about where your burger begins life?
Most meat in the United States comes from factory farms. The Farm Sanctuary website describes the process of factory farming by stating that “Factory farms dominate U.S. food production, employing abusive practices that maximize agribusiness profits at the expense of the environment, our communities, animal welfare, and even our health.”
But what about happy cows? Barnyard chickens? Not quite, as the “idyllic, spacious pastures that are shown in advertisements for meat, milk, and eggs, factory farms typically consist of large numbers of animals being raised in extreme confinement. Animals on factory farms are regarded as commodities to be exploited for profit.”
To make matters worse, “they undergo painful mutilations and are bred to grow unnaturally fast and large for the purpose of maximizing meat, egg, and milk production for the food industry. Their bodies cannot support this growth, which results in debilitating and painful conditions and deformities.”
Here’s the proof: On the left is a “Heritage Turkey”, which is a breed that is used for food. On the right is a wild turkey that visits the property. Do you see the difference?
Most turkeys in factory farms look like these two individuals. White and grotesquely large.
Besides animals suffering, “the factory farming industry puts incredible strain on our natural resources. The extreme amount of waste created by raising so many animals in one place pollutes our land, air, and water. Residents of rural communities surrounding factory farms report high incidents of illness, and their property values are often lowered by their proximity to industrial farms. To counteract the health challenges presented by overcrowded, stressful, unsanitary living conditions, antibiotics are used extensively on factory farms, which can create drug-resistant bacteria and put human health at risk.”
Not convinced? Then watch this movie.
Pigs are highly intelligent animals and are actually smarter than dogs. Like dogs, they enjoy a good scratch on the belly!
“Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined…they are individuals in their own right.” — Dr. Jane Goodall
This is Elliot. Destined to be slaughtered, somehow luck found Elliot and he was brought to the Sanctuary. Cows bound for the feed lot are not meant to survive long and due to his genetics he is developing painful deformities in his legs. It is hard to truly imagine what this poor calf would have endured before slaughter, but Elliot is enjoying a simple life with the other cows at the Sanctuary.
“The short, unhappy life of a corn-fed feedlot steer represents the ultimate triumph of industrial thinking over the logic of evolution.” –Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Being licked by a cow was quite moving (no pun intended) and surprisingly painful.
If the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated, then something in our society needs to change. Something for the better.