CNN Exclusive by CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates
Wake County, North Carolina - Chickens buried alive. Pigs so sick that their intestines hang out of their bodies. These are some of the grisly scenes from videos taken by animal rights activists who went undercover at farms that produce food destined for dinner tables.
It’s a tactic animal rights activists have used for years, going undercover at slaughterhouses and factory farms to document squalid conditions, abuse and neglect. Their videos have gone mainstream and led to criminal charges, fines and even the largest meat recall in American history.
But undercover video is under attack and with it, activists argue, their ability to expose animal abuses that can make meat dangerous to eat.
Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion and creator of CNN's Change the List project. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Before we jump into a debate about the environmental costs of eating meat, here are three things you should know:
1. I've experimented with vegetarianism twice, but it's never really stuck. Round one ended when I had a dream about a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's, and then woke up to march zombie-style to that fast-food restaurant to order it. Round two may or may not have ended with the brunch I had Sunday, I'm still not sure.
2. I ate chicken chilaquiles for brunch on Sunday. It was delicious.
Therefore, 3. This is not an anti-meat polemic.
Do you try to eat ethically? Do you only eat local produce, using nothing that’s been transported via air travel? Avoid certain products or grow your own?
The concepts of eating ethically and watching where our food comes from are hot topics in the food world.
CNN’s forthcoming Freedom Project documentary examines the cocoa industry and the work undertaken to combat exploitation of workers throughout the journey from “bean to chocolate bar,” shining a light on the often challenging issue of eating ethically.
Broadly speaking, eating ethically can cover anything from vegetarianism to eating only local produce and boycotting products which are considered wasteful or exploitative.
iReport asked CNN readers if they think about where their food comes from.
Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.
Farmers and ranchers are upset about how a burrito company is portraying their business. If you haven't seen them already, Chipotle has run a series of ads during the past few years centered around "Food With Integrity" and the idea that we can "Cultivate a Better World" by eating their burritos.
These ads depict modern food and livestock production through Chipotle's marketing eyes and as their spokespeople tell us, the motive is to raise awareness about learning more about where our food comes from. But does Chipotle practice what it preaches?