Monday, June 21, 2010

National Animal Consumption Month

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Giving to ex-girlfriend

“In the typical cage for egg-laying hens each bird has 67 square inches of space—the size of the rectangle above. Nearly all cage free birds have approximately the same amount of space.”
I was driving to the animal shelter when NPR informed me it was National Hamburger Month. It was around 7:30 am, and there was a lot of talk about a “Ghetto Burger” that you can buy at Ann’s in Atlanta. This acclaimed burger has two “fist-sized” patties, bacon, chili, cheese, seasoning, and whatever “salad” you want on top. It was made famous by a Wall Street Journal reporter, and long lines of people have continued to come to get a taste of it ever since.
A quick search of the internet also let me know that it is National BBQ month and National Egg Month. May is pretty hoppin’ when it comes to celebrating the consumption of animals. In case you were curious, October is Vegetarian Awareness Month. Do note how only one of these four month-long celebrations includes the word “awareness.” The majority of Americans are raised to eat meat and many of us question it only when we are young. We are then given the excuses, the demands, the reprimands, and the overall socializing necessary to keep us eating animals for the rest of our lives.
In honor of National Hamburger/BBQ/Egg Month I am disbanding Eating Animals from the library. This is a book that exposes the horror of factory farms and not just for the animals but also for the people who are unknowingly eating filth. Safran Foer talks to multiple farmers with a variety of ideas on how to produce a more humane, healthier meat industry. He also speaks with a vegetarian involved in the slaughter of farm animals and writes about his personal struggles in becoming a vegetarian.
Safran Foer writes:
today a typical pig factory farm will produce 7.2 million pounds of manure annually, a typical broiler factory will produce 6.6. million pounds, and a typical feedlot 344 million pounds….All told, farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times as much waste as the human population—roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second. The polluting strength of this shit is 160 times greater than raw municipal sewage. And yet there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals…(174).
And about battery cages he writes this analogy:
Step your mind into a crowded elevator, an elevator so crowded you cannot turn around without bumping into (and aggravating) your neighbor. The elevator is so crowded you are often held aloft. This is a kind of blessing, as the slanted floor is made of wire, which cuts into your feet
After some time, those in the elevator will lose their ability to work in the interest of the group. Some will become violent; others will go mad. A few, deprived of food and hope, will become cannibalistic.
There is no respite, no relief. No elevator repairman is coming. The doors will open once, at the end of your life, for your journey to the only place worse {see: PROCESSING} (47).
I could pull out more and more from this book. I could pull out so much you would beg me to stop or you would just quit reading. I could give you some quotes about “processing” and “cosmetic blemishes.” All of the above and all of those things I am not inserting here were flying through my mind first thing this morning, on my way to the shelter, when I heard it was National Hamburger Month. Those three words sound like 87,000 pounds of shit per second to me.

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