CAFO, What Is It?

CAFO is an acronym for concentrated animal feeding system. Meat industry leaders are notorious for using (and therefore abusing) CAFOs. These products infiltrate the market by finding their way into our local supermarkets, into our grocery bags, and unfortunately, into our mouths. Below Marc explains why the Swarthmore Co-op opts not to support companies that us CAFOs.


One of the things I realized when explaining  CAFOs to Laura, was that it is easy to spit out  the words organic, humane, no antibiotics or nitrates, blah, blah, blah.

But, when you show a simple drawing of the CAFO, it drives the message home that selling products from these animals is wrong (and believe me… my drawing is SIMPLE).

The drawing shows a large “house” where the animals are kept to be fattened and readied for slaughter. The floor of the house is made of concrete with metal slats where the feces from the animal is washed down a drain. The fecal matter is kept in lagoons near the animals. This liquefied slime is pumped to large fields where it is sprayed over the fields with large “sprinkler” type mechanisms. In small, sustainable farms the waste in used in fields to fertilize crops . But in these large operations, there is no way to use the incredible mass of waste that is collected.

The problem? There is so much waste that is not absorbed into the soil and is runoff from the property into streams, rivers, lakes, oceans. The other problem? Take a look at my simple drawing and notice houses in the picture. If you live in one of these homes, you are constantly being bombarded with fecal rain, a horrible smell that prohibits you to even go outside unless the wind is blowing in the opposite direction from the CAFO to your house. The health of the people in these areas is abysmal.

Small farms are using better methods of farming without ruining the environment (see Polyface FarmsJoel Salatin) using a circular way or raising animals and crops. I would recommend watching Food Inc for a better explanation of this way of farming.




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