Please watch this devastating video, made by the Humane Society of the United States, depicting the horrific conditions inside Smithfield Foods, with a focus on the company's use of gestation crates. The video is both powerful and disappointing. And you'll see why when you watch it.
I applaud this HSUS video in some respects and disagree very strongly with it in other ways. The part of the video I like best is the first half, where the HSUS very bravely exposes the deplorable practice of gestation crates inside of Smithfield and documents exactly just how horrible and destructive these narrow confined spaces really are.
The second part of the video is less impressive. HSUS spokesman Paul Shapiro praises other pork producers in the U.S. and the E.U. for getting rid of gestation crates. When the video quotes Temple Grandin two minutes in, then it really begins to go downhill.
The real crime is not gestation crates, and the HSUS needs to be reminded of this. Gestation crates are a symptom, not the root, of the problem. The root of the problem - and I know I'm preaching to the converted when it comes to most of you who read this Blog, but what the hell? I'm going to say it anyway - the real root of the problem is the violence inherent in all industries that produce animal products.
Suppose all pork producers get rid of gestation crates, which, as this HSUS video points out, has happened already throughout much of the industry. It is still killing machine that destroys the lives of millions and millions - ultimately billions of pigs - each year.
So yes, let's dismantle all remaining gestation crates. But let's not stop there. What is happening in this racket is, in the words of John Steinbeck (from The Grapes of Wrath) "a crime that goes beyond denunciation." Tinkering won't change it. Reform won't change it. This is a Lernaean Hydra we're talking about here, and the only way to stop its rampage of destruction and terror is to sever all of its heads. Nonviolently, of course. But if you stop at gestation crates, the monster will live on, and will continue to devour innocent beings that deserve to live.