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the human cost of slaughterhouses

January 28, 2010

When it comes to factory-farmed animals that are rendered for meat, everyone looses. A friend sent me an article from the LA Times today, which discusses one aspect of the problems associated with the way the U.S. “produces” meat by following the inter-ethnic tensions in one meat-packing town in Nebraska. This article only touches on a much bigger story about the total cost of of the meat industry in the United States.

The intricacies of human labor and the meat packing processes is addressed more comprehensively in Eric Schlosser’s book (which has since become a movie), Fast Food Nation.

Schlosser tells us about a number of other problems with the industry: many workers immigrate with false promises of citizenship from company recruiters, animals are treated cruelly and killed inhumanely, the conditions in slaughterhouses lead to a high risk of food contamination and the human workers in the slaughterhouses are in great danger on a daily basis. To stress this last point, Schlosser tells us:

In 1999, more than one-quarter of America’s nearly 150,000 meatpacking workers suffered a job-related injury or illness…more than five times the national average…The actual number is most likely higher [because]…the meatpacking industry has a well-documented history of discouraging injury reports, falsifying injury data, and putting injured workers back on the job quickly to minimize the reporting of lost workdays.

This problem is so serious that in 2005 the Human Rights Watch issued a statement identifying meat-packing plants the most dangerous factory job in the U.S. Not only are their jobs physically dangerous, but I imagine being forced to kill and dismember other lives and bodies so many hundreds of times a day has a psychological toll on people. I don’t know that any slaughterhouse provide free psychiatric treatment to workers to help them cope with the horrifying nature of their job. The violent nature of the industry and the abuses that surround the treatment of workers has effects on the communities that illustrate what a horrible industry this is. In one study, researchers found “that slaughterhouse employment increasestotal arrest rates, arrests for violent crimes, arrests forrape, and arrests for other sex offenses in comparison withother industries.” [1]

I recently asked someone from the Humane Society of the United States why he thinks the animal protection movement meets so much cultural resistance.  One reason he suggested is that the horrors of animal industries are so horrific that the average citizen doesn’t actually believe it when they hear about it; they assume that there are already laws to protect against such blatant injustice and cruelty. I, however, don’t think that this is the case. Call me a pessimist, but I think I am merely being a realist. I know plenty of people who read articles and books that discuss these topics, watch exposes of factory farms and slaughter houses, link environmental devastation to factory-farming, hear all the news of people dying of food-born illnesses that are generated because of slaughterhouse and factory farm practices and know that animals and humans alike are exploited for the sake of big-business animal enterprise profits. Many people are also aware that the greatest health epidemics in the country are directly tied to two things that Americans consume more of now than ever before: high fructose corn syrup[2] and the flesh of dead animals.  Somehow, when their stomachs grumble, they still manage to eat a hamburger without reflecting on all the death, pain, torture, manipulation and exploitation that every bite engenders.


[1]Fitzgerald, Amy J., Linda Kalof and Thomas Diets. (2009). Organization & Environment, 22: 158-184.

[2]Greg Crister’s book, Fat Land , is a great fast read on the obesity issues and high fructose corn syryp.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Layne permalink
    May 14, 2010 1:28 pm

    you guys are sick………someday this will come right back at you & crush everything you have & will ever have….Animals shouldnt have to pay for YOUR wrong doings…They don’t deserve this! Do you people have any hearts?! I am speaking up for their rights, Animals are what keeps the world go round…we need them..And if YOU retard murderers keep killing them for something as stupid as their meat, then you have another thing coming…You know, They have feelings too…Do YOU think animals like sacrificing their precious lives for you?! NO! They deserve to live just like all of us! Do you feel bad for the lives you’re taking away?! Do you even take that into consideration?! You ignorent people dont know what you’re doing to this world……….

    • loser permalink
      May 19, 2010 10:12 pm

      get out of your little bubble. do you eat plants? according to your senseless rant, eating plants, which actually do make our world go round by acting as the primary producers as well as cleansing our atmosphere by their intake of carbon dioxide and the output of oxygen, would be just as barbaric as eating animals. OH WAIT! plants don’t have feelings, so you can eat as much of them as you want, right? according to your logic, we shouldn’t take another organisms life. then why don’t you just die? unless you are a plant that can create its own food, our own biology forces us to eat organisms. if you are a down-to-earth evolutionist, then you would know that its survival of the fittest. humans have won the food-chain, and we rightfully may do whatever we want with the lower chains, like it or not. if you are a more faithful person, relating to God, you would understand that animals are souless, that only humans have souls, meaning that human emotions and feelings matter because humans are the only ones that have life beyond the body they are “borrowing” from God. whatever your viewpoint, it is of hypocrisy. instead of wasting your time ranting about animal rights, go rant about human rights being violated from human trafficking. why shoot for justice of another race if your own race is facing injustice? or are you not human? in your own words, “you ignorant [person] don’t know what you’re doing to this world….”

      and just in case, i would like you to give me one instance of proof of an animal laughing from joy, sadness, and show scientific proof of an animal weeping for the death of its child. hamsters and bears eat their young EVEN WHEN THERE IS FOOD AVAILABLE. don’t assume they have feelings just because you have feelings you racist. yes racist, if you consider other animals as other races, unless you are one of the cattle members, in which case, shut your mouth, stay on the hooks, and prepare to be on my grill.

      • May 20, 2010 5:00 pm

        In response to your “don’t eat plants” logic: https://vegina.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/100/
        Though I don’t agree with research on animals, especially because you should be able to plainly tell form hanging out with animals that they have emotion (have you ever seen a cow after her calf has been taken form her? It’s horrible, they get SO upset and frantic), here is a scientist describing how he knows rats laugh with joy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myuceywaOUs&feature=player_embedded
        Humans do shitty stuff to their offspring too. And mass murder of one’s own species, i.e. war, is something only humans do.

      • May 20, 2010 5:50 pm

        umm, incase you werent aware, which its clear your not: when people refer to life they are most commonly referring to consciousness (the experience of life) not the fact that they have cells. In that sense, plants are not life, or thats not the kind of life were talking about rather.

        Lets not bring god into this, religion is ridiculous.

        the food chain is a generality, humans as a whole rest on top, but individually we are very low. I invite you to attack a deer with whatever tools you can muster in your environment.

        And why should i focus on my races rights before others? Slight hint of racism there.

      • Chanel permalink
        May 21, 2010 2:40 pm

        God? Really?

        Jesus abolished animal sacrifices and so Christianity has always rejected the need for further bloodshed of animals (Hebrews 9:12, 26).

        The Scriptures reveal God’s anger against man’s sinfulness. God condemned the type of wholesale slaughter of animals in Judaism as a cover-up for their disobedience
        (Psalm 40:6-10).

        “Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats, calves and lion cubs will feed together, and little children will take care of them. Cows and bears will eat together, and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace. Lions will eat straw as cattle do . . . The land will be as full of knowledge of the Lord as the seas are full of water.” Isaiah 11:6-9

        “A good man takes care of his animals, but wicked men are cruel to theirs.” Proverbs 12:10

        So god lover… Respect animals, the bible says so. Stupid fuck.

  2. kekoa permalink
    May 17, 2010 2:01 pm

    yeah buddy, i totally agree, these fakahs need to get a taste of their own medicine

  3. Brian permalink
    November 10, 2010 10:07 pm

    hey “loser” all I can tell is that you must be the most selfish being on Earth face. At least that I have heard of. Congratulations!

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