If there is one thing this pandemic has shown us is the fragility of our food system. Most of the food we buy in the grocery store has been grown, harvested, processed, and packaged by corporate businesses.
For years the US meat industry has consolidated into a few corporate meat giants. Their race to produce cheap everyday meat means they must squeeze costs out of production to pour more profit into their coffers. Wielding strong political power, they have nudged small family farmers out of the market.
They supply the entire supply chain, providing farmers with young animals that ultimately live their lives suffering in tragic, crowded, and toxic conditions.
They sell them the feed; they own the slaughterhouses and often determine the price the farmers get for their toils.
These farmers, entrusted with living beings, suffer too. The excess excrement leaches into the waters and air of their communities.
If they are sensitive at all, they must realize they are enablers of a sort of living torture.
Trapped in a vicious cycle, the corporations hold a tight grip on their livelihood.
The political power these companies wield has enabled them, through regulation, to consolidate on a grand scale where the animals are harvested and processed.
These slaughterhouses are huge and sparsely located across the country. They are usually staffed by all manner of brown and black humans, who, once again through political shenanigans, have been forced to work at faster and faster speeds to process the living beasts.
What does processing 22 hogs per minute look and feel like for 8 hours per day?
The average worker at a chicken plant earns about $12 an hour for a job that entails processing 21,000 chickens a day or 120 birds per minute.
Not only do they risk injury of limb and digits, these workers stand side by side to cut bone and sinew as fast as possible.
Of course, they have no protective gear—no masks to protect them from this virus.
And so, the meatpacking plants have become festering incubators of COVID-19 for underprivileged workers and their families.
Just to supply a very nefarious supply chain of cheap meat.
Many of the largest plants have closed down because the virus has run amok. The media decries an impending meat shortage is upon us! Quick grab your links and run!
The animals are still growing and ready for harvest. The farmers cannot afford to feed them into old age.
It is estimated that they will have to cull over 70,000 hogs per day. Have you seen a hog? She is massive—tons of intelligent pink flesh.
Where and how will they be disposed of is a great challenge to the soils, waters, and air, where these farmers live. Read this article in The Counter if you dare. It describes how burning, burying or composting up to 70,000 pig carcasses a day could have serious consequences for our air and drinking water.
What sentient suffering for man and beast? At this point, it again becomes political.
The corporations put pressure on the government siding with the protestors who want to open up the country, and of course, protect our grilled steak.
Our dear Commander in Chief invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meatpacking plants open. This executive order goes against the worker safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
His enabler in Chief, McConnell, says there will be no liability for these corporations who may be risking lives over sausage. In the next stimulus bill, he has drawn a bloody red line in the sand.
If the humans that cut, debone, and entrail stand side by side and get sick, they will have no recourse.
The workers and their families may be slaughtered by the virus, and no fault shall come to the corporation.
If these workers fail to show up for fear of contraction, they will receive no unemployment benefits –no food assistance–no health care.
Is cheap meat that important to us?
If this grisly missive has made an impact on you, I urge you to begin viewing the food on your plate as political.
We can only change the food paradigm by recognizing it as a political act and then take action.
Remember this blog in November.