The USDA has just announced the largest beef recall in U.S. history: 143 million pounds from a California slaughterhouse. A Humane Society of the U.S. undercover investigator documented egregious abuses of non-ambulatory or “down” cows here. Cows were kicked, shocked with electric prods and some even had high-powered water jets pushed into their noses, a non-human form of “waterboarding.” This is generally agreed to be a form of torture. Such animals are not, by California law, allowed to make it into the human food chain, but some did (and there’s a loophole in the federal law, too, that makes this possible). The California law was the result of years of work by Farm Sanctuary and other groups and individuals.
The recalled meat was sold into school lunch programs across the country. What, at least one journalist asked, will the kids eat? Well, if the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has his way, much less meat. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel Peace Prize winning (with Al Gore) IPCC and a vegetarian, said recently in Paris: ride a bike, be a frugal shopper and eat less meat. “Meat is a very carbon intensive commodity,” he added, urging a new focus on individual lifestyle changes in the global effort to stem climate change.
Meanwhile, factory farms — facilities in which vast numbers of animals are raised for meat and eggs — continue their rapid spread. Click here to see how many factory farms, and how many animals, color the American landscape. This helpful map has been created by Food & Water Watch. But it’s entirely domestic, and factory farms are no longer only made in the U.S.A. They’re spreading, or being spread, to Asia and Latin America and even Africa with what can only be called steely determination. No map of this…yet.