On Us

Yet another clandestine video from inside an industrial animal facility has been released (details HERE).

An undercover video taken at one of the nation’s largest pork producers shows pigs being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility. …”The actions depicted in the video under review are appalling and completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action,” said USDA spokesman Adam Tarr.

This is the price of cheap factory pork. Pigs are intelligent, emotional creatures, deserving of respect and humane treatment. No creature should be subjected to treatment like this. No one with an ounce of compassion for animals should be willing to eat pigs that have been treated this way.

We know already know what the results of the USDA investigation will likely be. Maybe a fine. The company will probably announce that it has terminated the few guilty bad apples. And these hellish operations will go as before, the corporate animal abusers will rake in billions in profits, and consumers will keep buying the cheapest meat they can find.

Most of us have chosen cheap meat over the humane treatment of animals.

But it doesn’t have to be this way of course. We don’t have to abuse and torture animals before we kill and eat them.

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Things are changing and that gives me hope. Even a few years ago it was rare to see any reference to “ethical eating.” But now an increasingly large number of people want to know more about the animal products they eat than just the price of them.

So where did the notion of ethical eating come from? Was it just dreamed up by some sentimental hippies over the last few years?

Well at least in western culture the idea that farm animals should be treated with compassion and respect goes back thousands of years. In one of the most famous poems of all time, the Psalmist says “The Lord is my shepherd.” He describes how “his shepherd” cares for and protects him. Of course sheep weren’t pets. They were being raised to be sources of human food. Would a poet today choose a factory farm owner as a metaphor for God?

Likewise Jesus famously told of the “good shepherd” who risked his life to defend his sheep. Countless stained-glass windows have the image of Christ gently carrying a lamb. But that animal isn’t a pet. It is intended for human food. Here again the care of a farmer for his animals was seen as an image of the divine love and care for humanity. But is that what we think of when we see animals being beaten and dragged onto an assembly line where they’re being slaughtered at a rate of 1,300 per hour?

John Wesley and his followers were often ridiculed for their insistence on animal welfare, but they considered it essential to their faith. In our treatment of animals, Wesley said, we should “imitate Him whose mercy is over all his works.”

“The Lord careth for them…not one of them is forgotten in the sight of our Father which art in heaven,” he wrote.

Wesley taught and believed that when all things are redeemed and restored to their original and intended goodness, animal suffering will be no more, and that we should begin to live into that hope now. “Let us habituate ourselves to look forward, beyond this present scene of bondage, to the happy time when (animals) will be delivered therefrom to the liberty of the children of God.”

The belief that we have a moral obligation to treat animals decently is not a recent invention, even if nowadays our sensibilities have been numbed. We condemn people for abusing pets and wildlife, while ignoring systematic abuse of farm animals.

It’s easy to blame the corporate owners of these facilities for the abuse. And they deserve blame. But we need to step back and remember that corporations don’t have consciences. They exist to maximize profits  to shareholders, while shielding them from liability. Period.

Industrial food corporations are just meeting a demand that we create. They are not moral gatekeepers. We are.

I choose to believe that the day is approaching when these disgusting facilities will be things of the past–embarrassing reminders of a less-enlightened time.

But how quickly that day arrives, or even if it arrives at all, is up to us. Every time we choose our food, we’re voting for the kind of world we want to live in.

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26 comments on “On Us

  1. smcasson says:

    Wow, that was powerful, Bill. Thanks.

    Like

  2. Laurie Graves says:

    In the 1700s and 1800s, cats were skinned alive because it was thought this improved the quality of their skins. Makes me shudder to think about it, especially when I think of my own two dear cats. Years from now, I expect we’ll have the same reaction to factory farming. While progress moves in fits and starts and often takes a step or two backwards, we have seen progress over the centuries for children, for women, for civil rights. Soon, I hope, the animals will have their turn.

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    • Bill says:

      In 18th Century England bulls were “baited” before being slaughtered. They were tethered to a post or tree and then attacked by “bull” dogs, both to amuse spectators and because popular opinion was that baiting a bull made the meat tastier and safer to eat. In fact in some towns in England it was illegal to sell meat from a bull that had not first been baited. We read that now and wonder how they could have been so cruel and stupid. Someday our descendants will wonder the same about us I think. I fully agree with you about progress and the day is coming when this will end.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. avwalters says:

    And this is true for what kind of a planet we live on. Slipped into the heart of this argument is that we cannot feign ignorance or innocence for conduct we support financially. Cheap food, cheap consumer items, don’t come cheap. Life is on the installment plan and the price will be paid, sooner or later. Americans are not absolved of the damage to the planet, for their food, for their fuel, for their lives of convenience, just because they chose not to know. The price is in the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren. Yes, there is the moral question of how they made their way. And there is the price–will the planet be livable? There’s time. If we remove our blinders and change our ways, we can be the generation that faced the precipice and backed away.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, it’s very sad what capitalism has done to supply our food. I heard yesterday on a local talk radio show that California has passed a law that states how much room a chicken should have in the cage for egg production. The whole gist of the show was about the revenue loss that would be in the egg production in our neighbor state of Iowa because they didn’t meet the California standards. I actually saw an egg production operation in Nicaragua. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The eggs that were sold as free range had huge buildings with so many chickens in them you couldn’t see the ground. They were not in cages but I suspect the space for each chicken was not much more than the chickens in the cages. The chicken feed that all the chickens ate had the last generation of chicken egg layers processed into it. So in effect they were eating there ancestors. Even in that third world country there must have been protesters because mean guard dogs were turned loose at night to protect the property from vandals. We can only hope and pray that 20 years from now our society will have discovered a better way to produce food. By then I’ll be really old and probably won’t care as long as it tastes good and I still have teeth to eat it with. :-O

    Have a great pig advocate day.

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    • Bill says:

      Imagine the outrage if someone was caught treating parakeets the way the system treats chickens.

      The way Iowa factory farms treat laying hens is unconscionable. But it would end immediately if no one would buy the eggs. We have the choice to refuse those eggs and any products made with them. As informed consumers start to act on their beliefs (instead of just sticking their heads in the sand), then these practices will change.

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  5. BeeHappee says:

    Thanks, Bill. Well, we are going to a pig roast this weekend, but it does make me feel good that the piggies there ran free and happy all summer, and we fed them apples and milk, and they got endless attention and petting from the kids. So when you eat that bacon, you are eating sunshine, and happy little worms and walnuts they dug up, what a difference it makes – when so much violence, anger and sadness is produced and consumed daily.

    I am happy to see some good work. This week, my girl and I were reading a book called “Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat ” – it is a book that just came out this year and is geared toward teenagers and really covers the food story pretty well, concisely and through images: from history of food, to chemicals, to factory farming, to encouraging stories of teens working for a better food. Although I may not agree with some things in there, but it is encouraging to have such resources available to children and teenagers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bill says:

      Well put Bee. We are literally eating distress, fear, misery, sadness and pain when we eat those animals. And needlessly so.

      I’m encouraged by the flood of books and articles on ethical eating lately. When I started working on that subject a few years ago there wasn’t much being written about it, and much of what was out there would be considered “fringe” thinking. Now it’s become mainstream. I was over 10,000 words into a manuscript, a guide to ethical eating, that I set aside last year in order to finish Organic Wesley. Now I’m wondering if there is any point going back to it. And that’s a good thing.

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  6. Deborah says:

    Beautiful.

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  7. I want to share this on Facebook but can’t seem to find a link to do that. Help!

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  8. SSF beat me to the Amen… Very well said. You are right – it IS on us to not support these horrific practices just to save a buck. I know the word is getting out and people are starting to take a closer look, but I sure wish it would happen faster.

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    • Bill says:

      I see positive developments regularly now. The tide is turning. But for every consciously ethical eater now there are still dozens (if not hundreds) who are unaware of what’s at stake. I know there are some who don’t have any compassion for animals and don’t care how they’re treated. But I think the vast majority of us do care and wouldn’t support these practices if they were better informed.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. EllaDee says:

    It’s been proven consumers can make a difference… once they have the information. Many will not, do not, have the time to go looking for it. So the industries do their best to keep the knowledge of their practices suppressed and/or obscured. Transparency and ethics should be driving food production rather than mea culpa reactions when they’re caught out.
    Simple things we can all do is share information in any form we can from social media to conversations… moderate meat consumption, buy from ethical producers/sellers. Commenting this on your blog is like selling ice to Eskimos, I know but it’s worth sharing and saying as many times as we need to until the change is reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bill says:

    I know we’ve had this conversation before EllaDee and I fully agree with you. We should all use my platforms, whatever they are, to spread this message. I’m convinced that’s the best way to bring about meaningful change.

    Like

  11. Dearest Bill,
    That makes one sick!
    It definitely is ON US for educating others about this insane, money-oriented and mindless handling of LIVE ANIMALS. At times I do hope and pray that some humans have to come back one more time, or more times, as an animal. For some that would be a great pay-back to what they have done to animals during their life time.
    But to help with educating others, I’ve shared it on all my social media outlets and so did my husband Pieter. Let’s hope that this is just a tiny help for all the innocent pigs in this case. They have no means of defending themselves…
    It feels so much better for having embraced for years a vegetarian lifestyle as well, with some fish and chicken once in a while. If more people would do that instead, we already would be on the right track!
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention so we too can share it!
    Hugs and happy weekend.
    Mariette

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    • Bill says:

      Thank you Mariette. Wesley taught that we should apply the Golden Rule to animals too–treat animals as we would have animals treat us. That would certainly change things. He also believed that it the age to come animals might be elevated to the status humans now have–with the ability to speak for example, and free from violence and predation. He admitted it was speculation but desired it as a way to compensate them for their unjust suffering. Maybe that will come pass and the leopard will truly lie down with the lamb. But in the meantime, we have no excuse for needless systematic abuse of animals. We can end it and we should.

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  12. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    My neighbor texted us photos of the buck he killed bow-hunting this weekend. The thing that struck me about his photos (and knowing him) was the respect, gratitude, and awe he appeared to have (unlike most hunter photos). My daughter was there when they were preparing to dress the deer, and saying a prayer of thanks to God for this beautiful creature and its swift death. (I know Isaiah, our neighbor, tries hard for a clean shot).

    I wish we could all be more connected to our food, and feel that sense of awe and gratitude.

    Thank you for sharing this BIll.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I always thank God for entrusting the animal to our care and I thank the animal for its sacrifice. I also ask both to forgive any shortcomings in our husbandry.

      I don’t eat any meat unless the animal came from this farm. So I know the cost of what is on my plate. Usually I knew and cared for the animal all its life. Living that way connects us with our food and serves as a preventative for the kind of cruelty and abuse that I mention in the post.

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  13. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    “I also ask both to forgive any shortcomings in our husbandry.”
    I admire your integrity and compassion.

    Like

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