Waste pollution, your food choices, and the environment

December 29, 2007

Those of you that have been visiting here for a while know that I am not opposed to people who make the personal choice to eat meat, even though I personally do not. I am however against the inhumane way factory farm animals are raised,  the incredible amounts of hormones they are given (it is a health issue for both the animal and the consumer), and I am especially disturbed by the alarming statistics indicating that the average American diet is causing unprecedented health problems in children and adults. The impact of meat eating on the environment is just another reason to think about what you buy, what you feed your children, and what you consume personally.

It’s unrealistic to think we are all going to become vegetarians, I know. But how about considering cutting back on meat consumption. In my family there are those who eat meat but it’s smaller portions and more of a side than the main  item. Think about it and remember, each decision you make is a vote, hopefully for better health and a better world.

Waste Pollution and the Environment

(1) The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste – or 1/5 a ton for every US citizen.

(2) North Carolina’s 7,000,000 factory-raised hogs create four times as much waste – stored in reeking, open cesspools – as the state’s 6.5 million people. The Delmarva Peninsula’s 600 million chickens produce 400,000 tons of manure a year.

(3) According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

(4) Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina.

(5) Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay. These deaths can be directly related to the 10 million hogs currently being raised in North Carolina and the 620 million chickens on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

(6) The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin infections, nausea, depression and even death for people who live near factory farms. Livestock waste has been linked to six miscarriages in women living near a hog factory in Indiana.

(7) In Virginia, state guidelines indicate that a safe level of fecal coliform bacteria is 200 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. In 1997, some streams had levels as high as 424,000 colonies per 100 milliliters.


(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, “How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture,” Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, July 9, 1999
(2) Chris Bedford, “How Our food is Produced Matters!”, AWI Quarterly, Summer 1999
(4) Zakin, Susan. “Nonpoint Pollution: The Quiet Killer,” Field & Stream, August 1999, p.86
(5) Environmental Protection Agency, 1998
(6) Centers for Disease Control, Mortality Weekly Report, July 5, 1996
(7) Washington Post, June 1, 1997

Facts and data provided by GRACE (Global Resource Action Center for the Environment), www.gracelinks.org. For more information on factory farming and its impacts, visit the GRACE Factory Farm Project at www.factoryfarm.org.


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