Sustainable: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.
This one should be easy: we all know that factory farms are bad, right? Because I believe this, I have looked into purchasing a meat share with a local, sustainable farm. It seems great; you pay a set amount and then use your card at the farmer’s markets where the farmer is at and buy what you want. Great, right? Now, if I can just convince my husband. After all, $600 for six months of meat and eggs is a chunk taken upfront. It works out to be about $25 per week, that’s about 4 pounds, and approximately $6.25 per pound. Pretty good when you consider it’s organic, pastured, sustainable, local — and deliciously fresh. Still, it’s more expensive than whatever is on sale 3 for 1 at the GMO-CAFO supermarket. Anyway, I love the set up of this farm. The farm sells grass-fed beef, pastured and forest-finished pork, pastured chickens and eggs. It’s even more economical if you buy whole or half hogs and bulk chickens. It seems very flexible, and easy to get too— and local, organic, sustainable: healthy. Heck, I could ride my bike there. I’ll just affix a compact cooler onto the back of my bike (don’t laugh, I’m joking).
There are more and more opportunities to buy fresh local, sustainable foods and buying a cow or hog share is very economical. Eat Wild has a database of pastured animal products if you want to find a source in your area.
I’m not even eating meat yet!
I eat chicken and fish, which is new this year after being vegetarian my whole life. I always thought the idea of meat was disgusting (industrial meat still is); after all, I never grew up with the experience. My evolving journey however, brought me to Dr Mercola’s website and then to the Weston A Price Foundation website. These sites told me that being vegetarian could be the culprit of my thyroid disease. I was under the impression that my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis was genetic. Sure, being susceptible to the auto-immune disease was genetic, but could my diet have been the trigger? Anyway, I knew I wanted to make a change. My disorder has caused significant loss for me; it zaps my initiative, and makes me feel cold. Apparently, meat feeds the thyroid.
My husband knows that conventional meat is full of antibiotics and hormones. He’s aware of how animals are treated, but I don’t think he spends any time thinking about it. I believe he felt immune to any repercussions from eating it as long as our daughter and I weren’t eating it. It catches up with us eventually, though. He also doesn’t compare the costs of the grocery store bill today and environment and health costs tomorrow.
I understand that not everyone is even aware of the problems with modern food. But, it’s hard for me to understand how a person can continue to buy meat from the grocery store once they are aware? That’s just me though, and I’m a little obsessed. We are trained to not think about where our food comes from. We are victims of marketing and advertising (and subliminal advertising?). I know meat is expensive, and money, or lack of money, is a big issue for many people— including me and my family. But, it’s also convenient to buy all of your food in one big store and even more convenient to buy packaged foods. Then again, there are food deserts, and finding fresh food is difficult for many people.
Who is making money when we buy from factory farms? Very few companies control the industrial food chain. They control everything from providing the seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to then buying them back below the cost of production to make feed for the concentrated animal organizations that they own. So, the farmer isn’t making money, the workers are being paid minimum wage or below, in fact the workers are only working part time with no benefits and those workers are who? — Illegal immigrants and trustees of the local prisons.
Michael Pollan said, “Cheap food is an illusion.”
When we support a local food system, we support our local economy and community, fair wages and health benefits for workers, farmers and artisanal craftspeople, and the environment.
Because the animals raised in concentrated animal feed operations have no room to move— let alone graze, stand in their own manure and are fed a diet that is not natural to them, they get sick. In order to treat them, they get injections of antibiotics. They also get antibiotics to speed their growth. Livestock are fed GMO grains tainted with sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics. This arbitrary feeding of antibiotics created deadly bacteria strains that are resistant to antibiotics. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70% of antibiotics used in this country are used in agriculture. This is why we are seeing an increase of antibiotic resistant strains of MRSA.
The FDA is concerned about antimicrobial resistance. So, what is the FDA doing about all the antibiotics?
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is implementing a voluntary strategy to promote the judicious use in food-producing animals of antibiotics that are important in treating humans. The goal of the strategy is to protect public health and help curb the development of antimicrobial resistance and in turn help to reduce the number of infections in humans that are difficult to treat because existing antibiotics have become ineffective.”
Implementing a voluntary strategy? That’s pretty wishy-washy. Judicious use? That’s subjective too. Sounds to me like they aren’t doing anything but recommending that livestock aren’t fed abundant amounts, but all at the discretion of the hand that feeds them.
When you have animals crammed in together with nowhere to move, what do you think they do with all that waste? In pastured fields, livestock graze and their waste fertilizes the land, and then they move on to the next pasture. But, when animals have no where to go their manure piles up. So, we see/smell manure lagoons pooping popping up everywhere (sorry, couldn’t resist). These manure lagoons pollute the air and run off into our water ways. Talk about toxic sludge!
When we buy conventional meat (at the grocery store or the fast food restaurant, or almost any restaurant for that matter) we are supporting poor animal welfare. Their living conditions are crowded beyond belief, their diets are unnatural and their bodies are mutilated. Chickens beaks and claws are cut off; pigs and cows tails are shortened.
Fifty years ago, livestock lived on farms now they live in factories.
Cows are herbivores. Nature intends for cows to move through the pasture and eat grass. On industrial farms, cows are fed GMO- crops and rendered dead cow parts. I know! Here’s the rundown if you haven’t seen the link from Union of Concerned Scientists before (I have linked to it in another post), it breaks down conventional feed for all livestock.
This is very important: the choices and decisions we make have an impact on more than just ourselves. When we choose to buy meat from industrial farms, we are buying into the system of antibiotics, unnatural foods like GMO-grains and rendered dead meat. The vast fields of corn and soy growing in the Midwest are not for our consumption like we think, the majority of them are for industrial processing for: animal feed, hydrogenated oils, ethanol, corn sweeteners. These fields are sprayed heavily with pesticides that run off into our water systems and kill off beneficial wildlife.
When you take animals off the pasture and raise them in factories, they develop deadly bacteria: E. coli 0157:H7, salmonella, listeria, mad cow disease, and avian bird flu. Currently, there is the largest recall in Canadian history, an E coli beef recall affecting more then 1100 products. Last year, 36 million pounds of turkey (from Cargill— do they make meat or chemicals?) were recalled due to a salmonella outbreak. We hear about these major recalls all the time now.
Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms said, “Part of our responsibility as stewards of the earth is to respect the design of nature.” I like him. He also said that all these outbreaks were nature’s way of saying, “Enough!” which is a favorite term of my husband’s.
If every person spent $10 of his or her weekly grocery bill on local food, can you imagine what a difference that would make? (The idea was planted in my head from the film, Fresh). How much money would that pour back into the local economy?
When we buy locally, we have an influence. When we don’t buy industrially processed food we have an influence too. Every decision we make at the grocery store (or farmer’s market or on the farm) will help create the future of our land, our farmers, diversity of crops, and health of our bodies. Everything we do affects the environment, and we should want to preserve it for our children— and their children. What an empowering idea.
How many outbreaks of E coli and other deadly bacteria are we going to put up with?
Modern food is unsustainable. We have GMO’s that withstand multiple applications of pesticides, and grain-fed, antibiotic-ridden meat from animals that stand in their own manure, acres and acres of food production that is destroying the environment. The only way forward, for our health and the environment is to choose more sustainable meat and produce.
What are your meat buying habits? Do you buy it from the grocery store or find more local sources? I would love to hear from you in the comments.