Farming Was His Life, Until the CAFOs Came

I heard Thom Hartmann interview David Kirby, author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment. This could be one of those watershed environmental books, like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, that appears once every few decades to nudge society onto a new path. We can hope so.


Kirby talks about flying over the U.S. and seeing these “long white buildings” everywhere in farming country.

They are “CAFOs” … “concentrated animal feeding operations,” where animals are confined and kept away from sunlight and the opportunity to move around much, fattened on special diets, injected with antibiotics.

Kirby talked about “crap lagoons” adjacent to these CAFOs, where liquefied animal fecal matter forms into small lakes, and sometimes fills their neighborhoods with a constant fine aerosolized brown mist which — when you drive through it in your car on nearby roads — reduces visibility like a brown fog.

He spoke of getting home from a research trip in one of these areas and when he opened his suitcase, he could still smell crap.

Inside a CAFO

Kirby talked about the high-level of diseased meat lurking in our industrialized food system. The are many pathogens, but the worst is probably the “superbug” MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which may be present in as much as 3% of all industrial pork. He points out that if you eat some of this pork each week for a year, your chance of exposure to this pathogen is probably significant.

In the following two short videos, farmers talk about how their lives changed after the CAFOs were built in their neighborhoods.

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