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Nineteenth-century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck cynically remarked, “Men should not know how their laws or sausages are made.”

But Michael Schaffer’s in-depth article on “Boss Hog” (10/10), which ranks among your best cover stories yet, commendably shines light on some usually dark places. The piece well explores how the wretchedly miserable pig factory-farming industry pollutes politics in Washington, D.C., just as badly as it pollutes our environment—in North Carolina and so many other places.

Truth is, the pig industry heartlessly exploits workers, harms neighbors, sickens consumers, and of course slaughters pigs. The U.S. animal agriculture industry killed more than 107 million pigs in 1996, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with some 70 percent of those coming from the kind of corporate factory farms you featured (though at least 10 states may soon ban them).

As founder of a 12-year-old nonprofit group of doctors and laypeople striving to prevent health problems before they need fixes and cures, I can strongly attest that the mega-pig farm phenomenon creates serious risks to people. Lots of workers suffer acute respiratory distress, as do unfortunate neighbors and passers-by—a pig daily expels two to five times the excrement humans do, and bacteria-covered dust from that excrement disperses widely.

The saturated fat and cholesterol found in pig meat and all other animal products increases the risks for heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and certain cancers.

Without doubt, the best (and surprisingly easy) solution to the problems detailed in “Boss Hog” and myriad more is for people to adopt a plant-based diet and go vegetarian for life.


Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine