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The Consumer Feedlot

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The Consumer Feedlot

Keeping up with the Joneses at the feed trough / Pixabay

A feedlot is where animals are fattened up prior to their slaughter. These days, this happens at very intensive, industrial-scale Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). The animals are gorged on feed designed to fatten them up quickly often composed of ingredients the animals would never eat in the wild. Range of movement and activity are also limited to prioritize feeding and limit caloric loss due to physical exertion.

I think a feedlot is a great analogy for how I often feel about our consumption-obsessed society. With the never-ending onslaught of advertising, marketing, media, branding, and debt-fueled consumption, I feel as though I’m living in a feedlot rather than an actual real country. Instead of actual heritage, America has consumerism. This is our heritage. The purpose of our lives is to consume as much as possible and fatten ourselves up, for the ultimate benefit and enrichment of the owners of the feedlot operation… and that’s what life feels like for me in the US a lot of the time—less an actual country or society, and more of just a consumer feedlot.

Like the animals fattening themselves up for the slaughter, consumers in capitalist societies are likewise ‘fattening themselves up’ by gorging on the ‘feed’ or merchandise being shoveled to us by forces that seek to profit from our own self-destructive behaviors be it debt, health (mental and physical), addictions, etc. What’s more, our capitalist economy actually depends on it.

Contrast this to the lives of animals that are not confined to CAFOs, or roam free in nature and enjoy more than simply gorging on fattening food in preparation for culling.

A co-worker of mine expressed a similar sentiment using the term ‘BigMac Nation’. I think this is a great way of expressing the phenomenon of a culture that is ‘dumbed down’ to the point of working against its own personal and collective self interests purely in the pursuit of consumption for consumption’s sake and profit.