Guest Post by Beth Kelly
In modern times, the farming of animals has transformed from a natural process to an industrialized system that creates factories rather than farms. Concentrating stock into such systems has serious detrimental effects on animal welfare, and most of these animals are raised under unacceptable living conditions. The increase of animal injury and sickness caused by such conditions leads to fewer animals available for food production, and consumers are faced with higher food prices as a result.
In these same systems, the natural balance of crop rotation, animal grazing and fertilization is disrupted, leading to overproduction of waste and pollutants that contaminate air and water. Activists supporting animal rights and sustainability have worked to get their messages out to the everyday consumer, and in recent years many documentary films have been produced as a result of their efforts. Check out these films below for some intriguing, and often disturbing, lessons about the food industry today:
This film compares the world of industrialized food to that of locally-grown goods, and examines how the flaws of the former are being taken over by the latter. It shows how growers are making the process of getting food from the farm and into the public’s homes simpler than ever. It also presents the idea that concentrated animal feeding operations (known as CAFOs) can contribute to the spread of disease (available to watch via Netflix).
Cock Fight details the story of farmer Craig Watts as he exposes the many injustices gone unnoticed in the chicken industry. The documentary follows him to uncover the conditions the animals live through on farms and how the industry reacted once Watts exposed its flaws. One such flaw includes the mass killing of chickens sent by companies in need of perfect specimens. Cock Fight can be streamed through Amazon Prime.
Vegucated covers the challenges of those switching to a vegan diet. It follows three people on a six-week journey to progress from diets heavy in meat and dairy to solely vegan cuisine. The film also shows the lack of connection modern consumers have made between living farm animals and the meat they consume. Vegucated can be found on DirecTV, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.
This documentary examines the lives of exotic fruit growers and those working to cultivate and preserve less common species of plants in the West. The stars of the film are admittedly devoted to their fruit passions and their hopes to change the way people eat these essential crops. The film is most easily viewable through Vimeo.
More Than Honey is an Academy Award-nominated documentary covering honey bee colonies around the globe. The purpose of the film is to investigate the cause behind the disappearance of numerous bee colonies despite the absence of bee remains or predators to drive them away. This phenomenon has occurred all over the world, and the decrease in bee populations has a significant effect on the pollination of plants and the crops available for consumption. This intriguing watch is available to stream through multiple sources, including Amazon and iTunes.
Nutritional consultants Laurentine ten Bosch and James Colquhoun created this film to reveal some of the unknown methods used to keep consumers in a cycle of unhealthy eating. It exposes methods the weight loss and food industries use to draw customers in and keep them enticed by popular products. This manipulation has a great impact on society’s ability to achieve fitness and health goals. In the interest of public health, the creators have made this film available for free directly on the official website.
The Harvest details child labor practices in the American agricultural industry. Many of the children documented are exposed to long work hours, excessive heat, toxic chemicals and environmental hazards. The agriculture industry has lenient laws in terms of labor, and the film also shows the long-term negative effects this practice has on kids’ ability to succeed in the future (streaming on YouTube).
Films such as these help inform and inspire otherwise oblivious consumers to make changes in their eating and food purchasing habits. Modern consumers can use their buying power to support independent and sustainable farms that allow animals to carry out their natural behaviors with increased chances for healthy living. Ethical treatment of animals and sustainable farming leads to healthier and higher-yielding stock in the long run, and this benefits the animals, the farmers and, of course, the consumers!
|Beth is a freelance writer and blogger from the heart of the Midwest. She graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, IL before spending several years abroad teaching English. Her primary interests include analog photography, vintage fashion and Japanese cinema. You can find her on Twitter:@bkelly_88|