Damon Winter/The New York Times紀思道
「即使某塊肉不是泰森公司生產的，消費者的選擇實際上只不過是經過同樣流程包裝成商品的牛肉、雞肉和豬肉而已。它們都是通過泰森開創的系統生產出來的，」報道工業化農業生產的資深記者克里斯托弗·萊昂納德(Christopher Leonard)在他的新書《肉製品勾當》(The Meat Racket)中寫道。這本書是關於泰森食品公司的。
萊昂納德在書中說，以泰森食品為首的幾家公司控制着我們的 肉製品行業，它們的種種做法對動物和人類的影響引發了擔憂，破壞了美國鄉村原本的結構。許多養雞的農戶並不擁有他們所餵養的雞，也不知道飼料里有什麼。他 們只是按照與泰森的合同來飼養這種家禽，許多農民難以維持生計。
工業化農場帶來了大量災難性的後果，但必須承認，它替我們 省了錢。當赫伯特·胡佛(Herbert Hoover)總統夢想着讓「每口鍋里都有一隻雞」的時候，雞肉還是一種奢侈的食物，價格比牛肉貴。根據全美養雞理事會(National Chicken Council)的數據，按照今天的幣值計算，1930年，一磅（0.45千克）宰殺乾淨的雞肉價格為6.48美元（約合39.7元人民幣）。去年，雞肉 的零售價為每磅1.57美元，比牛肉便宜多了，這跟泰森食品有一定關係。
「這些家禽活着實際上就是受罪，」美國愛護動物協會(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)的勞麗·比徹姆(Laurie Beacham)說。該機構稱，把雞養得「膨脹到爆炸」本質上是極其殘忍的。
第二，工業化農業危害我們的健康。約翰·霍普金斯大學布隆 博格公共衛生學院(Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)的羅伯特·馬丁(Robert Martin)指出，一個1萬頭豬的農場製造出的糞便，相當於一個4萬人口的小城市，但養豬業可沒有廢物處理工廠。馬丁說，的確，北卡羅萊納州一個縣的豬 製造的廢物，相當於紐約市全部人口生產廢物的一半。
萊昂納德在書中寫道，過去40年里，在泰森公司運營的縣 裡，有68%的縣人均收入增速低於該州的平均水平。我們或許會以為美國的鄉村到處是紅色穀倉，一派美好的田園景象，如同《華生一家》(The Waltons)中的場景，但如今，它也是一塊失業、貧窮、絕望和毒品肆虐的土地。
但是，首先需要深刻地認識到，我們工業化的食品體系是不健 康的。這種體系讓一些人獲得了收益，但它造成的健康和環境成本則要全社會承擔。它讓股東獲得了回報——泰森食品的股價自2009年初以來提高了三倍。但與 泰森有關的人和動物，往往處境悲慘。工業化生產的肉類有一種苦澀的餘味。翻譯：王湛
The Unhealthy Meat Market
March 24, 2014
Where does our food come from? Often the answer is Tyson Foods, America’s meat factory.
Tyson, one of the nation’s 100 biggest companies, slaughters 135,000 head of cattle a week, along with 391,000 hogs and an astonishing 41 million chickens. Nearly all Americans regularly eat Tyson meat — at home, at McDonalds, at a cafeteria, at a nursing home.
“Even if Tyson did not produce a given piece of meat, the consumer is really only picking between different versions of the same commoditized beef, chicken, and pork that is produced through a system Tyson pioneered,” says Christopher Leonard, a longtime agribusiness journalist, in his new book about Tyson called “The Meat Racket.”
Leonard’s book argues that a handful of companies, led by Tyson, control our meat industry in ways that raise concerns about the impact on animals and humans alike, while tearing at the fabric of rural America. Many chicken farmers don’t even own the chickens they raise or know what’s in the feed. They just raise the poultry on contract for Tyson, and many struggle to make a living.
Concerned by the meat oligopoly’s dominance of rural America, President Obama undertook a push beginning in 2010 to strengthen antitrust oversight of the meat industry and make it easier for farmers to sue meatpackers. The aim was grand: to create a “new rural economy” to empower individual farmers.
Big Meat’s lobbyists used its friends in Congress to crush the Obama administration’s regulatory effort, which collapsed in “spectacular failure,” Leonard writes.
Factory farming has plenty of devastating consequences, but it’s only fair to acknowledge that it has benefited our pocketbooks. When President Herbert Hoover dreamed of putting “a chicken in every pot,” chicken was a luxury dish more expensive than beef. In 1930, whole dressed chicken retailed for $6.48 a pound in today’s currency, according to the National Chicken Council. By last year, partly because of Tyson, chicken retailed for an average price of $1.57 per pound — much less than beef.
Costs came down partly because scientific breeding reduced the length of time needed to raise a chicken to slaughter by more than half since 1925, even as a chicken’s weight doubled. The amount of feed required to produce a pound of chicken has also dropped sharply.
This industrial agriculture system also has imposed enormous costs of three kinds.
First, it has been a catastrophe for animals. Chickens are bred to grow huge breasts so that as adults they topple forward and can barely breathe or stand.
“These birds are essentially bred to suffer,” says Laurie Beacham of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which argues that there’s an inherent cruelty in raising these “exploding chickens.”
Poultry Science journal has calculated that if humans grew at the same rate as modern chickens, a human by the age of two months would weigh 660 pounds.
Second, factory farming endangers our health. Robert Martin of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health notes that a farm with 10,000 hogs produces as much fecal waste as a small city with 40,000 people, but the hog operation won’t have a waste treatment plant. Indeed, the hogs in a single county in North Carolina produce half as much waste as all the people in New York City, Martin says.
Another health concern is that antibiotics are routinely fed to animals and birds to help them grow quickly in crowded, dirty conditions. This can lead to antibiotic resistant infections, which strike two million Americans annually (overuse of antibiotics on human patients is also a factor, but four-fifths of antibiotics in America go to farm animals).
Third, this industrial model has led to a hollowing out of rural America. The heartland is left with a few tycoons and a large number of people struggling at the margins.
Leonard writes in his book that in 68 percent of the counties where Tyson operates, per capita income has grown more slowly over the last four decades than the average in that state. We may think of rural America as a halcyon pastoral of red barns and the Waltons, but today it’s also a land of unemployment, poverty, despair and methamphetamines.
It’s easy to criticize the current model of industrial agriculture, far harder to outline a viable alternative. Going back to the rural structure represented by the inefficient family farm on which I grew up in Oregon isn’t a solution; then we’d be back to $6.48-a-pound chicken.
But a starting point is to recognize bluntly that our industrial food system is unhealthy. It privatizes gains but socializes the health and environmental costs. It rewards shareholders — Tyson’s stock price has quadrupled since early 2009 — but can be ghastly for the animals and humans it touches. Industrial meat has an acrid aftertaste.