More than any set of practices, factory farming is a mind-set: reduce production costs to the absolute minimum and systematically ignore or “externalize” such costs as environmental degradation, human disease, and animal suffering. For thousands of years, farmers took their cues from natural processes. Factory farming considers nature an obstacle to be overcome.


These factory farmers calculate how close to death they can keep the animals without killing them. That’s the business model. How quickly can they be made to grow, how tightly can they be packed, how much or little can they eat, how sick can they get without dying.


Captains of fishing vessels today are more Kirk than Ahab. They watch fish from electronics-filled rooms and plot the best moment to rope in entire schools at a time. If fish are missed, the captains know it and take a second pass. And these fishers aren’t just able to look at the schools of fish that are within a certain distance of their boats. GPS monitors are deployed along with “fish-attracting devices” (FADs) across the ocean.


Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals, 2009

Little, Brown and Company