We associate food with, at most, pleasure, at the very least, survival. It’€™s not too different for animals. Lambs turned out on new grass move ‘€œquickly over certain grasses to get to others ‘€“ to nosh on clover and mustard grass, avoiding horse nettle and fescue along the way,’€ writes Dan Barber in A Chef Speaks Out. Wild pigs, capable of seeking out the nutrients they need, ‘€œenjoy eating nuts, roots, fruits, mushrooms, bugs, rabbits, and, occasionally, dead animals.’€

But what happens when animals are confined in cramped, filthy environments and force-fed monoculture diets of genetically modified corn and soy?

A lot can happen. Calves are born too weak to walk, with enlarged joints and limb deformities. Piglets experience rapidly deteriorating health, a ‘€œfailure to thrive’€ so severe that they start breaking down their own tissues and organs ‘€“ self-cannibalizing ‘€“ to survive. Many animals suffer from weak, brittle bones that easily fracture. Dairy cows develop mastitis, a painful udder infection. Beef cattle develop liver abscesses and an excruciating condition referred to as ‘€œtwisted gut.’€
It all adds up to a lot of misery for the animals. And it doesn’t bode well for humans, says the author of America’s Two-Headed Pig.
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