Getting what you pay for
These are the questions of conventional purchasing. There are at least two middle-men taking a cut between the rancher and Park Kitchen. It makes me wonder how I can possibly buy that commodity pork so cheap? How could anyone make a profit from that price?
Lester Brown, a fascinating agrnomist and author, wrote the article Massive Market Failure, in which he writes about unaccounted expenses in various "free market" industries, and their effect on the economy. Because of the enormous assets that CAFOs muster, they are able to reserve all the benefits for the company while assigning all the risks to the public. The most glaring example is the shit! CAFOs own the hogs, and the profit from their sale, but they somehow don't own the shit, or the costs of managing it. The EPA exempts CAFOs from reporting certain toxic gas emissions above 100 pounds per day. Now consider this, the Government Accountability Office studies show that CAFOs annually produce more raw waste than is generated by the citizens of major U.S. cities.
Because they control most of the policy lobbying and advertising dollars that flow to the local media, it is difficult to promote awareness of these hidden costs that pollute water and air. It is up to the taxpayer to build the infrastructure and to clean up the mess. The CAFO will often get into a community promising to bring (low-wage) jobs, but they require subsidized infrastructures, sewer systems and roads, and their costs to the community always outweigh the tax benefit realized from their creation.
When its dinner time, remember that every dollar spent is a vote for the future. Support restaurants that buy whole animals, and grocery stores that buy sustainable meats, and if they only offer conventional pork, tell them what you want. Their purchasing power is determined by the buyer. If the price of something seems too good to be true, it usually is. For some reason, everyone recognizes this when it comes to anything else besides the food they eat!