Archive for August, 2010

Salmonella-One Bad Person or a Failed Industry

August 26, 2010

As reported extensively, three hundred million contaminated eggs have sickened more than 2000 people. Most of the eggs were sold under 12 brand names at Safeway, Trader Joes, Walmart, Albertsons, Costco, Ralph’s and others. Potentially thousands of restaurants could be serving contaminated eggs. The source was Jack DeCoster’s facility in Galt Iowa. The eggs were produced by hens that live? in battery cages, which have been called out as inhumane by the Pew Commission and banned in California. California also recently banned importation of caged eggs from out of State producers. It should be pointed out that a battery cage is 8.2”X 8.2” and confinement house density is about the same 67 square inches. But does elimination of caged egg production really solve the bacteria contamination problem? I don’t think so. Severe overcrowding in CAFOs adjacent to manure lagoons, both cited as perfect pathogen incubators by John Hopkins School of Public Health is problematic. High velocity fans pumping pathogens into the surrounding atmosphere is infecting flies, workers, and neighbors.  Infected people are contaminating hospitals and clinics (see our reference #21). But bad as repeat violator Jack Decoster is this is just the tip of a very large iceberg when considering the loss of our topsoil, our national water resources caused by corn feed production and our epidemics of obesity and diabetes caused by eating corn fed high saturated fat animal products and corn based fat and sugar laced processed food which dominates the nations supermarkets. The attached article written by Tom Philpott food editor of Grist magazine is the best of those that I have read. I would add to Tom Philpott’s conclusion. The Food Industry is violating many of nature’s laws in addition to the indiscriminant use of chemicals and the laws of basic soil science. It’s an industry desperately in need of controls.

Salmonella by Grist food editor- Tom Philpott

ANIMAL FACTORY- A very important book

August 19, 2010

Swine flu, bird flu, unusual concentrations of cancer. Asthma, and MRSA. Antibiotic contamination resulting in ineffectiveness for human use. Turning streams into sewers. Loss of underwater grass habitat, Massive fish kills from flesh eating parasites. Memory loss and lesions suffered by fisherman, Recalls of meats, vegetables, and fruits because of e-coli contamination. Animals living in sewage and caked with their own feces, The all night wail of abused pigs living in tortuous conditions. Arsenic, antibiotics and growth hormones contaminating our soil and groundwater. Feeding chicken feces and cattle parts to CAFO cattle resulting in mad cow disease even in walking cattle with only a question of time until the disease affects humans. Leaking lakes of sewage and sewage sprayed into the air for broad transmission everywhere. Blowing ammonia gas, MRSA and other pathogens, antibiotic and growth hormones into the air for long distance transmission. Over application of nutrients to farm fields and contamination of aquifers. Dividing the citizens and destroying the economies of rural communities.

David Kirby in this well researched book not only describes the terrible, anti- nature, conditions in America’s CAFOs, and surrounding communities, but he gives us an insight into the background of anti- CAFO activists, most of whom are farmers, who have banned together for change. Their website is Socially Responsible Agriculture. You can access from our website reference page.

David Kirby- I am not a vegetarian and you will occasionally find me in a fast food line. However everywhere I went during the three years that I wrote this book the story was the same. CAFO’s had fouled the air, spoiled the water, threatened property values, changed the face of local agriculture and made lives miserable for thousands of people and millions of animals, except for those who profited.

Post author Don Kerstetter- I am a conservative like many of the farmer activists cited in this book. I most often vote Republican. The US food production system is a prime example of the strength of the free enterprise system, the most powerful economic engine the world has ever known. The food system is innovative and brilliant in many ways and of course it is providing plenty of cheap animal food. However, without proper controls this strength can trample the rights of others. George W. Bush did not understand this and my vote for him in 2004 was in hindsight a mistake. Modern Industrial food production, including corn feed production the nations largest nitrogen pollution source and destroyer of our topsoil nationwide is not covered in this book. The system is trampling our right to clean air, clean water, national topsoil retention, and most importantly the rights of our animal friends who sustain us. In addition food animals fattened on yellow dent high sugar content corn in sedentary conditions are up to 7 times higher in saturated fat than pasture raised animals and are a major contributor to our now decreasing longevity and increasing health care cost. Clearly major controls and changes are necessary.  (See our site for the source of local Delmarva pasture farmers).

CHOPOTLE-A Leader in Sustainable Food

August 9, 2010

Chipotle is a fast food chain with 1000 restaurants nationwide growing at a rate of 120    restaurants per year. Their philosophy is to source all their food from local family farmers who are committed to sustainability, raising antibiotic hormone free meats, and organic vegetables. It means going beyond normal distributors and purchasing products from farmers with sensitivity to the animals they raise, sensitivity to the land they farm and sensitivity to the health of their customers. Currently 35% of their dairy and 85% of their beef cattle are pasture raised. All their pigs are raised outside or in deeply bedded winter pens. They do not state the source of their chicken but it is antibiotic and hormone free which means it is probably like the lower density range chickens popular in California.

We went to the restaurant at 19th and M street in Washington DC during business hours on an extremely hot day last week. The service line was out in the street. The cliental ranged from lawyer types with ties to dress down office workers. Most were under 50 years of age. We went to the Store in Annapolis Mall next to Borders at the 11am opening on Sunday. Again the restaurant was overfull. Most people were under 30.

Chipotle is a leader in the way people think about fast food but it is also far ahead of most high end restaurants and chefs who currently point to a few high quality items while the bulk of their food comes through the distribution chain and is for the most part chemically raised and unsustainably produced. Did any viewer anticipate that people would be flocking to a fast food chain because the food is of much higher quality? How positive for the future of our water, our soil, and our health?

Stop Subsidizing Unhealthy Food Production

August 3, 2010

Augest 3, 2010

2012 FARM BILL

Dear Agricultural Committee Member,

I suppose one could defend the nationwide destruction of our two most important natural resources, our water and our topsoil on the basis of human need for food if this were indeed true. But the truth is that high saturated fat meat and dairy, plus the fat/sugar laced processed food produced by our corn based agricultural system and dominant in supermarkets is also destroying our health and we the taxpayers are paying for this destructive food system through the use of our taxes for grain subsidies. Now with the 2010 Health Care Bill our taxes are being used to treat diseases directly produced by government subsidized corn based unhealthy food. There is no question that our current system produces a great volume of food. The question a member of the Agricultural Committees and all members  need to answer: Is a huge volume of unhealthy food good for our Country? Before you finalize a 2012 farm bill isn’t it important to know if you are voting for a continuation of unhealthy food production and the continuation of the destruction of our soil, our water species, the Chesapeake Bay and The Gulf of Mexico and all upstream watersheds feeding these Estuaries?

If as the writer suspects, the Congress does not have the political courage to completely stop institutionalized grain subsidies, then at least require recipients of tax money to adopt crop rotations recommended by USDA soil scientists and a reduction in fertilizer application rates as recommended by The Gulf Hypoxia Report prepared by scientists during the Clinton Administration. Ill-advised government spending programs usually just involve rip-off of taxpayer’s money. In the case of farm bills going back to the 60’s they have not only been taxpayer rip-offs but directly responsible for loss of our irreplaceable topsoil and water assets, plus our health. All references supporting these allegations can be found on our website at: http://www.fixingourfood.com