Farm & Garden

Factory Farming– Do We Blame Supply or Demand?

November 18 2011 - 2:47 PM


Making news this week is McDonald's cutting ties with its factory egg farm, Sparboe Farms. The idyllic farm images in McDonald's advertising certainly don't mesh with the windowless steel box and cylinders that are the reality. Even worse, and the reason for their ending the relationship, was the leaked videos showing dead birds, insect and rodent infestation, and employee cruelty. The real problem is that the video is nothing new. Short of salmonella outbreaks or, in this case, gotcha PR-disaster footage, most McDonald's consumers never give this a second thought. Those puck-shaped Egg McMuffins don't even really look like eggs and let's not even consider the chicken nugget.

Likely McDonald's has moved on to partner with another of the top 5 egg producers who are guilty of the same things that any of these mega-industrial farms have to do to maintain their "huge-ness". When you are at a scale where birds are measured by weight and people are reduced to a spreadsheet percentages, is it any wonder that factory closings and layoffs are trivialized and animal cruelty is accepted?

Is it all in the service of cost? McDonald's certainly is affordable but egg sandwiches are not really luxury items. You can save even more and make them at home, nearly as easily as a hot dog. But the McMuffin is on every corner. It's everywhere. That's convenience. The demand is for that. We're lazy and we accept the illusion of the daybreak on the farm when the reality is unacceptable. It's not McDonald's fault. It's ours. We think of chickens as nuggets, if we think of them at all.

–Josh Brusin