Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's WHAT For Dinner?

We’ve talked about it here before, and recently Prometheus 6 and The Field Negro posted about the obesity crisis in this country, particularly among us. Eating too much junk and not eating healthy enough are causes, but I'm not totally convinced that the main reason for this dramatic rise in size was cited. And while obesity is a big enough issue in itself, I’d like to add another reason to watch what we eat, which is the affect the food itself is having on our health.

A couple of years ago when the government first "officially" told us about Mad Cow Disease and the Avian Bird Flu you saw good old Americans running in droves out of the meat sections and into the bean aisles of the super market to find their protein supply.

Did this really happen? Absolutely not.

In fact, American eating habits haven’t changed at all, neither has how what we’re eating is produced. In fact does anyone even know what I'm talking about, or the definition of Mad Cow’s Disease? No? Has anyone ever stopped to think about the number of ground up cows there are in one of your fast food burgers? Well, let’s take a closer look, (and trust me it's worth your read).

Mad Cow disease is caused by infectious proteins, and because of the unique structure, they’re basically invulnerable and can survive temperatures hot enough to melt lead. However the leading theory as to how cows received this disease in the first place is that they were fed diseased sheep infected with a sheep spongiform encephalopathy called scrapie.

This begs the question of, “well aren’t cow’s vegetarians?” The answer is yes, and if left uninterrupted they would consume a primarily vegetarian diet, and the animals would naturally be leaner. They would never consume any animal-by-products, nitrates, antibiotics or be stuffed to the gills in huge feed lots prior to slaughter. But feeding these animals a natural diet costs big business about 30% more, and by packing them together into huge feedlots, they tend to plump up rather quickly, producing more product for the market. The down side with the animals packed so tightly is if one becomes ill or diseased, then it’s extremely easy for the illness to spread, which is one of the reasons why the animals receive antibiotics.

Did you know that animals are often given 8 times the amount of antibiotics that humans are given, and that more than half of the antibiotics in the U.S. are routinely fed to livestock? Animals receiving antibiotics in their feed gain 4% to 5% more body weight than animals that do not receive them. That’s a story for a whole other day, but here’s some food for thought, and see the definition below:

"The chief threat is that the use (in cattle) of antibiotics also used in human medicine increases the chance that when that antibiotic is used to treat human infections, it won't work."

Despite the Mad Cow scare, or the fact that Cargill Inc. has recalled 1 million pounds of beef for the second time in a month due to E. coli bacteria contamination, Americans still gobble down about 13 billion hamburgers a year (that’s 3 burgers a week person). And for everybody still wondering, a typical fast food hamburger often contains meat from dozens or even hundreds of cattle. Ewww.

What’s the point? Well, although only a few hundred cases of Mad Cow are officially reported in the U.S. annually, tens of thousands of Americans die from dementia related diseases like Alzeimer’s, every year. Thousands of these deaths may actually be from mad cow disease, caused by eating infected meat because mad cow has several similarities to Alzeimers. The problem is that autopsies are infrequently done, leaving mad cow disease to often go mis- or undiagnosed. Only 10% of Americans receive an autopsy, and the cost for this procedure is an extra $1500 on top of funeral expenses. Draw your own conclusions.

I’m going to end this with a few definitions. I’ll be back with Part II because this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg regarding our food supply, Chicken and pork need their own topics altogether.

Until then (and I'd love to hear your comments)

That Girl Boo


Animal-by-Products are just what they sound like, parts from slaughtered animals. These products “used to” include animals that are found dead on the farm, which were then ground into bone meal and fed to livestock

Nitrates are chemicals used as curing agents, including coloring and flavoring in meats, and according to the Water Environment Federation this substance has been linked to human health problems, including "blue baby" syndrome.

Antibiotics are given to treat illness, however animals are often given 8 times the amount of antibiotics that humans are give, and more than half of the antibiotics in the U.S. are routinely fed to livestock. Animals receiving antibiotics in their feed gain 4% to 5% more body weight than animals that do not receive antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria that develop can easily be transmitted to humans through meat or through human contact with living animals

Steroids, are synthetic (man-made) substances related to the male sex hormones, it promotes muscle growth and reduce swelling and inflammation quickly. Please note that industries are prohibited from giving their chickens hormones, however antibiotics can be given to the animal everyday, and well, increase the size of the animal.



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(6) Bentor, Yinon. Chemical - Lead. Jun. 3, 2003.


(8) Journal of Virology 75(21):10073-89 (2001).Publish Post




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