Archive for April, 2011

THE First Week of May- Health & Resource Week

April 28, 2011

Every important event in America has a week. “The First Week of May” should be recognized. This is the week that massive acres of farmland Nationwide are denuded and over-fertilized to plant corn. The corn is used primarily to feed animals in Confinement Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), but also to produce high fructose corn syrup. CAFO animal products and Food like products made from corn commonly called process food dominate our supermarkets and our diets. Industrial food production, which started after World War II, has been an environmental and health disaster. Iowa for example has lost half of it’s topsoil and half of it’s soil organic matter its two most important natural resources***. We are applying almost 3 times more fertilizer than corn can use in a normal rainfall year and it uses less in a drought year. This along with massive amounts of manure produced by CAFOs are the primary cause of the nutrient contamination of all rivers and estuaries East of the Rockies including the Gulf of Mexico, Pamlico Sound and Chesapeake Bay.

Those in the Academic Community who still support the Industrial food production system (an increasing number do not) claim that it is the only way to feed a growing population. One of Webster’s three definitions of food is: something that nourishes or sustains. More than 60 years of Industrial food production has demonstrated that Industrial produced food does not meet this definition. The animal food produced in CAFOs is up to 7 times higher in fat content than that produced by animals on pasture. The result is that we have an epidemic of major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke connected to over consumption of beef, pork, lamb, processed meat and dairy*.  Sugar, corn oil fat, and other corn based products used in processed food are combined with salt in just the right proportion to addict consumers to these high carbohydrate junk food products which dominate supermarket shelves another major contributor to the American health disaster**.

Does it make any sense to destroy our two most important natural resources to produce meat and sugar most of which is destroying our health?

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) said two things that apply here:

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on earth more than transition to a vegetarian diet.”

And to those trying to restore Chesapeake Bay:

“The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result” This is what we do Nationwide in “The First Week of May”

 

References archived on this site

* The World Cancer Study and Harvard’s Nurses Health Study

**  The End of Overeating by David Kessler

***   A New Vision for Iowa Agriculture by Iowa Farmer Francis Thicke

Einstein’s view- Compare to what we did.

April 25, 2011

THIS IS WHAT EINSTEIN SAID:

Albert Einstein’s theories about the nature of our Universe have all proved correct and are the basis of much of today’s science. But another observation he made before his death might prove to be more profound and of greater importance to our survival.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on earth more than transition to a vegetarian diet.”

This is what we did: see factory farm map

U.S. hog factory farms added 4,600 corn fed hogs every day between 1997 and 2007.

U.S. industrial feedlots added nearly 1,100 corn fed beef cattle every day between 2002 and 2007.

U.S. factory-farm dairies added nearly 650 corn fed cows every day between 1997 and 2007.

The Government Accountability Office reported that the number of large corn fed livestock operations tripled from about 3,600 in 1982 to 12,000 in 2002.

We eliminated healthier pasture based production while exponentially increasing consumption of meat.

 The result of what we did:

The latest major studies published in 2010 by The World Cancer Research Fund, the American Institute for Cancer Research, Harvard’s Nurses Health study, opinions by Harvard’s Walter Willett, and Johns Hopkins Robert Lawrence all cite excess consumption of corn fed red meat including beef, dairy, pork, and lamb for our obesity and major disease epidemics. Most believe that the inherent high fat content produced by the CAFO process is the problem.

The US society spends more on health care than any society in the world and yet by any measure we are the most obese and unhealthiest society in the World.

In addition the excess use of antibiotics in animal feed is causing the medical community to lose antibiotic treatment as a major weapon in fighting infection.

Other major issues include the common practice of grilling meat, which produces 2 known carcinogens. Massive use of atrazine based pesticides and herbicides are known carcinogen. Other known carcinogens including arsenic are used in CAFO animal feed.

Excess fertilizer used in Corn production and the animal manure developed by production have caused the nutrient contamination of all the Nations Rivers which in turn contaminates all major estuaries including The Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay and other Coastal Estuaries. Shortcuts in soil management exacerbate the obvious danger of denuding vast areas of the earths surface to plant corn. The result is that many areas of the Country have lost half their topsoil.

Few people have seen CAFO production and slaughter first hand. Psychologist Melanie Joy explains that people are suffering from Industry induced mass physic numbing. The brutalization of every one of the 40 billion food animals is the worst treatment that humans can do to their fellow beings. This makes the holocaust or the mass killings by Communists regimes look like a picnic. The industry could not do this in daylight.

WHAT TO DO?

Don’t expect any help in improving the health and environmental impact of our food system. The Agribusiness Lobby has a stranglehold on Governments at all levels and they have been successful in blunting every effort to make even modest improvements. Only you can make a difference

Stop buying supermarket meat and avoid restaurant meat unless they provide pasture-produced products which some are now doing. Pasture products are available from local suppliers or mail order. See fixingourfood.com

Governor’s Answer- Via the Secretary of Ag

April 22, 2011

Agricultural Secretary Earl F. Hance

4/22/11

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Thank you for your prompt response to my letter to the Governor. I attended a meeting in Denton a year ago called because the Choptank River had just been designated as the most polluted River in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. At the meeting a scientist who has been monitoring Choptank subwatersheds for 30 years pointed out that 80% of Choptank nutrient pollution came from farm fields. A representative of Industrial Agriculture cited the many actions taken by farmers cited in your letter.  A scientist with the Wye Agro Ecology Center presented a study, which attempted to shift the responsibility to septic systems. An obviously confused member of the audience asked. Why are we here if so much has been done? Industrial Agriculture though widely initially supported in academia nationwide has turned out to be a conceptual failure fast losing support. The overconsumption of meat, sugar and processed food the products of the system are now recognized as the primary driver of our Nations poor health.

History is loaded with conceptual failures. Look at the history of the automobile and the history of flight and space travel. Usually when a conceptual failure occurs it is soon apparent. Not so with Industrial Agriculture and Food Production. It has taken more than a half-century to recognize the full extent. The environmental issues including the loss of half the nations topsoil and the nutrient contamination of most rivers, the Gulf and other Estuaries including Chesapeake Bay were apparent by the eighties but the massive health issues including the dietary dominance of CAFO red meat as the primary risk factor in cancer and heart disease are just now becoming apparent.  Just this week a study of CAFO supermarket meat Nationwide including Washington DC revealed that 50% of the meat was contaminated on the outside with Staph bacteria and half of that was resistant to more than three of the antibiotics necessary to treat infection. The National media did not pick up this story only Reuters and Daily Finance. Compared to the enormity of this nationwide health and environmental calamity the national media pays little attention.

It takes 14 times more land to denude the earth’s surface to plant corn, feed the corn to animals in CAFOs rather than eating the much healthier plant food directly. This is the basic conceptual flaw but we have exasperated the problem by taking short cuts in soil management, overuse of fertilizer, overuse of carcinogens in the production process and the basically flawed CAFO process of raising animals in their own feces described by Johns Hopkins as perfect pathogen incubators. You cite 400,000 acres planted in cover crops. Farmers did this at taxpayer expense.  Many acres are not covered in clear violation of sound soil management practice. Most of the proposed BMPs such as building manure storage sheds or housekeeping pads are proposed at taxpayer expense. How much should taxpayers pay to correct a basically flawed system?

I urge you to do a comparative cost study of the Industrial system considering the cost of the environmental and health issues and compare that to a combination of organic vegetables and pasture raised meat. I believe the result would be surprising. I do agree that Maryland farmers are in a competitive situation and cannot unilaterally take action and be competitive. I also agree that farmers in other areas of the Country particularly the great Midwest are doing less than Maryland. But Maryland farmers have an added burden of protecting the Chesapeake Bay and this they are not doing.  You should be saying to the EPA. We will cut fertilizer applications in half. We will require a minimal 3 crop rotation plus winter cover. We will treat all CAFO manure. We will do this but only if it is done on a National basis. All the research required to understand the full picture is available on our website fixingourfood.com. It is time for everyone including consumers to be aware and take action.

Sincerely,

Ps. Please suggest to the Governor that he also visit sustainable organic and pasture farms on his next visit to the Eastern Shore.

How Untreatable Infection Gets to Your Kitchen

April 18, 2011

According to a study (clik here) released last week researchers have found high levels of antibiotic resistant staph bacteria in grocery store meat exposing people to really bad skin and respiratory infections nationwide.

The most significant findings from the study aren’t the level of bacteria they found, but rather how the bacteria in the meat was becoming strongly resistant to antibiotics farmers put in the feed to allow animals to survive the filthy conditions in CAFOs. Johns Hopkins’s scientists call these facilities “perfect pathogen incubators”.

This is one more reason to be very careful when you’re handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen. You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in the raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen and your hands with these bacteria, which are easily spread to other people and food.

Our recent tour of 8 restaurants in Talbot County revealed that all the meat came from CAFO’s. Is your restaurant aware of these issues or are they contaminating their cooks, their kitchens, and your food with antibiotic resistant staph bacteria?

Recent efforts by the Congress to eliminate antibiotics from CAFO feed has failed due to the power of the Agribusiness Lobby led by the American Farm Bureau, the Fertilizer Institute, The Corn Growers Association and the various meat producers. These are the same people who still fight the Gulf Task Force in efforts to restore the Gulf of Mexico and are currently suing the EPA to stop efforts to restore Chesapeake Bay. Is this lobby running the Country as they appear to run the State Of Maryland (see Gov. O’Malley post)? If so who is at fault the intimidator or those who allow themselves to be intimidated? Call your Congressman and ask him or her.

IOWA CCI-Citizens for Community Improvement

April 14, 2011

STOP THE FACTORY FARM ATTACK is the logo for this very active Iowa Community Group. They recently stopped an effort by Governor Branson and the Factory Farm Lobby to deregulate factory farming by defeating 5 factory farm deregulation bills. A glance at the National Factory Farm map shows that Iowa is one of the States completely deep red indicating extreme density. Others include Nebraska, Kansas, Eastern North Carolina, Southern Minnesota, and Southern California. States including Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland New Mexico and many others have Counties with extremely high density. Example: Chaves County in New Mexico produces more CAFO manure, all put on nearby fields untreated, than the combined populations of LA and Philadelphia. If you live in one of these extremely dense Counties, which you can determine from the State map, or if you live within 3 miles of one of these facilities you should insist that public health officials check the air quality at your property for pathogens and ammonia. Also read the article in Johns Hopkins Magazine entitled Pharmacology, which you can find under Pathogens on our reference page. These facilities are hot spots for aquifer and surface water contamination. The only facilities ever tested by Maryland MDE showed aquifer nitrate levels 200 times the normal background level for Delmarva aquifer nitrate contamination. CAFOs, the legal nomenclature, are sometimes called factory farms or animal factories. The concept is the worst ever conceived by man and they should be eliminated. Currently all of the meat sold at the supermarket or served at restaurants comes from these facilities. When you buy this meat you are feeding your family a product that is produced in filth. Johns Hopkins calls these facilities perfect pathogen incubators. When you buy this meat you are supporting the massive abuse of farm animals that is too despicable to describe here. If you want a description from eyewitnesses please look at our archive under animal abuse or ask me to describe some of the abuses that I have personally witnessed. Look for pasture raised, Organic Raised for cattle only, the Food Alliance label requires minimal pasture time, when buying meat and dairy products or buy directly from Pasture based farmers, some are listed on our site. The term range chicken can be misleading and can only be verified by a farm visit. If the farmer refuses your request do not buy the product. Pasture farmers are anxious to show you their farm and production methods. My experience indicates that they respect and care for their animals. Factory Farms look at these animals as inanimate production units.

SPORTS STADIUMS-Not Unique,Not Cool Mr Kruk

April 11, 2011

New stadium facilities have increased food venues featuring grilled meat, sugary drinks and other bad food. Epidemiologic evidence is overwhelming that eating more than a modest amount of hamburger, sausage or cheese steak featured at these stadiums will increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and increase the risk of early death. Grilling meat produces 2 known carcinogens. The haze of grilling hangs over these stadiums.

The opening of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, featured former Philly slugger John Kruk shown eating a tray of junk food including a Philly Cheese Steak. Kruk’s big belly is visual evidence that the epidemiology is correct. This is a person who should be ridiculed and pitied for his ignorance not put on public display. Kruk throughout his career wanted to be viewed as a cool outlier. What he is not smart enough to realize is that eating bad food is the American norm. IT is not unique and not cool. Is this the example for our kids that baseball wants to portray? Do these broadcasters have a responsibility to understand and be sensitive to the health consequences of their actions on young people and the future prospect of better medical and environmental health for the Country?

I hope that someone close to major league baseball and football will send this post to a responsible person in these organizations and tell them to read the medical reports. Some of the more recent are archived on this site.

Please Give It Up- Message to Industrial Ag

April 9, 2011

We will come back to the farmers who made substantial investment in the basically flawed Industrial Agricultural system following World War II with the encouragement of many in the academic community. Lets look at the hard facts:

1.Industrial Agricultural has destroyed half of Iowa’s topsoil with substantial loss nationwide. My early teachers told me topsoil was one of two assets that made our Country great.

2.Industrial Agriculture continues to destroy the Nations ground water and surface water including Estuaries such as Chesapeake Bay through overuse of fertilizer. Our  water resources are our second major basis for greatness.

3, The Industrial system is incorrectly called a food production system. It is not! It is a meat, sugar and junk food production system now recognized as the primary risk factor for cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke, the major causes of out of control health care cost.

4.Other chemicals used in the growing process such as atrazine, antibiotics, arsenic, and growth hormones are major contributors to poor health. CAFO animal facilities are described by Johns Hopkins University as perfect pathogen incubators producing many viruses including flu viruses and the MRSA virus which kills more people each year than aids. Even more importantly the fatten fast CAFO process produces products up to 7 times higher in fat than pasture raised products. Most scientists agree that overconsumption of fat and sugar are primarily responsible for the Nations poor health.

5. Despite efforts to keep the abusive treatment of 5 billion animals a closely held secret there is sufficient evidence to support the truth that massive systematic abuse of food animals is inherent in the Industrial CAFO production process and that animal abuse laws and principles of the Nation’s major religions are being violated.

The Academic Community is split with many scientists still supporting the flawed Industrial System even as more sustainable organic/pasture systems emerge.  I believe they simply cannot face up to the failure of a system which they once heralded as the system that would feed the world. I urge them to please give it up. Readers of this post can use the references archived on this site. A small book titled “A New Vision for Iowa Agriculture” by Francis Thicke an Iowa organic/pasture dairy farmer with a PHD in soils science plus archived major studies on cancer and heart disease will be helpful to readers who may want to consider these thoughts as they make daily buying and eating decisions.

But getting back to the farmers. The Country would be better off reimbursing them for their investment which it could do with the money saved in health care cost and the cost of restoring Chesapeake Bay and our other major natural resources. Any initial cost is worth the price to stop the long term destruction caused by the Industrial system.

To Senators Cardin & Coburn-Please stand up

April 5, 2011

I am writing to you because you had the courage to stand up to The American Farm Bureau, the Fertilizer Institute, the Corn Growers Association and the various meat and dairy producers in opposing continuation of ethanol tax credits. The Agribusiness Lobby has successfully opposed every environmental restoration effort since President Clinton’s blue ribbon Gulf Hypoxia Task Force recommended fertilizer application reductions in 2000. They have recently successfully opposed Maryland Governor O’Malley’s initiative to control CAFO manure, regulate septic systems and even to plant trees. This lobby represents only Industrial Meat and Dairy Producers. They do not represent the growing number of sustainable/organic meat, dairy and plant based producers.

In March of 2009 the National Cancer Institute epidemiology study of the eating habits of 500 thousand 50 to 70 year olds revealed that daily consumption of modest amounts of pork, beef, lamb or goat increased chances of early death by 30%. In 2010 studies by the World Cancer Research fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research, which included 100 Universities and cancer research groups, studied all of the Worlds cancer research and concluded that we should avoid red meat and processed meat the primary product of the Agribusiness Lobby and eat more plant products advocated by organic and sustainable farmers. The Cardiologist who chaired the evaluation panel stated that the same issues that produce cancers produce America’s number one killer, heart disease. Harvard’s 3-decade-old Nurses Health Study also published in 2010 confirmed this. Health care cost in the US are the highest in the world and are primarily caused by treating these and related diseases.

So now we have the Agribusiness Lobby producing products causing massive water and air pollution, the destruction of half of the Nations topsoil, massive animal abuse, but also the primary cause of the Nations out of control health care cost. When is somebody going to stand up to this lobby and say enough is enough. Perhaps the two of you are that somebody.

TALBOT RESTAURANT WEEK

April 3, 2011

We decided to participate in Talbot Restaurant Week to judge not only the taste quality of the food but also whether the raw materials used by the restaurants met minimal health and environmental standards. We are concerned not just because of our health but because we along with these restaurants live in the Choptank watershed. The Choptank is the most nutrient and sediment polluted River in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and it has deteriorated 60% in the last 8 years. Most of the Chesapeake Bay pollution comes from corn based confinement meat and dairy production. We visited 7 restaurants in 7 days. We force rated these seven on the basis of (1) Tasty Food (2) health & environmental sensitive food. And (3) ambiance. The seven restaurants in alphabetical order are Bartlett Pear, Crab Claw, Martinis, Out of the Fire, Oxford Inn, Perry Cabin, and Scossa. We are concerned about pesticide sprays since greens and most vegetables are very vulnerable to these chemicals. Very few of the seven offered organic greens and vegetables. We particularly avoid confinement produced pork, beef, and lamb because of the considerable evidence linking red meat and processed meat to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Most epidemiologic studies point to the total fat, saturated fat and lack of CLA, and omega 3 fatty acids found in corn fed confinement products as the cause, We were very disappointed that none of the restaurants offered pasture raised animal products which most scientists agree minimize these major health and environmental issues. We also cannot discount the mass animal abuse inherent in the production of confinement products. We will not reveal our force rankings unless requested. However one restaurant not the highest ranked in terms of tasty food stood out as clearly more aware of healthy and environmentally sensitive food. Out of the Fire had at least 9 dishes made with organic produce, and antibiotic and hormone free meat ingredients. All seven of these  chefs are obviously very talented. It is a shame that for the most part they are using less than healthy and environmentally sensitive raw materials. Despite the Talbot week special our bills with gratuity averaged more than $75 for lunch and $95 for dinner. Shouldn’t we expect top-notch ingredients in addition to creatively prepared and presented food for these prices?