SOC349 – Readings – February 8
Questions to consider: What are the pros and cons of factory farms? What do we as a society
gain by eating this way? What risks do we take by raising and eating animals this way? What do
factory farms reveal about our relationship to the natural world and animals?
“Worlds/Meaning” from Eating Animals – By: Foer
He says that language can never be fully trusted since worlds like free-range mislead people, natural
means next to nothing and vegan helps us forget what we are talking about. Essentially, he focuses on
deconstructing the world and analyses the real meaning behind them without social obscurities.
Battery Cage (Cage for egg laying hens crammed and staked)
Boiler Chickens (Two types of chickens: layers (lay eggs) and broilers (chickens that become
meat) – each with distinct genetics that serve different purposes (male layers are often
destroyed because they are not designed for consumption and can’t lay eggs)
Desperation (hording food i.e. couponing)
Discomfort food (that touches up on choosing between socially comfortable situations and
socially responsible where there is choice in being a vegetarian but not a selective omnivore)
Downers (animals left to die usually due to poor health)
Environmentalism (our poor food choices contribute to global warming – one cannot self-
proclaim they are environmentalists when they eat factory farmed animal products)
Family Farms (2 generations ago nearly all farms were family farms)
Free Range (technically means cage-free, but most times they are stuffed in a crammed room –
the USDA doesn’t even have a proper definition)
Fresh (Food labeled fresh can be frozen – where there is no time component for freshness)
Organic (while organic food may be safer to consume because it is not contain growth hormones
and is brazed on organic fields with no pesticides or herbicides hence having a smaller ecological
footprint it does not mean organic food is more humane)
Suffering (animals suffer –but we undermine their suffering because we think they lack intellect
Essentially he explains that animals are treated illegally and socially as commodities (p18) Power Steer By: Pollan
He bought a cow (as he refers to it No. 534 and paid $1.63 to feed it because of cheap corn) for
educational purposes; he wanted to know a modern, industrial steak is produced in America, from
insemination to slaughter.
“The $1.60 a day I’m paying for three giant meals is a bargain only by the narrowest of calculations. It
doesn’t take into account, for example, the cost to the public health of antibiotic resistance or food
poisoning by E. coli or all the environmental costs associated with industrial corn.” Pg.11
Dietary Changes : From Grass to Protein
Pollan noted that his steer was no longer fed grass when transitioned from farm to feedlot, since
growing a cow on grass strictly takes too long to reach slaughter weight (reaching their destined weight
in 2-3 years if pasture fed). Instead the industry fed cows enormous quantities of corn (because it’s a
cheap calorie intake), protein and growth hormones so that the animal could reach slaughter weight
faster (where it now takes 14-16 months).
A recent study in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the meat of grass-fed livestock
not only had substantially less fat than grain-fed meat but that the type of fats found in grass-fed meat
were much healthier.
Cows rarely live on feedlot diets for more than six months, which might be about as much as their
digestive systems can tolerate – where eating the feed lot concoction of food for a prolonged period can
result in health problems (i.e. livers that are blown out). In order to keep cows healthy they are fed
antibiotics that over time results in anti-biotic resistant superbugs. However if anti-biotics were to be
removed from the equation the price of beef would rise because the process would take longer and
cows would die.
Economic Logic of Feedlots?
If animals are back on grass, it is said, prices will soar; because it takes too long to raise beef on grass,
and there’s not enough grass to raise them on, since the Western range lands aren’t big enough to
sustain America’s 100 million head of cattle. Even though feed lots feed the masses, and m