Bred Meat: The Cultural Foundation of the Factory Farm
29 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2007 Last revised: 14 Jul 2013
Date Written: 2007
Factory farming is often discussed in terms of its environmental and social impacts. It receives far less attention for what those practices say about our evolving relationship with animals. This article speaks to the latter.
Though rife with practices that might otherwise invite governmental scrutiny, industrial agriculture operates in a regulatory environment that endorses and subsidizes its methods. Discussions of factory farming that focus on the treatment of animals can often segue into apologies for or against animal rights. This article takes a different tack, asking instead how and why the factory farm industry could grow ascendant in an era when the concept of a human-animal divide has become increasingly suspect.
These opposing trends present a complex social dilemma. Bred Meat argues (through, among other methods, a case study of the Supreme Court's decision in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah) that the principle of humans as separate and distinct from animals is derived from and dependent on a fundamentally religious belief. A legal framework predicated on such a notion can exist only in tension with the Establishment Clause.
Addressing the problems of factory farms - as well as other forms of animal exploitation - will involve unraveling a tightly woven cultural quilt. It will require eschewing the unworkable notion of a human-animal divide and constructing a legal rhetoric of the posthuman. The last part of Bred Meat represents an attempt to begin that process.
Keywords: meat, factory farm, industrial agriculture, personhood, animals, animal rights, animal cruelty, establishment clause, religion, posthuman, Kant, Freud, Francione, property, constitutional law, first amendment
JEL Classification: K11, K23, K32, K39, K42, I69, N50, O3, Q13, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation