Guest Column: Fast food industry deceives customers, promotes cruelty

Every year, the fast food industry spends billions marketing their products. They show a lot of attractive, happy, skinny people having fun. What they don’t show you is where it comes from, how it’s made and what it contains. Tyson ads don’t show chickens crammed together at their factory farms. Wendy’s ads don’t mention that their suppliers confine pregnant pigs in gestation crates that are so small that the pigs can’t even turn around, or that their egg suppliers confine their hens to tiny wire cages. KFC doesn’t mention that five members of their Animal Welfare Board have quit because their recommendations have been ignored.

That’s because once you learn how these companies operate, how the industry harms people, how it mistreats animals and pollutes the land, you may become highly motivated to eat something else.

Obesity is a most serious problem among children as well as adults. This problem is caused by the fast food industry’s marketing directly to children and advertising such foods as appropriate for consumption at all times. Also to blame are parents who give in to their child’s demands and allow their children to consume fast foods on a regular basis. Adults are fair game to marketers, but children are not.

Once animals were raised on things we do not eat. Cows ate grass. Chickens ate bugs and worms. Now they are put in feed lots or huge buildings, and the producers have to grow and truck food to them. Sixty-six percent of the agricultural land in the U.S. is used to grow food for factory farms. Factory farming is the biggest system of cruelty to animals ever devised. Every year, nearly 10 billion animals live out their entire lives confined indoors. Twenty thousand chickens are raised in a single 2-foot by 100-foot building, where they are fed antibiotics to keep them from getting sick as a result of the overcrowded, filthy conditions. Baby pigs are crowded into pens where they live over pits of their own manure until they are ready for slaughter. The best way to stop this is, don’t buy factory farm products.

Most people think the best thing they can do to help end global warming is to buy a fuel-efficient hybrid car or one of those E-85 flex fuel cars. However, the EPA lists factory farms as a leading cause of global warming, land and water pollution. Therefore, we can reduce the pollution by buying only free-range, organically-raised meats, milk and eggs, or by switching to a vegetarian diet. The bottom line is this: Fast foods are convenient, but the cost to your health and the environment is too high.

William Wilson lives in Jeffersonville, Ind.

from the May 30-June 5, 2007, issue

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