If folks are going to insist on living in huge collections of people and buildings, the need for "factory farms" will present itself as the most convenient and marketeable solution for food production. To label an industry as "unconscionable" is merely a method by which you try to distance yourself and absolve yourself from the reponsibility of raising and butchering the chickens and the piggy.
How is the concept of eating only veggies and plants that are grown in monocultured farms any different than eating meat?
The basic problem is population , since the planet has a finite carrying capacity and , unless we all decide that were just gonna harvest algae from the sea and actually begin a soylent fed society, farming will always be a necessary evil. The SIngers and Pollards have merely found a receptive ear from people who have no idea how their foods are raised.
Veggies and row crops are destructive ag means to raise large volumes of these food plants. No matter whether theplants are used for animal feed or not, the methods to grow them exhausts the soil and cripples the surrounding environment. Ag areas can actually be diversity deserts , but so what, as long as you have some feeling of virtue for being a vegan.
Grass fed cattle raising is an expensive and more sustainable means to have responsible non factory fed beef , lamb, mutton, and poultry (yes its possible to raise chickens on a grass diet (like amaranth and seedhead grasses) Chickens are effective foragers . The only thing is that the cost of production of all these more sustainable means of livestock production is naturally higher. Is it in your means to expend maybe 30% of your income on food? Sustainable and "Responsible" (In whose eyes?) farming costs more than it pays, and the product isnt necessarily more palatble or healthy. (Michael Pollard would have you believe that it is).
I could devote my farm to grass fed cattle only. Id then have to cut the herds in half to make my pastures and hay fields extend as an exclusive fodder. The result would be that the charge per pond would go from a 2.60 a hundred weight to maybe 5. 0r 6 $ a hundredweight ( these are "On the hoof" live prices that I would realize at the market cattle auctions).
The actual supply chain for production and distribution of meat (Assuming a grass fed economy) would require more interaction by the customer . ASO you(the cutomer) would have to deal with me the farmer rather than rely on a faceless and (high costing) supply line from auction to market and in which only the prime through choice cuts are used and the bulk of the animal "Goes away".
Same thing would be required with a responsible "veggie life". You still interact with a supply and market line which robs the farmer of the bulk of the product worth and applies exhorbitant fees for 'halving" or "Boxing" and "delivery".
If markets , or the customer base would demand only local products for the bulk of theoir foods, then a commensal relationship between farmers and customers could be maintained.
Rather than decrying the MEANS of production, you should become more familiar with the components of production and delivery so that you could interact better as a customer and assure that farmers will be fairly treated as will you the ultimate recipient of the foodstuffs.
Im a little tired of hearing how farmingmethods are "Unconscionable" yet farmers , who have undertaken large service contracts with food production companies are only producing what they percieve their contracts require. (fertilizer and ag chemical use for veggies, to feed stuffs used for poultry grown by contract).
There is no "conscionable" farming, there are only degrees of production efficiency. Were you the customer to demand that ADM no longer pump high fructose corn syrup into everything they make, or if youd tell Tyson foods to stop feeding massive doses of sulfur and iron ore residues into chickens , then you could say that you are responsibly interacting with your food.Why not go to the farms of Connecticut or NEw Jersey and set up a "Thomas supply line" wherein you develop a market basket approach to buying your meats and veggies. You could do this for several others as a service and you could do it for your neighborhood vegans and set up a business that would be based upon your own ethical model.
PS, anyone who eats tofu or rice should be at the end of the line when it comes to saying what is or is not unconscionable. These two crops are almost a plague to the environment. Rice farming is a larger air pollutant than are open dumps. At this time of year in Louisiana and the San Juaquin Valley, the air is turning unhealthy for tens of millions of people just because the rice farmers are burning the "duff" of last yewars production, in preparation to reflooding their fields. Soybean farmers too, are causing vast deserts of diversity and promoting the evolution of super weeds that are taking over vast areas and are invasively displacing tall prairie grasses, hedgerows and forest margins.