The industrial meat industry has been hogging the food-related news cycle lately. The COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants. The slaughterhouse shut-downs. The “depopulating” of farm animals. Meat shortages and rising meat prices.
And then there’s the corresponding good news: Consumers buying more organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised meat products from local farmers and CSAs—even online sales of these products are surging.
So far, the industrial factory farm dairy industry hasn’t seen nearly as much news coverage during the pandemic. But under the mainstream media radar, two organizations recently shone a spotlight on dairy producers.
The Institute for Ag and Trade Policy (IATP) issued a report on the role of industrial dairy in global warming. The report, “Milking the Planet: How Big Dairy Is Heating Up the Planet and Hollowing Rural Communities,” calls for “redirecting public funds away from industrial agriculture, regulating the public health, environmental and social impacts of this extractive model of production and designing incentives to regenerate rural communities through agroecology.”
First, let me say that I hope you and your family and friends have remained safe and healthy.
Second, I want to say this: If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our corporate-controlled industrial food system is a failure—and that we’ll never have a better opportunity for transformational change than we have right now.
Whether you’re looking to treat yourself to a breakfast garnished with smoked salmon, or planning to serve up pre-dinner appetizers of sliced smoked salmon atop crackers, buyer beware: When it comes to the claims made on smoked Atlantic salmon packages and websites, brands are often just blowing smoke.
Popular smoked Atlantic salmon brands entice consumers with promises like “premium,” “all natural,” “super fresh” and “healthy and nutritious.”
Some brands claim their products are “sustainably sourced.” On the issue of animal welfare, one owner of multiple smoked Atlantic salmon brands claims on its website that the company’s approach to fish health and welfare is “second to none.”
It all sounds great to the consumer. But here’s the real deal: All of these smoked Atlantic salmon products are made from salmon raised on massive industrial fish farms, and in some cases, nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean.
In the COVID-19-driven time warp of the past 90 days, politics, economics and public opinion have changed drastically. Important aspects of social behavior seem to have improved—less non-essential travel, less consumption, more family focus, reduced greenhouse gas pollution (17 percent less worldwide in early April), increase in demand for healthy, home-cooked foods, appreciation for nature, mutual aid, social solidarity and more attention paid to the plight of farmworkers, small farmers, healthcare workers and food chain workers.
Unfortunately, other impacts of the pandemic are quite negative, in fact catastrophic: massive infections and deaths, widespread anxiety and fear, extreme political polarization and economic meltdown, including a massive number of bankruptcies of small businesses, with 40 million workers unemployed in the U.S. alone.
The Organic Consumers Association today announced that it has sued Smithfield Foods for falsely advertising Smithfield pork products as the “safest” U.S. pork products.
The complaint was filed on behalf of OCA by Richman Law Group in D.C. Superior Court, under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
“Consumers are unlikely to know that the USDA has notified Smithfield slaughter plants on multiple occasions that their pork was more likely to be contaminated with salmonella than similar products in slaughter plants of the same size,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA co-founder and director.
Industrial agriculture, with its factory farms, GMO monculture crops and toxic chemicals, is one of the leading causes of global warming. You can help cool the planet by choosing organic foods, grown using sustainable, regenerative farming practices.