More Reasons to Eat Local

Although many environmentalists, including this one, have mounted a campaign against the meat industry because of its huge carbon footprint, ineffective energy practices, and questionable quality standards, we get that many of us aren’t willing to subsist on beans and soy for the rest of our lives. However, if you’re concerned about protecting your earth (and yourself!) from the harmful meat industry without actually limiting your own meat consumption, listen up! EAT LOCAL.

Massive meat companies are basically taking over the food industry, and the bigger they get, the lowertheir standards become when it comes to cleanliness of their facilities, quality of their meat, and treatment of their employees and their communities. Apart from the humanitarian and environmentalist streak that runs in all of us, think about these two factors: Swine Flu and Avian Flu. By overcrowding meat production plants and farms, these deadly viruses are more likely to occur because cleanliness is harder to control and a sick animal will have prolonged and increased contact with its peers. In her recent article “The Real Pandemic”, Sunita Narain highlights the atrocities committed by Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pig processor, in the town when the H1N1 virus claimed its first victim, a little boy. She also implicates several governmental processes and bodies—including the EPA—in allowing Smithfield Foods to dump waste into rivers, ignore the health complaints of farmers, employees, and residents of the area, and employ shady practices all around.

This brings to mind Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, a 1906 novel centered around the corruption of the American meatpacking industry in the Midwest that, based on true observations, disgusted readers everywhere with vivid descriptions of the deplorable descriptions of factory conditions and practices. Although Narain’s article is not quite as muckraking, a theme and a motto emerge: If you don’t want to know how a piece of meat got from the animal to your mouth, you probably don’t want to be eating it either! When it comes to eating meat, stick to local, small farms—Most of these feature small, well (and sometimes organically) fed, animals that have been allowed to live on proportionally much more land than their factory counterparts. So, in order to help reduce the meat industry’s carbon emissions, prevent the shady doings of big meat producers, keep yourself and your family healthy, stimulate your local economy, and reduce the likelihood of animal virus outbreaks, stick to your farmer around the corner instead of the supermarket down the road.

To read Narain’s “The Real Pandemic”, visit http://www.downtoearth.org.in/editor.asp?foldername=20090531&filename=Editor&sec_id=2&sid=1

ENN wants to hear about your favorite local farms! Tell us below!

by M. Molendyke

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