Nicholas Kristof’s ‘Mass Meat’ Scandal Story

Lots of meatNicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, has discovered something that many of us have known for years: Tyson Foods and other agribusiness giants are doing some very, very bad things involving animal husbandry and meat production:

Where does our food come from? Often the answer is Tyson Foods, America’s meat factory.

Tyson, one of the nation’s 100 biggest companiesslaughters 135,000 head of cattle a week, along with 391,000 hogs and an astonishing 41 million chickens. Nearly all Americans regularly eat Tyson meat — at home, at McDonalds, at a cafeteria, at a nursing home.

“Even if Tyson did not produce a given piece of meat, the consumer is really only picking between different versions of the same commoditized beef, chicken, and pork that is produced through a system Tyson pioneered,” says Christopher Leonard, a longtime agribusiness journalist, in his new book about Tyson called “The Meat Racket.”…

…This industrial agriculture system also has imposed enormous costs of three kinds.

First, it has been a catastrophe for animals. Chickens are bred to grow huge breasts so that as adults they topple forward and can barely breathe or stand.

“These birds are essentially bred to suffer,” says Laurie Beacham of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which argues that there’s an inherent cruelty in raising these “exploding chickens.”

Poultry Science journal has calculated that if humans grew at the same rate as modern chickens, a human by the age of two months would weigh 660 pounds.

Second, factory farming endangers our health. Robert Martin of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health notes that a farm with 10,000 hogs produces as much fecal waste as a small city with 40,000 people, but the hog operation won’t have a waste treatment plant. Indeed, the hogs in a single county in North Carolina produce half as much waste as all the people in New York City, Martin says.

Another health concern is that antibiotics are routinely fed to animals and birds to help them grow quickly in crowded, dirty conditions. This can lead to antibiotic resistant infections, which strike two million Americans annually (overuse of antibiotics on human patients is also a factor, but four-fifths of antibiotics in America go to farm animals).

Third, this industrial model has led to a hollowing out of rural America. The heartland is left with a few tycoons and a large number of people struggling at the margins…

[continues in the New York Times]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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13 Comments on "Nicholas Kristof’s ‘Mass Meat’ Scandal Story"

  1. Thurlow Weed | Mar 14, 2014 at 11:11 am |

    Prozac Fried Chicken is now available in Family Size buckets to contain mass hysteria.

  2. kowalityjesus | Mar 14, 2014 at 11:50 am |

    Why didn’t Prez O say anything about the bullshit bribery by meat lobbyists? TR threw his plate out the window. This guy never had a strong enough character to withstand the dirty fights in politics. Neither do I by a longshot, but that’s why i’m not president.

    • Gee, you either missed this part or didn’t bother to read the article:

      “Concerned by the meat oligopoly’s dominance of rural America, President Obama undertook a push beginning in 2010 to strengthen antitrust oversight of the meat industry and make it easier for farmers to sue meatpackers. The
      aim was grand: to create a “new rural economy” to empower individual farmers.

      Big Meat’s lobbyists used its friends in Congress to crush the Obama
      administration’s regulatory effort, which collapsed in “spectacular
      failure,” Leonard writes.”

      Who are the politicians in your state?

      • kowalityjesus | Mar 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm |

        why didn’t this get covered? Why didn’t he sound the alarm? Use your testosterone and call in the electorate on something so no-brainer as fighting a meat trust.

        These questions could be surmised from, “Why didn’t Prez O say anything about the bullshit bribery by meat lobbyists?”

        • Woobniggurath | Mar 14, 2014 at 11:32 pm |

          Of all the fights, picking this one would win him what?

          • kowalityjesus | Mar 15, 2014 at 1:02 am |

            Who the hell is going to criticize breaking a meat trust besides special interests and lobbyists. This could have been a serious PR op.

  3. Rebecca Brandt | Mar 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm |

    Go out of your way to support small local farmers. At least you won’t be enabling Tyson and their friends or feeding dangerous food to your family.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Mar 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm |

    in my area of rural Hawaii
    all the meat I eat is local small farm organic drug free
    costs about the same or less than store meat here
    the people here have been developing this supply system
    for the last 20 years
    with no gruberment help and some gruberment opposition
    in most of Hawaii & most major homeland metro areas
    90% of the groceries are imported
    stop that!

  5. Something else to be outraged about.

  6. misinformation | Mar 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm |

    Good to see the NY Times is only a decade or two (give or take) behind widely available knowledge. I suppose if I were waiting for NY Times articles on food sourcing, I may be an obese diabetic with a penchant for animals loaded with cancer and anti-biotics (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    If I looked back about a year ago, though, they’d probably just have me labelled as a food snob or a conspiracy theorist.

    Thanks for cementing your obsolescence NY TImes!

    • Woobniggurath | Mar 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm |

      Oh, and remember, “changing your personal consumption patterns doesn’t really do anything.”

      • misinformation | Mar 15, 2014 at 12:25 am |

        Hmm? I thought you may be quoting from the article but I don’t believe that’s true. Perhaps it’s implied? It would be an accurate assessment of typical, dare-I-say, mainstream prescription…as in, “things are bad, but nothing you can do will make any difference so just buy our fear porn and take this pills”….kind of a thing.

        • Woobniggurath | Mar 15, 2014 at 12:41 am |

          I was attempting to echo some of the current sophisto counterintuitive lefty NYT writer-type self debunking I see floating around. So yeah, what you said.

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