On Why My Food Bill Just Got a Lot Cheaper
Deb wrote "Do Food Miles Matter?" after reading "Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, by James E. McWilliams last month. Shortly thereafter she visited and brought me the book, and as a result . . . my food bill just got a lot cheaper.
Why? Because I am now less convinced of the merits of organic food than I used to be (low-yield, high land requirements, confusion over whether the natural chemicals are any better than the synthetic ones as well as whether or not organic is actually healthier). And if you're talking about organic on a scale that would feed the planet, it's impossible. And regarding local food, though I was buying some in an attempt to support local farmers, I had to rethink the bigger picture and why I was buying local after reading McWilliams. As Deb writes, "food miles are the least important aspect to consider when looking at the most environmentally sustainable foods."
Here's what I like best about this book, and it might seem strange: His arguments don't hinge on animal treatment. His is a practical intention–an examination of how we might find a way to sustainably feed nine billion people (the population by 2050). And because that's his premise, he proceeds to investigate both factory farming and smaller operations that include grazing and allowing the animals to live a relatively natural life (after their unnatural beginning and let's not forget about their unnatural end). And he demonstrates that neither is sustainable. (Unfortunately, because this was a borrowed book I didn't mark it up. Nor did I take notes when I read. So I am unable to provide quotes and for that I apologize.)
In other words, McWilliams makes a fantastic argument for not eating land animals.
Which begs the question: What about sea animals? And herein lies the problem. Though the author does appear to care about the welfare of land animals a bit and takes for granted that factory farming is an odious practice, he doesn't seem to care about animals who do not dwell on land. So much so, in fact, that he calls them "floating protein" and speak of "growing protein." He believes that sea dwellers are a big part of the answer to: How do we feed nine billion people sustainably?
"Just Food" is a must read for information that will help convince environmentalists that eating land animals isn't good for the people or the planet. But if you give the book to an enviro for her birthday, and she agrees with McWilliams' conclusions, you could very well end up having created a pescetarian. I'm just warning you.
I recommend reading "Just Food" for the above discussions as well as the treatment of food subsidies, which I find particularly unjust, and genetically-modified crops, which could be the answer to feeding the developing world. The one conclusion you'll come away with for certain, is that once again, food labels and trends need far more examination, and many are downright misleading. What makes someone in suburban South Florida feel good buying at her local farmer's market, might, when all is taken into consideration, be not so great for workers or the planet, and needs to be reexamined.
Regarding his idea that fish is the solution, McWilliams must not know how little we depend on the sea:
"This shows that globally, we only eat about 12 percent of the 12.1 billion tonnes of plant material that we either crop or have our livestock graze. This provides 83 percent of global food calories. Livestock eat 58 percent of that 12.1 billion tonnes and provide the other 17 percent of calories. What about fish? Fish are just 1 percent of global calories and part of the 17 percent.
Digression on Fish
For those who have swallowed, hook line and sinker, the fish industry propaganda that fish is brain food or a vital global source of protein … both are excellent examples of the old maxim, if you must lie, tell a whopper and tell it often.
Globally, fish and seafood is about 1 percent of calories and included in the 17 percent provided from animal sources in part 1 of this post. We are, in effect, trashing the oceans for an entirely superfluous food. The campaign to persuade people to eat fish as brain food is simply junk science gone crazy. The Japanese have a per-capita fish consumption 5 times that of the Australians, Germans, Chinese or Americans. Has all that fish made them smarter? The whole notion of brain food is based on deeply flawed reasoning. One of the world’s foremost experts on IQ, James Flynn recently wrote an article Requiem for nutrition as the cause of IQ gains. The name says it all.
Industrial fishing hauls vast amounts of sea life out of the ocean and extracts the small amount which is valuable. The rest is called bycatch. Jonathan Saffran Foer’s interesting new book Eating Animals paints an accurate picture of the mind numbing (usually ignorant) destructiveness of almost all people who eat fish: If a plate of sushi was served with all the bycatch associated with its production, then the plate could be around 5 feet wide. In some cases, seafood bycatch also includes people. Many of the 146,000 people killed by cyclone Nargis in Burma in 2008 died because the mangroves which used to protect the coastline had been cleared for prawn farms.
Thus, currently we are only getting one (1) single procent of our food calories from the seas, and as everyone knows they are already heavily overexploited. So how the sea is supposed to sustainably feed more people, I do not know and I suspect McWilliams doesn't either.
REF: Quote taken from the highly recommended article series "Burning the biosphere, Boverty Blues", which confronts the idea promoted by e.g. Heifer international, that livestock is the solution to the food problems of developing countries.
PS I HATE the way fish is referred to as only "protein" in most mainstream articles.
McWilliam’s book has been on my reading list for a few months as I’ve been following his advocacy for a while now. He certainly adds reasoned counterpoint to food romanticism. His historical perspective and data sets back him up unlike the more ideological and ethereal arguments of locavore proponents.
“Unfortunately, because this was a borrowed book I didn't mark it up. Nor did I take notes when I read. So I am unable to provide quotes and for that I apologize.”
Hit up Amazon’s book preview, you won’t get everything, but you may glean some ideas that you remember wanting to highlight.
I’m not very well informed on McWillaim’s particular criticisms of organic, but I have a general understand of the trade offs. As far as health goes, aside from heavy use of certain pesticides known to be harmful in conventional farming, I don’t think that nutrient superiority health claims from organic health proponents mean very much as we all eat enough food that even if it’s somewhat deficient in nutrients, there’s probably more than enough. I do favor certain foods from organic sources since they just taste better but I think it’s less to do with the “organic-ness” than the issue that conventional farming probably selects breeds with priorities for looks, shipping durability, and shelf life that can override taste and organic producers may be more sensitive to these tradeoffs. Apples and tomatoes top this list for me, in general, organic apples and tomatoes taste good and conventional ones taste like big shiny bags of water.
Another concern with organic is the insistence of animal manure. I’m no farmer but I’m just not convinced that animal manure is some magical life-giving substance that some other manure, synthetic or natural, could not accomplish without the problematic connections to animal exploitation. Even the greenness of animal manure is debatable.
As for farmer’s markets, there’s just such great variety of fresh vegetables at mine that while I don’t have any delusions that I’m saving the planet or extending my lifespan by decades by buying produce there, I do appreciate its existence and feel that such regional markets do have their place.
Regarding fish, and to follow up on Fredrik’s comment, industrial fishing is an indefensible environmental practice but doesn’t McWilliams favor aquaculture, meaning not wild fishing, but farmed fish? From my knowledge, putting aside ethics of sea creatures as food for the moment, I’ve read conflicting data on the enviro-friendly claims of fish farming which is sometimes portrayed as an environmental disaster with many of the problems being similar to factory-farming of land animals: breading disease, antibiotic use, unmitigated pollution, and feed issues, especially using wild caught fish as feed. I’ll guess I’ll have to read what McWilliams favors about it and keep an open mind.
McWilliams really should get more attention from the media than he does, but the problem is that his offered solutions aren’t silver bullets. He’s rightfully tentative because food sustainability issues are complex and the simplified and sexy sounding answers are not necessarily meaningful when incorporating the bigger picture.
One of the strengths of veganism is that the principal goes beyond diet. This is where competing food strategies that fetishize a certain aspect become specious. Take a look around you, look at all the stuff that you own and use, your computer, your cell phone, your transportation (car, bicycle, public), your clothes, your toiletries, the materials your home is made from, the electricity, coal, and oil that runs everything. No matter where you live, it just would not make any sense that all of these things should be locally sourced for you or for any person, it would not only be impossible, if it were possible, the environmental impact would be detrimental.
There are extreme traditional/local food advocates that do insist that humankind return to horse and buggy or hunter-gatherer lifestyle even, but they will be the first to concede that human population as it stands cannot exist in such systems.
The argument that we’ll run out of oil so local agriculture should be around as a failsafe just doesn’t hold up. If oil suddenly dries up, civilization, in its current form, is doomed, no amount of local agriculture or backyard chickens is going to change that or even offer much of a buffer. More likely, oil will be around for a while and when scarcity pressure increases humankind will make the necessary adjustments, barring that we don’t overfish the ocean dry or irreversibly wreak the climate first.
When we stop treating resources that we put in our mouth as some mystical, natural experience to connect us back to the land and great-grandma (while we all blog on the Internet in climate controlled environments wearing clothing from retial stores, driving automobiles and talk on mobile phones, etc.) and treat it closer to what it is, a resource under the constraints of environment like all resources, it becomes obvious, as McWilliams notes, that regions with more favorable conditions for crops that produce in abundance should export food to places where there are populations but no food resources. We don’t question this when mining metals where the metal is abundant, or harvesting lumber where forests thrive. We understand concepts like comparative advantages and economies of scale. Locavores, traditional foodies, and the uncritical media support given to this notion, just don’t seem as interested in local blue jeans or local iPods or even local refrigerators to put their local food into.
Hopefully more objective and critical minded journalists will get with begin to notice that the emperor has no clothes once they get past images of contented cows, pigs, and chickens on the very few archetype farms and start getting hold of some data and comparing the numbers.
Great topic. I wouldn’t mind more of your thoughts and investigations on the subject. Food sustainability isn’t a direct discussion of animal ethics per se, but it’s very important. Even when animal ethics are ignored, it is still informative to how most people probably should be eating.
I should have written more about fish. McWilliams' description of industrial fishing (and bycatch) isn't as long as Foer's, but he definitely paints the picture well. He is indeed talking about aquaculture (and aquaponics-where plants grow in the same water fish inhabit). "Over the course of a year, aquaponics will generate about 35,000 pounds of edible flesh per acre while grass-fed operations will generate about 75 pounds per acre" (162). And that, by the way, doesn't take into account many external factors. The point is that it is less resource-demanding and more productive.
He's talking about freshwater operations that produce fish and shellfish in a sustainable fashion and improve the quality of the ecosystem in which they operate.
It's fascinating from a sustainability (or at least an attempt), point of view, but of course, there's no getting around the concept of producing fish to kill them.
Disclaimer: I am new at reading this blog site and am not sure what grounds of belief we all start on as a springboard to get to the conclusions of the blog posts. Also, I have not read the book in question and am only commenting on the comments made about the book.
Also I am not sure what are the backgrounds of all the people commenting here. But here is my background. I'm an organic farmer with a degree in agroecology (can also be read as ecological agriculture). Needlesstosay, this topic is right up my alley.
First of all, the term "sustainable" was thrown around alot. It would be mightily helpful to all who have missed the consensus definition of "sustainable" to get the definition. By the sound of some of the comments, it seems that "sustainable" was defined as feeding a world of 9 billion people. I believe, as of yet, no world has ever seen this definition, for people have always been hungry. Today there is enough food to feed everyone but it just doesn't get there. So clearly, if sustainability is going to be defined as feeding a world of 9 billion people, many more aspects of society need to be involved in the process other than just the food producers (who I feel get a big enough burden already). Also, characteristics of organic noted such as "low-yield, high land requirements, confusion over whether the natural chemicals are any better than the synthetic ones as well as whether or not organic is actually healthier" are all very subjective. As I stated I have not read the book and didn't look up the background of this study but there are many generalized statements made very quickly that are all much more complex than anyone can realize. For example, seeds used in the study. Crops are whatever effort has been put into their seeds. In conventional settings, seeds are primadonnas. They have been bred by companies (seed companies these days are often branches of chemical companies) that require large amounts of chemicals to make it grow well. If that same seed was put under organic conditions, it will for sure die because it is not getting the tons of oil (in the form of chemicals) to meet the need it was bred for. The same works for vice versa. Oftentimes with plants that are very efficient with space, they are not efficient with water. Pretty important if you are in a region that may experience drought due to global climate change. As far as natural chemicals go, I will be the first to admit that just because a farm is organic, doesn't mean that it is practicing the best agriculture techniques. Why? Because the world wants the cheapest food possible and more people can realize a change in price tag of a product than the change in quality (nutrients, chemicals on it, etc).
As a point of clarification for myself about a comment by a reader, it was written "food miles are the least important aspect to consider when looking at the most environmentally sustainable foods." I was wondering what are the "most environmentally sustainable foods"?
On a quote by another reader who commented, "I don’t think that nutrient superiority health claims from organic health proponents mean very much as we all eat enough food that even if it’s somewhat deficient in nutrients, there’s probably more than enough" . I found it ironic because that statement itself would make it seem that we need to eat say 3 times as many apples to get the amount we should out of 1. To do that, we will need more land. So lower quality produce, if we are looking at nutrients, will actually force us into needing more land.
The same reader wrote "Another concern with organic is the insistence of animal manure. I’m no farmer but I’m just not convinced that animal manure is some magical life-giving substance that some other manure, synthetic or natural, could not accomplish without the problematic connections to animal exploitation." If you buy from a farmer's market, chances are they are using either manure or bone meal or blood meal (all from you can guess where). After studying agroecosystems, nay any ecosystem at all, I cannot see any system close to being "sustainable" if manure of some form is not reapplied. China was able to be farmers of 5 centuries because they made awesome use of human manure from the cities that they reached by canal. There are other options as far as sources but not the resource itself.
Also the same reader wrote "The argument that we’ll run out of oil so local agriculture should be around as a failsafe just doesn’t hold up. If oil suddenly dries up, civilization, in its current form, is doomed, no amount of local agriculture or backyard chickens is going to change that or even offer much of a buffer." Doomed is a big word. I also wonder where this reader lives. It seems like a city. Time will be tougher in a city for sure but I feel like there are resilient communities (much smaller than a city mind you) that wouldn't be doomed. And as far as the comment "Locavores, traditional foodies, and the uncritical media support given to this notion, just don’t seem as interested in local blue jeans or local iPods or even local refrigerators to put their local food into." The point is we could go a while without blue jeans if trucks stopped coming to town. Wouldn't be the same with food. As for refrigerators, I would hope this person knows that there are plenty of ways to keep food without refrigerators.
Thanks for letting me at least to a rebuttal from a farmers perspective.
Morwen, thanks for approaching the discussion in a civil and reasoned manner. Before I commence I will restate that I do strongly value many aspects of regional and organic crop production.
Yes, sustainability is a contentious term. I used the word twice in my previous comment as a means of a topic container, but I made no claims of what path of food production is more sustainable than another. I do think that popular conceptions of traditionalism fall short of offering meaningful solutions to pressing food problems that may or may not be related to sustainability. In particular, the amount of attention that pastured livestock receive is disproportional to the actual impact these systems offer in addressing broader food concerns. Regarding organic, I’m optimistic, but I’m also ambivalent and ready to hear more hard data either way; though as you note, organic spans a wide spectrum. I’ll stand by my initial position that “food sustainability issues are complex” and fill in the rest through the remainder of my post.
Politics do effect world food distribution but I can’t easily dismiss the social histories and current relationships of when one region of the globe suffers over nourishment from an abundance of resource intensive foods while other regions can’t get enough to eat. It’s a relevant tangent, but a dense topic that requires it’s own discussion.
“So clearly, if sustainability is going to be defined as feeding a world of 9 billion people, many more aspects of society need to be involved in the process other than just the food producers (who I feel get a big enough burden already).” Yes, this is an important reason why overemphasis on locality to food is limiting. From your tone you seem to agree that food sustainability and distribution is a complex issue.
Food sustainability can depend on a few conditions so it’s unlikely that “the most environmentally sustainable foods” can be pinpointed for all contingencies. However, on the whole we do know that industrial meat, with beef topping out, is the worst in terms of resource demands and environmental degradation. We can get side tracked into non-industrial animal husbandry techniques, but since 99% of meat and other animal products is from industrial production, it’s not fruitful to have discussions about how someone knows a local farmer that they get pastured meat from. It’s a niche and will continue to be a niche.
Industrial fishing is a bad scene as well, if not worse since the timeline of fishery depletion and collapse is very near and I haven’t heard any disputes. And I’m looking for some to dispute in order to lift my pessimism. Perhaps aquaculture described by James McWillaims and Paul Roberts (End of Food) answers this crisis.
ORGANIC NUTRIENT CLAIM
On organic nutrient density versus conventional, since the research that I’m aware of either puts the comparative nutrients levels as either a wash or every so slightly more for organic than conventional but not by any great margin as to be significant there’s not much evidence to suggest that it’s a three to one margin against conventional. If organic produce perhaps yields two or three percent more nutrients than conventional, not three times more nutrients, it’s not something that’s going to impact health; not while human digestion isn’t 100% efficient at nutrient extraction in the first place, and certainly not with the plethora of other bad eating habits Westerners engage in.
What I find ironic is in one paragraph you artfully describe the complexity and subjectivity involved in comparisons of conventional and organic and in the next paragraph you present a simplified equation that a hypothetical three times more nutrients in organic equates to three times more land use for conventional. It seems that it would be easy to prove and incontrovertible if this held any grain of truth.
Yes, manure or fertilizer of “some form” must be used. There are stock-free farming practices where green manure techniques, plant composts, powdered minerals, or dehydrated seawater solutions are used. These do have their own sets of advantages and drawbacks. Veganic agriculture is out there and where it may fall short; perhaps it could be refined if there was more interest.
Germany has begun separating organic trash in its recycling programs and since we waste tremendous amounts of food in the United State, it seems like those scraps and spoilage could be collected and composted. We are already transporting this free fertilizer around; it’s just being routed to landfills, essentially being thrown away. Trucks leave farms and distribution hubs full of food, but they arrive at farms empty. They could be carrying at least some composted organic material back to farmland. Food manufacturers, supermarkets, restaurants and catering halls have plenty or organic waste and receive shipments of raw food stuff with transportation vehicles leaving empty when they drop off their shipment. It seems possible that transportation of compost could be integrated without much difficulty into existing food distribution networks.
Personally, I have no hang-ups over human manure. Treated waste is in use in conventional agriculture already but most of the reported pathogen contamination of vegetables has been sourced to untreated livestock waste. Again, there are drawbacks to human manure since treatment requires energy, transportation from populations to farms requires energy, and pharmaceutical contaminants are a serious concern. However, animal manure is transported to large organic farms and it’s not as if there aren’t issues with contamination since as it stands now, livestock consume more antibiotics than humans (though I know organic has restrictions on factory farmed manure). Human populations generate plenty of manure, and it may or may not be environmentally preferable to ship and distribute it to farmland to be used as fertilizer than to have it be a concentrated source of pollution runoff.
James McWilliams seems to suggest that synthetic fertilizer may have its place. One thing is certain, if we stopped using agricultural chemical technology tomorrow a good sized chunk of food production would decrease because we know that the Green Revolution was built upon petrochemicals. Voicing my own skepticism of the Green Revolution, it seems that with half of our agricultural crop production going toward feeding livestock, chemical free agriculture could probably feed everyone if we didn’t consume so many animal foods.
The singular insistence of animal manure comes across as dogmatic bordering into voodoo (biodynamic anyone?) and it seems specious that feces from the monotonous diets livestock consume have substantial nutritive soil properties over the plants they eat in the first place. Livestock manure does generate environmental waste even when properly managed, and it does contribute to pathogen contamination of food, so it’s a concern for more than just animal use ethics. With that said, even if farmland needed animal manure, this doesn’t necessarily demand that these animals be slaughtered.
William McDonough notes that in China, people have farmed the same land for forty centuries, which suggests that there are ways to conduct agriculture without damaging the land and surrounding environment beyond use. China is not regarded as a herding civilization, so it seems that it was managed without copious amounts of free-range cattle that tend to get emphasized as a solution to everything. Besides McDonough growing up in Asia, he promotes comprehensive approaches that fuse the needs and demands of civilization with the pressures of resource conservation and maintaining environmental integrity. Food, clothing, gadgets. Air, water, land. Happiness, health, micro and macro economies. He seems to consider it all in a forward-thinking fashion using the tools and technologies we have right now. His comprehensive proposal for local agriculture intermeshed in a grand Chinese metropolis is impressive. At this time, we can only wonder on it’s feasibility.
CITIES AND OIL
I live in a city, but please don’t assume that I’ve never grown vegetables or lived in areas outside the United States where procuring food from your backyard wasn’t for hobby but held a certain necessity. It still doesn’t make me a farmer, but let’s avoid the tendency of farmers to assume that all city slickers have never been outside of a city.
My own self interests as an urbanite aside, half of the world’s population and 80% of US residents live in cities. Projections for global city dwellers in the coming decades inform us that the global 50% figure will increase. If oil ran out abruptly, times would not just be tough in cities, cities and will stop functioning, full stop. No food. In many cases no water. Over 3 billion people would be left without any resources. Even if you could get food to cities on magic carpets, without oil based synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it would be a formidable challenge to grow enough food since our current population size is attributed to the Green Revolution (though I have noted my skepticism already on what the Green Revolution enabled, but I’ll side with the premise for now).
If oil took a bit more time to run dry, and urban populations slowly migrate out of the cites (and let’s not even get into the social ramifications of disenfranchisement of such a mass exodus), we face the problem of the concentrated pollution and environmental demand of city populations being spread out everywhere. As it stands now, city dwellers in the first world have less environmental resource demands per person than those who live in the first world rural settings: smaller homes, less overhead, shared infrastructure, efficiencies of centralization.
Local, traditional food production may hold some ideological candle of independence to rural life with potential pockets of resilient communities, but for urbanites, again, 3-4 billion of us now and 4-6 billion of us in the upcoming decades, an oil free agriculture is not a safety net worth investing in, it doesn’t add up to enough of a buffer. All this media focus on dubious sustainability practices, since local foods may require more resources, to have a few resilient communities around after civilization falls? Why even bother? It seems far more sensible to pursue pragmatic bang-for-our-buck methods to stretch our resources as far as possible biding time for new solutions to arise in the future: humane population reduction, improved resource management, clean energy tech, etc.
The ideal, sustainable, traditional, oil-free farm may be infinitely sustainable, but if it can’t serve humanity beyond a very few privileged communities — and there is sound data that it can’t, not without a whole lot of infrastructure overhaul — then it’s time to stop giving it national attention. I’m sure Mennonites in Belize will be fine after first world civilization grinds to a halt and collapses on itself, but so what? The human tragedy will be so tremendous that even the best preparations won’t offer much insulation from the resulting chaos.
REFRIGERATION AND IMPLICATIONS
When I shop at Mediterranean/Indian grocery stores and various health food stores I witness shelves and bins full of dried legumes, rice, grains, mushrooms, spices, nuts, seeds, fruits, plenty of whole foods that don’t require refrigeration or even canning. Tubers store easily in root cellars and there are methods to keep vegetables and leafy greens available when not in season. Not only are animal foods in their more popular form expensive to produce, they are highly perishable. Sure, there’s cheese, and you can preserve meat without refrigeration, but as of yet the promotion of widely incorporating such meat preservation doesn’t get much attention in locavore advocacy.
I could use any example illustrate how these “good old days of food” are constricted in scope and the concern for locality of food, but not other products, is myopic. However, I choose refrigerators because of their very near relationship to food, and it’s fair to criticize appliances since new-fangled contrivances like microwave ovens are discouraged. When the mentality is to eat like great-great-grandma, primitive peoples, or cavemen, with an emphasis on respecting cultural appropriateness, seasonality, and locality of food and traditional preparation, whether or not refrigeration should be involved seems like it should be an important aspect. Yet, it is often suggested by advocates that it’s best to purchase an additional standalone freezer to stock up on local pastured meat. Considering that the historical ubiquity of meat in industrial times is a result of (or pushed development of) refrigeration technology (and agro-petrochemical use), there seems to be some romanticized picking and choosing with a lack of genuine historical perspective.
“The point is we could go a while without blue jeans if trucks stopped coming to town. Wouldn't be the same with food.”
Yes, this is exactly the point, “we” meaning a minority of “us”. Your statement demonstrates that the locavore-traditionalist environmental ethos is one concerned with surviving Dooms Day, similar with gun hoarders stockpiling in backyard bunkers. Hey, good for them for getting prepared for the worst, can’t fault that I suppose, but it’s not a holistic or productive strategy for bolstering the infrastructure of civilization and the billions of human lives that depend on it.
Every time I read one of James McWilliams’ fabulous posts promoting veganism on his blog, I think of his book and this blog post and it makes me smile. A lot.
I was thinking about Ruby Roth, who will be on CNN this morning, and about her first book, which I didn’t love as it focuses on factory farming. I was thinking about how much momentum seems to be building, not just among omnivores or vegetarians who are are transitioning to veganism, but among people who realize that the “small, sustainable” solution isn’t a solution at all. It’s interesting to see who ends up grabbing the attention of the mainstream, and I think in the case of both James and Ruby, they are fabulous, powerful representatives of veganism.
I have an essay published in an upcoming AR anthology about vegan parenting, with an emphasis on children’s media. In it, I pretty harshly critique Roth’s first book. I had completely forgotten that you critiqued it as well. Jeez, now I have to go find that post and make sure I didn’t subconsciously rip you off.
OK. I just read it. Whew! No unintentional ripping off. I do touch on the whole “factory farm” aspect of it of course, but that’s a problem I had before I ever read your post (as evidenced by my comment on your post … gosh, my memory is usually better than that!).