The Butcher Next Door
Why the rise of DIY urban animal slaughter is bad for people and animals.
| June 6, 2012, at 6:42 AM ET
Do-it-yourself butchery is said to help eliminate food deserts, empower ethnic groups to maintain cultural traditions, and minimize animal
suffering. It’s billed as safer than industrial meat processing on both an environmental and a human scale. These arguments may sound
convincing, but they obscure a host of problems that result when urban backyards are transformed into slaughterhouses.
Read his article in Slate
Assessing Consumer Concerns About the Meat Industry on Fresh Air
On Thursday, June 7, NPR's Terry Gross interviewed Tom Philpott, food and ag blogger for Mother Jones. The interview -- online here — covers topics like pink slime, proposed legislation affecting
antibiotics in the livestock food chain, labor issues within the meat industry, and the practice of feeding "chicken litter" to cows,
which raises concerns about passing along bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the food chain.
invites comments from listeners, and some may be read on the air. The show takes comments here.
UPC president Karen Davis sent the following letter to Fresh Air:
Thank you for your eye-opening coverage of the conditions to which chickens and other farmed animals are being subjected, including the terrible
diets they are fed contributing to the health, environmental, and animal welfare problems we face in the U.S. and worldwide. Unfortunately, this is
how the majority of these animals will continue to live and be fed as long as billions of people are eating them. Feeding infected animal tissue to
farmed animals is integral to the agribusiness economy. This economy relies on recycling the waste generated by our animal-based diets back to the
animals being raised, as “feed.” The dead bodies and infected tissue have to go somewhere, and this is the cheapest place to put it.
Antibiotics or their equivalent will continue being fed to farmed animals. They are the only way to keep a profitable number of animals alive long
enough to get them to slaughter; otherwise even more millions of animals than already die “prematurely” each year will succumb to the
squalor and ill-treatment that our disastrous diet inflicts on them. If we really want to change the situation, we have to do more than endlessly
call upon USDA, FDA, agribusiness and related entities to “do” something. We as consumers need to take responsibility. We need to
change our eating habits and our attitudes.
This change involves thinking more critically and compassionately about the misery that our animal-based diets are causing the animals themselves
– non-vegetarians ingest this misery along with the antibiotics, Salmonella bacteria and other bad stuff commonly targeted. We lock billions
of birds, pigs and other sentient individuals in filthy dark compounds without sunshine, fresh air, or normal living space. We strip them of
comfort, joy and natural activities. We destroy their family life and fill them with fear and drugs. We force them to live in a toxic waste
environment, which in nature they would never do. We act like their lives don’t matter.
As long as we treat animals this way, the problems described by Tom Philpott on FRESH AIR will continue. It doesn’t have to be this way, but
it is up to us. Thank you again for the broadcast.
Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns