I am sure this quick post will upset some people on both sides of the argument, but I have been rather disturbed as of late about how modern agriculture is representing itself. There has recently been a concerted effort on the part of large-scale agribusinesses in the U.S. to reinvent themselves. I think it is because they are starting to get exposed for what they do. Now let me be clear before I get too far into this. I eat meat. I believe there is overwhelming evidence to support that humans are omnivores (not herbivores and not carnivores). We have been designed to eat meat as well as vegetable matter. However, the meat that humans ate thousands of years ago is nothing like the meat you would buy in the average grocery store today. Again, there is overwhelming evidence to support the drastic difference between “modern”, mass-produced meat sent to finishing lots and meat from animals pastured raised their whole life. The former meat is an unhealthy food product which we should avoid if possible. The latter is a healthy part of a human’s diet. But again, this is not my argument today.
What I am upset about is how these large corporations think we are so stupid. Just look at the two photos at the top of this article. These were taken from ExploreBeef.org, a website from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. By looking at these beautiful photos, one would like to think that most cattle in the US were raised in lush pastures and cared for as part of the family. Now compare this to these fairly tame photos of modern feedlots below…
All I am saying to these corporations is please don’t think we will be this easily fooled. You can put a few nice photos taken in the cattle’s early life and pretend that this is how they will live forever, but we know where they end up. We know how they are treated. We are not stupid. We are not going to ignore this anymore.
Permaculture teaches us to use nature as a model for our agricultural systems. Where in the world do you see wild animals sleeping in their own excrement? Where do you see wild herbivorous ruminants choosing to live in filth instead of lush pastures? The obvious answer is that you don’t. So then why do we continue to do this? There are a number of reasons, and yet again, this is not my argument for today. But we don’t have to settle for the lies, and we don’t have to leave thinking we have no other choice. Fortunately, there are a growing number of people who are treating their animals in a healthy, humane, natural way from birth to death… yes, even a death for us. It is the way of the natural world. It is the way of omnivores, if you chose to embrace our design.
So I will leave you with one last image. This is a photo take on Joel Salatin’s farm. These are his cattle, and this is how they live their lives. What a great alternative. Seek out those who are treating their cattle with the respect they deserve and allowing them to live a life that is the way nature intended.