Prisoners of Modern Commerce

factory farms, chickens, confined animal feeding operations, CAFO, battery caged chickens

Would you like to live next door to one of these? Or anywhere nearby for that matter? What you see above is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) that may house hundreds to thousands of factory farmed animals in confinement buildings. It epitomizes the corporate takeover of chickens, turkeys, ducks, cows, calves, pigs, etc. It is the embodiment of cruelty to animals.

Inside, there is no sunlight to warm their skin (and generate vitamin D), no fresh air to breath, no room to move about, no grass to forage, no mud to roll around in if the urge should hit. In these concentration camps for animals there is no opportunity to live a natural life.  Old McDonald would be screaming “O O O O NO” if he could see what has happened to mainstream farming today.

Aside from the ethical considerations, these CAFOs are MAJOR polluters of the air and water in the surrounding communities. These factories generate 500 million tons of manure annually. However, this does not get treated the way sewage does; this liquefied excrement is stored in large dirt cesspools called lagoons (oh the irony!). The solid waste is stored in piles called “litter.” This litter is then spread on surrounding cropland. Knowing this, why did it take so long for government officials to figure out what caused the dangerous pathogens in the spinach crop two years ago? It was waste runoff from these factory farms plain and simple. Heavy rains may wash this waste into our waterways resulting in dangerous bacterial contamination, massive fish kills and crop contamination. Additionally, the air may contain poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulfide and the odor is so strong it may sicken neighbors miles away.

In the factory farming industry, the system is designed to maximize production with minimal costs and without regard for public health, animal health, the environment, food safety, neighboring economies,  or the surrounding communities. However, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, corporate owned factory farms are actually quite an expense for society at large. They threaten food safety and are responsible for massive and frequent food recalls. Up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by factory farms to keep the animals alive in their filthy cramped quarters, contributing to a rising emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is a threat to human health. Furthermore, these factory farms drive down the property values of adjacent homes and farmland by as much as 70 percent in some rural counties.

According to the Sierra Club Newsletter, the independent Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production conducted a comprehensive, fact-based, balanced two-and-a-half year study of the industrial farm animal production (IFAP) system. Commissioners reported that the factory farm system often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals, and recommended that significant changes be implemented immediately. Additionally, the Sierra Club opposes all permits for new or expanded factory farms, and encourages consumers to find safe and sustainable sources for their meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.

All across the country, legislatures are shielding CAFOs from transparency.  Recently at a heated meeting in Knox County, Missouri, residents voiced concerns over local concentrated animal feeding operations and whether or not the county’s health ordinance is being properly enforced. In Missouri, House Bill 209 and Senate Bill 187 would restrict compensation for damages caused by CAFOs. How will the neighbors like that? In Idaho, lawmakers are considering a move to shield data related to CAFOs from the public. In Iowa, lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for activists to film farm operations while undercover. A Florida bill was introduced that would make photographing a farm a felony. (That bill has since been amended to target those who trespass on private land.) These bills all support the corporate farming structure and continue this sad state of affairs.

The SOLUTION to speak with your pocketbook. If enough people stop buying factory farmed animals and start to purchase milk, meat, poultry and eggs from a local farmer who treats the animals humanely, corporations will notice and things may start to change. There are many benefits in changing to a pasture-based model for both humans and animals. Polyface Farm in Virginia, run by Joel Salatin is a stellar example of using modern technology to promote the wisdom of tradition. Leave a comment below and let me know what your thoughts are on this topic.


This post is linked to: Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Friday Favorites, Fat Camp Friday, Sugar Free Sunday, Real Sustenance, Meatless Mondays, Midnight Maniac, Make Ahead Meals, Mangia Monday, Monday Mania, Mouthwatering Monday, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Made From Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods, Tasty Tuesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, What’s on the Menu, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Frugal Follies, Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday, Recipe Swap Thursday, Food Trip Friday, Friday Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Prisoners of Modern Commerce

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  • Alicia

    Thank you! This just makes me sick to my stomach! Glad I can buy from the local farmer…..

  • Barbara Goodman

    Very sad commentary on how animals are treated. Good advice to search for local farmers.

  • Jan

    Just amazing. These places are allowed to flourish while the FDA and USDA go after small farmers for selling raw milk artisan cheeses that never made anyone ill.

  • Betsy

    I agree 100%. The problem though, is that in some places there just aren’t any local sources for these things. I would love to thumb my nose at factory farming by not buying commercial animal products, but at the present time the only way I would be able to do that would be to turn vegan.

  • Jill

    Hi Betsy,
    There are many chapters of the Weston Price Foundation all over the world. Here is a link to the chapters. There may be one near you.

    I also get grassfed meat from an online distributor who is very reputable:

  • Jill

    Hi Alicia,
    Me too!

  • Jill

    Hi Barbara,
    Here is the link to local Weston Price chapters:

  • Jill

    Hi Jan,
    So true. They make farmers who sell raw milk out to be like criminals when they are providing a wholesome product for people who seek them out.

  • Auburn Meadow Farm

    Amen to that. The Florida and Iowa bills to prohibit sharing photos really kill me. I read recently somewhere doctors are attempting something similar to prevent patients from being able to post reviews about them online….

    If you really believe in something, you wouldn’t want to hide it…

  • Jill

    Hi Auburnn
    Thanks for your comments. You have some beautiful cattle! It is amazing to me what laws they will devise to protect Big Ag and Big Pharma…

  • Auburn Meadow Farm


  • Of Goats and Greens


    And as to “The solid waste is stored in piles called “litter.” This litter is then spread on surrounding cropland. Knowing this, why did it take so long for government officials to figure out what caused the dangerous pathogens in the spinach crop two years ago? It was waste runoff from these factory farms plain and simple.” — that spinach was supposed to be organic spinach. But if you are next door to something like that, it is next to impossible to patrol your borders.

    I’ve visited Polyface Farms. Awesome place. And the chicken I bought there was to die for.

    I am doing my best to strike CAFO meats from my diet. Except for being a guest in someone’s home, CAFO beef and pork and goat are already off my diet and chicken nearly is. (Chicken has been upgraded to better, not always best.) Cheese has been a problem due to exponential pricings, but I’m going to start making my own cheeses and yogurts this summer, from properly-sourced milk, along with the cutting-back on cheese I’ve been doing.

  • Jill

    Hi Of,
    I just heard Joel Salatin speak at the Small Farm Summit here on Long Island — the first ever. He as awesome as usual! I will be posting about that soon. I would LOVE to visit his farm — he has so much knowledge about how to manage the farm to “recycle” and use the manure appropriately. And the animals are treated in a very humane way. It makes so much sense when he speaks.

  • June

    Thanks Jill –
    Once again you have gone straight to my heart!
    I am reminded that when we shop we are voting. It is easy to forget.
    It is not easy to chose the much higher priced item such as eggs that you can get for $.99 or pay $4.99 for the ones from free roaming chickens – or the cost of grass fed animals vs the ones eating corn – or the chickens that are on sale and you could get four packages to one; but “that holocaust photo” stays with me – That photos says it all – the outrage!! The pain and suffering I would eat if I bought it!
    It is now on my Iphone to remind me that I can do with less, to have so much more!
    Thanks again -

  • Jill

    Hi June,
    I know. A picture speaks a thousand words… The cruelty is so outrageous. More so because it is accepted as “normal”. How did we get this way? This why we need to support our local farmers and work to develop more small local farms in our communities, so that we have access to properly raised animals. Thanks for your comment.

  • Kelli

    Its truly sickening how people so willingly destroy the enviroment and animals all in the name of profit. And by destroying the enviroment we’re also destroying ourselves. The health threat posed by factory farms cannot be undereastimated just as you would view a chemical factory as dangerous.

  • Jill

    Hi Kelli,
    So true. This is a topic I am passionate about and will be posting more articles about this. Thanks for your comments.

  • christy larsen

    this is a great article…it is nice to help people make informed choices about the food they eat.

  • Jill

    Hi Christy,
    Thanks. I really feel strongly about this.

  • Lee

    Thank you for spreading the word about these awful farming practices! I thought about just this sort of thing the other day watching Food Revolution/Jamie Oliver. He had a 100% grass fed beef from local ranch made into burgers that won all the taste tests, scored the best marks for being healthy and good for the environment and the fast food restaurant customer and owner said “it’s too expensive”. Contrast that with the young girl whose 13 yr. old sister, both parents and grandparents (deceased) all have diabetes due to eating the cheap, fast junk. Now they are all sick and coping with massive medical expense. You tell me which food is too “expensive”!! I don’t know how to open people’s eyes to the fact that you either pay a little more up front for the real stuff or you pay a lot in the end for the consequences to health and to polluted planet.

  • Jill

    Hi Lee,
    So very true. Sad but true. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Cranberry Morning

    I think most people are so used to the junk they eat that they don’t even realize how unhealthy they are or how much better they could feel!

    These are horrid practices you point out. That’s why my yet-to-be purchased group of laying hens will have a pretty coop and lots of space and fresh air in which to wonder and ponder. :-)

    Chickens aren’t the only ones who don’t get outdoors in the fresh air. America’s children are couch potatoes, playing computer games rather than playing outdoors. How often do you see kids playing outdoors anymore??

  • Jill

    Hi Cranberry Morning,
    You are so lucky t be able to have chickens! I wish I could… So right about the children. Thanks for your comments!

  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom

    I really appreciate your post, and totally, 100% agree with your position. I also know that eating poorly now will result in health expense costs down the road. But what do you do when you already make everything from scratch, grow as much as you can, only buy in season, rely on bone broths instead of pricey cuts of meat, etc., etc., and still just cannot swing the cost of properly raised meats? Is it better to be vegetarian (I know, not vegan)? I love Nourishing Traditions and the WAPF principles, but with such an emphasis on animal products, the price really skyrockets if you want all those animal products to be responsibly sourced. Even if I buy a whole cow, the cheapest price I can find for grass-fed beef in my state is twice what I will pay for the no-hormones-or-antibiotics grain-fed type at the grocery store.
    Is it more important to get the good animal fats into my family’s diet, even if I can’t include a whole lot of animal protein? I know I shouldn’t skimp on Cod Liver Oil, Butter, Lard, etc., but if those are in place, is a diet heavy on (soaked) grains and veggies still better than a meat-filled diet with conventional meats?
    Sorry to post such a long comment, I’m just desperate for ideas, advice, or resources to make a responsible diet doable on a low income.

  • Jill

    Hi Danielle,
    There are many many families out there practicing real food principles who are on a budget. I would suggest lots of eggs, fresh milk and cheese from a farmer. Here is a series of posts from a Modern Alternative Mama about this subject:

    Hope this helps!

  • Miz Helen

    Hi Jill,
    When I saw the photo, I could smell it. If you have ever smelled it you will never forget the odor, I will never forget that odor, it is horrible. I am so grateful that we are able to get our poultry from a local responsible small farmer. This is an issue that more people should know about. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a special week end! Hope to see you next week!

  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom

    Thanks so much for that link, Jill! The “example” families she mentions are especially helpful.

  • Jill

    Hi Miz Helen,
    I’m so glad you are able to get poultry from a local farmer. See you next week!

  • Jill

    Hi Danielle,
    I’m so glad that was helpful!

  • Daryll on Foodamn!

    Good thing here in the Philippines, we have a native organic chix. Poor chickens though.

    Btw sisters, please like my Facebook Fan Page : and
    Super thanks! I will return the favor if you have a fan page, just forward the link =)

  • Daryll on Foodamn!

    Very interesting site and topics you have there. I also added your link to my Blog roll so others can have access to your articles here in the Philippines

    You may check the links at:

  • Jill

    Hi Daryll,
    Thanks for your kind words and thank you for your support. I will visit your site as well!

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