When a government’s independent advisory agency on human health publicly objects to proposals for a new industrial hog operation because of the risks it poses to human health, people tend to take heed. This is exactly what has happened in a small but very significant planning battle taking place in Great Britain. Midland Pig Producers (MPP) has applied to build a state-of-the-art indoor hog production unit in Derbyshire, which would hold 2,500 sows and produce around 1,000 hogs a week for slaughter – one of the biggest industrial hog farms in the country. But in what might prove to be a fatal blow to MPP’s plans, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) – the U.K. government’s independent advisory body on health – has raised a number of human health concerns about the proposal, including the fact that “recent research has found that those living up to 150m [165 yards] downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi-drug resistant organisms.”
Yesterday we mentioned the new film, Food, Inc., in which Michael Pollan and director Robert Kenner explore the unseen costs of the food we eat. The upcoming movie promises viewers that they will “never look at dinner the same way again,” likely prompting viewers to seek alternatives to the industrial system it exposes.
However, many fear that this alternative “real” food is too expensive. The reality is that it can actually be cheaper than factory farmed products, and can save you money in the end. A recent price comparison showed that a shopper in New York City could source humanely-raised meat for considerably less they would pay in the grocery store, just by going to the farmer. Animal Welfare Approved proved this on the plate last Thanksgiving, serving over 1,000 of New York’s most in-need pasture-raised turkey for around a dollar per person. Utilizing the whole animal, working with value cuts and re-learning how to season with meat is ultimately more economical.
Reducing meat consumption to the recommended levels would save even more. Americans consume nearly twice their daily protein requirement in meat alone. Not only does this over-consumption waste valuable resources, it may actually be making us sick.
All of this information points to a simple strategy: eat sustainable meat, dairy and eggs in reasonable quantities. Pasture-raised products can provide a healthy, sustainable source of protein – without breaking the bank.