A rare and unflinching look at where our meat comes from

If you are concerned with one or more of the following issues, then humane slaughter is an important part of the picture and you’ll want to see this film.

Pasture to plate movement

Although consumers are well educated about the humane treatment that these animals have had on these farms, what happens to these animals after they leave the farm to be slaughtered remains obscure to consumers.

Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability extends to the stewardship of both nature and animals.

Food safety

The United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) is responsible for the training of inspectors to have oversight on both food safety and human slaughter practices.

Ritual slaughter (Halal and Kosher)

Debates over the humaneness of religious slaughter cause contention

Food labeling

Not all of the widely used certified labels address animal welfare at the time of slaughter

Food quality

The protocols for humane slaughter affect meat quality in three major ways: taste, texture, and appearance.

 

Farm and Red Moon follows Audrey Kali, a university professor and prior vegan, as she confronts her investigation of farm animal slaughter practices. Americans know little about animal slaughter or the debates waging about how to do it humanely. Often overlooked, or overtly kept from view, slaughter is the final step in meat production, whether part of the local food movement or industrial agriculture.

We follow Kali as she visits farms and slaughterhouses to reveal the ambiguous moral underbelly of humane animal slaughter. The title, inspired by Marc Chagall’s painting, Farm and Red Sun, serves as a visual motif throughout the film. Looming over the farm is a huge red sun, bleeding into the sky. To Audrey, it is a moon with a dark side that cannot be seen, although she knows it must. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun in order to illuminate an otherwise dark night, the film illuminates a topic that for most people remains shrouded in darkness and mystery.

Visiting the meat processing classes at SUNY Cobleskill, Audrey asks students, when does a pig cease to be a pig and become meat? In interviews and classroom footage, Temple Grandin shares views on the signs of suffering and describes best practices for ensuring a quick death.

Georgian cattleman Will Harris, developed a farm system with on-farm abattoirs – significant because it eliminates the often inhumane transport of animals to slaughter. Describing his caring relationship to his animals, Harris explains, “I love my animals, just like you love your pet. But I love the herd, not the individual animal in the herd. It’s a river, not a lake.”

Earlier exposes of the abuses of industrial agriculture, and the sensationalized images by animal rights activists, have made farmers reticent to allow filmmakers to capture these images from their sites. As a result, few films have shown images of animal slaughter when people are trying to do it right. The film takes viewers behind the scenes in multiple locations, including the on-farm slaughter by farmer Eric Shelley, who we get to know throughout the film. But it is through the eyes of his son, Beau, who innocently asks questions about the lamb slaughtered in front of his eyes, that we come to understand how sheltered we are from these images.

What starts out as a concern for the animals becomes a story about people. Kali’s transformation from self-righteous vegan to ambivalent omnivore occurs because she she cannot turn down the offers of meat produced from animals raised lovingly by her gracious hosts. What she once saw as senseless acts of violence, she understands as a complicated agricultural system, pursued by decent people fully cognizant of the contradictions and complexity of their actions. The film documents Audrey’s quest to understand farmers and slaughterhouse workers through verstehen – understanding by experiencing their lives on their terms – eating meat and seeing their work from their point of view. It is the journey that the audience shares in as well.

We need your help to complete the film!

Please help us finish the film by making a tax deductible gift (to the extent allowable by law). Funds are handled through Filmmakers Collaborative, a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization. For information how to make a contribution, please contact us.

 

Blog

Updates and commentary from the filmmakers

Meet Cultured Meat *

* meat produced by in vitro cell culture of animal cells rather than from slaughtered animals Most consumers don’t have the opportunity to see inside slaughterhouses, and most consumers are probably grateful for that. The Read more…

Back from Malawi!

It’s good to be back in the United States and to start working on the film again. Living in a developing country gave me a lot of perspectives that I can bring to Farm and Read more…

The animals must come first

Why does the documentary film Farm and Red Moon need to be made? Haven’t we already learned about the horrors of the slaughterhouse (Earthlings), the trouble with factory farming (Food, Inc.), the global warming contribution of intensive animal agriculture Read more…

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