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Sunday, July 15, 2012

ask a vegan : what i have learned about factory farms :

happy sunday, everybody!
*before we start, i want you to know that this post is a bit more politically- & ethically-charged than other posts* *BUT, this post has to do with the food we ALL eat, so i beg you to read it & create your own opinion!*
you know that i am vegan because of my health, moral responsibility & the planet, right?
well, what you probably dont know about me is how incredibly political i am when it comes to large corporations, our food & the idea of 'feedng the world'

i was lucky enough to attend a 3-day food workshop for educators that was put on through blakes school. & because i blog about food & vegan culture, i was able to attend.

over the course of three days, we visited a farm, a farmers market, a local restaraunt, spoke with a dietician & met with a local blogger // author. all of these things were really great for me. 
if you know me // have been here for a while you know that we shop local & organic. we support multiple farmers markets. we use green products // make our own. we ride our bikes most places & do our best to support ONLY businesses // groups that give back // enhance the planet.

the other place we visited? land o' lakes headquarters.
now, i will tell you that i have read MANY [many, many] articles, blogs, books and watched as many documentaries [from BOTH sides] about the impact of factory farms, seed responsibility [monsanto!] and the [terrible] health // wellness reprocussions we, as a world are experiencing because of careless corporations. 

in real life, i LOVE a strong, healthy discussion about factory farms, the [bullshit] claim that we need large farms 'to feed the world' & the idea that pesticides & added hormones are really great for the soil, our future & our bodies. but here on my blog, i try to keep things pretty neutral. i know that words on the internet can be taken out of context & i dont ever want folks to feel that i am being a pretentious jerk for calling people out.

BUT, after visiting land o'lakes & talking to their executives, doing a bunch of research AND getting all of my questions deflected by their lawyers, i really wanted to write about the REAL impact of the dairy // feed industry.

one of the most common things i hear when talking abut the food industry [and voting!] is 'my vote doesnt matter // i am just a tiny speck on the planet'. 
your vote DOES matter. it does. 
whether you are avoiding purchasing from fast food places with unethical animal practices [yay! go you!] or purchasing a pint of locally grown berries at a market instead of buying from a large supplier [who *may* use undocumented workers with no union // protection, working in the field in the sun, while the fields are sprayed with pesticides!] ; these companies are paying attention.

land o' lakes is a coop ; member owned by farmers. 
now, we are coop members ; we belong to our local food coop & rei ; both places that i highly recommend & support. 
one of their 'higher ups' spoke about the amazing things that land o' lakes does. 
*how they donate millions of meals to developing countries. 
*how they have developed seeds & products that can 'feed the world' 
*and how their farmers make great choices.
great, right?

here is what they DIDNT talk about.. 
*they didnt explain that their 'seed protectors' really mean herbesides // pesticides // and posions that kill bugs & other farm 'undesirables'. 
*they didnt mention that those chemicals then leech into the soil. and during times of flood // rain, they then seep into water. ya know, the water that we drink // live off of. 
*and because those chemicals are so strong & so poisonous, over time, they begin to become ineffective. so instead of NOT using pesticides, they create NEW, more powerful pesticides. 
*and who do they DIRECTLY work with [other than their farmers?] they work with monsanto. [and there arent enough hours for me to talk about my feelings for monsanto, so i BEG you to do your own research!]

so, land o'lakes make butter, cheese & milk, right? 
*they didnt explain the awful process that cows go through to produce milk [now, i will say that there are SOME farms within land o'lakes that *may* be treating their animals humanely, but as a corporation, they do not actively seek out // punish farmers for mistreating their animals. 
here are a few great articles about the reality of the factory dairy industry.

so, what am i saying? 
i am saying that if you are going to purchase milk, butter, cream or cheese, i HIGHLY reccomend you do your research. type in local ______ [cheese // milk, ect] & _______ [your city // state]. seek out those businesses. farmers markets & co-ops are WONDERFUL resources!! find companies in your area that treat animals well. and maybe you will pay a bit more. but, your child, partner, planet, animals & people you have never met are worth that extra money.

i would LOVE to hear your feedback // opinion. 
i do ask that you are respectful & leave your email address, so we can continue a dialogue.