Have you noticed the flurry of recent articles about factory farming, particularly about chicken? Back in March, food writer Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times, discussed how far fake meat has come and why, given the option, it might make sense to choose a nutritionally superior plant product that isn't polluting and isn't subject living an industrial life.
A few weeks later, columnist Nicholas Kristof published a column about the two recent studies that looked at the caffeine, banned antibiotics, and arsenic in industrially produced birds. Researchers concluded from analyzing feathers the feed contains coffee pulp to keep them awake so they can eat more, and Benadryl to reduce their anxiety. At almost the same time, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed to "privatize" chicken inspections, cutting 1000 government inspectors and replacing them with plant workers that will have to look at more birds on faster production lines. It sounded like a bad idea, and then seemed even worse when the following week the headline was that 48% of chicken bought from grocery chains contained e coli.
In Georgia, chicken capital of the world, our leaders don't seem to be paying attention. The Georgia Department of Agriculture has not followed up on their promise of over a year ago to address the bind they put smaller producers in by deleting the USDA exemption for small farms from having bird-by-bird inspections.
And on April 25th, the Georgia Board of Natural Resources considered Georgia EPD's recommendation to roll back water protection rules for factory farms. Despite the concerns from all parties (including Agribusiness) about the lack of clarity of the new rules, and the many questions from Board members about the need to slow down the process. Ultimately the Board approved the new rules. No one wrote an article about it, though.
Our Beyond Factory Farm committee needs more volunteers to help spread the word and build support for smaller producers raising more sustainable and healthy chicken that is better for the planet. Check out our next meeting on Monday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at the Chapter office. Contact our chair, Leah Garces, at Leah.Garces@ciwf.org.uk for more info!