Monday, May 4, 2009

What we choose to eat & how it affects ALL of us

"Disease is an outcome."

Milt Friend, Wildlife Biologist--from J.A. Gingsburg article.

I was extremely surprised to find one, yes, ONE, evening news that actually for a fraction of a second hinted at what could be the cause of the swine flu outbreak. While I was busy doing something else I could hear snippets of the short story..."La Granja....Granjas Caroll partly owned by Smithfield Foods...blah blah blah..." hoping to hear more about it I watched other newscasts looking for a similar story.

That story never came.

It is almost as if we are purposely turning a blind eye to something any responsible human being who actually has blood in their veins and at least one working neuron would have recognized as an aberration to animal & human health. Yes grammar geeks, that was a horrendous run on sentence. I said that in anger, frustration and without stopping to come up for air.

I wonder if this is going to be one of those stories that money can make go away.

I wonder if this is just like the many Monsanto horror flicks one can only find on You Tube (if you haven't searched Monsanto on You Tube I urge you to do so). I wonder if this is going to be our one lucky time when we are able to subdue this virus...and then simply forget about it...only to crash head on with a much larger monster in a year's time.

It is inevitable.

If we keep on feeding the Walmarts (**) of the world, asking for larger, cheaper, faster foods without looking at their real long-term cost (water, soil & air pollution, financial chaos...not to mention social issues and all that chemically fattened garbage we are feeding ourselves...) another bigger, more potent outbreak will take place soon. And we'll have nobody to blame but ourselves. We are the ones pushing for cheaper protein sources after all, aren't we? I know times are hard, but I also know one too many people who buy toys they don't need, leave well beyond their means, and rather have a Fendi bag or fancy car than invest some dough into eating food that is good for all of us. Food that does not mean that people working and living near CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) have to face a present with a permanent stench in the air and a likely future plugged in to a chemo machine. I am not exaggerating. This is happening, and not only in underdeveloped countries, it is happening here now. And it will continue to happen until animal welfare, farmers well-being and our own priorities of where to spend our money are forever changed, and until we make an effort to understand that we are all subsidizing the cheap food most of us want to eat.

If these words written in frustration won't persuade someone who's never read anything about CAFOs or the current agricultural practices to start researching this issue now, perhaps this-much more cool, calm & collected-words will:

" 'Animals feel a need to exercise, stretch their limbs or wings, groom themselves and turn around, whether or not they have ever lived in conditions that permit this.' The proper measure of their suffering, in other words, is not their prior experiences but the unremitting daily frustration of their instincts."

Excerpt from Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma...response to the argument that animals on factory farms having never known any other type of life.

Walmart advocates, think about that when you sink your teeth on your Walmart-bought ham and cheese. While you are at it, think about CAFOs practice of amputating piglets' tails without anesthetics (pigs are separated from their mothers, at a much to young age, this CAFO managers think prevents them from following the instinct of sucking on each other's tail in absence of a mother's breast. A pig will only allow another piglet to suck on their mangled tail just think about that pain.). If, instead, you are eating chicken that is not humanely raised and killed, you could think of their no less fun practice of de-beaking chickens and turkeys just so that they will be easier to manage in such a crowded conditions.

And if all that thinking about other people's and animals' welfare is not your thing and you are more the selfish type...then think about the fact that you are not just eating your choice of low-quality, cheap are also eating all the garbage it ate. And if I recall correctly...they are still being feed similar garbage to the the type that originated mad cow's disease...oh, and who can forget those deliciously sinful antibiotics! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

If all of this does not at least plant a tiny seed of curiosity in you...then perhaps you should submit a job application with your masochistic butcher of choice. There are plenty to choose from.

(**) Walt-Mart side note- "According to documents released as part of a gender-discrimination suit against Walmart, researchers found that the average non-salaried Walmart associate in California gets nearly $2,000 in public-welfare benefits each year, including health care, food stamps, and subsidized housing. If all California's retailers lowered their wages and benefits to Walmart's level, that would pass an additional burden of $400 million to the state."
From Peter Singer's The Ethics of What We Eat

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