Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop – True Cost of Food

 Elizabeth Willmott - Harrop - Someone, something, somewhere pays - Live Encounters Magazine May 2014

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Someone, something, somewhere pays – a poem by Elizabeth Willmott – Harrop 

A broiler chicken bustles about his overcrowded shed
Amonia fills the air from droppings that are never cleared
His eyes sting and fail
His legs and feet are burned by the caustic floor
Legs deform and buckle under the weight of his overfed, exercise-less body
Confined for life, unable to forage, dust-bathe and perch
Eyes blank, as his life force dies behind them
A sorry damp spark, that never enflames

Part of this tortured zombie
Becomes a supermarket chicken fillet
Factory farmed for £1.50
A translucent pink solution to the consumer’s tight budget
And the corporate need for large profits

But what about the true cost for all the earth lost?

Antibiotics pumped into healthy farm animals
Create a human health crisis of superbugs
Nitrate fertilisers and pesticides poison the land
To protect the grain that the tortured birds eat
Polluting fuels transport products across continents

The cost of cheap food is not just borne by us
But by future generations
By different parts of the earth decaying under the glare of
Homogenised cuisine, monoculture
And the vulture of vested interests

The flesh lacks the nutrition of their organic free-range friends
Compounds the ills of human health
The suffering of imprisoned animals
Their life force sapped
Their instincts cauterised
Before we consume the corrupted carcass

And what about the true cost for all that I lost?

The violation of our right to health
The right to cultural identity which biodiversity
And traditional farming practices embody
The right to work which small famers have foregone
Human trafficking for forced labour in food processing plants

If we want these rights and a sustainable planet
We are expected to pay for them
For the investment in organic farms , the freedom-food life
Rotated crops, recycled nutrients, soil fertility
A rich wildlife inviting a myriad of dancing birds
Local markets, local jobs, fewer sales

But why are consumers paying
Animals paying
Small organic farmers paying
For companies which harm to make profits?

And what about the true solution for all this pollution?

We can make consumer choices
Ask that the polluter pays at source
Demand policies which support best practise
Instead of governments equating profitable success with violating rights :
The hampered, tampered-with rights of humans, animals and the ecosystem
Most of all we can recognise
There is no such thing as cheap food

Someone, something, somewhere pays.


Check out other poems by Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop 


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