THE COST OF EXCESS MEAT CONSUMPTION

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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.

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