The food industry goes to great lengths to uphold the illusion that your food is grown in an idyllic farm setting. The reality is quite different, as revealed in the featured video, shot by Mark Devries.
Using spy drones, he’s been investigating the environmental impact of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) since 2012. In the featured clip, he’s flying over one of Smithfield’s factory farms — the largest pork producer in the world.
Several warehouse-style buildings are lined up next to a giant open air cesspool the size of four football fields, filled with the excrement from the thousands of pigs housed in the buildings.
Pig CAFOs — A Well-Hidden Health Threat
The vast majority of the nearly 112 million pigs raised for food in the United States are raised in factory farms such as the one shown in the video. As noted by Devries, there are 2,000 pig CAFOs in North Carolina alone.
The highest concentration of hog farms in the US is found in Duplin County, where an estimated eight million hogs produce about 14 billion gallons of waste each year. On a national level, cattle, dairy cows, hog, and poultry CAFOs produce about 300 million tons of manure annually.1
The average hog farm generates as much waste as a medium-sized city, but they certainly don’t have to dispose of it like one.
When the cesspool of toxic waste is full, it must be emptied, and to do that, they simply spray it across the landscape using a high-pressure hose that shoots it out like a fine mist.2
Runoff from the spray-irrigated fields ends up choking nearby waterways with algae blooms, and can contaminate ground water.3
As the spray drifts downwind, it causes all sorts of problems for those unfortunate enough to live there. First of all, there’s the stench. Living in the vicinity of a CAFO is akin to living next to a landfill or a chemical factory.
People can’t open their windows or hang laundry out to dry. It's not unusual for people to report the fumes coming from the CAFOs are so bad they can't make it from their house to their car without stopping to retch.
Headaches, eye irritation, and nausea are commonplace. But this isn't only a matter of bad odor and temporary side effects though; it's a serious health threat.