Archive for February, 2011

THE COST OF EXCESS MEAT CONSUMPTION

February 26, 2011

HEALTH–Most of the expensive pills and procedures are prescribed to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke plus various cancers. The World Cancer Research Fund, The American Institute for Cancer Research and The National Cancer Institute have recently published studies connecting red meat and cancer. The Harvard University Nurses Health study has published its first study connecting Coronary Heart Disease to red meat. They will publish shortly studies connecting red meat to diabetes and stroke. This is a very large cost most of which is equally shared by Americans through the cost of health insurance. Red meat and sugar both major products of our destructive corn based agriculture system bear responsibility for most health problems.  What is the total cost? Is it fair for those who limit their meat and sugar consumption to pay the same price for health insurance?

TREES & WILDLIFE–It takes 14 times more land to raise raw materials corn and beans to feed animals and eat the animals then if we used the land to grow edible plant food. This has created an ecological desert throughout the United States destroying most of the trees and wildlife. What are the lost trees and wildlife worth to our society?

WATER–Nutrient pollution from chemical fertilizer used by our current meat and sugar production system is at least 30 times higher due to increased tilled land area and the nutrient inefficiency of corn. The resulting nutrient pollution has destroyed most rivers and estuaries East of the Rockies. What is the value of the lost species in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, Pamlico Sound. etc?

SOIL–Soil scientists estimate that we have lost half our topsoil in a short 60 years. Short cuts using 2- crop and mono-crop tillage systems and allowing the land to be exposed to wind and rain erosion in winter destroys topsoil. Most tillage systems currently used in the US. directly contradict USDA published guidelines, which are ignored by the NRCS, the agency responsible for soil preservation. What is our lost topsoil worth?

MANURE–Animal feed production is extremely expensive and it also comes back from Animal Factories (clik for map) in the form of manure used on the land without treatment. Not only is it 3 times the volume of treated human waste, but also due to feed additives it contains antibiotic resistant pathogens, which make it more dangerous. Animal manure contaminates the soil, the air, and humans who live close to these facilities. Contaminated people carry pathogens including MRSA into schools and hospitals thus exposing a broad base of people to MRSA and other antibiotic resistant diseases. The meat produced by these facilities is also contaminated with antibiotics and growth hormones further compounding disease treatment and adding an element of unknown health effect. MRSA kills more people each year than the aids virus. What is this health destruction worth?

COST CALCULATION–I believe if we asked 10 experts to evaluate and quantify these costs we would get 10 widely different answers. How do you put a dollar value on our loss of trees, quail, other land species, water species, and our topsoil? The cost of our lost natural resources goes beyond dollar value. Flagrant abuse and the suffering of farm animals in factories cannot be dollar evaluated.

CAN IT GET WORSE? Absolutely. Many of the mentioned pollutants are cumulative and will eventually contaminate our water assets to a point where they will be unusable for recreation and human habitat. The Chesapeake Bay and Pamlico Sound have had sporadic outbreaks of physteria, which attacks humans. Most of our remaining fish are contaminated with micobacteriosis, an immune system disease that will eventually destroy every indigenous fish species.

SOLUTION– Our current solution, money, has not worked and will continue to fail. Under the current EPA- TMDL program we will pay a few farmers to plant cover crops, we will pay chicken growers to install housekeeping pads on the ends of chicken houses or build improved manure storage areas. We will pay farmers to plant a few buffer strips. All of these so called Best Management Practices(BMP’s) have failed for decades at the proposed scale. The scale will not be seriously increased under TMDL.  We could make a major improvement by requiring the pyrolysis of all animal manure and reduction of fertilizer application but this will not happen under TMDL. TMDL has succeeded in taking pressure off real solution efforts and setback real solutions for decades.  What we have is an overwhelming environmental cancer caused by an insatiable addiction to cheap corn based fatty meat and sugar, which will not be solved with environmental band aides. Only you and I can solve these problems by living healthier lives and substituting  most of our corn based meat and sugar consumption with pasture raised meat, dairy and more importantly increased consumption of organic fruits and vegetables. We have found this solution to be an exciting and challenging eating experience.  More to come on healthy eating.

THE MEAT CONSUMPTION DISASTER

February 23, 2011

Recently there has been a backlash to government efforts to improve the health of the Nation. People are telling government to butt out that we know what we want to eat and if those food choices are destroying our health so be it, we have the god given right to eat what we want to eat. This attitude while understandable in a free society leaves the Country with a severe dilemma. We are the fattest and unhealthiest Country in the world. While heroic effort by our health industry have been effective in prolonging life it comes at increased suffering and high financial cost. Yes we have the right to eat whatever we want to eat thanks to our free system but how about the rights of others to clean air, water, and other common assets. Also everyone is paying equally for health insurance giving poor eaters a free ride.

Trees & Wildlife–When we hired our Master Plan Architect to design Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary (TLF&NS) 12 years ago, he described our farm and most farms as an ecological desert where every square foot of land that was not too wet or the slopes too steep were turned into corn fields to feed food animals. The result of this activity is that trees are eliminated, wildlife is eliminated, Every possible square foot is turned into corn production mostly to feed animals but recently to produce sugar and more recently to produce ethanol fuel additive. What’s wrong with this Industrial system? The basic problem is the inherent inefficiency. It takes 14 times more land to raise plant food to feed animals then eat the animals then it does to eat the plant food directly. So when we eat meat instead of plant food we are not only destroying our health (see archived WCRF and Harvard Nurses Study posts) we are destroying the nations trees, soil, wildlife and water assets

WATER–Corn is the most nutrient inefficient of all crops. It takes 3 times more nitrogen fertilizer to grow corn than any other crop. In normal rainfall year’s corn only uses 1/3 of the applied nitrogen much less in drought years. Most of the excess winds up in surface water where it stimulates algae, clouds the water and soaks up the oxygen essential for the life of water species. This activity has destroyed Chesapeake Bay, Pamlico Sound, The Gulf of Mexico and all rivers feeding these major Estuaries. This destruction of our precious water assets is directly related to the area of corn relative to the total farm field area.

SOIL–Historically grain farmers in the US have taken short cuts in soil management because the Country was topsoil rich particularly in the mid-west where topsoil was more prolific than any place in the world. Short cuts in soil management used to grow corn have destroyed half the Nations topsoil in 60 years. Changes in tillage equipment made 30 years ago have proven ineffective in stopping massive topsoil loss.

PATHOGENS–Most of the corn is fed to food animals in factory confinement facilities (see Factory maps) which produce 3 times more manure nationally than humans all of it untreated and contaminated with antibiotic resistant pathogens, high levels of phosphorous, growth hormones, arsenic and other feed additives which are put back onto the land adding to the nutrient pollution of the soil and pathogen contamination of our air and water resources.

ANIMAL ABUSE– The treatment of animals in Animal Factories is horrible described by Conservative writer Mathew Scully as the worst we can do to them, a complete negation of their life as an animal (see animal abuse archive).

HEALTH–As described in archived cancer and heart disease research posts, these diseases are directly related to meat consumption. The American Medical system including our pharmaceutical companies have developed pills and procedures which have until recently kept up to the health issues created by our corn based food system. But are these systems, which are extremely expensive, a long-term solution to basic unhealthy food consumption? I don’t think so. But perhaps our population growth will be the overriding factor dictating the amount of meat consumed because we simply do not have enough land to support the current inefficient meat production system and projected population growth.

There is only one reasonable solution. In the interest of your health, you’re children’s health, the restoration of Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources and our animal friends. CHANGE YOUR DIET. Stay tuned to our site for a critique of chefs and restaurants that are leaders in the movement toward a healthy and less destructive food system. We have found that eating plant food only can be an exciting eating experience. It just takes a little more time and patience.

HARVARD’s-Nurses Health Study

February 16, 2011

The Harvard University Nurses Health Study

This is one 2010 update of Harvard’s Nurses Health Study, which began in 1976. Others will follow for diabetes and stroke. This study is the result of prospectively following 84 thousand women age 30 to 55 by research doctors including Drs. Bernstein and Willett all associated with the Department of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard University School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and other departments at Harvard University.

Purpose of the study was to examine the foods that are major dietary protein sources and incident CHD.

Conclusions suggests that high red meat intake including Beef, Pork, and Lamb increases risk of CHD and that CHD risk can be reduced importantly by shifting sources of protein in the US diet. Shifting the protein source from red meat to beans resulted in the greatest reduction in CHD risk followed in order by a shift to nuts, fish, poultry, low fat dairy, high fat dairy. (see page 881 of the study)

 

WORLD CANCER STUDY

February 16, 2011

World Cancer Research Fund & American Institute for Cancer Research Study

This is a 500+ page study. To aid the reader the following are the page numbers for the studies major conclusions. You can simply scroll down to the summary for Red Meat, or Vegetables or excercise or the studies conclusion page and copy the important pages

This comprehensive 500 page plus report evaluates the strength of research in thousands of research reports. All evaluated foods are categorized for INCREASED RISK or DECREASED RISK of cancer at four risk levels, Convincing, Probable, Suggestive, and Unlikely for a specific type of cancer. A few of the hundreds of foods analyzed with type of cancer and risk level are as follows:

INCREASED RISK

Meat Poultry, Fish Eggs category: (see summary on page 116)

Red Meat including Beef, Pork, Lamb and Goat- Convincing for colorectum, Suggestive for Lung, Pancreas, Stomach, Endometrium, Oesophagus

Processed Meat- Probable for Colorectal and Suggestive for Lung, Pancreas, Stomach, Oesophagus

Barbecued or grilled animal products- Suggestive for Colorectum, Stomach

Both Poultry and eggs were judged to have too little research to evaluate

DECREASED RISK

Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds category: (see summary on page 76)

Non-starchy vegetables- Probable for Mouth, Larynx, Oesophagus, Stomach

Allium vegetables (onions leaks etc)- Probable for Colorectal

Foods containing:

Folate- Probable for Pancreas

Carotenoids-Probable for lung

Lycopene- Probable for Prostate

Fruits- Suggestive for Nasopharynx, Pancreas, Liver, Colorectum

There are a total of 19 vegetable groups evaluated with only chilli listed under increased risk.

Fish- Suggestive for Colorectum note: this is evaluated under the meat category

Foods containing vitamin D- Suggestive for Colorectum note: same as above

Physical Exercise-Convincing for Colon- Probable for Breast (postmenopause), Endometrium,  Suggestive for Lung, Pancreas, Breast (premenopause)

Additional categories include: Dietary Supplements (pg 179)- Alcoholic drinks (pg.-157)- Drinks including Water, Fruit juices, Soft drinks, Hot drinks (pg148)- Sugars and salt (pg 141)- Fats and Oils (pg.135)-Body fatness (pg 211)-Lactation (pg. 239)-Physical Exercise (pg 199)-Milk & Dairy pg 129)

REPORTS RECOMMENDATIONS (pg 394)

Eat mostly plant food

Limit Red meat

Avoid Processed Meat

Avoid sugary drinks

Limit salt

Avoid mouldy cereal and legumes

Keep as Lean as possible

Limit alcoholic drinks

Breastfeed children

Limit supplements get your nutrients mostly from plant food

Exercise daily

 

To Mrs. Obama-Health & natural resources

February 12, 2011

Dear Mrs. Obama,

You have selected the Nations health and particularly the health of our children to be your focus during your time as first lady. Nothing is more important and yet more ignored. You will not be celebrated for any success except by those decades in the future that will look back at this time in awe at what we are doing to our health and our natural resources. I recently did a satire on our web blog fixingourfood.com on how someone from outer space seeing the destruction of our rivers, estuaries and water species from space then visits earth. The visitor hears first hand that the food our system is producing is also responsible for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and stroke and out of control health care cost. The spaceman goes back home but says nothing to his friends because no one would believe that even humans could be that stupid.

What has happened is that most of our farmers, and our processed, and animal food producers are dependent on the much touted industrial system for their personnel economics which has become the basis for local economics and that a majority of  food consumers are addicted to the relatively inexpensive fat and sugar based food that they produce.

I did not vote for your husband in 2008, but if he embraces your efforts and restarts our food system on a sustainable path, I would salute your influence and give him my vote in 2012. Of course he has an opportunity to change our direction because the farm bill also comes up for renewal in 2012. Good luck in your important efforts.

Sincerely,

Donald R. Kerstetter

Ps I know that Iowa will be important to reelection. Iowa is changing and perhaps this time Francis Thicke a pasture farmer, soil scientist and a Democrat who got a large percentage of the Iowa Sec of Ag vote last year could help.

The Conscious Cook-by Tal Ronnen

February 11, 2011

Tal Ronnen author of “the conscious cook” and most other vegan chefs who are perfecting meatless recipes get involved because of their abhorrence of cutting up animals for food. Most of them I am sure do not realize that modern industrial agriculture does much more than just abuse and ultimately kill animals, (See our animal abuse archive).Huge areas of the Countries land where slopes are not too steep or the land is not too wet have been turned into an ecological desert. The land has been ploughed hedgerow to hedgerow for decades if not centuries to grow corn mostly to feed food animals. It takes 14 times more land to plant corn to feed animals, and then eat the animals, as it does to consume plant food directly. The result is that wildlife cannot exist in vast areas of the Country. Also shortcuts in soil management have squandered our topsoil. Farmer and Soil Scientist Francis Thicke who operates a pastured dairy farm in Iowa estimates that Iowa has lost half its topsoil since industrial agriculture began. Excess fertilizer and tons of animal manure have been washed downstream destroying not only the Nations Rivers but also estuaries like the Gulf and Chesapeake Bay. Now we know that industrial methods used to fatten the animals in half the normal growing time creates a tender but extremely fat animal product. Testing at the U. of Colorado indicates that factory-produced hamburger has 7 times more saturated fat than pasture raised hamburger. In 2010 three cancer groups released studies that pointed to red meat (beef,pork,lamb,goat) and dairy as the primary cause of many cancers. Harvard University released studies that tied heart disease, diabetes and stroke to red meat consumption Tal Ronnen’s book “the conscious chef” in addition to its fine recipes also lists 8 upscale and 5 casual vegan restaurants. We are about to make our 3rd visit to Horizons in Philadelphia. We have had an evaluation “best in the west” of Millennium in SanFrancisco. We now know that Vegan food can be a superior eating experience much superior to conventional food. In addition the obvious health and environmental benefits make it our food of choice. We are now completely vegetarians but still eat eggs, and fish which makes us not quite vegan.

A LOOK BACK-Conclusions After 12 Years

February 8, 2011

I recently prepared a presentation for 2 scientists involved with land preservation. This gave me an opportunity to reflect on our overall effort since we started Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary (TLF&NS) in the late 1990’s. In 2000 we did a presentation of our then new Master Plan to a group of scientists and environmentalist at TLF&NS.  Our landscape Architect did a presentation in which he characterized the existing site as an ecological desert. His new plan proposed surrounding the farm fields with warm season grasses and trees, installing retention ponds, and creating sunny and shady walkways. This resulted in a site that had reduced farming area of about 70%. He also made the point that the site would be esthetically pleasing and would encourage neighbors to follow this example resulting in cleaner water for our Creek. A leading agronomist in attendance was upset by the Architect’s characterization of the existing land which obviously applies to most of the farming areas in the Country including the great mid-west. Later when we founded our website, the same agronomist also commented on our paper America’s Failed Food Production System and asked “How are we to feed a growing population if we returned to the agriculture practiced when I was a kid”? I must admit that I thought he had a point, which was reinforced by other agronomist including the head of agronomy at the University of Nebraska. The two sides of the argument seemed to be: ” do we feed a growing population or preserve our soil water and wildlife assets?” Certainly this presents a difficult choice.

Events and science have overtaken this argument and now the choice is completely different and very clear. We now know that it takes *14 times more land to plant grain to feed animals and then eat the animals than it does to eat the plant food directly. We have enough land to feed a growing population for centuries if the people ate mostly plant food plus a modest amount of pasture raised animals. Further we now know that most of the corn based factory produced meat particularly the beef, pork and lamb and also the dairy products are dangerous to our health and indeed are the primary cause of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. We also know that vegan chefs have been at work for years producing very exciting food without using animals and that the vast majority of Americans have not tasted this food. (see our posts on Horizons and Chopotle)

I must admit that I originally thought that our Architect went too far in the direction of support for environmental and esthetic concerns. His plan is now consistent with specific recommendations for a diet primarily of plant food recommended by the World Cancer Fund and reinforced by the Harvard studies on heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately he died of cancer before these studies were published.

*Get Healthy Now by Gary Null

Madam Chairman-Tell USDA to just stop

February 5, 2011

Letter to new Senate Ag Chairman

Dear Senator Stabenow,

Congratulations on your election to the Chairmanship of the Agricultural Committee. I did a satire on our website fixingourfood.com recently which demonstrates how we look from outer space. We denude vast areas of the earth to grow corn and spray the crops with 3 times more fertilizer than they can use. The earth erodes and together with the chemicals cascades down stream where it contaminates estuaries including the Gulf, Pamlico Sound and Chesapeake Bay and routinely kills massive numbers of water species.  In my satire the space alien visits Iowa, which appears, from space to be the center of this activity and talks to pasture dairy farmer Francis Thicke who has a new vision for Iowa agriculture. He recently got 38% of the Iowa vote for Secretary of Agriculture. Francis, who is also educated in soil science, explained that indeed Iowa has lost half its topsoil in 60 years. He also said that most of the corn went to feed food animals and that the alien should look at recent research which ties the bulk of this animal food to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The alien went back to the web site found the research but also saw a post on last Mondays Diane Rehm show where a USDA official was asked to explain why the USDA recently continued to recommend red meat in its dietary guidelines for the American people. The alien went back home but kept his knowledge secret because no one would believe such a story.

Madame Chairman the ethanol scam is even worse than this story. Everything the USDA does appears to be at odds with the long-term interest of the Country, except for the excellent work of the ARS group. But ARS recommendations particularly for soil management are ignored. It certainly appears that top management of USDA is controlled by the Corn Growers, the meat and dairy Industry, and other members of the agribusiness lobby. Please take action to stop these groups from destroying our National Health and our Natural Resources.

USDA promotes red meat despite cancer tie

February 3, 2011

This Diane Rehm  show on February 1st was a group discussion, which included representatives of the food Industry, a USDA representative, Walter Willett of the Harvard University School of Public Health and others. The discussion included, sugar, sodium, transfat, refine grains, dairy and red meat (beef, pork, lamb and goat). This post will address red Meat and dairy portion of the discussion.

Walter Willett cited recent studies by Cancer Research Groups connecting red meat and dairy to cancer and Harvard’s recent studies connecting red meat and dairy to heart disease, diabetes and stroke. (these studies are archived on fixingourfood.com under Cancer). Diane Rehm asked the USDA representative why red meat and dairy products including cheese were still included in the USDA’s recommended daily diet for Americans in view of its strong connection to Heart Disease, Cancer, diabetes and stroke? The USDA’s answer was that they recommend only lean meat and low fat dairy products. Walter Willett when asked for his comment said that the lean version of most of these products was mostly unavailable to Americans.

To further expand on his comment the writer offers the following. While it is certainly possible to find lean hamburger and low fat milk the fact is that all of these animals are grown on factory farms also called CAFO’s (see the National and local Factory Farm map on our site). The concept of factory farming is to keep the animal sedentary and feed the animal hi-starch corn, growth hormones, appetite enhancers and other dietary elements which fatten the animal twice as fast as a naturally grown pasture raised animal. All the animal products in supermarkets are factory grown and are therefore exceedingly fat. Research by Dr. Loren Cordain at the U of Colorado found factory animal hamburger to be 7 times fatter than pasture raised.  Manufacturers do cull out hamburger so that consumers can choose a leaner product but the entire product is consumed by someone and culling results in an even fatter product going to school lunches and to MacDonald’s and other fast food outlets. The question remains open as to whether or not the leaner product is less prone to promote major diseases since very little comparative research has been done. The question of Industry influence on USDA dietary recommendations came up forcing the USDA representative to do evasive action. The fact is that the meat and dairy industry has a strangle hold on the USDA oversight and actually supports the production of this unhealthy food by subsidizing grain and other hidden subsidies such as turning a blind eye to short cuts in soil management and over-application of fertilizer which keeps the price low and consumption of this unhealthy food high. This food production is also causing mass loss of our soil and our water as evidenced by the nutrient pollution of our major rivers and Estuaries including Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and Pamlico Sound.

Don Kerstetter