FOOD FRAUD - 7 THINGS IN MEAT TO PUT YOU RIGHT OFF EATING IT
Here are 10 reasons why the meat and dairy industry is unsustainable:
1. Deforestation – Farm animals require considerably more land than crops to produce a given amount of food energy. In Central America alone, 40 percent of all rainforests have been cleared in the last 40 years for cattle pasture to feed the export market, often for U.S. beef burgers. The World Hunger Program calculated that recent world harvests, if distributed equitably and fed directly to humans as opposed to livestock, could provide a vegan diet to 6 billion people.
2. Fresh Water – Without a doubt livestock has one of the largest water footprints on the planet. It may be hard to believe, but the standard American diet requires a whopping 4,200 gallons of water per day (including animals’ drinking water, irrigation of crops, processing, washing, etc.), whereas a vegan diet only requires 300. The easiest way to reduce demand for water is to eliminate the consumption of animal products.
3. Waste Disposal – Today’s factory farms house hundreds of thousands of cows, pigs and chickens and in turn produce astronomical amounts of waste. In the U.S. these giant livestock farms generate more than 130 times the amount of waste that humans do. This waste has polluted thousand of miles of rivers and contaminated groundwater, killing marine life and creating huge dead zones.
4. Energy Consumption – For that steak to end up on your plate it has to consume massive amounts of energy along the way. Growing the grain with a heavy use of agricultural chemicals to feed the cattle, transporting the cattle thousands of miles to slaughter and market, and then refrigerating and cooking the meat all amounts to an absurd use of resources. On average, it takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from meat, whereas it takes only 3.3 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from grain.
5. Food Productivity – The food productivity of farmland is quickly falling behind population growth, and the only option available to us short of stabilizing population is to cut back on meat consumption and convert grazing land to food crops. In the U.S. an estimated 56 million acres of land are producing hay for livestock, and only 4 million acres are used to grow vegetables for human consumption.
6. Global Warming – Global warming is driven by energy consumption, and as noted above livestock are energy guzzling, but that’s not all. Livestock also emit potent global warming gases into the environment. Cattle, in particular, produce a significant amount of methane. For example, a single dairy cow produces an average of 75 kilos of methane annually.
7. Loss of Biodiversity – Poaching and the black-marketeering of bushmeat is becoming a growing problem as our planet becomes more and more overcrowded and poorer populations venture into wildlife reserves to kill everything from elephants and chimpanzees to bonobos and birds. Hunters are using logging roads, which facilitate a more rapid invasion, that have been opened up by big multinational companies to poach every animal in sight to sell to people in the cities.
8. Grassland Destruction – As the herds of domesticated animals expanded, the environments on which wild animals such as bison and antelope used to thrive were replaced by monoculture grasslands to cater for large scale cattle grazing. Grassland has suffered a massive loss of life. What was once a rich and diverse ecosystem is now is a single species monoculture.
9. Soil Erosion – With 60 percent of the United States’ pastureland being overgrazed, the acceleration of soil erosion and degradation of land is an increasing concern. It takes approximately 500 years to replace just one inch of precious topsoil. While fertilizers may be able to replace a small amount of nutrient loss, the large inputs of fossil energy to do so is completely unrealistic and unsustainable.
10. Lifestyle Disease – The excessive consumption of meat and dairy in developed countries combined with environmental pollution and lack of exercise is causing a wealth of preventable health problems such as heart disease. While western civilizations are dying from strokes, cancer, diabetes and heart attacks after gorging on meat, poor people in Third World countries are dying from disease brought on by being denied access to land to grow grain to feed their families.
When taking into consideration all of the points made above, it’s clear to see that a meat and dairy dependent diet is unsustainable in the long term. Couple that with the threat of rapid population growth — the current U.S. population is an estimated 285 million and is projected to double in the next 70 years — and even greater stress will be placed an our already limited resources, all of which will have to be divided among even larger numbers of people.
Regardless of the role of meat and dairy in nutrition or the ethics of animal rights, on the grounds of economic and ecological sustainability alone, the consumption of animal products is a looming problem for humankind.
If you want to live a low impact lifestyle and reduce your use of the world’s precious resources, then try opting for animal free food choices instead.
15 Genetically Modified Foods
If you want to know if you’re eating genetically modified foods, sign this petition asking Congress to start labeling GM foods.
Thinking about turkey burgers for dinner tonight? You may want to think again.
A recently released report from the Food and Drug Administration found that, of all the raw ground turkey tested, 81% was contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Ground turkey wasn’t the only problem. These bacteria were found in some 69% of pork chops, 55% of ground beef and 39% of chicken.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are known as superbugs. The use of antibiotics on factory farms, in order to bring animals to slaughter faster or to make up for crowded conditions on feed lots, is one of the reasons why antibiotic resistance is on the rise. Government data has revealed that one antibiotic-resistant strain of a germ called Enterococcus faecalis, normally found in human and animal intestines, was prevalent in a wide variety of meats. This means that the meat likely came into contact with fecal matter and that there’s a high likelihood that other antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the meat as well.
How’s that burger looking now?
Antibiotics are used in livestock to make them grow faster and to prevent disease. Some 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics were sold in 2011 for meat and poultry production–compared with the 7.7 million sold for human use, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts–and that number has been on the rise.
Dr. Gail Hansen, a veterinarian and senior officer for the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, believes the use of antibiotics in animals is out of hand:
We feed antibiotics to sick animals, which is completely appropriate, but we also put antibiotics in their feed and in their water to help them grow faster and to compensate for unhygienic conditions. If you have to keep the animals healthy with drugs, I would argue you need to re-examine the system. You don’t take antibiotics preventively when you go out into the world.
Still want to eat that burger?
3. CLEANING PRODUCTS
School districts and parents had not been aware that some 7 million pounds of meat served up in school cafeterias was coming from scraps of meat swept up from the floor and sent through a series of machines, which grinds them into a paste, separates out the fat and laces the substance with ammonia to kill bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli.
The end product, known as pink slime, looked disgusting. The puffs of ammonia used to kill the bacterium E. coli really grossed everyone out.
It turns out there’s also another cleaning product used in meat production. According to the website MeatPoultry.com, “99 percent of American poultry processors” cool their “birds by immersion in chlorinated water-chiller baths.”
4. MEAT GLUE
What you think is a slab of meat, perhaps a filet mignon, often turns out to be comprised of meat scraps held together with something commonly referred to as “meat glue.” Officially known as “transglutaminase,” the product has its origins in the farming industry, when the natural enzyme was harvested from animal blood. Nowadays, it is produced through the fermentation of bacteria.
The Food and Drug Association has ruled that meat glue is “generally recognized as safe,” and it is required to be listed as one of the ingredients. However, it’s unlikely that any restaurant or banquet hall would list the ingredients of its meat on the menu.
Ever thought of going vegetarian?
5. CHEMICALS, PESTICIDES, HEAVY METALS
in 2010 the Department of Agriculture’s inspector general condemned the U.S. for allowing meat containing pesticides, heavy metals, veterinary drugs and other chemicals to reach supermarket shelves. That’s because the United States’ standards for testing meat for pesticides and chemicals were so lax that, in 2008, Mexico turned back a shipment of American beef because it didn’t meet its standards for copper traces.
How about a veggie burger instead?
American beef is so heavy in hormones that the European Union has said it doesn’t want it. The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures says the U.S.’s hormone-heavy beef production poses “increased risks of breast cancer and prostate cancer,” citing cancer rates in countries that do and don’t eat U.S. beef. Perhaps you didn’t know that the synthetic hormones zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate are a routine part of the recipe for production of U.S. beef.
7. CARBON MONOXIDE
Have you ever wondered why those steaks on the supermarket shelf are so red? That’s because as much as 70 percent of meat packages in stores are treated with carbon monoxide to keep the meat’s red color (oxymyoglobin) from turning to a brown or gray color (metmyoglobin) through exposure to oxygen.
According to Ann Boeckman, a lawyer with a firm representing major meat companies. consumers do not need to worry about being deceived. “When a product reaches the point of spoilage, there will be other signs that will be evidenced—for example odor, slime formation and a bulging package—so the product will not smell or look right.”
Good to know.
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