Food, at its purest, connects humans to the natural world. Unfortunately, the industrial scale of meat production and agriculture gives us the impression consumers are far-removed from production and processing points. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), corn and soy monocultures, subsidies, and unfair labor contracts become too invisible, or far removed, to seem worrisome.
In our recent publications, Pork and Pollution and Fowl Matters, we reveal the consequences of swine and poultry waste on consumers, frontline communities, and the environment. Cheap beef, barbecue, and chicken wreak havoc on the air, water, soil and on the health and wellbeing of communities, contract growers, workers, farmers, and consumers across the country. We address our unsustainable food system through policy change and building social movements, as well as by amplifying smaller-scale alternatives. Together, we can work for a more decentralized, democratic, and cooperative agriculture system—one that has been practiced by traditional farming communities for millennia.
The Rachel Carson Council hosted a panel, “Overcoming Corporate Threats to Academic and Community Environmental Health Research on Industrial Animal Production,” on June 9, 2016 at the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) conference at American University. The event focused on environmental justice and the hog industry in North Carolina (NC), addressing the health impacts on communities surrounding confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Panelists included NC Environmental Justice Network co-director Naeema Muhammad, Earthjustice lawyer Marianne Engelman Lado, and RCC President Robert Musil. Tracy Perkins of Howard University moderated the discussion.