Animal Rights

Fast food has become an integral part of the United States, but despite being so widespread, it lacks nutrition and promotes unhealthy food choices. Furthermore, the preparation of these foods often consists of brutal exploitation of animals. The documentary, Food Inc, portrays the inhumane behavior towards animals destined to be meat. Although representatives of the meat industry may argue that the processes are efficient, the production of meat should not include cruel treatment of animals but should strive towards increasing sustainability and animal welfare.

Most pet owners treat the animals in their house as a human child, providing love, food, and shelter. Cows, chickens, and pigs, which are not as different, do not even have space to move around freely. According to the lawsuit case Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter, over nine billion animals are killed in one year to cater to greedy corporations and hungry consumers2. Moreover, the waste of a single pig operation with 500,000 animals, surpasses that of Manhattan’s population of 1.5 million1. To accelerate the animals’ growth, workers force antibodies into them, leading to serious physical and physiological issues. This industrialized cruelty and abuse of animals is appalling enough but is becoming normalized. As displayed in the documentary, chickens are slaughtered and disassembled while still alive and screaming for their lives.

Many recognize the problem but don’t realize how debilitating it is to directly experience unhealthy meat production. The film describes the case of Kevin Kowalcyk, who died young from consuming E.coli infected beef (a result of using corn feed). In addition to unsanitary living conditions, the animals undergo physical abuse and sustain untreated injuries. Authorities and contracted farmers believe that to garner the most profit, they must produce meat in the quickest way possible, ignoring the consequential health issues and immoral actions; however, surveys conducted by the Journal of Food Law and Policy proved that 73% of Americans will support laws that provide animals with basic rights2.  An article written by University of Leeds’ professors Rory Sullivan, Nicky Amos, and Heleen A. van de Weerd at the school of Earth and Environment states that only 44% of meat producing companies have published farm animal welfare policies, indicating that more than half have not implemented care systems for animals3. Bringing the brutal handling of farm animals to light can hurt the reputation of a meat producing company, but raising awareness can result in healthier produce and more satisfied consumers.

            Basic rights, such as ability to move around freely, clean living conditions, healthy food, and painless death, should be granted to livestock. Many people consume expensive organic meat because the quality of the meat is important to them; therefore, if the cost of meat produce were to increase to cater to livestock welfare, profit would not decrease significantly. Although the problem may appear trivial, animal rights are an important and integral part of the food industry and society, and it must be addressed and fixed as soon as possible.

-Young Choi

  1. Fearing, Jennifer. “What Food, Inc. Can Teach Us About How We Treat Animals.” Civil Eats. James Beard, 01 June 2009.
  2. Holifield, Lucy L. 2016. “ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND V. OTTER: INDUSTRIAL FOOD PRODUCTION SIMPLY IS NOT A PRIVATE MATTER.” Journal Of Food Law & Policy 12, no. 1: 16-52. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
  3. Sullivan, Rory, Nicky Amos, and Heleen A. van de Weerd. 2017. “Corporate Reporting on Farm Animal Welfare: An Evaluation of Global Food Companies’ Discourse and Disclosures on Farm Animal Welfare.” Animals (2076-2615) 7, no. 3: 1-21. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
  4. Fig 1. Animal equality.

The Food Dictatorship

What we eat is vital to our health, and were we get it from directly effects how good it will be for us. People are always on the run and constantly eating fast food. They want to be healthy but it is so hard to be when the fast food that they are eating is made from processed junk. The goal would be healthy fast food right? Unfortunately that is impossible because of how our food industry operates.

There are only a few large corporations that comprise the food industry in the US: Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods, and Mondelez (Taylor). These companies have monopolized the food market. They are the companies that engineer, raise, process, and pack the food that is sold to the fast food companies. These companies are not concerned with our health, they are only concerned with profit. They know that we crave three ingredients: sugar, salt, and fats (Food Inc.). The industry knows that when one takes a bite and taste one or more of theses three ingredients, dopamine is released in the brain. As a result, the fast food industry has manufactured food that is packed with these pleasure ingredients.That is not the only problem with these companies though. They are responsible for concentrated animal feed operations (CAFO) and all the negative environmental effect that these operations cause; as well as the diseases that people get from this poorly managed meat. Diseases like E. coli 057:H7 cause 73,000 illnesses a year, these illnesses lead to approximately  2,170 hospitalizations and 61 deaths (Rangel). It is interesting to find out that the government has the authority to recall bad products like toasters, but does not have the authority to recall contaminated, and potentially lethal meat (Schlosser).

How do we get out from underneath this dangerous food dictatorship? I purpose that family-owned farms with free range live stock and organic produce need to organize a system where they can combine forces to supply the large demands of the industry. A few cooperation’s should not be able to control the majority of the food production. The only way that this change is possible, is through legislation. This legislation will take time, and so will the healing process that the land that has been contaminated by CAFOs needs go through. The land and legislation is not the only thing that needs time; people still desire these highly processed foods and it will be a slow process to acclimate them to more healthy food choices. The change is possible, and cooperate food control will not last for ever if we start making changes now.

–Joshua Wolcott

1. Robert Kenner, Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Dir. Richard Pearce. Perf. Eric Schlosser. “Food Inc.” TakePart, 2008. DVD.

2. Schlosser, Eric. “Fast Food Nation : The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2001. EBSCOhost.

3. Taylor, Kate. “These 10 Companies Control Everything You Buy.” Business Insider, 04 Apr. 2017.