Monday, October 20, 2008

Students smack down Smithfield

Sometimes I find the most fascinating stories completely by accident. I'm not even sure how I found this; I think I was searching for data on the number of hog CAFO operations that call North Carolina home.

Anyway - this is old news from back in March of this year. I hadn't even started blogging about food yet, and come to think of it, that was before I read Fast Food Nation and Omnivore's Dilemma, so it probably wouldn't have even sparked my interest.

A group of students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a look around at some of the smaller, pasture raised meat produced by small farmers in the neighborhood, and decided to get some into the dining hall. The dining hall is run by CDS (Campus Dining Services). CDS sat down with the students, but there was, as they say, a 'failure to communicate'. CDS had Smithfield listed as a "sustainable" operation because of their proximity to campus. Never mind the environmental disaster and disgusting conditions at Smithfiled CAFO's.

Smithfield runs the world's largest hog processing facility - according to the article that means 32,000 hogs per day. Some former workers and neighbors were invited to talk about the conditions.

"Duplin resident Devon Hall testified to the horror of living close to knock-you-over stench and toxic hog waste. Smithfield workers including Marvin Steele told of the pork giant's abysmal disregard for worker safety and ruthless, ongoing union-busting effort.

While these speakers delivered devastating indictments against industrial meat production, two others offered a different vision for pork: Eliza MacClean, owner-farmer of above-mentioned Cane Creek Farm; and Jennifer Curtis, of NC Choices, a group trying to break down market obstacles to pastured hog production in an area dominated by Smithfield.

Several hundred students packed the hall, engaged and ready to take action."

No word on the outcome, but good to see a younger generation taking an interest in these issues.

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