The question raised in this blog post is something which has always been very important to me. As you may have read in my ‘about’ section, my father was a manager for the Meat and Livestock Commission, set up by the government in the 60’s to promote British meat and to maintain standards within the industry. As you can imagine, our house was stocked with good quality meat and growing up in a tiny rural village in North Yorkshire, I was always aware of what ‘good’ meat should be.
But as time has gone on, meat has become cheaper, often without people really questioning how or why. And the reasons are usually pretty horrendous. There has been plenty in the news over the past 10 years about free-range chickens and what ‘free range’ actually means. But what about pigs and other livestock?
This is where ‘Farms Not Factories’ steps in. I came across this non-profit organisation a few weeks ago and in that time, their campaign has created a storm! Their aim is to expose the true costs of cheap meat from animal factories in order to inspire people to only buy meat from local, healthy, high welfare farms. And they’ve got a TON of big names involved, including Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry! They’re encouraging people to share a photo where they #TurnTheirNoseUp at factory pig farms. Here’s my attempt!
Their videos are quite harrowing, but they need to be seen:
Did you see that 75% of the pork sold in the UK comes from these factory farms, and that 25% of all antibiotics in the UK are used to keep these pigs alive?!
This isn’t just about animal welfare, although that’s obviously a massive part of it. There are so many more repercussions:
- The antibiotics being constantly pumped into the pigs are affecting our own health.
- In some parts of the world, bio-degrading pig waste in the water people wash in and drink is giving them diseases.
- Family-run, humane farms are being put out of business by these factory farms, as they’re unable to compete on price.
And these are just a few examples.
So please, STOP buying cheap pork, especially if it doesn’t carry any of the labels recommended by Farms Not Factories. They’ve put together a handy guide here.
If you want high quality bacon, I can’t recommend the pork from High Farndale, near where I grew up in North Yorkshire enough. Run by Peter and Nicola, I’ve visited this farm for myself and can assure you all of the animals are incredibly well cared for. You can read about my visit here, and you can visit their website here to order bacon delivered to your door. They produce some of the tastiest pork I’ve ever eaten!
The quote from Jeremy Irons in the video really hits the nail on the head for me; “I eat meat, but for me, to eat the meat of animals that have been raised inhumanely, cruelly, somehow seems to taint my own humanity.” I couldn’t agree more.
I recently started reading an interesting book called Grass-Fed Nation: Getting Back The Food We Deserve.
The author, Graham Harvey, has written about food and farming for Farmers’ Weekly, the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail, and his first book, The Killing of the Countryside, was winner of the BP Natural World Book Prize. He is also co-founder of the Oxford Real Farming Conference on low-input, ecological agriculture and is the agricultural adviser to BBC Radio’s ‘The Archers’. I only recently started reading it but I was hooked from the start. The book explains how it’s what we’re putting into the land and our animals that is causing many of the illnesses and diseases we’re experiencing today, and we need to go back to our roots (excuse the pun) to try and put things right. But much like with the factory farms, farmers who pump their fields full of fertilisers and feed their animals with grain can produce higher yield and make more money.
And what most of this comes down to is money and greed, which is why we need to make a stand and boycott these cheap meats. As the campaign explains, organic meat might cost a little bit more than factory farm meat, but simply reduce your portion sizes, or eat meat less regularly. Next time you’re tempted to pick up a cheap pack of bacon, let’s see what your conscience has to say 😉
I’d also like to say, I’m in no way associated with this campaign. It might sound like a sponsored post, I’m just really passionate about it!!
Please, please take the ‘pig pledge‘ with me today!