While it is true that corporate farming brings food more cheaply to our table, the cost to our environment by some of their farming methods far outweighs any savings we may enjoy. This brief look at how corporate farming impacts the environment explores the practice of close confinement and the contamination of our water.
The term corporate farming encompasses the production of animal and plant foods as well as the transportation for marketing. The "farmers" are actually large corporations who are absentee farmers and have no stake in the surrounding environment. It first began with chickens because they were easily housed in small spaces. Now, it has spread to include vegetables, beef, hogs and grain.
The idea behind corporate farming is to raise the most food, in the smallest space, in the fastest way, with the least cost possible, without much consideration for the animals, the community or the environment. The practice of using confined spaces, hormones to promote rapid growth in livestock, chemical insecticides to protect vegetables and lagoons for storing animal waste are methods that leave much to be desired and are harming our environment.
Impact of Corporate Farming On Our Water
Chemical insecticides and fertilizers have been leaching into our waterways for years. So has the livestock waste stored in lagoons by corporate farmers, some of which are as large as 200 acres. Once these have entered the ground, they will eventually enter our drinking water and all the streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.
Not only is the water unfit for human consumption, it is now destroying the marine ecosystem and this is serious business when you consider how important the ocean's health is to human survival. The level of mercury found in tuna and salmon has already resulted in warnings about how much to consume because it is threatening to our very life.
Livestock raised in close confinement are more susceptible to any disease that another may have. For this reason, corporate farms inject the livestock with drugs to prevent any disease taking hold as soon as they are acquired. Giving livestock drugs, they don't need leads to the breeding of drug resistant bacteria and some of these can be passed from livestock to humans.
The livestock are usually given growth hormones to up the production of meat. These drugs and hormones are passed from the livestock in their bodily waste and to humans in the meat or by-products of the animal. We know this because the manure of close confinement livestock has a higher level of heavy metals, arsenic, antibodies and pathogens than those raised in the traditional way.
Animals raised on family owned farms are allowed to graze in open pastures and are not injected with growth hormones or given drugs to prevent every disease known to man. Sick livestock is disposed of and never enters the food chain and their waste is spread over a larger area, which allows nature to dispose of it in a natural way.
Another way that close confinement impacts our environment is in the use of the land no longer needed to raise the livestock. Corporate farming needs less acreage, so out-parcels of farms are often sold for industrial or residential development. This further affects the environment with increased pollutants, which harm our environment.
The next time we choose to buy the cheaper, big brand name foods instead of the locally grown foods, we need to ask ourselves if we are really saving money or if somewhere down the road the cost of repairing our environment will eat the savings and much, much more.