Econ Book Review/ Project/ Discussion Post Number 3

The second section of the book is titled “Life as a Protein Product”.  This section was very long from chapters 4-12, Pgs. 85 to 231. I am only going to highlight some of the more relevant chapters. The section as a whole was about describing how the pigs live on industrial pig farms where they are treated terribly. The section also describes how sick the workers get from working in the large pig barns many have irreversible respiratory issues. Other workers fall into the manure lagoons and are killed by the dangerous gases and chemicals admitted by the stagnant pig manure. The people that live around the pig farms are no better off. The liquid manure that is sprayed on crops that surround the pig farms blows in the winds and on to their properties. The manure not only smells bad but again causes health issues, like high blood pressure and respiratory issues. The areas around the pig farms are poor and generally do not have the money or the power to fix this issue. The workers of pig slaughter houses are also treated terribly many of them are illegal immigrants.

Chapter 5 “Hog Hell” and Chapter 6 “Raising a Stink” both cover the problems that many of the people have when they life around pig farms as well as the environmental costs of a manure spill. Outlines what some of those health risks are. If the manure lagoons spill over then the manure runs into streams and kills fish and wildlife. The people around the farms are generally poor and when they try to change legislation they get death threats or are thrown in jail. The pig farms are in the back pocket of politicians and fund more relaxed EPA laws. These people are unable to enjoy their land because the smell is so bad. Chapter 8 “Hog Wash” describes in detail the hurt pig manure in water ways causes. Not only do water plants have to put more chlorine in the water to make it safe (which causes health issues) but the manure kills fish. Less fish hurts the fishing industry raising prices on fish.

Chapter 9 “Drug Abuse” was the most terrifying chapter yet. This chapter was all about the antibiotics that farmers give to their pigs. Big Pig gives their animals a low dose of antibiotics that make the animals grow faster as well as produce drug resistant strands of some very scary bugs including E. Coli and MRSA. These wonderful super-bugs are on any meat that was fed low doses of antibiotics. The health aren’t at risk but the young, the old, and the sick. Be sure to cook your meat all of the way through if you can’t afford to purchase organic. Farmers who don’t use antibiotics do not carry MRSA, farmers who feed their animals antibiotics carry MRSA. Denmark is doing it right and has found that there is  a sustainable way for farmers to not overuse antibiotics. They have a vet that prescribes them antibiotics when necessary, and the government keeps an eye on the amount used. The price to consumers for all this? About $0.04 more per pork chop. Denmark also has an amazing slaughter facility that does not hurt the animals or the workers and is all sanitary, again unlike the U.S pork industry. 

Chapter 10 “A Bitter End” and chapter 11 “Life on the Line” outline the U. S pork industry slaughter houses. The USDA is becoming slack on human slaughter of animals as well as the cleanliness of the slaughter and the safeness of the meat. All because of Government pressure. Not only are the slaughter of animals less sanitary as well  as less humane it is also less safe. Working on the slaughter line has gotten dangerous and the workers can’t do anything about it. They risk losing fingers and being cut as well as permanent nervous system damage, but no one cares. Many of the workers are fired if they get hurt and are only allowed 3 bathroom breaks a week. This causes many of them to go on themselves. 

Chapter 12 “The Create Escape” describes the move from creating sows to more open facilities. Even though this is a start many farms still create all of their pigs in tiny encloses. This causes sores and infections as well as more stress than necessary.

Bibliography information: Book title: Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat, Author: Barry Estabrook, Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Published in New York or London, Copyright 2015, ISBN: 978-0-393-35293-1 pbk

More detailed notes with page numbers: Pig 2 “Life as a Protein Product

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