Mark Bittman just wrote an article about the ‘ag gag’ in Iowa, which would make it illegal to videotape or photograph agricultural facilities housing chickens and pigs. For now the bill failed but why should a bill like that even be proposed?! We already know about tell-alls books such as Fast Food Nation and most likely you have seen large agricultural farms while driving down an American highway (particularly cattle). Its not the yeoman farmer with a idyllic red barn, its a stinky warehouse with heaps of manure surrounded by barb wired fences. Why should the media be gagged for shielding the truth about food production on any level?
My mother is from central valley California where much of Americas fruits and vegetables are harvested and packaged, then shipped out to the rest of the country (think Del Monte). I have seen production of farmed ‘fresh’ foods on a multi-million dollar level. Often there are unsanitary conditions in which production of the fruits and vegetables take place. Do you remember when people were getting sick from spinach because someone didn’t wash their hands during production? But with animals this kind of production becomes even more dangerous because of animal waste etc.
I once read that food travels 1200 miles just to get to your plate. That is a large carbon footprint! Not to preach but the media should be allowed to cover food production so that we can be aware and make informed decisions on our food. I have become more aware about eating local and buying free-range meat (or trying to skip meat altogether). Bittman’s article is fascinating, read it here. His blog also has some great articles on health and meat – its a must read for anyone eating food on this planet.