Friday, May 8, 2009

Smithfield Foods: Running Amok in Eastern Europe

You really didn’t think we were becoming a kinder, gentler nation and that corporate greed with blatant disregard for, well, everything was on its way out, did you?

The New York Times ran an article earlier this week detailing the global food giant Smithfield Foods’ foray into pig farming in Eastern Europe. Smithfield’s primary concern seems to be profit, with little concern as to how its operations influence the quality of food, people’s livelihood and the environment.

Why, whenever possible, do I buy meat directly from farmers whose names I know?
"Every stage of a hog’s life — from artificial insemination to breeding genetic characteristics — is controlled. A handful of employees tend thousands of hogs that spend their lives entirely indoors, under constant lighting, to spur growth. Sows churn out litters three or four times a year. Within 300 days, a pig weighing roughly 120 kilograms, or 270 pounds, is ready for slaughter."
Concerning the upended, traditional way of making a living:
"In Romania, the number of hog farmers has declined 90 percent — to 52,100 in 2007 from 477,030 in 2003 — according to European Union statistics, with ex-farmers, overwhelmed by Smithfield’s lower prices, often emigrating or shifting to construction. In their place, the company employs or contracts with about 900 people and buys grain from about 100 farmers."
And the environmental impact:
"With almost 40 farms in western Romania, Smithfield has built enormous metal manure containers to inject waste into the soil. “We go crazy with the daily smell,” said Aura Danielescu, the principal of a school in Masloc, who closes her windows tight."
Read the article.

Read Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s posted comment about the article.

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