Monday, October 18, 2010

A Barn Called CAFO **Part One**

Standing in my basement staring at the abundance of frozen, plastic wrapped hunks of pork, wondering what to fix for dinner, it occurs to me how blessed we really are. We live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans, we don’t have anything more than the next person does, and money gets tight around the holidays especially; but I still consider us happy, blessed, and overall well off. It is so easy to forget how fortunate my family is during these rotten economic times. I take for granted, like most, the abundance of food we enjoy, not just as a family, as a nation. I don’t think about where my next meal is coming from. I don’t wonder how I am going to feed my children. I just stare into the frosty abyss and wonder, “Which hunk of meat should I defrost or should we order out for pizza?”

In this country, where people have grown accustom to having plenty but wanting more, we have lost sight of what is really important. Food on the table is expected, plastics, make-up, even weed killer and insecticides are considered necessities instead of luxuries. But does anyone stop to wonder how those things get to your table, home, or even the stores? Does anyone stop to think that maybe, just maybe animal agriculture has something to do with it? Has anyone thanked a farmer lately? Maybe they should.


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations better known as CAFOs, notoriously known as “factory farms” seem to be the devil these days. Look at the media and you’ll find mostly negative articles, biased information, or flat out misinformation. We have radical vegans shouting that we don’t need animal agriculture. We have radical animal rights groups seeking to legislate agriculture out of this country. Have any of these groups, these people considered what CAFOs truly are or how they actually operate? Have they considered what they contribute?

If you want a technical definition, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has one to offer: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations are farming operations where livestock, greater than a specified number, are kept and raised in a confined situation and on a small land area. Feed is also brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking out food. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really define anything. The EPA’s definition is a bureaucratic way of saying there are a lot of animals in a smaller area. But everyone already knows this much.

So, what is a CAFO?
Find out tomorrow...

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