Scientists finally get off their butts to study the effects of farm runoff on our goddamn water »
It’s not that they don’t care! It’s that the extreme weather has increased runoff to a degree so alarming that scientists thought, Gosh, maybe now is the time to see what the effects of like seven decades of industrial agriculture has had on our waterways. NPR has some pretty delightful (horrifying) quotes:
Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"It’s been happening for years," says [Bob Broz, a water quality specialist with the University of Missouri Extension]. "The problem is now we seem to be seeing more of these more intense rainfalls. And that, in turn, creates a huge amount of nutrient loss."
"There’s the direct impact on the aquatic ecosystem," says [Bob Lerch, a USDA soil scientist]. "And then there’s the downstream impacts on say, drinking water, or a reservoir, or a recreational [body of water]."
Want to freak the fuck out about whether the next generation will even understand the concept of “tap water”? (Potable water from … the government? Available to all of us citizens for a nominal fee? Go on, old person, tell me another ridiculous story about life before you ruined the planet for us.) Read the article at The Salt blog.
[photo by Penn State News via Flickr]
Turns out educating consumers about the nastiest parts of the agricultural industry, then providing them with slightly less disgusting alternatives, kind of works.
For more information on the latest studies on the chickens who have to lay the cage-free eggs (which term I kind of hate, by the way—like the cage ever affected the egg), check out the May 2013 issue of Egg Industry magazine, and the October 2012 report prepared for the International Egg Commission. Yes, both those things actually exist.
What’s wrong with organic eggs? »
As new photos reveal, PLENTY. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds that eggs are one of the most difficult foods to talk people out of. We’ve all had that conversation with that person who insists that they are totally down with your veganism but you see, they eat organic eggs, so there’s no, uh, foul. Try as I might to talk about the essential meaninglessness of feel-good labels like “free range” or “organic,” it can be hard to combat those pleasant misconceptions without any shocking, awful photo evidence.
(Un)Fortunately, we now have it.
The Cornucopia Institute, an organization that promotes family farms and more sustainable farming, visited 15 percent of egg farms in the United States, and released a report titled “Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.” While the report is aimed at protecting the interests of smaller-scale family farmers rather than ending animal agriculture altogether, it’s a useful read for vegans looking to combat the “happy egg” myth.
The conclusion of the report is something vegans should already know: most “organic” eggs aren’t really any different from regular eggs, with the sole exception that layer hens who produce “organic” eggs are fed “organic” food. The chickens are still kept confined in too-tight quarters, denied access to the outdoors, prevented from exhibiting their natural behaviors, and generally treated horribly their entire lives. To the large industrial farms examined in the report, “organic” is just another brand, and the current standards for what can be labeled as organic are a joke. The report shows how many of the larger producers are playing the system, providing “outdoor access” to chickens in the form of a tiny skylight or window.
What reports like this really mean is something everyone who eats food in this country needs to recognize: we can’t trust big agriculture to give us the food they’re marketing. If it’s cheap and convenient, chances are someone got screwed in its production. What’s the solution? This Vegansaur says cut it out with the eggs already. TOFU OMELETTES FOR LYFE!