Joel Salatin is a grass-based producer. All of his animals are pasture-raised, including his poultry. I've got two of his books, Pastured Poultry Profits and Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal.
I found this link to a podcast from a talk he gave at Colorado College. Since I've read so much about him, the talk was a bit redundant for me, but it is fantastic for those new or relatively new to the local food movement. He skewers not only the CAFOs but a society that allows these types of places to exist.
When talking about the way pigs are treated in confinement systems, he says "A culture that only views a pig irrevently as a pile of protoplasmic molecular structure to be manipulated however the clever human mind can conceive to manipulate it, will also disrespect its citizens, and even other cultures."
He makes the point over and over again that eating is a concious act.
This point, that conciously eating is important, is driving my "proving ground" here on our small property.
When you conciously eat, you can't pick up a package of chicken, pork, or beef at the store knowing what those animals have gone through, the horrible "life" they've lived to get to your plate, and the nutrient value of that animal compared to one raised outside of a confinement system, on grass, treated as a chicken, pig, or cow instead of a monetary unit in an animal producing machine.
When you eat conciously, you have to think about the nutrient value in the lettuce you just picked up at the store, compared to what you would have in a plant grown by you from a variety that naturally has more nutrients than a variety developed for massive production, ease of harvesting, and how long it will "keep" (look pretty) on a store shelf.
When you eat conciously, you think about how far that food travelled to be on your store shelf. My personal challenge here is bananas. You think about every dollar given to the store to be transferred back across the country or even to another continent when you could buy much of the food locally and support a producer in your area.
When you eat conciously, you can't cavalierly fill your shopping cart with preprepared pasta sauce, processed bread, and chip bags. You read the ingredients and start to wonder just why you need high fructose corn syrup in every single item, or why sugar is added to Planters peanuts. You start to wonder if that corn syrup was made from GMO corn... All of the sudden the convenience of prepared foods starts to look a little less worth it.
It takes more time, work, and attention to eat conciously. The payback is physical, for sure - your health is immediately, noticeably better with big changes, but it's even noticeable with small, incremental changes. But the payback is also emotional. I get more pleasure out of what I eat now. Since we can produce most of our food ourselves (especially our meat), the cost savings is great. Right now we're eating yams, potatoes, squash, and beans grown locally and that feels really good. We buy our eggs and bread from a neighbor who raises chickens and makes the best whole wheat bread you've ever eaten.
My children certainly eat food that I don't. My husband is on the other end of the scale from me. He loves soda and eating out at McDonald's. I can't eat at McDonald's for health and ethical reasons, but neither of those bother him at all. He loves bags of chips and candy. He has to have chocolate milk with his dinner. We offer to our children all of the choices that *we* make, give our reasons for choosing what we did (me more than my husband), and let them make their own decisions without judgement. Right now the girls have kefir shakes with me in the morning and have a bowl of ice cream every afternoon right before their daddy gets home.
So our home is eclectic when it comes to food. On one end is a parent who doesn't think about food at all and at the other end is a parent who may think about food too much. It will be interesting to see how our children choose to eat.