On September 30, Food Sol invited Gene Baur, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, to speak about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and the errors in America’s current food system.
Farm Sanctuary, founded in 1986, was America’s first shelter for rescued factory farm animals. Their work centers on exposing the cruelties of industrialized factory farming on farm animals. On Wednesday, Baur talked in depth about the “mutilation, confinement, and deprivation of animals of their ability to live as active, social beings they are.” On one slide, he showed a graphic image of a live sheep amidst a stockyard’s decomposing dead pile. Another displayed an image of thousands of male chickens dumped and left to die in a large trash bin behind a major hatchery.
25 years after Farm Sanctuary’s founding, Baur has travelled extensively across the country to educate people about the horrors of industrialized factory farming and address this issue by “speaking truth to people with power” though legislation. However, he says that although people have become substantially more concerned about where their food comes from and genuinely want to make better choices, factory farms continue to shield truth under the guise of humane labels. Often, factories misleadingly plaster the words “cage-free,” “grass-fed,” or “free-range” in their products, but deny people the transparency they need to make healthier, more humane choices.
Baur mentioned key grassroots movements that continue to disrupt and change the current food system for the better. He spoke about Hampton Creek eggless mayonnaise, the increasing number of farmers markets, initiatives to replace lawns with vegetation, and many others successes, but reiterated his belief that nothing beats the power of citizens. Baur encouraged the audience to think about the adage “you are what you eat,” and start questioning whether the current food system aligns with their values.