By Ryan McGreal
Published August 29, 2007
Please take a few minutes to read a harrowing, compelling essay about how single-use regulations have destroyed the possibility of humane, organic, small-scale community entities in the US: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, by Joel Salatin.
Our whole culture suffers from an industrial food system that has made every part disconnected from the rest.
Smelly and dirty farms are supposed to be in one place, away from people, who snuggle smugly in their cul-de-sacs and have not a clue about the out-of-sight-out-of-mind atrocities being committed to their dinner before it arrives in microwaveable, four-color-labeled, plastic packaging.
Industrial abattoirs need to be located in a not-in-my-backyard place to sequester noxious odors and sights. Finally, the retail store must be located in a commercial district surrounded by lots of pavement, handicapped access, public toilets and whatever else must be required to get food to people.
The notion that animals can be raised, processed, packaged, and sold in a model that offends neither our eyes nor noses cannot even register on the average bureaucrat's radar screen - or, more importantly, on the radar of the average consumer advocacy organization. Besides, all these single-use megalithic structures are good for the gross domestic product. Anything else is illegal.
Addressing on-farm processing, farms as community centres rather than "commodity production units", artisanship, apprenticeship, construction, and tolerance for mistfits in turn, this essay presents a devastating critique of the tyrannical fusion of corporate and state power that is racing to stamp out small-scale, local, self-sustaining communities across the US.
Sounding by turns like James Howard Kunstler and John Taylor Gatto, Salatin espouses a free, communitarian and faithful ethos that is sharply at odds with the authoritarian thrust of fear and punishment.
The more I learn about modern day farming methods the more barbaric they seem. It would be easy to just blame the farmers. As this article points out, they have to work within this completely impractical and inhumane system.
After moving over from England 12 years ago I tried to give blood but was told I couldn't because of the BSE scare in England (according to the Canadian Blood Services anyone who ate meat in England after 1980 something is at risk of having the disease). BSE was spread through contaminated offal - infected waste meat was fed to other cows. I had no idea that cows were eating other cows! I found that quite disgusting.
Then you see documentaries about antibiotic laden overfed chickens who are so large they can't move... and there's veal - what more do you need to know about that?!
The final straw for me, the moment that made me go veggie for good, was my friend telling me about Toronto's last downtown abattoir on King Street West (I think it's closed now). He told me that the neighbours were complaining about the smell - not the smell of the abattoir, but of the cows and pigs that were *ing themselves as they turned the final corner into the factory. These poor animals instinctively knew what was waiting for them through those gates.
I don't say that everyone should go veggie, but I feel that the whole industry needs to be put under a microscope.
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