The suffering of the animals in factory farms and the public health consequences from the use of antibiotics, unsanitary conditions, and potential for pollution from factory farms pose real issues for modern-day consumers.
The easiest way for the average person to step outside this unhealthy cycle is to seek out meat and produce that have been grown “naturally.” Unfortunately, South Africa still lacks laws which clearly define terms such as "free range" and "organic”, making it very difficult for consumers to understand exactly where their food is coming from.
All that could change quickly, however, if people become aware of just how bad factory farms really are - and a good documentary has the power to change minds very quickly (see the ongoing public reaction to Blackfish, for example, which exposed using captive killer whales for entertainment in captivity).
Here are 5 recent documentaries that expose some of the downright disturbing things going on in factory farms today. Watch with a friend or family member, and do your part to spread awareness of the need to clean up our food industry.
Farm to Fridge
This is a short 12 minute clip that captures how poorly animals are treated in slaughterhouses. It examines how each meat group (beef, poultry, pork, and seafood) is systematically murdered. No matter the animal, it is routine practice to beat, drown, electrocute, and hang unused animals in the slaughterhouses simply to kill them, unused, and toss them in the garbage. The animals that are to be slaughtered for food live for years in miserable filthy conditions where many often die simply from malnutrition and sleeping in their own excrement.
Watch: Farm to Fridge - The Truth Behind Meat Production. From Youtube
Vegucated is a 76 minute documentary that adds a personal spin to the usual slaughterhouse expose. In addition to describing the numerous wrongs of the industry, it offers proactive advice to stop it: Go vegan. The film does this by following 3 New Yorkers for 6 weeks as they go vegan. It shows an emotional depth and feeling of hope as these participants are touched by compassion for animals as they learn about the standard practices of the meat industry.
Watch: Vegucated. From YouTube
This documentary (94 minutes long) delves into the corporate and political mechanisms that propagated the cruelty in factory farms. Food Inc. really broke the mold and attacked a previously unmentioned topic, setting a new trend in it’s wake.
It maintains that the great variety of foods we see in the grocery store is little more than an illusion as it is only a handful of corporations that manufacture and control food production. The film goes on to say that there is collusion between these corporations and government; stating there has been a revolving door between these companies and high level US government positions for over 25 years. A very informative and trailblazing film indeed.
Watch: The truth about your food with Food Inc. From YouTube
This is the story of one man's fight against the cruel practices in the chicken industry. Produced by DTV’s Fusion network but made available on YouTube, Cockfight shows how a farmer who owns his own small chicken farm and actually cares about the welfare of his flock and the conditions in which they are raised can still be duped by a larger factory farm company into failure.
This man then later becomes a whistleblower for the unethical animal treatment of the company, and he is subsequently targeted and harassed by the company.
Watch: Cock fight act 1: One man's battle against the chicken industry.From YouTube
Indigestible: The Movie
This film, in addition to explaining the various cruel practices of factory farms, focuses mostly on the consequences of these practices on society. It discusses the terrible environmental consequences, such as global warming, and the public health consequences such as diabetes and heart disease. Indigestible aims to show that factory farming is all of our problem and it’s an issue that must be dealt with before it’s too late.
Watch: Indigestible FS rescued pigs.From YouTube
Together, these 5 films cover the organic food business and factory farming entirely, not just from an animal right point of view, but also from the perspectives of business, politics, the environment, and public health.
Although these documentaries take place in the U.S., they apply to South Africa and the rest of the world as well, because this is a global issue.
To help prevent these atrocities from happening in South Africa, it is important that the public and policy makers be made aware of all of these issues.
Become informed, and please, inform others.