While at church recently I heard a great saying “We have too many people who are opinionated but not motivated to actually do something.” This is a very true statement and applicable when it comes to the field of agriculture. I continue to hear and read about people who criticize how our livestock (farm animals) are treated. It amazes me because at the same time the people who complain about the treatment of the livestock also will complain about the prices of the products while continually increasing the demand to unrealistic expectations. People have to remember you get what you pay for. When the demand increases and consumers want these products at lower cost, what do we think will happen? We begin to mass produce. It gives the consumer what they want right? Wrong! Now people want more but they do not want animals being subjected to mass production. Lets take this same scenario and place in a different industry such as residential construction. We find a house we like and tell the builders we want the same house you were building but now we want a lot more and we actually want it for less money. Now how do they get it to these lower prices? First they begin to buy their supplies in bulk. Then the begin pumping out these generic houses and lose the passion they once had. They do the same thing day in and day out and almost become mechanical in their ways. This same thing happens when it comes to large scale animal farming. Complacency comes with mass production. We want people who are methodical but not mechanical when it comes to our livestock.
You do not want livestock that is mass produced or mistreated so what do you do about it? Well there are ways we can do something. The first way is to raise your own animals. You can get some chickens, a pig or even a cow. This will ensure you will know exactly what treatment these animals received. This option will also remove the separation many individuals have regarding where their food actually comes from. Unfortunately his is not an option for everyone though. Some people can not afford to raise their own livestock, some people are not allowed because of zoning regulations, and some people flat out do not want to be burdened by it. So what is the answer for these people?
There are tremendous amounts of small farmers out there you can buy directly from. Many small farmers will allow you to go to the farm and see how these livestock animals live their lives and are treated. In fact many farmers will be happy to do this in order to remove the negative stigma associated with farms and farmers. You will also minimize the amount of hands your food has to pass through before it gets to you. Many small farmers struggle to make a living but it is what they know and are passionate for in this world. It is hard for the small farm to compete with these large scale farms who can mass produce their livestock at a lower cost but it is their calling. You will most likely have to pay a little bit more since their livestock is being raised with care and not mass produced. Be prepared to spend that extra money to receive a quality product which received a quality life. Support your local small farmers. If you don’t know any local farmers a good place to start will be your local farmers market.
Another problem is not only the people who are not motivated to physically do something to change it but people are not motivated to truly educate themselves on the subject. They see one picture or hear one story and assume the entire industry must not care about animals. This is far from the case. I have met large scale farmers who care as much about their animals as small family farms. There are always going to be a few bad seeds in the bunch no matter what industry we are talking about. If people educate themselves on the subject through reputable unbiased sources (keyword unbiased) or even physically go to a farm to see how it operates (I would highly recommend the latter of the options) it will not only benefit the industry but it will benefit the animals and people in general.
What it all comes down to is we need to become more involved. We need to remove the separation we have created between us and where our food comes from. How bad is the separation from us and our food? I recently read an article regarding a petition which was created to prevent a cow from slaughter and asking the owner why they could not just buy their meat at the food store like the rest of us. This is the separation that needs to go away. If you feel like there is no separation for you how about your children? Ask your children where their food comes from. We have a duty to the animals which are sacrificed to feed us to understand where our food comes from. It is up to every individual to educate themselves about where their food comes from. It is also up to the farmers to ensure we are educating as many people as we can about the realities of the industry. Lets stop talking about how things should be and actually make it happen.