In the UK, the food production industry runs into a billion figures every year, with reports stating that it is worth up to around £100 billion annually.
While this may not come as much of a shock to you, what will come as a shock is that within those figures, there is the process of intensive farming.
Intensive farming can be related to agricultural practices such as crop farming, where the production of the yield will be primarily based on mechanised processes, such as ploughing and harvesting.
However, when we are talking about intensive farming of animals, we see the same patterns emerging in favour of more ethical practices.
What Is Intensive Farming?
Intensive farming is a way of farming animals to produce high yields of an end product, such as meat. It often includes animals living in less than favourable conditions, being time fed rather than free-feeding (such as being outdoors and eating when they are hungry), and not being able to behave in a way that is conducive to their animal instincts.
So, when we are looking at a broad spectrum of things that are bad around intensive farming for animals, we get the indication that, actually, it is not the most ethical way of producing meat.
Yes, it creates a considerable amount of meat for commercial purposes; however, the way intensive farming is conducted is far from the best way to produce meat.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that intensive farming is far from the ethical ideal:
Unnatural Living Conditions
Animals that are kept purely for their end product are unfortunately kept in conditions that are not aligned with their natural habitat.
The conditions they live in are scrupulously monitored by authorities to make sure all of their basic living needs are met. Still, these parameters are so far away from the ideal living conditions the animals should have, including:
- Timed-feeding vs free roaming
- Artificial Light vs. natural lighting
- Overcrowding vs free space
- Polluted atmosphere vs fresh air
- Enforced disease prevention vs natural disease management
All of these considerations, and more besides, are far from the ideal, and the animal’s wellbeing is sacrificed for the production of their meat.
While we are on the subject of quality, it’s important to mention here the quality of the meat product that is gained from intensive farming.
The quality is OK if “OK” is something you are looking for.
For something that is mass-produced for the consumer market, it is edible!
However, the quality is not half as good as if this meat were to be produced via more ethical methods, such as outdoor rearing of animals, free exercise, and less stress on the creature.
It is widely accepted that happy animals are quality animals, and this is true whether they are bred for their natural products such as milk or eggs or bred for their meat.
Intensive farming does not constitute happy animals.
When looking at intensive farming, the word “intensive” gives us an indication that there are intensive processes that occur, so not only is the process intensive on the animals, it is also intensive on the surrounding areas and atmosphere, in ways such as:
- Air pollution from mechanical processes
- Land and water pollution from immediate land and water contamination
- Chemical pollution from the constant in-use infiltration of antibiotics and cleaning sprays en masse
- Traffic pollution from a continuous stream of transportation vehicles and delivery vehicles
Intensive farming sites are in constant use, just like you would expect a standard factory to be. Their locations are often busy with continual activity, which can be extremely detrimental to the quality of the surrounding landscape.
And The Verdict Is….?
Intensive farming of livestock or poultry has no positive impacts on the area of ethical food production, period!
Yes, the process gives millions of people access to cheap “food,” but if you are willing to dig deeper, you will find that:
- Cheap does not equal better quality
- The process is stressful on the animal
- Intensive farming is damaging to the atmosphere and environment
- The animals are not allowed the same freedoms as free-range animals
- Disease management can be harmful to the quality of the end product
Plus, so many more considerations! It’s actually a bit scary how many negative elements there are surrounding intensive farming versus the alternative ways of meat production.
What Are The Alternatives?
When it comes to meat production, there is ALWAYS another way, a better way to find the best quality meat that has been produced in more ethical conditions than that of intensive farming.
Finding meat that has been:
- Humanely raised
- Holistically managed
- Reared outdoors or given the freedom to roam
- Freely-fed or allowed to free-feed
- Kept in the most natural conditions
- Organically produced
Should always be top of the considerations list over price.
If we say it once, we say it a thousand times over; cheap does not mean best!
So, Where Do You Find the Best Quality Meat?
Butchers: Your local butcher will be your best guide to all areas of high-quality meat.
I think sometimes people forget that being a butcher is a trade, not just a job! These people are literally experts in their field, and they have all the relevant knowledge, contacts, and expertise to give you the best quality meat that is local and ethically reared.
Farm Shops: Farm shops are massively growing in popularity, and these are the places that only deal in quality, local produce.
So when you are sans butcher, head to a local farm shop!
Intensive farming has its place in the very lucrative food industry, and it produces food for millions of people on a daily basis.
However, there is meat with better quality and better ethical practices available, and you should use these places when considering your next meat purchase.