Farming Creating Deadly Food
up in a farming area of Michigan during a time, not that long ago, when family owned and operated farms were doing a great
job of providing all of the food needed in the United States and shipping the excess to other world countries.
then was cheap and plentiful. The farmers worked hard and went through years when they made good money and survived the years
when they lost money. To cover the potential losses of crops they diversified what they grew, and maintained small dairy herds.
The milk they sold usually carried them over in the years when crops failed or grain prices dipped.
among the German and Polish farm families who made their living on farms no larger than 160-acres. One of our neighbors actually
made his living farming a 40-acre piece of land. He made extra money playing in a local band that performed at wedding receptions
and dances in the area on weekends.
we used were small with only enough power to pull a two-bottom plow. I remember spending most of a day working a 40-acre field
and coming into the house at night with my face and clothes blacked with dust. I had to go straight to the shower before I
ate my supper.
old way of life changed after I returned to the area a few years later as a newspaper reporter. Farming by then was shifting
to a more sophisticated system, with the young farmers using computers and calculating ways of improving crop and milk production
by using certain chemicals and feeds. Many had college degrees in agriculture, or were attending special classes offered by
Michigan State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.
“modern” farmers operated from offices on the farm. Everything was changing. The farmers also were in tough competition
with one another, many of them going out of business and going off to the city to find jobs. Those still actively farming
were buying or leasing all of the additional farmland they could get their hands on, and buying giant super-sized tractors,
combines and other machinery. The objective was to increase the quantity of crops all of that land demanded of them.
got greedy in those days. It became common to see them working up large fields and planting crops the same day with equipment
that was so large it could hardly be squeezed through the width of a normal sized country road. The tractor cabs were enclosed,
air conditioned and equipped with radios and music systems so the operators felt as if they were at home in their offices
as they worked the fields.
began to specialize then too. Some of them went strictly into crop farming while others built giant barns and started building
big beef or dairy herds of a hundred or more cows. Forgotten was the quest for milk quality such as was produced by the Jersey
breed of cow. Everybody wanted the Holstein, a lean type of cow known for being a heavy milk producer. The milk from a Holstein,
however, was never tasted as rich and creamy as it did from the other varieties.
it was rare to find a Jersey cow pasturing in a field. In fact it became rare to find any cows at pasture. They were all being
kept at stanchion, in the barns, and fed commercially produced mesh. The dairy farmers also were having veterinarians oversee
their herds, filling the animals with vaccinations of antibiotics and feed mixed with chemicals designed to make them produce
thing was happening on the beef cattle farms, and pig farms. The animals were being raised inside of larger and larger buildings.
Farmers discovered that certain chemicals could be used to make them grow faster and fatten more quickly, thus reducing the
amount of cost of housing and feeding them before slaughter.
thing was happening on farms specializing in producing poultry and eggs. Chicken farms became places where the birds were
contained in small confined cages throughout their horror filled lives. They were constantly being supplied food and water
in troughs that could be reached by sticking their heads out of the cage and that was about all of the movement the birds
were, and still are allowed. They become so weak that if they are freed, they cannot stand on their legs or flap their wings.
But they produce eggs and they get fat for slaughter in a hurry.
is how most of the food in America is now being produced.
story is growing even worse. These so-called factory farms are still increasing in size. Before I retired from newspapering
I worked a few years for a publication near the area where I grew up. The guys who were expanding in those earlier years had
nearly all gone bankrupt and their farms had been grabbed up by even larger farming operations. Some of these new operators
were from other countries, coming to the United States and buying up thousands of acres of land for one purpose - the creation
of super factory farms.
one that came into our area was a dairy operation that sported over a thousand head of cows. The farm required large amounts
of land to grow corn and grains to produce the feed. The water pumped from the reservoirs under the ground to operate that
farm was affecting the water wells in rural neighborhoods and towns for miles around. The handling of the massive amounts
of manure from all those cows required an open pit sewage treatment system that compared to anything used by a modern city.
And the heavy trucks used to transport the milk, supplies, harvest the crops and service that farm demanded the construction
of first class roads leading to and from the farm.
such a massive undertaking that the local residents, the neighboring towns and townships and the county board of commissioners
rose up to try to stop it. But it was too late. The farm was in the works. The permits were issued by the state regulatory
agencies, and it came into existence. After that it was impossible to stop it from happening again and again.
from those farms is unbearable. One beef farm operation located a mile and a half north of the town where I lived and worked
had about a thousand animals in the barn. When we had a north wind the smell penetrated everything in town. The pig farms
were the very worst. We had those as well as chicken farms. They were cropping up almost everywhere.
and I were looking for rural property for our retirement and were considering a lovely home near Caseville, about a mile from
Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron. But when I talked to the township supervisor he warned me about two proposed factory farms that
were planned on property nearby. One was going to be no more than a half mile from the home we were considering. We backed
off and moved to an area where we do not expect factory farms to ever want to be.
I have written only about the bad side of living near factory farms, and touched on the horrors experienced by the animals
packed in those barns. Also consider the impact this kind of food production has been having on the produce we buy in our
is this food filled with the antibiotics and chemicals used to make the animals grow faster and produce more milk, but this
food is making us sick. It sometimes arrives on the market packed with deadly salmonella or e-coli bacteria. The recent egg
recall after thousands became sick from salmonella and the hamburger recalls involving tons of meat have been the direct result
of dirty, poorly regulated factory farms. The animals are living in and consuming their own waste. The massive volume of waste
is contaminating the nearby water and soil where other produce is grown. A lettuce recall a few years ago was traced to contaminated
water from a factory farm runoff originating from miles away.
form of insanity on the American farms needs to stop. This is not the way to produce wholesome, healthy food. Americans are
out of work and hurting financially now, so they are likely forced to buy the least expensive food they can find, but we all
deserve better than what we have been getting..