BY: KAROUN CHAHINIAN
The once mysterious murder kingdoms more commonly known as factory farms are now under a magnifying glass firmly held in front of the critical eye of the public.
From growth hormones, to claustrophobic cages, to never seeing the light of day, animals are treated as commodity without feeling, overflowing in animal concentration camps with the sole purpose of supplying our over-gluttonous societal demand.
While it pains me to admit it, often empathy that could spur action lasts about the amount of time between watching that lengthy Netflix documentary on the horrors of industrial farming and seeing a deliciously saucy chicken wing commercial. We’re human, and instant gratification has become a social condition.
I have an unlimited amount of respect for those who willingly educate themselves on the cruelties taking place behind the scenes of food production and then decide to take a stand and give up meat altogether.
But, like myself, there are many people who are at the crossroads of moral reasoning and action. This is why Sonia Faruqi set out to find a medium between morality and habitual desires.
Faruqi was a Wall Street investment banker who had her blissful innocence stripped after finding out that visiting an organic dairy farm was the furthest thing from the green pastures and rolling hills she saw on the milk carton every morning before she had her cereal.
After a mass lay-off that left her jobless alongside thousands of other employees, her circumstance, which originally seemed desperate, became a new escape. She put away her business suit and decided to spend the next two years investigating farms all over the world and to publish a chronicle of her experiences through the book Project Animal Farm, set to be released tomorrow.
“I was learning so much and I wanted others to see what I was seeing, so I took them with me in the form of Project Animal Farm,” said Faruqi. “I wanted them to be with me every step of the way and see things through my eyes.”
Her work does not shy away from the graphic details: six to eight chickens squeezed into tiny metal cages, so claustrophobic that their bodies are swelling out the cracks between bars. Cows stained by their own feces, nicknamed “milk machines” are electrocuted by trainers whenever not positioned correctly at the stall gutter. And the mutilated faces of chickens de-beaked without anesthesia. After witnessing Faruqi’s imagery, Ronald McDonald began to look more like the deranged serial killer clown, John Wayne Gacy.
By visiting 60 farms that spread across eight countries in three continents, Faruqi saw the lives of the millions of animals squeezed into tiny metal cages, cows stained by their own feces, and mutilated faces of chickens de-beaked without anesthesia. Years from now, factory farming may be recognized as a genocide.
“I was often living with strangers and had to hitchhike to farms in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “To understand how these farms are running, I wanted to get a very deep internal sense of everything, which often put my life at risk.”
She ends her chronicle with solutions for both producers and consumers that can bring back a sense of humanity in farms all over the world, one of them being large pastoral farming.
“Over 90% of farms today are industrial, and pastoral is an alternative that still has the economies of scale; the prices and costs are acceptable to both producers and consumers, and the animals are treated less mechanically,” she said. “The animals are outdoors throughout the year and it’s a beautifully large farm. I’m hoping this suggested solution sparks conversation and transition as well.”
In terms of what consumers can do to improve the current factory farm situation, Faruqi also suggests that if we all slightly reduce the amount of meat we consume, “it can make a significant difference.”