Recently a Google Maps image of a cattle feedlot in Texas has been making the news. The photo of Coronado Feeders shows a beige grid dotted with cows near a bright red waste lagoon. It’s both horrifying and mesmerizing. And not all that unusual. You can find feedlots like this all across Texas.
Or this one near the New Mexico border.
Or this one near Amarillo.
In fact, it’s easy to spot feedlots in Google Maps pretty much anywhere in the Texas Panhandle. Pick a spot and search for the familiar grid and red pond in the pattern of circles (crops).
Texas is one of the largest cattle producers in the United States. These industrial feedlots are part of modern meat production, and they’re unsustainable. Animal waste can pollute rivers and underground drinking water, and according to the EPA, one dairy cow produces waste equivalent to 20 to 40 humans. Multiplied by the number of cattle in the above photos, that’s a lot of waste. The current scale of meat production is just too much for our environment to handle. In fact, the UN has urged the world to move toward a vegan diet in order to ward off the impending climate change disaster.
So why is this news? Because we don’t often see how our food is produced. If you’re eating a hamburger at most restaurants in the U.S., this is where it came from.