Category Archives: Industrialized Food

School Lunches: Have They Really Changed?


School Lunches No One Should Have to Eat

So much is happening to improve school lunches in our country but it seems we still have a long way to go. Check out this slide show from Takepart.com. Sort of reminds me of lunches back in the 1970s, when I was in grade school.

Five Absurdly Large Fast-Food Serving Sizes


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From Takepart.com, here’s a photo gallery of some enormous “servings” of food. I don’t know about you but I can hardly stomach the photos. I can’t imagine eating like this.

March Against Monsanto: 1,000+ Demonstrators in Grand Rapids, Michigan


March Against Monsanto, Grand Rapids, Michigan

We had an impressive turnout of demonstrators today in Grand Rapids, Michigan–people who were motivated to March Against Monsanto to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food (GMOs) and the food giants that produce it. I was thrilled to be a participant in a worldwide event to bring awareness to consumers about who’s controlling our food system. Good to see local news stations WOOD-TV and Fox 17 West Michigan covered the event.

Here’s my video of marchers on Pearl Street.

And check out the slideshow I created of demonstrators and their creative signs. (Oh, plus a wedding in progress as we passed the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.)

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March Against Monsanto: May 25


March Against MonsantoIf you haven’t heard, a global initiative is underway. People all over the world who care about what they eat and the future of the earth will March Against Monsanto on Saturday, May 25, to demonstrate their concern about the global food supply.

Marches are planned on six continents, in 49  countries, totaling events in over 370 cities. In the U.S., events will occur simultaneously at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time in 47 states.

I’m marching in Michigan to take a stand against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which can threaten people’s health and longevity, as well as biodiversity.

To learn more about initiative, read the mission statement and press release.

Interested in marching? Find a city near you.

The Smell of Money


Dodge City

When you head into Dodge City, Kansas, on Route 50 from the east, one of the first things you come to is the overlook. It’s not a scenic overlook, unless the view–and the smell–of a cattle feedlot and processing is appealing to you. I bet it’s scenic to the people who appreciate “the smell of money.” That’s the phrase used by many ranchers and managers of confined animal factory operations (CAFO). Beef processing is a lucrative business. Luckily, on our visit to Dodge City, Bill and I were up wind of the smell at the overlook.

I think Dodge City is proud of its heritage in cattle production. Excel Corporation, one of the world’s largest beef-processing facilities is adjacent to the feedlot and processes about 6,000 head of cattle a day, six days a week. Nearby National Beef, a processing plant cited in a 2011 product recall for E. coli contamination, processes 4,000 head daily. One of the signs at the overlook says, “Combined, annually these two plants annually market enough beef to feed 16 million people for one year. Kansas ranks first in the United States commercial cattle production, processing over 8 million head annually. ” That’s amazing. But it makes me ask, what’s wrong with our country that we have to eat so much beef?

I wanted to see the feedlots first-hand. So on a recent trip to the Plains, Bill and I photographed several, beginning in Dodge City and heading west to Colorado. To me, CAFOs are the smell of inhumanity. Not just the inhumane treatment of cows lying around in their excrement, but also the conditions employees endure in the processing plants.

Here’s a video I took of just one feedlot in southwest Kansas. It’s 1 1/2 minutes long taken from our car going 30 m.p.h. Notice the drainage areas, which can have negative effects on the environment.

And here are more photos from southwest Kansas.

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Wouldn’t you rather have beef from a happy cow, like these from Grassfields, raised on grass in open space?

Happy cows at Grassfields

Keepers of the Seed


You’ve probably heard a lot about Monsanto and its drive to continue producing  GMOs and pesticides. But what is its impact on a person’s livelihood? It can go as far as suicide.

The Perennial Plate recently went to India and interviewed environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva on the reality of these issues. Watch this video called “Two Options” to learn more about Dr. Shiva, a farmer named Bija Devi, their network of seed keepers,  and their fight to preserve heirloom seeds in India.

Hit Upside the Head


Skinny Bitch I’m not a big fan of crudeness when it comes to writing. It’s not that I have a problem with expletives–I use my own share of them occasionally as a reaction to something unexpected–but using the f-word and other obscenities in a book gets pretty vulgar.

However, I see why authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin did it in their book Skinny Bitch. They’re trying to get your attention and, as one woman said in her testimonial on the authors’ website, she felt she was hit upside the head when she read it. Obese and frustrated at the numerous ways she tried losing weight, Skinny Bitch was like a wake-up call. She actually lost 180 pounds (from an overweight of 300+ pounds) by following the authors’ advice, which is basically to go vegan.

According to their website, Rory Freedman is a former agent for Ford Models, and a self-taught know-it-all. Kim Barnouin is a former model who holds a Master’s of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition.

I do think they know what they’re talking about even though their smart-mouthed approach gets a little old. That’s why I stuck with the book instead of being turned off by statements like, “Beer is for frat boys, not skinny bitches. It makes you fat, bloated, and farty.” Or “Eat your fiber and crap like a champ.” Or “F__ excuses about not having the time or money.” (Luckily, it’s a quick read. If I can do it, you can, too.)

The authors include facts supported by research and practical plans to “stop eating crap and start looking fabulous.” It’s not about fad dieting. Rather, it incorporates the theme “you are what you eat” throughout. The chapters on meat include hardcore facts about the meat industry and factory farming as graphic as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. The book clearly demonstrates how our food industry leaders are intertwined with our government, making it difficult for consumers to get quality, healthy food at the grocery store. The authors offer suggestions for eating well, what to avoid, and a supportive “just do it” attitude (if you can look past the accompanying f-words).

I’m still a carnivore and, even though I only eat happy meat, I have to say Skinny Bitch got me thinking about going vegan. It was more than reading (again) about the horrific conditions on factory farms. It’s about what our bodies were designed to consume. Sure, we have canine teeth but do we really need to tear apart meat anymore? Do we really need to consume dairy products (my favorite food group) after we’re weaned from mother’s milk? And how about all those food allergies? Food for thought, I guess. The only thing I can’t consider, if I were to go vegan, is fake meat. (And there are many “substitutes” listed in the resource section of Skinny Bitch for vegans.) I’m really curious why anything that looks and tastes like meat, but isn’t, would be appealing to vegans.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about our screwed up food system, or you’d like a new approach for tackling weight loss, get a copy of Skinny Bitch. And get ready for some sass.

The Cheap Food Policy: “King Corn”


I’ve been wanting to see the movie “King Corn” for awhile and finally got around to renting it. If you’re into eating happy food, this is a must-see documentary about “the stuff we’re really made from.”

It’s about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In the film, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college, move from the East Coast to the Midwest to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.

The Hidden Dangers of Feedlot Beef


Photo via TakePart.com

Photo via TakePart.com

Feedlot beef is not a new topic for Life Is Fare, but I feel compelled to once again share an article about the beef that’s sold to most grocery stores and restaurants in the U.S.

The Kansas City Star investigated the processing methods–and their hazards for human health–among the largest beef packers in the U.S. This group includes the big four— Tyson Foods of Arkansas, Cargill Meat Solutions of Wichita, National Beef of Kansas City, and JBS USA Beef of Greeley, Colo. — as well as the network of feedlots, processing plants, animal drug companies and lobbyists who make up the behemoth known as Big Beef.

What The Star found is “an increasingly concentrated industry that mass-produces beef at high speeds in mega-factories that dot the Midwest, where Kansas City serves as the “buckle” of the beef belt. It’s a factory food process churning out cheaper and some say tougher cuts of meat that can cause health problems.”

Here’s a list of other key findings:

  • Large beef plants, based on volume alone, contribute disproportionately to the incidence of meat-borne pathogens.
  • Big Beef and other processors are co-mingling ground beef from many different cattle, some from outside the United States, adding to the difficulty for health officials to track contaminated products to their source. The industry also has resisted labeling some products, including mechanically tenderized meat, to warn consumers and restaurants to cook it thoroughly.
  • Big Beef is injecting millions of dollars of growth hormones and antibiotics into cattle, partly to fatten them quickly for market. But many experts believe that years of overuse and misuse of such drugs contributes to antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans, meaning illnesses once treated with a regimen of antibiotics are much harder to control.
  • Big Beef is using its political pull, public relations campaigns and the supportive science it sponsors to influence federal dietary guidelines and recast steaks and burgers as health foods people can eat every day. It even persuaded the American Heart Association to certify beef as “heart healthy.”

Are you sure this is what you want to eat?

The GMO Debate: To Label or Not to Label?


Watch the debate on Real Time with Bill Maher (rated R for language, fyi). Don’t we have a right to know if we’re eating GMOs?