I have a home near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin — surrounded by farm country — and traveling back and forth frequently to Chicago, I pass by many fields where scattered cattle contentedly graze. But more and more often I also pass the growing number of factory farms, where I see these long open-sided barns with the rear ends of hundreds of cattle, tails wagging in tiny pens under bright lights 24 hours a day.

I guess they are being fattened up for market. But I find the sight of these cattle, being treated as so much walking meat instead of proud animals enjoying some vestige of normal life, depressing and upsetting. Yes, I once worked for a prominent fast food company, and I know that burger places want to keep their prices low by buying less expensive meat. So do homemakers. But I’d willingly pay the extra few cents to know that cattle are treated humanely while they live.

When I was a boy, my father had an “ooo-ga” horn installed on his car, and when we went on country drives, he would pull up to a field fence and sound it, and cows and steers would sidle up to the fence and “moo” back. I guess those days are gone, but I still like to see cattle in the field, contentedly grazing with their young ones. That’s worth something to me.

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