Who domesticated? the planet? Us or the food?
keywords: domesticated, territorialization, ownership/accountability, ethics of food production, complacency in supporting cruelty, conscience
As the world population increases and the environment changes, one issue that is felt throughout the world is access to food. In many countries, there are examples of mass production, in both the meat and crop industry. One consequence of mass production is the degradation of animals’ minimal life requirements and the disruption of plants’ natural cycle. This process reduces them to an object of consumption, stripping them of their right to exist outside of the Human’s need.
This commonly occurs in the meat industry giants such as Tyson and Zhong Xin Kai Wei Modern Breeding Company house animals in close captivity for their entire lives with no space to move freely. Their quality of life is poor, and they are often pumped with hormones and low-quality foods to fatten them up in a short period of time. These processes leave the animals extremely unhealthy and remove them from their natural homes. Many critics of these companies claim that this is inhumane and unjust. It removes the animals from nature and deprives them of a good life.
This unethical practice is not limited to animals; the majority of affordable and mass-consumed fruits and vegetables are grown through mono-crop production. This process is a short-term solution to feeding the masses. It causes immense stress to the natural environment through irreversible alterations to the soil through mass depletion of nutrients that plants and other dependent species need to survive. These crops are also sprayed with harmful pesticides, causing a cascade effect of destruction through runoff entering and contaminating water bodies, indirectly destroying other ecosystems.
Many people would naturally object to this kind of treatment towards animals and the environment, but still, turn a blind eye and consume the products due to their economic competitiveness. This is easy to do when the meat is neatly packaged to hardly resemble an animal, and the produce is vibrant with images of lush fields on the packaging. Through the separation of the idea of the product and the process, it allows one to remain in a state of numbness. How might one react or feel if they really know where their food is coming from?
Domesticity of plants and animals has changed the world greatly, especially in the relationship between humans and their food. In modern times, many people are so far removed from the process of domestication and agriculture that they do not know how their food is made. This causes a massive strain in the relationship between the humans and their food.
Castilla y León province is populated by 750 intensive pig farms and land subjected to desertification due to unsustainable agricultural practices.
Jun. 23th, 2024
14:00-15:00 pm/ First session:
[event during work leading to split moment of realization… ]
Factory worker in the food industry begin to experience stress and guilt from their role in unethical food practices. He decides to attend afternoon therapy sessions to understand why he feels this way.
15:00-16:00 pm/ Second session:
[after recent health degradation – coughing, hair loss .. moment of realisation occurs]
Another worker that sprays pesticides on crops is continuously getting burned by it. He also decided to attend afternoon therapy sessions to understand why he feels this way.
At the end of the day
The therapist goes home to cook dinner with her partner and reflects on the worries of her patients and our current food production system. She starts to think about what she is actually cooking with (the concept of food as a piece of the earth), and wonders about alternatives to the current system, and his contribution to the system. She then ponders the changes that she can make to her own lifestyle.
Andrea – A therapist, who is the main character that allows food industry workers to express their grievances with the current agricultural system. After the sessions, she will reflect on this information in the outside world.
Juan Pabloan pablo – Worker that sprays pesticides on crops who is continuously getting burned from it. He is starting to question how knowing that people eat this product makes him feel.
Flint – A pig factory worker who sees the cruelty in his work and is experiencing empathy for the animals who are being appropriated for consumption.
Miguel – Someone who the therapist talks to at the end of the play. They listen to the therapist’s thoughts on the problems in domestication and colonisation of the food industry.
A Monday afternoon, after a slow start in the office, Andrea prepares to see two new clients from similar backgrounds and with similar troubles. The first is Flint, a pig farmer working in Castilla y León, Spain. He has expressed feelings of guilt and empathy towards the pigs and land he works with. Halfway through the session, Andrea makes a breakthrough discovery:
Flint: I feel very unproductive and unmotivated with my work nowadays. It’s been difficult for me to even gather the energy to go to the farm. I just look at the pigs and wonder how they feel. Do they know they are going to die? Do they wish they were more comfortable? When we move them to smaller pens do they long for their old home and pen mates? They live horribly uncomfortable and hard lives just end up as the next thing on the menu.
Andrea: That’s a very understandable feeling, how do you think this job could be affecting you?
Flint: I don’t know. I just feel bad for the pigs. Maybe they just don’t deserve this type of life. Why can’t they roam around in free pastures and eat healthy foods? I know they are ending up in the butcher shop regardless and I eat them too, but it just doesn’t feel fair.
Andrea ponders this thought, she too eats pork. She never worried much over the consumption of these animals but feels a pang of empathy for them after imagining their unsanitary and limiting living conditions.
Andrea: So do you feel that the quality of their life is the issue?
Flint: I think so, no one deserves a hard life, I know they are just animals but we could have a bit of compassion for them. My coworkers are not gentle at all, there is just no respect for the animals. We take their land and turn it into their hell, all for our convenience.
Andrea felt shocked to hear this, she never thought of how the animals used to live freely on the land. She thought of how domestication turned these animals into slaves.
Andrea: These feelings are all very valid, human intervention often leads to negative effects on the land. There is no easy solution to this issue. Have you reflected much on how you could improve on these problems in your daily life? I know it is no easy task, but sometimes the smallest changes can help us understand how we are feeling and provide us with a lot of comfort.
Flint: Not really, sometimes I just try to ignore these thoughts and get back to work. It’s not like I can change anything, I am just one person…
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