Unless you are a very conscientious consumer or a vegetarian, you’re implicit in the industrialized slaughter of animals. Many of us are (myself included). It’s easy to forget that the Sunday morning bacon was once on the hoof, and easy to imagine that the animals are treated humanely until their deaths. Recent journalism, like Robert Kenner’s documentary Food, Inc., and the ongoing activism of PETA, PCRA, and ASPCA has cast light on many of the otherwise hush-hushed commercial practices of meat-processing plants.
Ted Genoways, reporting for Mother Jones, covers the history of the modern meat industry in his profile of the Quality Pork Processors, Inc. plant in Austin, Minn. But what really stands out in his writing is the description of how the bloody work of slaughter is done in the post-butcher economy. (Warning: The following quotes are exceptionally graphic.)
Genoways describes how the “fine rosy mist” at QPP has caused a viral outbreak that attacks the workers’ brains—leading to, in some cases, paralysis—after it is inhaled during work.
Taking a more literary angle to the abattoir, Bookslut’s JC Hallman writes about his obsession with dead chickens and unheeded predictions about their treatment in “The Chicken Vault.” Here’s his second-hand description of an industrial chicken farm in New Jersey that left 50 tons of meat unrefrigerated for most of a summer. (Again: graphic description.)
Sorry for ruining your delicious lunch.