‘I Speak for the Meats’
I am no stranger to livestock. Out in WashMo, I lived across the street from Regal Dairy Farm. My dad always claimed it was the second-largest dairy farm in Missouri, but I have yet to find a way to verify this. My grandpa Othmar (pronounced Ought-Mur) lived about a mile down the road on his farm, where he would raise cows to slaughter. Today, I’m dating a young Washingtonian woman whose father happens to own Williams Brothers Meat Market (the perks there are endless). Beef holds a special place in my heart … and stomach. So, when I read this story from the Kansas City Star, I just couldn’t help but comment.
Commercial farms, in a lot of ways, are like Walmart (yeah, they got rid of the dash). A lot of people have a problem with Walmart, whether it be the low wages or the way they treat their employees, many people opt out and choose to shop at other, smaller, local places — like, say Schnucks. But, on the other hand, there is also that large portion of people who choose to shop at Walmart regardless of what they hear. The externality costs, to them, are outweighed by Walmart’s low prices.
Now, large commercial farms, like those described in the article, are a lot like Walmart. They are good at what they do, raising healthy animals to slaughter. And lots of them, too. Just like some people have a problem with the way Walmart treats its employees, many have a problem with how these farms treat the animals they raise. Yet, for many people, these costs are still offset by the cheaper price of meat. Going to Sam’s Club and buying your own weight in ground beef at a low price sounds very appealing to many people.
Now, I’m not saying these commercial farms are wrong or evil, or what-have-you. Heck, I’m an econ major. I’m always the unpopular guy in the argument, defending Walmart and outsourcing. Economics, after all, is the study of choices. People always have a choice. If you don’t agree with commercial farms, there are always smaller options, such as Williams Brothers. While the prices sometimes don’t match Wally-World, you know the cow or hog you are eating was raised locally and as humanely as possible.
It’s all about choices. You have to weigh the costs and benefits and decide which is best for you.
I think the difference between commercial farms and Walmart is fairly obvious: people vs. animals. Walmart employees have people to speak out for them, whether they be unions or lawyers, these people have a voice. With the animals being raised at these farms, it almost seems like people are waiting for some sort of Lorax-type character to appear and speak for the animals. On the other hand, I’m sure the commercial farm industry would love to find an animal like the Dish of the Day from Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe — a cow that not only wants to be eaten, but is vocal about which parts of his body taste the best, and which sauces go well with them.
Now, hopefully, I have plugged Williams Brothers enough so that I can score some free pulled pork sandwiches next time I stop by.