What intense farming looks like. The nicer kind, actually.
1999 — NEWS THAT MADE FRONT PAGES!
Mr Bowis, the Conservative Euro-spokesman on the environment, said following the discovery of sewage in animal feed: "The European Commission has had the power to act immediately against France and any other EU countries that are breaking the rules on animal feed. Consumers across Europe are feeling sick at the thought of French animals being fed on excrement and sewage. The term `sludge' fails to describe the full horror of what has been going on."
He wants the Commission to release a full list of other EU countries breaking the law on animal feed contents as doubts remain over Belgian, German and Dutch feed plants.
Three more European countries have been accused of adding sewage to animal feed - 24 hours after it was disclosed French farmers were guilty of the same practice.The use of sewage from animals and humans in feed is said to have taken place in Germany, Holland and Belgium. Pigs, cattle and poultry are thought to have been fed on it. Last night a food hygiene expert warned that the practice was "inherently dangerous" and could create a BSE-style health crisis.
German authorities have denied the reports, but Dutch health officials have admitted finding human sewage being added during the manufacture of animal feed. It is apparently perfectly normal in Holland to add sludge from slaughterhouse water-purification systems to animal feed. At one plant, it was discovered company lavatories were connected to the water system. In Belgium, a regional farming report accused one waste-processing firm of using sludge to make feed. Ingredients are said to have included waste water from showers and lavatories as well as waste from abattoirs. The Belgian agriculture minister, Jaak Gabriels, stated the practice has ceased. It was discovered that pigs are fed pig's bone marrow.
The EU banned the use of effluent in animal feed in 1991, but sludge from slaughterhouses, including faeces, is still commonly added to the remains of animals for the manufacture of meat-and-bonemeal (MBM).
The Dutch health ministry also reported the discovery of treated sewage from toilets in animal feeds at two plants and similar conditions were also found at an abattoir in Germany's Bavaria state. In September, the Flemish regional farm ministry in Belgium reported similar irregularities at a local plant.(1)
The very issue with 'factory' red meat is that — as the name implies — we consume meat products from animals that have been fed an obesogenic diet (feeds made of GMO grain flours, unsold human food, and quite frankly a lot of rubbish), are sick and tired, and literally dying by the time they are sent to slaughter. Like we observe in humans, grains are a major concern when it comes to disease because, more often than not, feeds are contaminated with mycotoxins (byproducts of fungi) putting the animal's immune system on high alert, residues of pesticides and other derivatives form the petrochemical industry, and many more questionable ingredients.(1)
I am sincerely unapologetic.
I am sorry, however, to break it to you, if you didn't know about the many malpractices observed in conventional farming.
I truly believe supermarkets are the instigators of all that has gone wrong in the last half of the century by blackmailing farmers and cooperatives to submit to their dictatorship: ACCEPT OUR DISGUSTING LOW PRICES OR FACE EXTINCTION. Farmers that knew they could not survive alone kneeled, jeopardising their entire livelihood anyway by looking at quantity and no longer quality. Even more so today, farmers must cut every corner in order to just survive.
Dairy farms are disappearing one after the other because it costs them more to produce milk than what they get for it, while we, consumers, pay high premium for it.
British farmers are forced to pay the cost of supermarket price wars.(2. a must-read)
According to MoneyWeek: "As part of their cut-throat battle, several supermarkets sell milk at unsustainably low prices and demand ever-lower prices from their suppliers. Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland have recently been selling four pints of milk at around 89p (39p per litre). Average store prices have fallen 10% to 34p per pint since 2010."(3)
While a litre of milk is sold around £0.60-£0.90, farmers often get £0.20 per litre — usually, at cost. Virtually, dairy farmers do not make any profit at all.
We also know that the average margin of supermarket on meat product is around 218%, paying farmers around £2-3.00 per kilo and selling the same meat products are around £12-30.00. Data also show that farmers get less today than 15 years ago, according to a survey released by Roscommon deputy Denis Naughten on June 2019. He says that while the processing and supermarket sector may contest these figures, what they cannot ignore is that when this is compared to the same survey 15 years ago the share going to the farmer has dropped by a quarter, over that period.(4)
But the demand is huge!!! 2.2 million chickens are consumed daily in the UK (around 1 billion chicken slaughtered each year). When a chicken (around 1.3 kg) is sold for £3.00 in a supermarket, how much do you expect a farmer to get? We need to be realistic and consider the repercussion of our buying habits!!!
Not only do we give more power to supermarkets to lower prices even further but we are damaging the farming industry at its very chore.
Because chicken are raised in cramped places (to maximise quantity and not quality), it is not surprising that diseases abound in factory-raised animals. Animals that never see the light of day. EVER! To prevent diseases, animals are given antibiotic-rich feeds. And so, we are now at a tipping point with 24% of UK supermarket chicken samples testing positive for antibiotic-resistant E-coli. The rise of bug-resistant microbes can be passed on to human and we know that antibiotic-resistance is the biggest threat the human is to face in the next decade. 94% of chicken in the UK come from factories. A chicken is only allowed a space the size of A4 sheet. That's about 17 chicken per square metre.
“Intensive chicken farming goes on behind closed doors,” says Dil Peeling, campaigns director at charity Compassion in World Farming (CWF). “It’s hidden from people. They still have this image of chickens scratching around in a farmyard.”
It’s easy to assume that for every intensively produced chicken there are plenty of free-range and organic birds in the market. However, free-range accounts for just 5% and organic 1% of UK chicken production.(5)
This also raise a major concern. Big farms are not able to pay local wages and instead resort to employ unskilled foreigners, who very often have zero training in basic health and hygiene. Added to deplorable factory standards, whereas animal are sleeping in their own faeces, and poor staff hygiene, we are not surprised to hear that chlorinated chicken is going to invade the shelves of every supermarket in the country.
The rise of the MEGAfarm
The growth in intensive farms is concentrated in certain parts of the country where major food companies operate and many are in the process of expanding. In Herefordshire, intensively-farmed animals outnumber the human population by 88 to one. The two biggest farms in the area have the capacity to house 1.7 million and 1.4 million chickens apiece.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism writes: "big farms say they are led by consumers - people want to buy cheap meat, and intensive farming is the only way to efficiently satisfy that demand. But critics say factory farms blight local communities, subject animals to prolonged distress and push out small producers - and that we do not need the vast quantities of meat we consume."
My problem exactly. Too many animal are slaughtered, driving price down. A large portion of plastic-wrapped meat products end up in landfill and animals slaughtered unnecessarily — either because of transport/handling issues, or because the eat-by date was expired.
The answer to all our problems is in the quote above.
If, we — the consumers — hold the key to better farming methods, isn't time we took the matter in our own hands and demand changes. Fair enough, prices will increase because farmers will be paid a fairer price, but we can also apply pressure to supermarkets by not shopping there.
If we don't buy they do not make money. It's that simple. Our money is the best weapon against any company. By buying directly from farmers, we can also slash much of the disgusting margin supermarkets take for themselves (and their shareholders), and be sure about what we eat. Many farms let you visit their facilities, which is a great way to know how they treat their animals.
Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.
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