It’s normal to have a certain amount of tension when competing items on any advocacy group’s agenda overlap each other. But when the stated goals of an entire “movement are in direct opposition to each other,” that calls for a thorough re-examination of exactly what it is the proponents are demanding.
Such is the case with the coalition of organizations and activist groups allied in opposition to the meat and poultry industries. Let me explain by asking an easy-to-answer question: What are the top three talking points that critics of animal agriculture, confinement production, “Big Ag”—however you want to label it—are always spouting? Most readers could answer that off the top of their heads:
- The very size and scale of modern production: Animals “crammed” into cages or pens, jammed into massive feedlots or crowded into too-small stalls where they lead lives of misery and suffering.
- The “wasteful” deployment of feed grains, energy and water required to maintain hog barns, growout houses or feedlots, resources that could be better used to feed humans the cornmeal mush, dried oats and processed soy they (allegedly) prefer.
- The nutritional inferiority of the high-fat, high-cholesterol fare derived from genetically inbred livestock stuffed full of grains they shouldn’t be consuming and fattened beyond recognition before being sliced up or ground up into heart-stopping servings of saturated fat.
Right? In one fashion or another, those are typically the arguments activists trot out to demonize producers and, by extension, those who enjoy the animal foods ranchers, feeders and growers produce.
Now, consider the anti-industry crowd’s consumer advocacy allies. Their complaints echo the three listed above, with the additional demand that more and tougher regulations are needed to curb abuses in animal handling and threats related to food safety, right?
Well, here’s a suggestion made by many people—including those within the industry—that would address all three of the complaints activists harbor regarding meat and poultry production: The processing, marketing and widespread sale of game meats at retail and/or foodservice.
Think about it. If deer, elk, buffalo all could be harvested sustainably from their natural habitats, wouldn’t that obviate virtually everything the activist crowd faults the industry for doing? Wild animals don’t exist in numbers beyond that which is suited to their environment and food sources. They aren’t penned up, they live off “natural” forage and they don’t require supplemental feed sources to maintain growth and viability. And the meat derived from such animals is typically lower in fat, lower in saturated fat and thus lower in cholesterol, as well.