The Factory Farming Awareness Coalition is an educational non-profit committed to empowering people to save the environment, animals, and our own health through our daily food choices.

Recent Updates

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turkeys


With Thanksgiving coming up, turkeys are on all of our minds. From the animals themselves to the production of turkey, here are some surprising things you might not know:

1. Flock vs. rafter

While many people use the term flock, technically a group of turkeys is called a rafter.

2. Turkeys are omnivores

In the wild, turkeys eat a varied diet of everything from seeds, berries, grass, and acorns, to insects and small lizards. But on factory farms, turkeys are fed only corn and soy laced with antibiotics.

3. Breasts get in the way of sex

99% of turkeys raised today are the “Broadbreasted White” variety. These turkeys have been selectively bred to produce the largest possible breasts. Turkeys’ breasts are now so large that they are physically incapable of mating. Which means…

4. Humans inseminate turkeys

After “milking” semen from male birds, workers artificially inseminate the female turkeys. A female turkey can lay one egg every few days. She is inseminated and forced to produce eggs at this rate for up to 25 weeks, at which point her body is “spent” and she’s sent to slaughter.

5. Turkeys are speedy

Wild turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour and fly up to 55 miles per hour. But domesticated turkeys cannot fly because of their unnaturally large size. Many domesticated turkeys cannot even stand because their bones cannot support the weight, and most cannot walk properly because…

6. Turkeys’ missing toes and beaks

Workers “de-beak” and “de-toe” newborn baby turkeys. The sharp parts of their beaks and toes are cut off without any sort of pain relief. This is done to keep them from attacking each other while under the stress of intensive confinement. As a result of having their toes and beaks cut off, many turkeys cannot walk and some cannot eat and die of starvation.

7. In the Mood for Snood

Male turkeys have a flap of flesh that hangs over their beak called a snood. Female turkeys decide who to mate with based on snood length (bigger is better), and males are less likely to challenge turkeys with longer snoods. But on factory farms, the snood is cut off along with the beak and toes shortly after birth.

8. Mother Turkey

Baby turkeys, called poults, stay with their mothers for up to 5 months in the wild. But baby turkeys raised for food never set eyes on their mothers; the eggs are taken from the mothers before they hatch and placed in giant industrial hatcheries. By the time her last round of eggs is hatched, the mother turkey will already have been sent to slaughter.

9. No Legal Protection for Turkeys

The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act doesn’t apply to poultry, so turkeys, chickens, ducks, and rabbits (which, strangely enough, are classified as “poultry”) are exempt. This means they can be “shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut”  while fully conscious.

10. Turkeys have superbugs

Remember those antibiotics we mentioned in #2? They’re used so indiscriminately, in such huge quantities, that it leads to the evolution of new, stronger bacteria. A study by the Environmental Working Group found that 81% of ground turkey is infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria!

 Sound Unsavory?

If some of this information is less-than-appetizing, there’s good news! There has never been such an abundance of delicious meat-free Thanksgiving centerpieces, such as Field Roast, Gardein, or the classic Tofurky.

There’s also a plethora of delicious veg Thanksgiving recipe compilations, from the New York Times, to Buzzfeed, to Cosmopolitan Magazine.

#10 on Buzzfeed's List of 41 Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

#10 on Buzzfeed’s List of 41 Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes


Vegan Mac Down



GET YOUR MAC ON at the first ever vegan mac & cheese bake-off! Sample all the entries & vote for your fave mac & cheese.
GET MORE EATS from local food vendors:
E-mail and we’ll send you more details about how to participate.
The winning mac & cheese baker will win everlasting fame & glory, plus a prize pack including chef Miyoko Schinner’s “Artisinal Vegan Cheese” cookbook & 8 ounces of her cheeses, and a gift basket from Hampton Creek Foods. All runners-up will receive prize packs.
Get your tickets & spread the word to all your food & fun-loving friends!

What About Workers?

There’s been much talk this week – from the Washington Post to Mother Jones – of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed plan to increase line speeds and privatize inspections at slaughterhouses.

The plan, called HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), would result in millions of dollars in increased profits for multinational agribusiness corporations at the expense of worker and consumer safety.

Evisceration of turkey carcasses at slaughterhouse Nottingham Vet School/Flickr

Evisceration of turkey carcasses at slaughterhouse Nottingham Vet School/Flickr

Most of the discussion has centered on consumer safety. A scathing report from the Government Accountability Office reveals that 3 of the 5 pilot slaughterhouses for the new program were among the top ten worst in the country for health and safety violations.

Under the new program, federal inspectors would have to inspect 10,000 birds per hour. According to one inspector, while working at this rate, “Tremendous amounts of fecal matter remain on the carcasses,” he said. “Not small bits, but chunks.”

It’s understandable that consumers are up in arms about this threat to public health. But what isn’t garnering as much attention is the dire threat to slaughterhouse workers.

* * *

Slaughterhouse workers already face the most dangerous job in America. They must carry out the same motion thousands of times everyday while surrounded by fast-moving objects, extremely sharp knives and machinery, and sometimes live kicking animals.

A list of the types of injuries (and fatalities) endured paints a grave picture:

  • Employee Hospitalized for Neck Laceration From Flying Blade
  • Employee’s Eye Injured When Struck by Hanging Hook
  • Employee’s Arm Amputated in Meat Auger
  • One Employee Killed, Eight Injured by Ammonia Spill
  • Employee Decapitated by Chain of Hide Puller Machine
  • Employee Killed When Head Crushed by Conveyor

These hideous workplace dangers were documented by Mother Jones magazine in 2001. Back then, a slaughterhouse nurse claimed she could tell how fast the line was moving by how many injured workers came to her office.

Now the USDA is proposing to move the line even faster, increasing from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute - up to 84,000 birds per day.

Already 3 in 4 slaughterhouse workers surveyed reported experiencing significant work-related injuries. Further increasing line-speed will drive injury and death rates even higher.

Currently neither the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor the USDA considers the impact of line speed on worker safety. The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups hope to change that by suing the USDA and OSHA to take steps to protect the safety of slaughterhouse workers.

What can you do? Sign this petition to President Obama to abandon the dangerous new plan, and boycott slaughterhouse products by switching to meat alternatives like Beyond Meat, Gardein, or good old fashioned plant-based proteins.

For more information:

BART Ads + Fun Contest

Spread the Word!

Our BART ads have launched in 40 stations and on 120 BART cars throughout the San Francisco Bay Area!

To help spread the word about our new ads on BART, we have created a fun contest for you! Join @ffacoalition on Instagram for our “Find FFAC on BART and WIN!” contest. From September 9th - October 7th, we’re giving away a lot of fun prizes.

For the first two weeks (September 9 – 23), share our contest logo and/or an image of our BART ads on your Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter account (tag us @ffacoalition and hashtag #FFAConBART) and receive an entry (or up to three if you re-post the logo and both ads!) into a drawing for a $50 gift Pangea gift certificate!

On the two following Mondays (September 23 and September 30), we’ll announce a challenge for the following week. Complete the challenge and you could win! We will give away great prizes to the winner for each week’s challenge.  This contest is a simple, easy, and fun way to spread the word about issues related to factory farming AND win prizes!!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Follow @ffacoalition on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  2. Complete any or all of the challenges.
  3. Watch the @ffacoalition account for announcements of the lucky winners (it could be you!).


So what are you waiting for? Make sure you’re following @ffacoalition on Instagram and start spreading the word today!


Click here for official rules and full contest details.

You Little Shrimp

shrimp_cocktailWhen you hear shrimp, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Most likely it’s shrimp cocktail or Thai prawns or, if you’re thinking metaphorically, maybe scrawny. Chances are, you don’t think mangroves.

But those little pink crustaceans impact mangrove forests, which in turn impact everything from Bengal tigers to climate change.

shrimp2Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States; Americans consume over a billion pounds per year. Almost all shrimp in the U.S., 90%, is imported from coastal countries in South America and Southeast Asia.

There, shrimp are raised on shrimp farms. Much like mammal factory farms, shrimp farms confine thousands of shrimp per pond. This causes many of the same problems: dangerous concentrations of waste, rapid spread of bacteria, and feed laced with antibiotics to keep animals alive.

But that’s par for the course as far as intensive animal farming goes. What’s extra fishy about shrimp is the environment in which they’re raised: former mangrove swamps.


  • Mangroves are trees that grow in tropical saltwater swamps. The mangrove ecosystem…
  • Shields villages from tsunamis & hurricanes
  • Provides one of the last remaining habitats for wild Bengal tigers
  • Filters water, promoting the health of neighboring coral reefs
  • Absorbs 5x more carbon than rainforests

But mangroves are being cut down in order to build shrimp farms. So far more than 3 million acres of mangroves have been destroyed – over 1/3 of the world’s total mangroves. This is disastrous for local communities, ecosystems, and the global climate.

* * *

If farmed shrimp are so bad, then wild-caught shrimp must be the answer! Think again. Wild shrimp are caught using a method called trawling; boats haul giant nets behind them, scraping up everything in their path.

Trawling catches many other ocean creatures, called bycatch, which are killed by the trawling nets and thrown back into the ocean.

Shrimp fishing kills more bycatch than any other type of fishing; the ratio of bycatch to shrimp is 20:1. In the Gulf of Mexico, one common victim of shrimp trawling bycatch is sea turtles.

But wild-caught shrimp from Southeast Asia isn’t the answer either; the fishing industry there is rife with human trafficking and slavery.

* * *

So the next time you spot shrimp scampi on the menu, think of mangroves and sea turtles and ask yourself – are those tiny crustaceans really worth the devastation?

For more information, check out this great video:
Infographic from the Mangrove Action Project:
Human trafficking:
Environmental devastation:
Trawling bycatch:


Isn’t That Illegal?

One of the first questions people ask when they learn about the treatment of animals on factory farms is, “Isn’t that illegal?” The sad reality is…


There are no federal laws regulating animal cruelty; that’s done at a state level. All states have laws against animal cruelty, but most states have Common Farming Exemptions. CFE’s state that if a practice is commonly done on factory farms, it’s automatically legal.

Cut off a puppy’s tail without anesthetic? Felony animal cruelty. Cut off a piglet’s tail without anesthetic? Legal on a factory farm.

The only federal animal welfare law that applies to farm animals is the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. This states that animals should be unconscious prior to slaughter in order to ensure a quick and relatively painless death.

But chickens and turkeys are exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Since chickens & turkeys make up 8.75 billion of the 9 billion animals killed in the U.S. every year, this law applies to less than 3% of all farm animals.

And it turns out the USDA isn’t enforcing this law even for the 3% of animals it applies to. A recent report found that even slaughterhouses with gross violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, such as a live pig being scalded to death, faced no consequences.

* * *

What about the environment? If animal treatment on factory farms isn’t regulated, surely the pollution from factory farms must be?

In 2005, the EPA struck a deal with factory farms. If a few factory farms allowed the EPA to monitor air pollution levels, the entire industry would be immune from all past and future violations of the Clean Air Act.


Factory farms also became immune from the Right-to-Know Act, which gives workers and communities the right to know what toxic chemicals they’re being exposed to.

So what kind of pollutants are workers and surrounding communities exposed to? Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide levels 10x higher than legal levels for the oil industry.

* * *

It’s disturbing to realize that we can’t rely on the government to ensure that food is humane or just, but there is some good news.


 We can take matters into our own hands by boycotting factory farming and switching to plant-based proteins. It’s never been easier or tastier to stop supporting the factory farming system.

To educate your friends and co-workers about this issue, e-mail to schedule a presentation for your business, organization, or class. To learn more about plant-based diets, visit

Sources for Further Reading:
USDA Audit Report for Pig Slaughterhouses -
Lack of Farm Animal Welfare Laws -
Clean Air Act -
Number of Animals Killed Per Year -
Legal Analysis of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act -

Updated – BART Ads Unveiled

Here are the designs for our 2013 ad campaign on the San Francisco subway system!

car ad final

Car Ad
The ad pictured above will run on 120 BART cars across the Bay Area, drawing attention to the often-overlooked plight of chickens. Chickens are the most commonly slaughtered animals in the U.S., with 240 killed every second.*

People who are concerned with animal welfare often choose to eliminate red meat from their diets. Chik-Fil-A exploited this tendency with their “Cow Appreciation Day” campaign, encouraging consumers to save cows by eating chickens instead.

Some people consider chickens little more than walking brainstems, but in fact studies have shown that chickens are smarter than toddlers. Chickens are also the worst treated of all farmed animals. 99% of chickens are raised on factory farms in deplorable and dangerous conditions.

Thankfully, millions of people are now choosing to spare both cows and chickens by shifting towards plant-based diets. Whether it’s via Meatless Mondays or Vegan Before 6, more and more Americans are choosing to help animals (and their health) by choosing plant-based options.

FFAC BART Station Ad

Station Ad
This ad, which will run in 40 BART stations, is designed to help people save their own lives by emphasizing the many health benefits of plant-based diets.

From cancer to heart disease to diabetes, plant-based diets have been scientifically proven to prevent and even reverse some of the deadliest health problems in the U.S.

For a thorough (& surprisingly hilarious) overview of the many health benefits of plant-based diets, watch Dr. Michael Greger’s video Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, and check out the documentary Forks Over Knives.

The Impact of Our Ads on Animals & the Environment
Since 366,000 people ride BART everyday, if only 1% of one day’s worth of riders decide to adopt a veg diet one day a week, it will save 100,000 animal lives and be equivalent to not driving 1 million miles!

 Thank you so much to everyone who donated to the indiegogo campaign to fund the design, to everyone who shared and filled out our content survey, and to all of our amazing supporters and members.

*According to figures from

Thank you!

Thanks to all of our fantastic supporters, we reached our fundraising goal of $2,000!

This money will pay for graphic design for our ads on the San Francisco public transit system, which will reach over 300,000 people per day. Keep an eye out for the 2013 design, coming soon…

The rest of the funds will support our educational outreach campaign. We have presented to over 1,500 people so far this year, and plan to double that number by the end of the year.

To our many generous donors and supporters, we say:

bartthankyouRemember, it’s not too late to donate! There are still 6 days left, and it would be great if we could surpass our goal.

The United States of Progesterone: What’s Really in Your Chicken Sandwich?

Even lawyers are concerned about the state of food today, working on the issue from the standpoint of product liability. We received this article from a law firm that’s working to shed light on the secret and sickening ingredients in our food supply

The Scandalous Evolution of Animal Protein

Americans consume 31 percent more processed foods than fresh food, according to a 2010 article in the New York Times. We also ingest more processed meals than just about any other industrialized nation. Japan eats a higher percentage of ready-to-eat meals, the data suggests, though these products of choice tend to be near-fresh items such as seafood or dried seaweed. On the whole, healthier options than what U.S. residents choose to put in front of them.

Doctors agree that diets with high amounts of processed foods, which contain large quantities of fat, salt, and sugar, lead to increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Processed animal protein, including meat and dairy, contributes the lion’s share of manufactured meals that Americans inhale every day. We’re eating a combined 481 pounds-per-capita of this stuff every year, according to the New York Times. We’re literally eating ourselves to death.

Questions we should all be asking: what’s actually in these items? Should chicken breast bought in a supermarket really have a list of ingredients?

The Tale of the Ballooning Poultry

As early as the 1930s, hormones assisted the food industry by increasing production levels for food companies, according to the Sprecher Institute at Cornell University.

Photo Credit: Food, Inc.

Chicken farmers today raise poultry that grows to weigh twice as much as similar birds in 1950, in less than half the time. Hormones, specifically the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES), administered to young poultry and other animals allow them to gain more weight in less time. Shorter life cycles from birth to the frozen food section lead to larger-scale production and higher profits. Pharmaceutical companies even used synthetic estrogen in pills to help menopausal women manage their symptoms.

Then scientists in the 1970s discovered a link between increased cancer risks in those using DES. Food companies promptly phased the compound out of their regular animal “treatment” regiments, but the damage was already done. The processed food industry in the United States wasn’t about the stop its use of synthetic compounds to stimulate growth and production. Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given approval to six different hormones for use in food production:  estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate, and melengestrol acetate. Two of those compounds – progesterone and estradiol – are female sex hormones commonly found in prescription birth control pills. What quantities of these chemicals are present in the processed food we eat? According to the Sprecher Institute at Cornell University, there’s no way to measure levels of progesterone or estradiol in animal productsbecause scientists can’t tell the administered portions from what the animal creates naturally. In an Italian study, researchers discovered a link between steroid hormone residues in beef and poultry with breast enlargement in young students – girls and boys.

If you’re consuming mass-produced beef or poultry, chances are you’re consuming estrogen and testosterone in high quantities. How much? The FDA has no idea.Photo Credit: Flickr

Hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, remain active in the body after consumption, and can persist in food products post slaughter. Do we think it’s actually safe to ingest compounds that make chickens grow to twice their natural size and force cows to produce twice the amount of milk?

Frankenstein’s Monster in Your Grocer’s Freezer

Finding animal products, meat or otherwise, that haven’t suffered manipulation in some way is harder than it sounds. Even foods baring the “natural” label can still have added estrogen and testosterone in them because the compounds are not “synthetic,” according to Web MD. Furthermore, the United States Department of Agriculture only regulates the labeling of items as natural when it applies to beef and poultry. Food companies could label glow in the dark fruit-like paste as natural and there’s really no way to prove otherwise because the regulation is completely absent.

Frozen meals are hot spots for processed foods with chemical preservatives and modified ingredients. Photo Credit: Flickr

Genetic alteration of animals in our food supply is increasingly common. Genetically modified organisms or GMOs have had their structures changed by scientists to produce varying effects that food companies believe will be beneficial to consumers.

  • In 2011, scientists in Argentina transformed the genes of dairy cows to produce milk that mimics the makeup of human breast milk, according to the Daily Telegraph.
  • Genetically-modified fish – salmon spliced with eel DNA – grow much faster and larger than their naturally-born counterparts, says the Huffington Post. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered the first transgenic salmon for approval for nationwide sale in 2013.
  • AquaBounty, a private fish developer responsible for the creation of the first GMO salmon, estimates that the release of just 60 GMO salmon into a wild population of 60,000 would cause the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 generations.

Consumers can find GMOs in more than just cow’s milk and the seafood section. At least 70 percent of processed food products in the United States have GMOs in them; everything from soda to frozen waffles. How these compounds interact with our bodies remains largely unknown. In the case of genetically altered salmon, no long-term studies exist on the effects the consumption of so-called “Frankenfish” might have on us because its creation is so new. It is more interesting or frightening that the FDA believes AquaBounty’s GMO salmon to be safe despite the absence of this information?

Consumers wanting to buy non-GMO products can visit this website for a continually-updated list of items that do not intentionally contain modified ingredients.

The Economics of Our Food

Eating healthy is often seen as a function of our privilege. Those with higher incomes can afford to buy products raised in the wild that haven’t been genetically manipulated to grow faster in shorter amounts of time. The rich can absorb the cost of fresh produce, while the working poor have to buy frozen meals with artificial ingredients.

Spam, the ubiquitous canned meat sold in grocery stores around the world, has actually fewer artificial ingredients than some fast food meats and other products.Photo Credit: Flickr

Organic farming is also less efficient than conventional systems. According to CNN Health, organic crops yield only 75 to 90 percent of the amount harvested from fields using GMO products that resist disease or artificial pesticides. This means more land is necessary to produce the same quantity, which leads to higher costs.

Then there’s the higher price to consider at checkout. A study from researchers at the University of California-Davis indicated that U.S. consumers who consistently buy healthy foods spend 20 percent more on groceries than those who do not. The higher price associated with these items, researchers say, can gobble up 35 to 40 percent of the grocery budget for low-income families. Many simply cannot afford to pay $4 a gallon for organic milk when there are cheaper alternatives. Consumers commented to UC Davis researchers that price was a barrier to purchasing organic products 70 percent of the time.

We want healthy food, but we don’t want to blow the entire budget in the process. Because organic farms produce lower crop yields than others, there’s a premium supply for those interested in buying them. Couple low supply with increasing demands and it is basic economics to find the reason for the higher price.

The Dirty Ingredients in Cheap Meats       

So we buy cheaper products, including meats, because we don’t want to hand over the cash for the healthier, more natural options. Do we fully understand what it means when we buy processed foods, including low-cost proteins in fast food meals? Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients in the average McDonald’s chicken nugget as reported by the International Human Press:

  • Tertiary Butyl Hydroquinone – dubbed TBHQ, this petroleum derivative is a form of butane, the very same gas used in fuel blending for gasoline and propane. McDonald’s sprays the compound onto its chicken nuggets as a preservative, which the FDA claims is safe if used “sparingly.” Consuming one gram of TBHQ can cause vomiting, delirium, and diarrhea. A five gram dose is usually fatal.
  • Dimethylpolysiloxane – try saying that three times fast. An anti-foaming agent, this chemical keeps nuggets from leaking…yes, leaking. It’s a polymer of silicone, a suspected carcinogen, and was one of the main ingredients in Silly Putty.
  • Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate – this buffering agent helps maintain color in frozen foods, particularly potatoes and cured meats. It also has applications in the leather working industry for its ability to remove hair when incorporated into scalding water.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Ignoring the very real health implications of synthetic compounds in our food supply has resulted in negative consequences across the board, from skyrocketing cases of juvenile diabetes to a ridiculous rise in obesity rates in young people as well as adults. If more people demand lower-cost, healthier alternatives to affordable, yet potentially unsafe, genetically modified organisms, we can compel real change in our national marketplace. Vote with dollars. Spend money on products with short lists of ingredients that look like actual food and not a college chemistry exam.

If we can’t pronounce it, we shouldn’t eat it.

Read more:

Forging Connections

This past weekend, FFAC members attended the National Animal Rights Conference in Washington, D.C.

The conference was especially inspiring because it included prestigious speakers from a wide array of backgrounds who are all working on the issue of animal agriculture. Some of the highlights:

  • Wenonah Hauter from Food and Water Watch gave a brief history of U.S. agricultural policy, which has become increasingly centralized and monopolized by a handful of corporations.
  • Amanda Hitt of the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign spoke about their work providing legal support for whistleblowers. They were featured recently in a Kansas City Star front-page story about a whistleblower at a Tyson pork plant who complained about stun gun levels being set too low, resulting in pigs that were still conscious for the slaughtering process. In response, rather than fixing the illegal and torturous practice, Tyson transferred the worker 120 miles away. GAP is suing on the worker’s behalf.
  • Many different speakers, from the Humane Society’s Paul Shapiro to journalist Will Potter, addressed “Ag-gag laws” that seek to criminalize undercover investigations on factory farms. Thankfully this legislation has backfired; consumers have started thinking about what factory farms have to hide, and major news outlets are showing the very undercover investigations that factory farms want to squelch.

FFAC’s executive director, Katie Cantrell,  spoke as part of a panel discussion on Lessons from Agriculture Campaigns. She told the audience about FFAC’s huge successes; presenting to over 3,000 people in just a year and a half, and winning advertisements on San Francisco’s subway system two years in a row.

AR tabling collage

FFAC also tabeled at the conference and met hundreds of people from around the country, many of whom are interested in using our presentation to educate their local communities.

This theme is brought to you by Salesforce CRM. Follow us Facebook Twiter RSS