Monday, March 29, 2010

Cubby's mom, gizzard trouble, and disease gone wild . .

Cubby’s mom almost died last night. I tweeted my concern from the hospital, so I’ll tell you the rest of the story here . . .

Here she is at 2AM, prior to undergoing extensive repair procedures. You can't see it in the images but she was rendered unserviceable by abdominal pain and was only smiling for the camera because they had fed her morphine.

It’s amazing how these things can turn so bad, so quick. Cubby’s mom (we have been divorced many years and she lives alone) felt some abdominal pain Sunday morning when she woke up. By noon the pain was bad enough for her to call the doctor.

She drove to the Repair Center at the University of Massachusetts. The doctors there were not really sure what to do with her. She didn’t seem too sick, but she was in a lot of pain. They talked about several possibilities. Diverticulitis . . . a kidney stone . . . or possibly an ovarian cyst.

Her pain got worse; by four o’clock she couldn’t really even stand. Five o’clock came around, and the folks at Umass decided it was time to ship her to the hospital. An ambulance was called, and she made the ten-mile journey to Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

That’s when she called Cubby and me. Things were looking, well, uncertain. I arrived at the hospital to find her resting in a room in the Emergency area. Cubby arrived a short while later with Kirsten, his girlfriend. Cubby and I looked at mom, and didn’t know what to think. She didn’t feel feverish, but she was complaining a lot, and she couldn’t stand up.

However, there was nothing obvious that we could do.

The nurses came in periodically to poke and prod. On one visit, they took blood samples. Then, having nothing else to do, they returned to take some more. But even that wasn’t enough. A fresh nurse came and took nose swabs.

“We’re looking for institutional infections,” the nurse said, with a hint of menace.

“She shouldn’t have any of those,” I said brightly. “She’s been out of State Prison almost three years now.”

The nurse snorted, and Cubby’s girlfriend asked her for a tour of the morgue. The nurse retreated quickly leaving Kirsten's morgue touring ambitions unfulfilled.

Cubby examined the wall outlets for oxygen, vacuum, and electricity. We pondered experiments with the available medical equipment, and we considered imaginative uses of the various tools in the room.

Still there was no diagnosis. Mom seemed to hurt more by the hour, but there was no visible reason. We considered the possibility of demons.

Nine o’clock came and went. “We’re going to send you for a See Tee scan,” the nurse announced. By that time, I was seeing tea myself, along with pasta shells, linguini with clams, and other dinner possibilities. We departed the hospital in search of food, leaving mom to be scanned at their leisure. Cubby and I went home to bed.

By eleven, mom’s biggest concern was whether they’d keep her overnight or if they’d dump her in the street at one o’clock on a rainy night. All that changed at 12:30. That’s when she called me and said they found a hole in her intestine.

It was diverticulitis gone bad. Something had gotten rotten and burst in her gut, and her innards were becoming suffused with vile filth. “We need to operate right away,” they said. I drove back to the hospital, in time to meet the surgeon who was as bright eyed and bushy tailed as one could want for two in the morning.

We were both rather alarmed, since any surgery that has to be done by firelight in the predawn darkness must be serious indeed. But the surgeon appeared unconcerned. “I’ve done three of these colon surgeries in the past ten days,” she said. Her confidence was reassuring. “The procedure should take about an hour,” she said, and they rolled mom into the operating room. I went out into the deserted waiting room, pulled up a couch, and tried to nap.

This is Holly Michaelson, the doctor who performed the repairs. I do not know if she is nocturnal or if she woke up just for us. I suspect the latter but in a place like the one we live in, the former is certainly a possibility.

Everyone in the area was dressed in those blue hospital gowns, with the exception of a geeky-looking guy in a shiny suit. At first, I thought he was the Sales Agent for those Krumedgeon Funeral Home people, but he turned out to be an innocent repairman from GE Medical Imaging.

An hour came and went. No word. That’s when I discovered the doors were all locked. I could not get out, and they could not get in. Hopefully someone in the operating room had a key, because I was finally in jail, alone in an empty part of the hospital. I pondered breaking the window to escape but I restrained myself by repeating "They did not mean to lock you in." And it seemed true . . . no one in his right mind would lock me in a glass walled room full of sharp and heavy objects.

I lay back down, and two hours passed. Still nothing. I reassured myself that she must at least be alive, because if she’d died they surely would have said something by now. Three hours came and went. Finally, fifteen minutes short of four hours after they began, the doctor appeared.

“It all went well,” she said. “You can see her in about half an hour, when she wakes up.” And she was right. Mom was awake and talking before dawn. However, her verbal abilities were limited and she was not very energetic.

The surgeon cut a three-inch incision in her groin, and snipped out several inches of rotten and pustulent intestine. Next, she disconnected the small and large intestines and routed the small intestine to a bag on mom’s side so the large intestine would have a chance to heal. As much of a nuisance as that seems, the detachable bag will make it easier for her to leave unwanted gifts for unpleasant people over the next few weeks That said, I am sure she will be anxious to return to normal digestive function.

“She’s going to need one or two more operations to put everything back together,” the surgeon said. “It may take six to eight weeks but she should make a full recovery.”

I think this was the kind of operation where if you wake up, it was deemed a success. It’s sort of like pilots say: any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

This is mom, just woken up, at 6:15.

I’m shocked that Cubby’s mom could get so sick, so fast. I guess she’s lucky she went to the doctor’s when she did. Fifteen years before, her dad died from a similar infection after walking around for two days with leaking guts. A few more hours on the loose, and the same thing might have happened to her.

Now she begins the process of recovery. It starts with suppressing the infection that’s brewing in her guts. They’ve got her on strong IV antibiotics, but 20% of people who have this surgery get serious infections anyway.

We’ll have to see what happens, and hope for the best.

It’s almost 11 o’clock. Day two is about to begin, and I am about to go to sleep.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Join me in New York June 8th for an evening with GRASP

This is a letter I received last night from Michael John Carley, founder of the GRASP advocacy group. . .


Tuesday, June 8
The William Bennett Gallery
65 Greene Street
New York, NY
6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

GRASP's Annual Fundraising Benefit Honoring . . .

The 2010 "FAB" (Friend and Benefactor) Award
Linda Walder Fiddle, The Daniel J. Fiddle Foundation.

The 2010 "DSM" (Distinguished Spectrumite Medal)
John Elder Robison, Author.

The 2010 "DNA" (Divine Neurotypical Award)
Lois Rosenwald, The Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center.

Bios of all three are below our signature!

A more detailed email blast will follow with ticket info, journal info, and silent auction info!!!

Wanna volunteer??? We need tickets sold, journal pages sold, auctions managed, OR envelope stuffers for a pizza party at GRASP's NYC office the evening of Tuesday, April 20. PLEASE email back if so!!!!

Thank you all! As tough as last year's event would be to top, we think it'll happen!!! :-)


The Benefit Committee
Linda Walder Fiddle is the Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF), a 501(c)(3) national autism organization with the mission to develop, advocate for and award grants to programs that enhance the lives of adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including residential, recreational, vocational, educational and family programs. DJF is a leading national advocacy and awareness organization that focuses on issues affecting the lives of adults with ASD including health and wellness throughout the lifespan. The guiding principle of the foundation is to provide suitable and sustainable opportunities for adults with ASD to participate in and contribute to community life. This is the goal Linda had for her own son Danny for whom The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is named in memory and honor of, and the all-volunteer run organization has pioneered the development and advancement of programs nationwide since 2002.

Linda has received numerous awards for her accomplishments on behalf of the autism community. In 2009 alone she received a Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Autism Family Services of NJ’s Community Service Award, and was honored by the New Jersey Coalition of Inclusive Ministries. Linda also received Redbook magazine’s 2009 “Strength & Spirit” Award and was featured, as one of the five the most inspirational women in the United States in Redbook’s December 2009 issue for her leadership on behalf of teens and adults with ASD.

In addition to Linda’s efforts directing the foundation, she is a member of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force. She is a prominent advocate on the state and national levels and works closely with legislators on issues that affect adults with ASD. Ms. Walder Fiddle is a frequent contributor to autism publications including Autism Spectrum News and Autism Advocate. She is currently a member of the Advisory Boards of the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School, Bergen County Community College Autism Center and Autism Family Services of New Jersey. She is member of the Steering Committee of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, a national collaborative effort of autism organizations focusing on adult issues.

Linda Walder Fiddle dedicates herself not only to those with autism but also to humanitarian projects around the world, from New Orleans to Cambodia. She recently helped open two schools outside of Phnom Penh with a group that included her 16-year-old daughter Ava. She also serves on The Board of Trustees of The Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and is currently working on social action initiatives focusing on Africa.

Linda resides in Ridgewood, New Jersey, with her husband Fred and daughter Ava.

John Elder Robison is a free range Aspergian male who grew up in the 1960s before the Asperger diagnosis had come into common use. After dropping out of high school, John worked in the music business where he created sound effects and electronic devices, the best known of which were the signature guitars he built for KISS. Later John worked on some of the first video games and talking toys at Milton Bradley. After a ten year career in electronics John founded Robison Service, a specialty automobile company in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Robison Service has grown to be one of the largest independent restoration and service specialists for BMW, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce cars in the northeast.

When he’s not at Robison Service, John serves as an adjunct professor in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He also serves on review boards for the National Institutes of Mental Health and Autism Speaks. John is also involved in TMS autism research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

John is the author of Look Me in the Eye, my life with Asperger’s. John’s writing has been translated into 18 languages and is sold in 60+ countries. John’s next book, Be Different!, will be published in the spring of 2011. His writing has appeared in a number of magazines and he’s a regular blogger on Psychology Today.

In addition to his autism advocacy work, John is a lifelong car enthusiast, an avid hiker, a photographer, a music lover, and a world-class champion eater. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Lois Rosenwald is the mother of a grown son with Asperger's syndrome, and is the founder of the Greater New Haven PDD/Asperger's Network: the first group of its kind in CT; also founder and Executive Director of the Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center. The Center does most of the training in the state for both families and school personnel. She has been actively involved for years (legislatively) advocating for appropriate services for individuals in Connecticut with ASD, and for their families. She currently serves on, or has served on the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Council, the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation ASD Assessment Team, the Board of Directors of CLERC, the Connecticut Family Support Council (appointed by the Governor), the Connectibility Steering Committee. the Commission for Persons with Developmental disabilities without Mental Retardation (appointed by the Governor); and she Co-chairs the Division of Autism Services Council and the Pilot Steering Committee that has developed services for adults with Autism Spectrum disorders that are currently served by the ASD Pilot Assessment Team.

The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, Inc.
666 Broadway, Suite 830
New York, NY 10012
p + f = 1.888.474.7277

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One voice among thirty - why one person's vote matters

It's been a week since I announced that I was joining the review boards at Autism Speaks. Many of you supported me, but a few of you doubted my ability to exert much influence as the lone Aspergian on the board.

In particular, people have suggested that one person’s vote can’t make any difference to thirty scientists who share a review board with one misfit (me.) The implication is, the thirty scientists vote as they wish, and my lone vote is ignored. That perception is totally wrong, and I’d like to take a moment to show you why . . .

To understand the significance of one person’s vote, please join me as we review and rate some promising (sample) medical research. I’m describing the general process of review on the Autism Speaks boards, but the process is essentially the same for the NIH and other government agencies, and many big private foundations.

The process starts as research proposals pour into the agency. The first step is to ensure applicants met all the ground rules to qualify for the funds at hand. Agency staff does that work. This first screening may weed out half the proposals. The rejected proposals go back to the researchers with various notes and suggestions. Many researchers clean up their applications and come back again so this is really an iterative process.

Next, the proposals that made it through the initial screening reach the review board – the place I serve. Proposals are dealt out to members of the board for a first ranking. Much of the time, three reviewers read each proposal. They may be assigned randomly, or they may be dealt out by expertise. However they are allocated, if there are 30 of us on the board, and there are 100 proposals to deal with, we will each be assigned ten.

We rate the proposals we are given in several areas, like the impact on the community, how likely the work is to succeed, and whether it’s truly new research or a rehash of something already covered. Each area is scored from 1-5, or perhaps 1-7. So a proposal that I (or any of us) rated 4,4,5,5,3 in each of five areas would have a composite score of 4.2

The three initial reviewer scores are combined for a total score, and the proposals are ranked based on this first pass. At that point, staffers take the funds available for allotment and they see how far down into the ranks the money goes. For example, if we have twenty million dollars to distribute, that might be enough to fund the top third of the applications.

Given that, the agency takes all the proposals in the top third, plus a cut of the next tier, for final review. That’s where we all discuss them, and we all vote. And that’s where any one voice can really matter a lot. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say a piece of research involves social skills training, and most of the scientists gave it a 3 for importance. But I feel that it’s a really important proposal, based on my life experience, so I speak up. By doing so, I cause people around the room to rethink the proposal’s importance, and a number of people move their score from 3 to 4 or even 5. The result: that proposal’s average score rises, which moves it from “not good enough to fund” into the “recommended for funding” category.

The same thing can happen in reverse. If I said a particular proposal was irrelevant, its score might drop, and it would sink in the ranking allowing other more important work to be funded.

Any of us have the power to move ranking in this way. You might say our influence is directly proportional to how much we believe and our oratory skill.

The idea that I would be ignored or bullied – as some have suggested – is simply not realistic. Any of you who’ve met me in person know I’m six foot three and loud, so I’m hard to ignore. And these are gentle people. As Marlon Brando suggested in The Godfather, they are receptive to reasonable arguments.

The system I described varies a little bit from one agency to another but I think you can get the general idea. In the first round, the proposals are graded by teams of three, and the size of the entire board really does not matter. In the second round, a persuasive speaker can move a room of fifty people as effectively as he can move five people. So once again, the size of the board is not really indicative of any one person’s importance.

I guess being a reviewer is really what you make of it. If you’re meek as a lamb your vote won’t change anything. But if you are passionate, and articulate, you can really accomplish a lot.

And that’s what I intend to do, every time I vote.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Trial By Jury

This morning, I found myself back at the local Superior Court, the site of last year’s battle with corrupt and venal prosecutors who sought to advance their own careers at the expense of my innocent son. Readers of my blog know that justice did prevail, but at a high cost.

Anytime you’re forced to spend nearly a hundred grand to defend your kid against frivolous criminal charges, you have to ask yourself . . . how many other innocent people rot in jail because they could not afford a first rate defense?

In this economy, how many people lose their houses or their livelihoods, when forced to give it all up to defend against a malicious prosecutor who menaces their family with impunity while hiding behind the shield of the State?

Like most people, I grew up believing there was some degree of fairness in our court system. In particular, I believed our prosecutors took the idea of protecting the innocent and convicting the guilty seriously. Now I know better. I realize they too are only human. Some of them may – hopefully - possess the strong moral fiber of a trusted village pastor while others have all the ethics of a street corner pimp or crack dealer.

If the specimens I encountered last year are representative of the sort of creature we depend on to protect the public, look out! The problem is, how do you know which ones are good and which are bad? And what do you do if you are set upon by the latter, when they see a chance to make a score over your dead body?

All you can do is what I did last year . . . trust in our jury system, and hope the jurors can see specimens like that for what they are. In my son’s case, they did, and I returned to the court today as a potential juror to return that favor if offered the chance. Would they take me?

At 8:30 I found myself in a room full of people, typing away at my computer as potential jurors filled the room and things got tighter and tighter. By nine, fifty-four of us were packed into a few hundred square feet, as if we were participants in some bizarre rat behavior experiment. With all their talk about the importance of the jurors, judges and lawyers still relax in comfortable offices while we are packed like cattle. The lesson to be learned: importance is only a ten letter word. They did have a private bathroom for us, after all. With no lock.

Why do I mention the bathroom lock? I'm glad you asked . . . Google Pottygate and you'll see what kind of specimens frequent this court. As the newspapers say, this DA actually convened a Grand Jury to investigate allegations that her Clerk of the Court stole her private bathroom key . . . and got stomped by the higher courts.

I wondered how long it would take for the cramped space to eliminate all traces of civility from my fellow jurors. Who would be the first to crack? The sweaty fat guy in the second row, or the hallucinating freak in the back, the one with the bright yellow t-shirt and Einstein hairdo? Some people read read books as college professors corrected papers. As the jurors went snap, crackle, pop, a few of the most deranged and troubled ones gnawed bloody stumps where fingers used to be.

From the marginal comfort of my chair, I gaze out at my fellow potential jurors. Are they smart? Are they insightful? Are they perceptive? Surely some of them are. How would I select from this pool, if I were a defense attorney? Would I want someone like me on the jury, a person with an inclination to see the law in a very cynical light?

I doubt things will get that far. Whatever a defense attorney might think, if I were one of the prosecutors we whipped last spring, I’d surely eliminate the likes of me from any jury pool at my first opportunity.

We see what happens soon enough. I filled out the “juror questionnaire” and handed it to the fellows in white uniforms. We watch a video, throughout which stern looking figures remind us of the importance of the jury system. An hour passes, and the judge walks in. “Folks,” he says, “There is just one trial today in the Superior Court. That defendant has decided to go ahead without a jury, so you are all dismissed.”

The clerk says, “I’m not telling you what to do for the rest of the day, but this jury slip won’t tell your employer what time you got discharged . . . “ He leaves the rest unsaid; there is a motel around the corner that rents rooms by the hour. The parking lot between is crunchy with glass from used crack vials, and soggy with discarded cigarette butts. Walking carefully, I left the court and stepped out into a rainy late winter day, with my questions of jury service unanswered and all my cynicism intact.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I have decided to take a more active advocacy role . . .

Readers of my blog know that I’ve been concerned about the direction of autism research for a long time. I am also troubled by the way we allocate dollars in general in the autism world. I’m a fairly action oriented guy, and I don’t like to sit around and worry. I want to do something; I want to take action. If this were a political issue, I’d have to run for office. Even the thought of that makes me cringe. Luckily, I now have the opportunity to make a difference without taking such an extreme step.

Last year, I was invited to join the Public Review Board for the National Institutes of Mental Health. Today I have agreed to join the Scientific and Treatment Advisory Boards of Autism Speaks. Founded in 2005, Autism Speaks quickly became the largest non-government source of autism funding in this country. Last year, they allocated 37 million dollars for autism research.

In the past, Autism Speaks has been criticized for not having any autistic people in its organization. They do have autism parents and grandparents, of course, but the views of parents are often at odds with those of their autistic offspring. People on the spectrum rightly feel that we – the affected individuals - should be at the heart of any funding decisions that may affect us. I agree with that, so I decided to take an active role.

I’ll be joining a board made up of thirty-some scientists and two parents. Each of us will have the opportunity to read, consider, and discuss proposals. The Autism Speaks review process is familiar to me; since it’s modeled on the system developed the NIH. I feel it’s a fair way to allocate limited resources and I’ll surely make the most of my opportunity.

I believe it’s a great honor to be selected for this role, first by the government and now by Autism Speaks. I will certainly do my best to live up to everyone’s expectations. I’m aware that my vote is only one among thirty, but the fact that I myself am on the spectrum will make a difference, and I certainly believe in speaking up for whatever I support. So I’m off and running!

One of my principal areas of concern will be identifying and funding studies that have a high likelihood of improving the lives of autistic people today. Research into causes of autism is important, but I want to see more research aimed at remediation of specific components of autistic disability. The TMS work I’m involved with at Harvard/Beth Israel is a good example of work that can lead to better lives for today’s autistic population.

There is also a lot of potential in behavioral therapy. Therapies like ABA and RDI have been successful for some on the spectrum, but they’ve totally failed for others. Are there new cognitive therapies with promise? That too is something that could make lives better today.

In addition to my work on the science side, I hope to work more closely with the Wrights and Autism Speaks management to help the organization appreciate the needs of autistic people at all points on the spectrum. That’s going to be a real challenge because the views of different people on the spectrum are so widely divergent.

When the Wrights founded Autism Speaks their focus was on children with significant autistic disability. While that remains important, I hope to broaden the organization’s focus to welcome and support less impaired people too. I also want to bring some attention to the plight of adults on the spectrum, many of whom grew up with no awareness of autism at all.

At one end of the spectrum autism may seem like a total disability. At the other end, autism can enable us in some ways while crippling us in others. It may seem like less impaired people need fewer services and less support, but it’s more correct to say their needs are just different. For that, they are no less real. I hope people everywhere can learn and share from one another and in doing so, all our lives may be enriched.

Jonathan Mitchell made an excellent point in one of his blog essays. A while back, I said I wanted to be accepted for who I am, and I want to live my life like any other person, in peace. He said he wants the same thing, but his autism prevents him from "living like anyone else." To do that, he needs help remediating some of the disabling aspects of his own autism. However, at this moment, the help he needs does not exist because science has not yet found the answers. As a member of Autism Speaks, I will do my best to advocate for research that can help people like Jonathan live better lives.

I believe each of us should be free to choose therapies or treatments - nothing should be forced upon us. After all, what works for me may do nothing for you. But before we can make those choices, viable therapies must exist. In today's world, the workable solutions for autistic disability are far too few. I believe Autism Speaks is committed to funding research to find the answers we need.

At the same time, we want and need greater public awareness of autism. Autism Speaks has done a great job raising awareness but there's a lot more to be done.

There may not seem to be much common ground between the extremes of neurodiversity and those who seek a cure, but I’ll find what there is and try to build more. I hope everyone can see the potential if we can all rally together in pursuit of a common goal. Whatever our differences, there are many things we can all agree on, such as the need for greater acceptance and opportunity for people with autism. We have issues with schools, jobs, and even the way the law treats people on the spectrum.

As always, I am here to respond to your questions and comments. I look forward to a new level of interaction with this community and the larger community Autism Speaks has built.

Read the official announcement here

Monday, March 8, 2010

Animal Factory

Have you heard about David Kirby’s new book, Animal Factory?

Animal Factory exposes the shocking and ugly ways large scale animal processors are impacting our environment. Before reading this eye opening book, I had no idea of the pollution coming out of today’s large scale pork farms, dairies, and cattle operations. I always thought of farming as a fairly benign activity. Cows poop in the fields, and farmers plow the manure in for fertilizer. Seems harmless and natural, right? It is, in a traditional farm.

But today’s mega-farms concentrate thousands of animals in a fraction of the space. Cows in these lots don’t graze in meadows – they are fed concentrated food from troughs. They are packed so tight there’s no room to graze, and there are so many hungry beasts that there’s nothing growing to eat, anyway. A field that thrived on the manure of fifty cows collapses with the waste stream of five hundred, and it becomes an environmental disaster when trampled by a thousand cattle.

David showed me a new perspective on animal waste, and frankly, it’s shocking. It’s no surprise that cows and pigs generate more waste than humans. What happens to it? In many places, the waste is pumped into lagoons – open cesspools – before being sprayed on surrounding fields. Some of these animal operations generate as much waste as a city of 10,000 people. Can you imagine the public outrage if we stored that much human waste in open cesspools before spraying it over community meadows? That’s a pretty disgusting thought.

Yet that’s exactly what we do with pig, chicken, and cattle wastes. We’ve brought human waste under tight control in recent decades. David shows us that it’s time to do the same for animals in these factory environments.

There have been a number of books in recent years detailing the animal cruelty and purported evils of large scale animal operations. That’s not the message of this book. Rather, David takes us into communities in North Carolina, the Midwest, and Washington State where we see the impact this kind of agriculture has on communities and the environment. And it’s not pretty.

Now that I’ve read Animal Factory, my view of these factory farms is forever changed. Millions of people appreciate cheap meats in the supermarket, and places like these make that possible. But at what price? Humanity evolved on a much lower level of meat consumption. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back, and reconsider our priorities. I know I will. I already knew the risks of heart disease from eating too much meat. Now, adding the environmental risks, I think the answer for me is less meat, sustainably raised.

David makes a strong case for monitoring and regulating these mega-animal processors the same way we oversee chemical plants and other large industrial operations. Operators will surely cry foul, and complain that the cost of sewage treatment will make our food more expensive. But they are wrong. Every time a meat processor saves a few million dollars on waste management we all suffer as our rivers are polluted, fish die, and people get sick.

The owners of the food factories get rich by cutting corners, and we live with the consequences. Communities around these plants endure horrible and unhealthy stenches, and a toxic rain of manure and other effluents. And when the waste lagoons burst the effects are even worse.

David’s book doesn’t contain any nutrition or eating advice, but I sure am glad I eat organic locally grown foods whenever I can. There may not be much I can do about pollution from a hog factory in North Carolina, but I can at least support sustainable and environmentally responsible alternatives, so that’s what I do. And I can eat less meat. You can too.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma showed us alternatives to factory foods.
Slaughterhouse showed what it’s like for workers and animals inside these places.

Now, Animal Factory shows us the place these operations have in our human community.

And it’s not for me. This is an eye opening book, for sure. Read it.