Why We Should Celebrate Food Giants Changes for The Better
There are moments when you need to celebrate and today's announcement by Nestle was one of them! I believe it is not our governments, who get slowed with red tape and bureaucracy, that have the greatest power to change farming practices, but the giant food corporations such as Nestle, McDonalds, Tesco, Walmart, Coles and Woolworths. They operate at mega scale and have huge purchasing power over their supplies. They can negotiate terms of production all the way down the chain. What's important to note is that we, as consumers, have influence over these food giants. I know, I know, how can one person make a difference? Well, when enough people change their buying habits, it impacts the food giants profits and they take notice!
Over the last few years publicity on the horrors of factory farming for the animals, the environment and our health has been increasing. Consumers are making their voice be heard through how they are spending their money.
Why would we be against supporting factory farming?
- UN scientific studies found that animal agriculture, which is 2/3 dominated by factory farms, contributes to 18% of all greenhouse gases. That is more than that contributed by all of the transport in the world!
-1/3 of all grains in the world are fed to factory farmed animals, requiring a huge majority of the earths finite land and water. In fact to raise the 70 billion farm animals we do each year, mostly by factory farming methods, takes 50% of all the fresh water in the world every year!
Then there are the detrimental effects to the health of those who consume the meat from these animals. The animals are often unhealthy due to the unnatural conditions in which they are raised. They are fed antibiotics on a constant basis just to keep them alive. Their bodies are full of unhealthy fat from being fed grains (the majority of which are GM or pesticide ridden) and depression and fear hormones from the stress of their living conditions and how they are slaughtered.
And of course the immense suffering factory farming causes to the animals, who are denied any of their natural instincts, to breathe fresh air, feel the earth under their feet, have any decent amount of space to move and have relationships with their young. I'm not being extreme here - I know the majority of meat-eating people still consider that animals deserve to have these basic rights.
Nestle, the biggest maker of food products in the world, who have over 8,500 national and local companies in over 90 countries have not decided to stop using factory farms - but they have said they will stop buying produce that is reared under the worst of its conditions including sow stalls, veal crates, battery cages and when there has been no pain relief for castration and other standard mutilations such as tail and beak slicing. It is a significant stand for a company that holds an incredible amount of power over thousands of international suppliers. It sets an example and provides the impetus for other global companies to do the same.
Nestlé is also encouraging food sustainability by promoting the global Meatless Monday movement via on-packet marketing on Lean Cuisine products. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying I will be going out and buying a Nestle frozen dinner anytime soon - but millions of people do.... so I applaud them on their decision. I highly recommend you reading The End Of Food by Paul Roberts for an interesting history of Nestle and the insane food engineering and processing now done by this worldwide company.
This announcement shines the light on how you as a consumer can influence change and be part of a solution to a global problem. The food giants are interested in profit. If they see market growth for sustainable and ethically raised animals and organic food, they will move to support it and this causes a shift in the overall picture. If the population doesn't buy factory farmed products, retailers won't stock them and they will stop being produced. So lets keep using our buying power... Nestle, Coles, Woolworths (with the phasing out sow stalled raised pork and caged eggs) and many other companies are showing they are listening. Eliminating the worst practices of factory farming is just the first step... it does not stop the detrimental effect factory farming has on the whole. I urge you to keep this in mind when doing your shopping. Hopefully in a few years this will cause a shift in production away from factory farming and towards taking responsibility for this planet and all the beings on it.