Wednesday, October 27, 2010

water pollution

"We conserve what we love,
We love what we understand,
We understand what we are taught."

    This is my new favorite quote, stolen from a classmate (thanks Sabrina!)  Over the past couple days, I have discovered so many terrible facts about livestock production and slaughterhouses that I have been ignorant of all my life.  In a sense, I know I avoided these truths because I didn't want to give up my beloved bacon, bar-b-q, hamburgers, etc.  I avoided any knowledge of what my choices were causing like a plague, because ignorance is bliss... or so I thought.  Now I've started to unveil the truth: that eating meat is not a sustainable practice.

   This blog entry is going to be dedicated to the mound of information  I've discovered about the pollution caused by livestock production and slaughterhouses.  Although I have just begun on my so called "vision quest", information is just pouring in.

   We all know about the BP oil spill and are outraged by the incident.  The environmental damage was severe and costly, and greatly upset people all over the country.  Yet people are largely unaware of a leak in 1995 that was almost as environmentally damaging to southeastern rivers.  After a large rain in Onslow County, North Carolina, a dike broke on an industrial hog farm- causing 25 million gallons of hog waste to rush into the New River (North Carolina digital history,  The spill caused 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to be closed to shell fishing, and astronomical numbers of fish deaths, around 10 million (  All from an eight acre hog farm! Just imagine how much waste is produced every year from all the livestock in America alone.  It is disgusting to think about.  Small leaks occur all the time, constantly soaking through the soil and into water sources.  Ammonia, a form of nitrogen found in animal waste, causes algal blooms which deprive the water of dissolved oxygen for the fish to survive.  One of these said "dead zones" exists at the mouth of the Mississippi River that covers an area that fluctuates from 5,000-7,000 square miles. 

Satellite image of the northern Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi Delta showing hypoxic coastal water (light blue). This color change is due to excessive nutrients being washed into the sea. Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC, January 2003. 

    Alright guys, there's my seed of knowledge for the day.  I know it is not much, a bit of a tease, but I wrote this while procrastinating studying for an exam. (yikes!) Alright, I'll drop some more knowledge soon.


  1. I actually lived near that hog farm in NC. It was devastating.

  2. Sadly, Jasmine, Atticus, and I eat a lot of meat. Probably more so now due to a re-dedication to regular exercise. That said, we had a movie marathon several months ago in which we watched Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation. Amazing films you should see if you have not yet. As a result of things we learned from those films we generally try to buy locally raised organic / free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. Its still meat, but its a healthier more environmentally friendly approach that supports local families.