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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Cheap meat means pollution, eat some veggies.

—By Tom Philpott| Thu Mar. 14, 2013 3:00 AM PDT

Dead hogs outside an Iowa hog confinement. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

In a river that flows through Shanghai, Chinese officials have pulled 6,000 dead pigs from the water, CNN reported. The situation is undeniably grotesque: "Sanitation workers, clad in masks and plastic suits, have been fishing the bruised pig bodies surfacing in the Huangpu River. The pink, decomposing blobs have wreaked foul odors and alarmed residents."

According to CNN, the corpses began turning up in the river after a government crackdown on the selling of meat from diseased pigs. In a bind, farmers sought a riparian solution to the problem of disposing them. Gross.

China's pig-dumping scandal must be seen the context of the nation's rapidly industrializing hog-production system—as this 2011 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy report shows, national policy is driving a lightning-fast switch from backyard hog production to vast US-style hog factories. (And now poultry production is following suit.)

But as China reshapes its meat production in our image, we have no standing to feel superior when scandals like the current one in Shanghai's hinterland erupt. That's because we don't do a very good job of protecting our waterways from the hog industry, either. Consider Iowa, which houses around 18 million hogs, making it our most hog-intensive state. All of those hogs concentrated into a relatively small space generate unthinkable amounts of toxic manure. How much? Food & Water Watch weighs in:

• The nearly 733,000 hogs on factory farms in Plymouth County, Iowa, produce twice as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
• The more than 857,000 hogs on factory farms in Hardin County, Iowa, produce three times as much untreated manure as the sewage from the greater Atlanta metro area.
• The more than 1 million hogs on factory farms in Sioux County, Iowa, produce as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Los Angeles and Atlanta metro areas combined.

And it's not just hogs that are crammed into the state's factory farms. According to FWW, Iowa's vast confinement facilities also house 1.2 million beef cattle, 52.4 million egg-laying hens, 1 million broiler chickens, and 64,500 dairy cows. Altogether, this teeming horde annually churns out "as much untreated manure as the sewage from 471 million people—more than the entire US population."

Mother Jones

Views: 180

Replies to This Discussion

Too depressing to read...All that suffering, waste, pollution, disease...All of that because most people just think meat tastes good and that's the depth of their thinking when it comes to these issues.

I have a cousin who is an animal lover, has 2 cats, loves dogs, is generally a kind man. He told me he would love to go veggie but has no idea how to cook  with no meat. When I told him it's not that hard, and it's fun, his response was that he didn't have time to learn all that, it was just so easy to throw some meat on the grill or the pan! 

It really isn't that hard! =)

I think the consumption of meat is so ingrained in our culture that people feel deprived without meat. Being vegetarian isn't hard at all. If you're eating eggs and cheese, you always have a quick meal available. 

My 6 months of being vegan last year did involve lots of work and consume my time, hard to say if everyone can do the work. Need more vegan/vegetarian restaurants. Fast food establishments selling veggie burgers and other healthy fare would be a winner in higher populated areas. 

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