A searing exposé of the brutal treatment animals receive on their ways to our dinner plates.
Following a whim, debut author Faruqi decided to take a break from the hectic pace of Wall Street and volunteer for two weeks on an organic dairy farm a few hours outside Toronto. That decision proved to be both eye-opening and life-changing. Her lifelong plan to establish a career as an investment banker was put on hold due to the 2008 recession, and her goal shifted from earning lots of money to exposing injustice. Despite the fact that the farm was certified as organic, her introduction to the on-the-ground reality was far from the charming pastoral scene she had imagined. Faruqi was horrified by the cramped quarters in the shed where 65 cows lived, “shackled to stalls by neck chains” and forced to stand in their own excrement. With her interest whetted, she visited commercial farming operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Asia. Investigating “organic” poultry farms, egg warehouses, and cattle, pig, and sheep farms, she found widespread force-feeding, unsanitary conditions, and confined living space. She began to realize that the bottom line was maximizing profit without regard to animal welfare, product purity, or even rudimentary sanitation. Since organic products command a higher price—in 2013, sales reached $35 billion in the United States—and the regulatory system is lax, organic has become a desirable alternative to traditional farming. Even small, family-run operations often use the methods of factory farming, which set the standards and control the supply chain—e.g., by calibrating weight gain to profitability. Faruqi contrasts this with a visit to a successful pastoral farm to demonstrate a humane alternative at only slightly higher consumer prices. The author's expertise in finance provides an extra dimension to this well-documented report.
Not for the fainthearted, but a good wake-up call for those concerned with decent treatment of animals and healthy food on the table.