Rolling Stone Magazine Expose' on the Pork Industry

Excellent article, read in full, and let the next mass market pig you eat weigh on your conscience a little bit.

I have attended meetings organized by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network recently, and Smithfield foods is high on their agenda for the mind blowing pollution that overwhelmingly affects the poor and rural African-American communities, for their appalling safety record, and early American style treatment of its workers. See this PBS video for more. It is truly heartbreaking to hear testimony from people who live near hog farms, how the stench is overwhelming, omnipresent, and travels in your clothes and system wherever you go.

Some Excerpts:

Rolling Stone : Pork’s Dirty Secret: The nation’s top hog producer is also one of America’s worst polluters

Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pork processor in the world, killed 27 million hogs last year. That’s a number worth considering. A slaughter-weight hog is fifty percent heavier than a person. The logistical challenge of processing that many pigs each year is roughly equivalent to butchering and boxing the entire human populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Charlotte, El Paso, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Louisville, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City and Tucson.

To appreciate what this agglomeration of hog production does to the people who live near it, you have to appreciate the smell of industrial-strength pig shit. The ascending stench can nauseate pilots at 3,000 feet. On the day we fly over Smithfield’s operation there is little wind to stir up the lagoons or carry the stink, and the region’s current drought means that lagoon operators aren’t spraying very frequently. It is the best of times. We can smell the farms from the air, but while the smell is foul it is intermittent and not particularly strong.Unsurprisingly, prolonged exposure to hog-factory stench makes the smell extremely hard to get off. Hog factory workers stink up every store they walk into. I run into a few local guys who had made the mistake of accepting jobs in hog houses, and they tell me that you just have to wait the smell out: You’ll eventually grow new hair and skin. If you work in a Smithfield hog house for a year and then quit, you might stink for the next three months.

Epidemiological studies show that those who live near hog lagoons suffer from abnormally high levels of depression, tension, anger, fatigue and confusion. “We are used to farm odors,” says one local farmer. “These are not farm odors.” Sometimes the stink literally knocks people down: They walk out of the house to get something in the yard and become so nauseous they collapse. When they retain consciousness, they crawl back into the house.

Successful Farming magazine warned — six years ago. There simply is no regulatory solution to the millions of tons of searingly fetid, toxic effluvium that industrial hog farms discharge and aerosolize on a daily basis. Smithfield alone has sixteen operations in twelve states. Fixing the problem completely would bankrupt the company. According to Dr. Michael Mallin, a marine scientist at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington who has researched the effects of corporate farming on water quality, the volumes of concentrated pig waste produced by industrial hog farms are plainly not containable in small areas. The land, he says, “just can’t absorb everything that comes out of the barns.” From the moment that Smithfield attained its current size, its waste-disposal problem became conventionally insoluble.

Nice, huh! Still eating factory pork?

2 comments for “Rolling Stone Magazine Expose' on the Pork Industry

  1. December 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    The photos of pregnant pigs tortured and suffering in the so small cages unable to move, biting the bars of the cages untill their mouths bleed made me not want to live. These are intelligent, sentient beings and every time I see phots from factory farmms I hate people even more. The people who do this are, without exageration, psychopaths. Capitalism brings out greed and helps creat lack of empathy and compassion.

    Pro- choice should also mean that you get to choose if you want to be born. I would have vehamently said no. I suffer deeply on a daily basis and the only thing that keeps me alive are my cats who I will not abandon.

    I feel so helpless because there is really nothing I can do to change the cruelty.I hate America but I am trapped here because I have don’t have enough money to move, yet again. I have been forced to move every two years for five years because I let my four cats out and also refuse to have them de-clawed.

    I am English and I had no idea when I first came here in the seventies how awful it is. Why do those silly buggers fly those bloody American flags everywhere? When I ask people say”it’s the best country in the world”!!!! They go on about freedom of speech. Shit where does THAT get you?! And they always compare America to third world countries because they don’t know about Australia etc.because they don’t read.

    Well try reading “Third world America” by Arianna Huffington, for starters.

    Another thing that drives me nuts is the fucking religion.

    Enough of my rant. I will marry anyone who has enough money to get us out of this sinking ship. I can take us to England.But you would have to be an animal lover, an atheist and pro-choice.
    Clare Knight.