Saturday, November 19, 2011
death by manure
I have to admit, of all the hazards associated with concentrated manure pits found in industrial livestock operations, death was not the first to come to mind. I initially thought this graphic would belongs in the over-cautionary menagerie at Safety Graphic Fun.
Apparently, death by manure is a significant hazard. Farm workers can asphyxiate quickly from breathing in toxic gasses from sealed underground pits, or from drowning in above-ground manure lagoons. What a way to go, eh? Nationwide, about 20 people die every year from breathing in hydrogen sulfide, a gas unique to concentrated manure pits that are not exposed to the air. Two years ago, this gas claimed the lives of an entire Mennonite family, as the father attempted to unclog a manure pit pipe, and after he collapsed, his family members died trying to rescue him.
That snippet of news also made me think of how many people believe that just because something is "Amish made," it is must be high quality and environmentally sustainable. I grew up around Amish communities, and know first-hand that they are not immune to the problems of the modern world -- things like drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and dishonest business practices. I've encountered Amish families who believe that animals are property, something God has given you to take care of but not care about, and for whom this belief translates into treatment of livestock that is much harsher than I would personally find acceptable. There are, of course, many outstanding Amish and Mennonite family farms, but a label identifying the town or religious preference of its maker does not automatically denote wholesomeness.