Tag Archives: Industrialized Food

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 Obesity Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. For many of these conditions, diet is a contributing factor. Check out the obesity prevalence by state for 2011:

  • Obesity prevalence ranged from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi.
  • No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.
  • 39 states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states had a prevalence of 30% or more: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
  • The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (29.5%), followed by the Midwest (29.0%), the Northeast (25.3%) and the West (24.3%).

Learn more in this  video called “The Obesity Epidemic,” which addresses the challenges of obesity in our country, especially food and eating behaviors. As a major contributor to some of the leading causes of death in the U.S., it’s time to evolve our communities into places that strongly support healthy eating and active living.

Pig Farm Without Empathy

It’s stories like this one that inspired me to start Life Is Fare in the first place. I’m warning you, this video is disturbing. It’s another undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States and this time the victims are pigs from Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland, Wyoming.

It’s not just disturbing that people treat animals this way and that the majority of consumers who eat the meat from these animals don’t realize that stress creates a poor quality product. What’s also disturbing is that people are acting this way in the first place. Any employer who creates conditions that drive their employees to commit violence should be shut down. And if those people were disturbed to begin with, they shouldn’t have been hired. They need help.

While I believe most of the human race is empathic toward people and animals, there is a small percentage that has no conscience or empathy. Often these people end up in leadership roles or positions of power. Exactly where they don’t belong.

This video has nothing to do with the carnivore-vegetarian debate. It’s about the golden rule. Please stop supporting industrialized farming. Remember, you are what you eat.

Where Do Your Eggs Come From?

Warning: This is a graphic undercover video by the Humane Society of the United States showing the horrible conditions hens endure at Kreider Farms, an egg factory in Pennsylvania that supplies eggs to grocery stores. The company is also a distributor for Eggland’s Best.

If you don’t want to watch the video, at least read about the observations of the  investigator:

  • Birds were severely overcrowded in cages more cramped than the national average; each hen received only 54–58 square inches of space on which to spend her life.
  • Injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses, were found inside cages with living hens laying eggs for human consumption.
  • Hens were left without water for days when a water source malfunctioned, causing many to die.
  • Hens’ legs, wings, and heads were found trapped in cage wires and automated feeding machinery.
  • A thick layer of dead flies on the barn floors caused a crunching sound when walking on it.

Not only is this a horrible way to treat animals, but the stress they endure ultimately affects their egg production. Do you want to eat those eggs?

In addition to keeping hens in deplorable conditions, Kreider Farms is one of the few egg producers in the U.S. which doesn’t support federal legislation aimed at improving conditions for America’s laying hens, and providing a stable and secure future for egg farmers.

The bill in the U.S. Congress, H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, would phase in new housing systems for hens over the next 15 to 18 years, providing them far more space and ensuring that cages contain environmental enrichments such as perches and nesting areas.

Is This What You Want Your Kids Eating for Lunch?

Photo via The Huffington Post

From the Huffington Post comes this article informing us that, while McDonald’s,  Taco Bell, and Burger King have rejected the “pink slime,” aka, ammonia-treated pinkish-tinted ground beef, to use in their products, the U.S. Government has moved forward to purchase it for the national school lunch program. One million pounds of ” a ground-up combination of beef scraps, cow connective tissues, and other beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli” will be going into hamburger patties and taco meat for kids.

There are a few reasons why you should be concerned if your children are fed by this program:

  • Ammonium hydroxide, which can both be harmful to eat and has potential to turn into ammonium nitrate is also a common component in household cleaners, fertilizers, and homemade bombs.
  • In 2009, The New York Times reported that despite the added ammonia, tests of Lean Beef Trimmings of schools across the country revealed dozens of instances of E. coli and salmonella pathogens.
  • The announcement came just weeks after the government announced new standards for school meals to ensure students are given healthier options, including more whole grains and produce as well as less sodium and fat.

Personally, I won’t go near the stuff. That’s why Bill and I buy grassfed and pastured meat from our local farmers. And, when I eat at a restaurant, I choose vegetarian options over factory farmed meats.

“Back to the Start”: A Thoughtful Short Film on Our Food System

I’m not a big fan of fast food, but I’ve heard good things about Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast food chain that seeks “food with integrity,” which they define as “their commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers.”

Check out this stop motion film the company did to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system. Film-maker Johnny Kelly, commissioned by Chipotle, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future.

The Meat-Eater’s Guide

A new Meat Eater’s Guide to eating meat has been published by the Environmental Working Group to provide information about the climate, environmental, and health impact of your protein choices.

It’s based on a study that calculates the full “cradle-to-grave” carbon footprint of each food item based on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated before and after the food leaves the farm – from the pesticides and fertilizer used to grow animal feed all the way through the grazing, animal raising, processing, transportation, cooking and, finally, disposal of unused food. The life cycles of 20 popular types of meat (including fish), dairy and vegetable proteins were assessed.

While the general message is that consuming meat is bad for the environment (and eating too much meat poses serious health issues) , the guide does discuss the benefits of grassfed/pastured meat.

And vegetarians who eat cheese are not off the hook, either. As the guide says, “pound for pound, cheese generates the third-highest emissions.”

We could all do the earth–and ourselves–better by eating more plants, as Michael Pollan says. And if you choose meat, go for grassfed and pastured. It may be more expensive initially, but in the long run our collective cost from environmental and healthcare issues will be lower.