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Thursday, March 17, 2005
Hog Haven
Mood:  irritated
Topic: Farm
If you have visited Iowa in the last 10 years, you have probably smelled the hog confinement industry here. For more than ten years both farmers and large corporations have built these huge confinement operations to reduce the production of pork to a factory-like process.

For those who don't know, these hogs are grown inside buildings their entire lives. No sunshine, no fresh air, no soft earth; just concrete, ammonia-filled air and dim electric lighting. They are pumped up with antibiotics and medications that allow them to live in this unnatural environment. Tails have to be trimmed so the other pigs don't eat them off. Stress abounds, and the workers' health is at risk. Veterinarians are at risk, too.

Another problem is the horrendous smell. Cities of just a few hundred have wastewater treatment facilities, but hog confinements with upwards of 10,000 hogs have little to no treatment. They simply pool the waste and wait for most of the water to evaporate. Then they take that liquid manure out to the surrounding farm fields and either spread it on top of the soil, or till it in. Either way, it stinks up the whole countryside.

Now, I'm not a city-slicker gone country. I grew up on a farm with hogs. I worked in a hog confinement in my high school years.

Neither am I for government intervention of this problem. I moved to this county in Iowa because we don't have rural zoning laws preventing us from doing what we wish with our land without permits or other government intervention. I don't want more government!

What I want is a change of heart. I want our neighbors who grow this pork to change their understanding of good stewardship. Their grandfathers did it differently.

I also want a change of heart in the consumers. If you buy pork from the grocery store, stop it! You support these inhumane practices, and you are the root of the problem. If people would not pay for this ill-raised pork, no one would grow it.

Instead, find a local farmer who grows pork on dirt. Some concrete is fine, but they should at least have fresh air and access to dirt and green stuff. They should be non-medicated. Medicated hogs means unhealthy conditions.

If you don't know anyone growing pork, find someone growing beef or lamb, or even chickens. Let them know you would buy pork from them, and see if they will raise it for you. Offer to go into cost sharing. Buy shares in their operation. Support clean food!

When we decide in our hearts that God has made this world, and that these animals can be raised in a humane, healthy manner, we will not support an industry that adulterates and compromises. We will get to know our friendly neighborhood farmer, and respect his work. We will pay a premium for this pork, because we know it is the right thing.

Then, we have the joy of knowing our grocery money is going to support people who care for the animals the way we would. We feel better, knowing that the people who do this for us benefit financially. Their lifestyle is important too.

Lastly, we honor God because we do not take for granted that which He has so abundantly supplied. We glorify Him through the good stewardship of His resources.

Posted by Jim Cutler at 11:49 AM CST
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