Kendra Kimbirauskas discusses the problems with factory farms or CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). More than ever, we are experiencing unprecedented growth of factory farms in rural communities, even though consumers are more educated.
Despite all of the good work of the Good Food movement, factory farms continue to expand across the United States. Kendra discusses the numerous factors leading to this growth, including money in politics, international trade deals and misleading marketing. She urges the food movement to move past greenwashing and superficial change to discover the real problems with our food system.
Publications & Reports
There are many books, reports and studies on factory farming. Below is just a sample. Use these to educate yourself more on the issues with industrial agriculture.
- CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, Imhoff Daniel, Douglas Tompkins and Carra Roberto, Earth Aware Additions, 2010.
Featuring more than 400 photographs and thirty essays by today’s leading thinkers on food and agriculture, including Wendell Berry, Wenonah Hauter, Fred Kirschenmann, Anna Lappé, Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Matthew Scully, CAFO focuses on both the terrible price of factory farming and the growing movement working to make our food system healthier and more just.
- Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser, Mariner Books, 2001.
Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has widened the income gap, fueled the obesity epidemic, and transformed our global food system. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.
- Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, Penguin, 2007.
The central question on man’s mind throughout history has been: What am I going to have for dinner? But now in the twenty-first century, how we answer that question may determine our survival as a species.
- Righteous Pork Chop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms, Nicolette Hahn Niman, William Morrow, 2009.
The book is Niman’s account of her own journey from environmental lawyer fighting factory farms to running Niman Ranch with her husband, Bill Niman. Niman discusses why we should buy animal products from traditionally farmed sources and how to do so responsibly and intelligently.
- The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business, Christopher Leonard, Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Investigative reporter Christopher Leonard exposes the shocking level of control that a handful of companies have gained over our country’s meat supply.
- Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, Matthew Scully, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.
Scully attempts to counter the hypocritical arguments that are meant to excuse animal abuse that permeates modern society.
Reports & Studies
- Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, Pew Charitable Trusts, 2008.
The Pew Commission report recommends solutions to the problems created by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in four primary areas: public health, the environment, animal welfare, and rural communities.
Use these questions as a guide for starting conversations with your friends and family about factory farms and Kendra Kimirauskas’s talk. Add your own questions as you think of them.
- Why are factory farms bad for animals, the environment and the surrounding communities.
- Do you see factory farms as a threat to human health? Why or why not?
- How can we feed a growing population without factory farms?
- Must we eat meat? If we eat better meat less often, how would that change the factory farming system?
- How are our elected officials perpetuating the factory farming system?
Find out even more information related to factory farming. Also, find out how you can stay in touch with Change Food.
- With current regulations, food labels can be confusing and misleading. The Animal Welfare Approved comprehensive guide to consumer labels can help make you an informed shopper.
- GRACE Communications Foundation features the Sustainable Table Food Program that educates consumers on sustainable agriculture. Its industrial agriculture section explores the negative impacts of Big Ag.
- Best places to follow on social media to stay up to date with this topic:
Things You Can Do
There are many things you can do to get involved in the food movement. Below are examples of ways you can get involved. Take action and then share with a friend!
- Self-Certify: Find a farmer and buy directly from a farmer who treats animals in a way that is in line with your values. Visit the Environmental Working Group to find out more about meat labels. And, if in doubt, Animal Welfare Approved is a great certification program.
- Eat Less, Better Meat: Limit the amount of meat that you consume and when you do purchase meat for your family, purchase meat from animals that have been raised in high-welfare and pasture-based systems. Visit Meatless Monday for tips and ideas.
- Question: Ask questions at grocery stores and at restaurants. Challenge claims that you know to be hollow or incorrect. Demand quality meats that come from animals that are raised humanely in pasture-based systems. See The Sustainable Table’s “Questions to Ask” for examples of informed questions to ask your local producers and store owners.
- Demand Action: Call on elected officials to support agricultural policies that are supportive of humane, family farmers that raise animals in a manner that is ecologically and socially responsible. Use the National Food Policy Scorecard to see how your local representatives are voting on food issues.
- Have a Stake: As someone who eats food, you have a stake in agricultural policy. Engage in policy discussions from your very local level all the way up through the national discussion on food and agricultural issues. Be a part of the discussion and demand change.
- ASPCA’s Open the Barns campaign – Fight to repeal “Ag Gag” Laws, which criminalize whistleblowers on factory farms. Follow the campaign at #OpentheBarns.
- Bringing Accountability to the Meat Industry – Hold factory farms and the companies that control the agriculture industry accountable for managing their waste and complying to Clean Water Act protections.
- Bringing Transparency to Factory Farming – Bring transparency and accountability to the harmful practices of factory farming.
- Fighting for GMO Labeling – Make labeling GMO foods the law.
- Food Safety – Ensure our food is safe for consumers to eat.
- Preventing the Proliferation of Factory Farms – Help communities fight projects to expand factory farms.
- Saving Antibiotics – Stop Big Ag from misusing antibiotics on factory farms.
- Stopping GMO Salmon – Keep genetically modified salmon off our plates.
- Water Pollution Trading – Fight the false premise that polluters have the right to use our public trust waterways as waste disposal sites.
OrganizationsAnimal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, ALDF, works to save the lives and protect the interests of animals through the legal system. There are many ways to become involved with ALDF’s fight against cruelty, so check out how you can take action.Center for a Livable Future
The Center for a Livable Future conducts research on diet, food production, the environment and human health in order to promote policies that reduce threats to public health and the environment.Center for Race Poverty and the Environment
The Center for Race Poverty and the Environment, CRPE, fights for environmental justice using legal advocacy at the community level in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the state of California, and at a national level.Earth Justice
“Because the Earth needs a good lawyer” is the motto for Earth Justice, an organization that uses the power of the law to protect our health and environment, fight for clean energy and combat climate change.Environmental Integrity Project
Environmental Integrity Project, EIP, partners with grassroots organizations to find solutions for reducing pollution.Farm Aid
Do you love the good food movement and great music? Each year Farm Aid brings together musicians, farmers and fans for a concert to support the cause of keeping family farmers on their land. Farm Aid also works to create markets for family farmers, provide support to farmers in need and advocate for fair farm policies.Food & Water Watch
Friends of Family Farmers is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and protecting socially responsible farming in Oregon. Their iFarm program is specifically designed to provide the support necessary to grow Oregon’s next generation of farmers.Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth is a global network which strives to create a healthier and more just world through bold and uncompromising political action. Their campaign tactics include political analysis, grassroots activism, litigation and creative communications.Indiana CAFO Watch
For general information on CAFOs, and particularly on research centered in Indiana, look to the Indiana CAFO Watch.Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, IATP, is a local and global organization rooted in protecting family farms through fair trade policies, building sustainability, and promoting safe food and healthy ecosystems. See the Think Forward Blog for current information on studies and political action relating to IATP’s work.Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Iowa CCI, works to stop factory farms from expanding or building. They also have worked to recover over $170,000 in stolen wages for workers and won ordinances to hinder the growth of predatory payday lenders.Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors
The Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors is a nonprofit community organization that is working to stop the growth of factory farms in Jefferson County.Kewaunee Cares
Kewaunee Cares is a blog dedicated to preserving the environment in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin.Land Stewardship Project
Land Stewardship Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities.Missouri Rural Crisis Center
With over 5,600 members, the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, MRCC, is a statewide farm and rural membership organization that seeks to preserve family farms and strives for social and economic justice by uniting both rural and urban groups.Public Justice
The attorneys at Public Justice fight against injustices such as cases involving consumers’ rights, food safety and health and the environment.Socially Responsible Agricultural Project
Waterkeeper Alliance defends their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water. Interested in protecting the water resources in your community? Visit their webpage and find out how you can become a Waterkeeper.Western Organization of Resource Councils
Western Organization of Resource Councils, WORC, is a regional network of grassroots organizations that collectively work to advance the vision of a democratic, sustainable and just society through community action.