When we go to the supermarket, we rarely think about how that piece of chicken or piece of pork ended up on the shelves. There’s a high level of disconnect when it comes to our food, author Sonia Faruqi says. We don’t know how the animals were treated, or the conditions on these industrial farms.

She joins ProPublica reporter Cezary Podkul on the podcast to discuss her book, “Project Animal Farm” – pulling back the curtain on how America keeps up with its insatiable demand for meat, dairy and other products, often with little regulation or concern for the external costs.

Highlights from their conversation:

  • The ‘Frankensteinian genetics’ sown into our livestock: Chickens today grow at an extremely unnatural rate. Their legs often cannot keep up with the weight of their bodies and actually collapse underneath them, Faruqi says. “It would be similar to a human being gaining hundreds of pounds in the first couple of months of life.” (1:28)
  • The environmental cost of factory farms: “They contribute more to global warming and to climate change than all the transportation in the world combined,” Faruqi says. The industry is really becoming a “global goliath.” (5:34)
  • How America’s factory farm model has been exported elsewhere, much like Hollywood and our fast food obsession. (10:26)
  • What can consumers do? For starters, we can reduce our meat consumption. Per capita, Americans consume 300 pounds of meat, dairy, eggs and other animal products per year. “It’s unsustainable, it’s inhumane and it’s also very unnecessary,” Faruqi says. (20:02)

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher, and check out Faruqi's book, "Project Animal Farm," for more on America's food industry.