Nourishing the Planet’s Carol Dreibelbis spoke recently with Jonty Whittleton, senior campaign manager at Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), a U.K.-based organization working to end factory farming and promote animal welfare, about his involvement with the Raw campaign. The Raw campaign focuses on exposing the true cost of factory farming and building a movement for alternative food and farming solutions.
I jumped at the opportunity to join Raw. The campaign is well-aligned with my interests and presents a unique opportunity to create positive change. Fighting factory farming lets you tackle a host of environmental, social, and ethical challenges at the same time. Plus I love food, so championing tastier, healthier, higher-quality food is second nature to me!
What, in your opinion, are the most serious impacts of factory farming?
Factory farming has an impact on animals as well as on people and the planet, at a local, national, and international scale. The primary impetus for Compassion in World Farming is to end animal cruelty, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Factory farming is a chronic, worldwide problem: it is linked to antibiotic resistance, obesity, devastated communities, and choked, polluted waterways.
This is the beauty of Raw. Whether you’re an environmentalist, a humanitarian, or both, the fight against factory farming concerns you.
What strategies does Raw use to improve the global food system?
Raw is a long-term movement with an ambition to stamp out factory farming. We recognize that we won’t achieve widespread change overnight. Our first goal is to convince a critical mass of decision makers and the public that factory farming is a failed system of food production. Our work can be broken down into three distinct areas:
- Campaigns aimed at communicating critical food and farming issues in compelling ways, with the objective of capturing minds and encouraging focused action;
- Networking with relevant opinion and decision makers, and finding opportunities to collaborate; and
- Recruiting famous individuals who believe in the mission of Raw and are interested in spreading inspirational messages.
In the future, we would like to expand our networks into other countries where we see a real need for Raw. Compassion already has feet on the ground in the United States, France and the Netherlands. We would also like to broaden the Raw supporter base and deepen the level of interaction.
Raw is working toward a food and farming revolution. What would the global food system look if this were achieved?
Factory farming prioritizes maximum production at the expense of the welfare of animals, people, and the planet. Our vision is a world where all have access to sufficient, nutritious food produced by humane, sustainable farming systems. These systems would protect the environment, support livelihoods in developed and developing countries, and meet our needs without wasting precious resources.
What agricultural innovations have you seen in your work that are making food production more sustainable?
One innovation that we have been following is lab-grown meat, which is in fairly early stages of development and remains controversial. We believe that lab-grown meat has the potential to feed the world’s meat eaters while massively cutting the number of animals farmed worldwide and, therefore, diminishing the impacts associated with factory farming.
And if we provide farmers—some of the greatest innovators known to man—with the right policies and incentives, they will surely find more sustainable and humane ways to do business.
How can our readers help make the food system safer, fairer, and greener?
It’s easy to feel despondent given the vast scale of the task as hand, but we all have the power to help kick start a food and farming revolution. We can vote for better food three times a day, sending a clear signal to retailers and producers that we believe in better food and farming. I have tried cutting out meat, but my current mantra is to enjoy smaller amounts of higher quality meat. That way, you often don’t have to spend any more and you get to truly enjoy and take pride in your food. There are also a vast number of organizations fighting for a better food system—whatever your interest, now is the time to get involved. And you can always choose how involved you want to be; whether you want to lobby decision makers, donate a few dollars, or just watch a video, the choice is yours. Here’s to a food and farming revolution!
For more information on Raw’s work to end factory farming, please visit www.raw.info. What steps are you taking to work toward a humane, sustainable food system? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Carol Dreibelbis is a former research intern with the Worldwatch Institute’s Food and Agriculture Program.