The True Cost of Cheap Meat

Bloomsbury, 2014
First Edition: 2014 more...

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Sustainability advocate Philip Lymbery discusses what’s gone wrong on the farm, the big factory farm, that is. He covers human and animal misery, air and water pollution, and apocalyptic potential outcomes while also offering solutions and real hope. Lymbery, writing with journalist Isabel Oakeshott, could give more attention to the pros and cons of various agricultural options – including traditional farming, though it does have limits, and better alternatives for aquaculture and genetically modified crops. Even so, this sad but well-researched report demolishes any notion that society can continue on its current carnivorous path. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this reportorial lament to investors, futurists, environmentalists, business people and parents deciding what to feed their kids. You’ll never view supermarket chicken, steak or farmed salmon in the same way.


Commercial Farms

Nature produces food: Animals graze or forage, mostly eating foods that humans don’t consume. Animals convert food into waste products that fertilize the fields, forests and oceans. Humans butcher the animals for meat, and the cycle continues. Commercial farms, on the other hand, crowd animals into small spaces, pump them full of antibiotics, and feed them grains and other food that could otherwise sustain billions of people. In return, consumers get unhealthy cheap protein produced by methods that degrade the environment.

In 1958, China’s Chairman Mao tried to boost farm output by organizing a billion people to eliminate sparrows in one day of killing. After the sparrows died, the insects they would have eaten decimated the crops Mao sought to save from birds, resulting in widespread famine. Developing and developed countries repeat Mao’s type of folly by assuming they can improve on a balanced, natural system. Today, intensive industrialized farming poisons the Earth, the oceans, the atmosphere and living things – all for no gain.

When Britain passed the Agricultural Act in 1947 – “heralding government funding and encouragement for the new ...

About the Authors

Philip Lymbery is an activist for animal welfare and human health worldwide. Isabel Oakeshott is a political journalist and commentator.

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