Many decades ago, I would ride along with my dad to his job to pick up his weekly paycheck. We drove through what was known as the Vernon meatpacking district of Los Angeles. Food processing plants with adjacent feedlots with about a dozen cows or hogs in each roaming in its confines. We would pass packing plants like Oscar Meyer, Armour Star, Farmer John, Swift and Co, and others. You would catch the sense of the place by its distinct feedlot odor. But the odor was somewhat localized. One could quickly drive away from the smell.
But the book I have recently read talks about industrial strength odor. Odor so bad one would drive for miles to escape the horrid smell. Therefore, we are talking about huge industrial hog farms in North Carolina. Farms with open slues of hog waste and fluids. Slues wreaking odors so strong nearby neighbor’s eyes would burn and clothing would be splattered with floating droplets of waste.
This book narrates how small communities of mostly minorities went to war against the industrial hog farmers. Mainly Smithfield Foods. A consortium of large hog farms with legions of attorneys with little concern of the farms mega odors and the spraying of polluting mist across vast acreage spilling into neighbors yards and on houses.
The book title: Wastelands: The true story of farm country on trial by Corban Addison and John Grisham. Non-fiction true crime 2022.
From the book jacket:
“The once idyllic coastal plain of North Carolina is home to a close-knit, rural community that for more than a generation has battled the polluting practices of large-scale farming taking place in its own backyard. After years of frustration and futility, an impassioned cadre of local residents, led by a team of intrepid and dedicated lawyers, filed a lawsuit against one of the world’s most powerful companies–and, miraculously, they won.
After reading this expose, you may never eat another slice of bacon again. Read it. You might like it. Sorry no romance but lots of tears and hugging.