I forgot that things move a little slower in Latin America and best laid plans don’t always work out. It looks like I won’t be visiting Granjas Carroll, the factory farm in Vera Cruz, a state on the Eastern Coast of Mexico, where H1N1 is believed to have originated. I’m bummed, but also to be honest, somewhat relieved. Visiting factory farms is never easy. They stink, they’re dirty, it’s hard to breathe, and it’s undeniable that the animals are not happy being crowded together. You’ll often see birds with bloody bald spots where other chickens have pecked at them or pigs with bloody tails because their penmates have bitten them. Ironically, that’s one of the justifications the pork industry uses for cutting off pigs tales or chickens beaks, but the thing is, if the pigs and chickens had enough room they wouldn’t become aggressive in the first place.
I’ve always felt though that I can’t effectively write about these issues unless I actually see them first hand. Hence my visits to factory farms, slaughter houses, and meat processing plants all over the world.
But I also get to see really good examples of raising animals for food in an environmentally sustainable, more welfare friendly way-from chicken farmers in the Philippines raising their birds without antibiotics to herders in Tunisia who are preserving ancient breeds of livestock.
I’ll be flying back to DC tomorrow, but stay tuned for updates of my meetings with Mexican environmentalists tonight. I’m interested in what they consider the most important environmental problems facing Mexico