Feeding Our Food (Part 2)

Let me just remind you where we left off: discussing the meal that is served up in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), where most of our farm animals are raised.

That meal, in case you’ve forgotten, consists of corn, soy, antibiotics, hormones, meat from other animals (including diseased animals), bits of feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, manure, chicken litter, and plastic.

I discussed corn and soy in the previous post. Now on to the rest.

Meat from same and other species, diseased animals, feathers, hair, skin, hooves, and blood
Another way to fatten the animals as quickly as possible is to add so-called “protein suppliments” their feed, which comes in the form of “animal protein products.” This is another ingenious way for CAFOs to cut their costs: feed the carcasses of slaughtered animals back to the feeding animals. I am not making this up people.

The spread of Mad Cow Disease was a direct result of this practice. The US government has since put restrictions on the parts of cattle that can be fed back to cattle. Cows can no longer be fed cow brains, spinal cords and other central nervous system tissues, but they can still be fed cow blood and other cow parts. Plus, cows can be fed rendered pigs, chickens, and turkeys that have been fed cow brains, spinal cords, and nervous systems.

In addition to inducing cannibalism, animal feed can also legally contain road kill, dead horses, and euthanized cats and dogs. Seriously, I am not making this up.

There are plenty of resources on this subject. Here is one: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0128-03.htm

Manure and Other Animal Waste
It is common practice to add cattle manure, swine waste, and poultry litter to the feed as additional “animal protein products.” Not only can this waste contain antibiotics and hormones that were fed to the animals, but it can also come from animals that ate rendered cow parts, and then be fed to cows, possibly enabling the spread of Mad Cow Disease. The litter served up as food is allowed to contain contain dirt, rocks, sand, wood, and other such contaminants. Another link, just in case you still don’t believe me: http://www.pickle-publishing.com/papers/chicken-litter-animal-feed.htm

Plastics
Many animals need roughage to move food through their digestive systems, but since they are not receiving the necessary fiber from their corn-based diet, CAFOs use plastic pellets to simulate plant-based roughage.

Antibiotics and Hormones
Antibiotics and hormones are used to speed the fattening of the animals and to combat the health effects of a corn based diet and of very cramped, unsanitary conditions (where diseases thrive and spread quickly). Traces of these drugs can be found in the meat humans consume. And not only that, but traces of these drugs can also be found in vegetables that are fertilized with manure from drugged animals. And on top of that, human water sources have been contaminated with these drugs due to feedlot water runoff. Some of the antibiotics commonly used to control parasites and promote growth contain arsenic, a known human carcenogen.

Another serious issue is that these antibiotics are always added to the feed and water. This practice of “nontherapeutic use of antibiotics” speeds up the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is a public health problem that costs the US economy billions of dollars each year.

What You Can Do
As an informed consumer, you have the power to express your disdain in these practices. Remember, your money talks! Some options:

– Try plant based alternatives (veggie burgers, etc)

– Choose grass fed beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy

– Look for “vegetarian fed” labels (no rendered animal parts were fed back to these animals)

– Purchase certified organic products

– Buy meat, eggs, and dairy products from local farmers’ markets (these are not products of CAFOs)

NOTE: There is a difference between “organic”, “grass-fed”, “vegetarian-fed”, and “local” – will discuss each of these soon!

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