Wastelands Book Review in NYTimes
August 1st, 2022
"North Carolina is in many ways the perfect setting from which to explore the real-life impact of concentrated animal feeding operations, abbreviated CAFOs, an official term for modern-day livestock factories. In the early 1970s, North Carolina had about 18,000 hog farms, with an average herd of about 75 hogs. Today, it has only 2,000 hog operations, with herds as large as 60,000 hogs. The state’s nine million hogs annually produce from three to 10 times as much waste as New York City does. But that hog waste isn’t sent to high-tech treatment plants. It is pumped into large pools, euphemistically called “lagoons.”
Just one of those pools can hold enough waste to cover 15 football fields with crap a foot deep. And when lagoons are full, the untreated waste is sprayed onto nearby fields. Addison describes how giant spray guns shoot 200 gallons of waste per minute into the air, noxious stuff with “a strange muddy-pink color to it” that tends to “drift like a cloud on the breeze.”"
"The vast pools of waste emitted a terrible, overpowering smell. And the waste sprayed on fields often fell on the roofs of nearby houses, Addison writes, with “the soft pitter-patter of rain.” DNA tests revealed traces of hog excrement inside kitchens, on the surfaces of refrigerators, on top of stoves. It was a textbook case of environmental racism. After years of complaints to local and state authorities went unheeded, more than 500 neighbors of North Carolina CAFOs, almost all of them Black, filed lawsuits against the meatpacking company that seemed the worst offender: Smithfield Foods."
"Mona Lisa Wallace is the most sympathetic and compelling member of the legal team, brilliant, indefatigable, raised in small-town North Carolina with a working-class background, dedicated to using the courts to help victims of corporate misbehavior. Among the plaintiffs, Elsie Herring — one of 15 children, who left North Carolina for New York City and returned almost 30 years later only to find herself drenched in a misty rain of manure on a walk near her family home — stands out."
This is a common and unfortunate story here in North Carolina. Whether it is hog farms, chicken farms or the Dupont to Chemours spin off, North Carolinians have been subjected to much toxic corporate malfeasance at the cost of their health. This book, Wastelands, the documentaries the Devil We Know and Food Inc should be on your list of to read and to watch.
Being informed about the toxic risks to you and your family remains an important path to staying healthy and living long. Toxins challenge the system to detoxify them which over time damages mitochondria, cells and health.
Be aware, know and then prevent,