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In defense of the slaughterhouse

By Jennifer Young
December 18, 2013

Of course no one wants a slaughterhouse in their backyard. It is, however, a necessary place, and the people and animals of Sullivan County will benefit. Here is why.

People are not going to stop eating meat. Yes, it is healthier to be a vegetarian, but not because meat is bad for you. What’s bad is the way our meat is raised. Industrial farming has created a hormone, antibiotic, and moral corn-fed disaster.

Modern technology has managed to make farmed fish unhealthy for consumption. Grass-fed beef and pork contain omega 3s comparable to wild-caught fish. The problem is, in current agribusiness, animals spend their lives eating artificial diets, indoors, standing in their own waste, medicated to survive til their slaughter date. In fact, the vast majority of antibiotics used worldwide are fed to our food animals. It would be hard to imagine a better way to breed the next “super bug” than on a factory farm.

Most broilers spend their entire eight- to 10-week lives indoors by the thousands, never seeing the light of day or breathing fresh air, then killed, dipped in huge cooling tanks to marinate in the waste of those that went before them. Your neat boneless skinless chicken breasts contain at least 10 percent fecal matter.

Pigs are well known to be superior in intelligence to dogs, yet we continue to “produce” them by the millions indoors as though they were machines. I am not advocating we stop eating them; just let them live humanely outdoors for their health and well being and ours.

Beef cows, at least usually, spend their youth on pasture till they are sent to the feedlot to fatten up on corn while standing in their own manure. Let’s not even talk about milk or eggs. These animals are subject to somewhat lengthier torment.

All of this is what our slaughterhouse is meant to avoid. Yes, the animals arriving will have a bad day. But at least they will have lived their lives outdoors, on family farms not factory, and not had to travel two-plus hours to reach their final destination. We deserve the opportunity to produce and to consume animal products in a more humane, healthy, and ecologically friendly way in place of the current model which relies on low prices to trump quality concerns and moral inhibitions.

[Jennifer Young is from Bethel, NY.]