How Much Did Your Bacon Cost? Or: Watch the Video at Your Own Peril

I'm just going to come out and say it: if you're squeamish, faint-hearted, love animals, or have at least one testicle, consider not watching the below video.  Many will not have a problem with it, but it's disturbing enough that if you going into it unprepared and without forewarning, you may be unexpectedly traumatised.

Of course, being shocked into action is the very point of videos like this.  By preparing you for it, I may be subverting the filmmaker's intentions, and undoing what they're trying to achieve. Nevertheless, I don't think it's fair to one's psyche to bowl a bouncer when no one's been hammering down cover drives.  Rather you know what you're getting yourself into.

My grandfather, a farmer, owns a small number of cattle, chickens, and pigs.  Growing up in that world of self-sustainability, I am not a stranger to the slaughter of livestock, having personally witnessed and been involved in it multiple times.  It's not pleasant.  Once you've seen life drain from a living thing's eyes, your mind's eye can't really ever escape it.  In fact, I have documented those events before to shed light on the suffering and trauma these animals experience before dying.

But we have to understand this in context.  As with many rural farmers, my grandfather is poor.  He is not a commercial rancher.  He cannot afford specialised means with which to kill them; the methods he uses are the most efficient and humane available to him, though they are not perfect.  The blood stains his clothes and the stench of it does not easily escape his home, but I am heartened when I see the respect with which he treats them, before and after death.  Although he has the characteristic, dour demeanour of his generation, I have not once seen him mistreat them.  Within his limited abilities to do so, he gives them a good life and cares about them as well as for them.

In killing his own animals (which he does only for special and specific occasions), he is eschewing the cheaper alternatives, and, more importantly, taking responsibility for the food he eats.  To him, the blood is on no one's hands but his*.  At the very least, he understands the realities of his actions, which, beyond the ethics of it, have logistical repercussions relating to maintaining one's finite food supply.

The things you see in the video are abhorrent.  There is no excuse for them.  How rich is my grandfather that he, whose home is in such disrepair that it has been defined as a shack, has the wealth to let his animals receive a modicum of respect?  How do the purveyors justify the torture wrought by their employees?  As my grandfather needs to eat, do they need to manually castrate piglets without anaesthesia for their own sustainability?

And, more importantly, is the bacon that accompanies our eggs tasty enough to justify the actions of our feeders?  I did not sit well when I ate the animal in whose death I had a hand.  I wondered whether I enjoyed the spices in this meal more than any other, and whether I was no better than anyone else if I did.  Even if we cannot afford better, we must know that we can do better.  We have to do better.  We just have to.

This is not an argument against eating meat.  It's an appeal for you to think about the food you eat.  I have brought you to the watering hole.  Whether you drink is up to you.

Source: "Undercover Investigation on Oklahoma Pig Farms Reveals Systemic Cruelty of Factory Farming"

* Although, in fairness, in this case as well as store-bought meat, the blood stains all those who endorse the process by (purchasing and) eating the product.  It is certainly on mine, too, as killing the animal requires more than one person and I have assisted.

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