Factory Farm Cesspools — where's the common sense?!
By the way, I always want to share “all sides” of an issue, so once you read this post, be sure to pop over to Facebook to read the comments from some who did NOT agree with what I wrote here…
We have a son who is into all things related to aviation, to put it mildly. (He might have gotten it from his Mom.) Last spring we got him a remote control plane, which he flies at various remote control airfields around us. Whenever we're on the other side of town, there's a certain field we always go to. The first time we were there the guys warned us, “You don't want to crash back there, because there's a HUGE cesspool – it's the waste from that dairy farm.” They pointed to the big factory farm that we'd just driven by and I said, “Wow, it's so sad that those cows NEVER get to go outside.”
This was obvious since there wasn't a fence OR a cow in sight.
The picture at the top of this post is an actual shot from Google Earth. You can see the big rectangular factory farm cesspool, also called a “manure lagoon”, and the airfield just to the south. On the right are their two big barns. And these barns are HUGE, so it gives you an idea of how big the cesspool is. Below is a shot of the barns from the road.
Keep in mind, I've been told by a reputable source that as far as conventional/factory farms go, this is actually a pretty good one because even though the cows are never outside, never eat pasture grasses, and are never off of cement, they're treated humanely otherwise (?), and it's a clean environment. There was no house in sight though, only what looked like a small office. How far we've strayed from traditional farming! And you wouldn't believe how bad the stench is when you're anywhere near the place.
The part that especially bothered me is that it doesn't have to be so complicated.
This now-common conventional farming method of ‘handling manure' is what Nina Planck calls, “Neatly dividing one solution into two problems.” (See her comments on this in the video below, and she's actually quoting Wendell Berry there.)
Imagine how much money it takes to build these huge manure holding tanks?!
And to pay for the system of pipes to get the manure over there! And I wonder what happens to the waste then? (OH but wait, Nina says in the video that our government gives out grants for this, so all of US are paying for it!!!)
I'm just a city girl, but even I have to wonder, wouldn't it be smarter instead to let the cows out on pasture where they're happiest and healthiest? Where they can poop wherever they may and fertilize the ground, which produces rich soil, which grows lush nutrient-dense pasture to feed the cows what they were meant to eat? Then the cows could nourish us with nutrient-packed milk or meat!
Doesn't that just make more sense?
It's better for the cows, for the environment, and for our health too, because naturally managed pastures, and the animals out in the sun happily roaming around and munching on it, produce nutrient-dense food for us!
This is “Salad bar beef” (or “salad bar milk”) as Joel Salatin calls it.
It's the way it was always done until the past few decades when things got so far off-track. Pasture grasses are what the cows always ate, with maybe a small amount of supplemental feed. Nowadays they also truck in their feed, again, costing more in trucking expenses — it's all so screwed up! And by the way, that feed is usually a mixture “specially formulated by a veterinarian” to have the right amount of calories. Most of that being corn or other grains, which is not a cow's natural diet for one thing (partly why conventional cows are sicker and don't live as long as naturally-raised cows), and also more grains are not what I want in the meat or milk I serve my family, especially since it's all genetically modified!
Again, how far we have strayed…
I'm very thankful for our dairy and meat farmers, who know how and why to use traditional farming methods, and I'm just sad that so many modern-day farmers follow the path of a conventional factory operation – obviously, they've somehow been convinced that it's better.
- Here’s a book on the topic that you’ll definitely want to read: The Untold Story of Milk
Here's where you can find safe meat and milk near you:
- Find local real milk here.
- Find local safe pastured meat and eggs here.
- Here's where to buy safe, clean, pastured meat online if you don't have a good local source, but finding it locally is always best! (I'll buy there to fill in sometimes, if my farmer is low on chicken or bacon or whatever.
- (Also here's where you can get beef tallow from pastured cows for healthy and guilt-free frying! See my post Deep Fried Heaven for recipe ideas or my recipe for homemade French fries!)
You still have to ask questions to be sure your farmer is doing things right though:
- Here's my friend, Karen, telling what to look for in choosing a safe, clean farm.
- Read more about why we drink fresh milk right from the farm and from farmers we know and trust.
- Raw Milk Benefits and Information: Q & A with Mark McAfee
- Cowspiracy Film Farce — It’s Not WHAT You Eat, it’s HOW its GROWN! (And Why Allan Savory is my HERO)
Here's the video with Nina Planck:
Her comments about factory farm cesspools/manure lagoons and “neatly dividing one solution into two problems” are at about minute 18:19, but the whole interview is really good about real food:
- Factory Farm Cesspools of Shame — How Factory Farm Lagoons and Sprayfields Threaten Environmental and Public Health
- What You Never Even Knew You Should Ask About Grass-Fed Beef
- How I Got Lazy and the 5 Ways I Have Recommitted to Real Food and Healthy Eating!
- Spy Drones Expose Smithfield Foods Factory Farm Cesspools: