Archive for Christopher Leonard

Lipstick on a Pig

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture with tags , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2014 by Rob Wallace

I have discovered that I cannot burn the candle at one end and write…with the other. –Katherine Mansfield (1919)

By casuistry as uproarious as it is dismal, a Minnesota hog farmer claims ‘factory farms’ no such thing.

Why yes, our barns, equipped with automatic feeders and temperature and air controls, look like factories. Why yes, hog genetics reducing diversity and fat content limit the animals’ toleration for weather and, left unsaid, disease.

But on the heels of bad publicity around vile abuse at a Pipestone farm damning piglets as so many uncooperative widgets–see the video above–Wanda Patsche tells us don’t call them factories. They’re owned by “my neighbors, my friends, fellow church members…,” who, in actuality, are caught in Big Ag contracts that, as we described here last month, hold the farmers to all the value chain’s liabilities and allows them none of its control.

Y’know, like factory workers. Continue reading

Collateralized Farmers

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2014 by Rob Wallace

In the course of his sensational exposé of Big Meat, of which I’m still in the midst, Christopher Leonard falls upon both a solution to a mystery central to influenza epizoology and a foundational admission on the part of the poultry industry.

It’s common knowledge that agribusiness are vertically integrated. All nodes of poultry or pig production are placed here in the States under each of the Big Five’s roofs. Cargill, Smithfield, JBS Swift, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson raise their birds and hogs and beef from fertilization to freezer.

But that isn’t quite correct. “There is one link in the chain that Tyson [much as the other companies] has decided not to own,” Leonard writes, Continue reading