A recent Humane Society sting operation at a California slaughterhouse brought to light some very cruel treatment of farm animals (see the investigator's video; viewer discretion advised). The media attention caused a minor outrage and the largest beef recall in the history of the nation. Many wondered if cruelty is all that rare in the American meat business. Donations to animal rights groups followed (not unlike the spike in donations to charities following ads of emaciated children in god forsaken countries). Guilt assuaged, let's do pork chops for dinner.
Curiously enough, what bothered people most was the cruelty itself, and the nutritional safety of meat from downer cattle. In other words, if all USDA rules were followed, in letter and spirit, the complaints would dissolve and people would go back to maintaining their equanimity about the industrial-scale raising, killing, and processing of animals for food and things. Notably, the USDA—US department of agriculture—regulates this industry. This is on par with agriculture? What does this reveal about the American society's relationship with animals? How many little Eichmanns now thrive among us, within us?
Nearly ten billion mammals and birds are slaughtered each year in the US alone (a million per hour). How are they processed? The time-lapse footage below from the visually resplendent film, Baraka, has some details for chickens, mixed-in with scenes from modern life (a more disturbing one here. Also check out cartoonist Mark Fiore's, Doreen the Downer.)