Coalition Report

By Alicia Claire Lloyd,
Clean Water Policy Coordinator,
Missouri Coalition For The Environment

Why is Meat So Cheap? The Hidden Health Costs of Megafarms

By February, many of us are well into our 2016 resolutions – often to get fit and eat healthier. In efforts to curb sugar and carbs and to ramp up protein intake, we check food labels at the grocery store and opt for organic and non-GMO produce. For many of us, our food choices may also have moral ties to working conditions or environmental impacts.

But even for the ethical and health-conscious consumer, it’s difficult to know where our food comes from and the ecological footprint of its production. Nowhere is this ambiguity more apparent than in meat production. Even as farmer’s markets and “Think Global, Act Local” bumper stickers are increasingly common, industrialized animal agriculture continues to explode in Missouri and throughout the US with consequences for environmental, animal, and human health.

The concentration of livestock in energy-intensive, confined factories is a catastrophic environmental and public health problem. Missouri is one of the top ten poultry and pork factory farming states in the country. These factories are run by absentee corporate investors attacking Missouri’s rural economy. Polluted air and water surrounding the operations not only harms our rivers, streams, and air quality, but threaten public health and create resistant superbug viruses from the antibiotics pumped into the livestock.

At MCE, we care about the environmental impacts of these corporate megafarms on Missouri’s water, land, and air. As consumers, we all care about our family and personal health. As advocates, we want to know we’re supporting the farmers who are stewards of their land and who protect our natural resources. Factory farming has no place in an ethical and sustainable food system.

Consumers have the perfect opportunity to support Missouri farmers by buying meat produced by environmentally responsible, independent producers. There are numerous resources in St. Louis to find locally raised, non-factory farmed meat. Local Harvest in Tower Grove and City Greens in the Central West End supply family farmed meats from Patchwork Farms, a program of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. Bolyards in Maplewood is another great resource supplying locally raised meat.

Incorporate plant-based or sustainable alternatives to factory farmed meat as part of your New Year’s health commitments.

Visit www.moenvironment.org for further information and to stay engaged with this important health and environmental issue.