Just like clockwork, E coli in beef rears its ugly head every year or so. This time it’s 23,000 pounds of tainted ground beef coming out of Kansas.
E coli is found in the intestinal tract of warm blooded animals and is spread to the outside environment through manure. Today’s cramped feedlots (aka: cattle or beef factories) create a perfect home for infectious diseases such as E coli. To lower cost, the cattle are fed grains instead of their natural diet of grass that, in turn, increases acidity in their gut—E coli thrive in an acidic environment so the problem is compounded. In the past, “mom and pop” farms raised their cattle on grass and E coli was a rarity.
Why has this foodborne disease become so prevalent over the past 30 years? Grass-fed cattle ranches have been replaced by massive high-density feedlots where livestock are crammed together in manure saturated pens until they mature to slaughter age. Essentially, small private farms and ranches have been gobbled up by Wall Street backed farming conglomerates that put priority on profit over a healthy food system.
The entire beef food chain is unnatural. Cattle now eat an unnatural diet of corn, this creates an unnatural elevated acidic environment is their gut, E coli bacteria multiple at an unnaturally high rate and then people get poisoned. Corn is subsidized by the government creating an unnatural “free market” economy; grain products have unnaturally low prices, Wall Street demands high profits so farm conglomerates feed cattle an unnatural diet of corn which lowers the manufacturing cost of beef. People eat more beef because, normalized to inflation, it is unnaturally cheap. An unnatural amount of beef is consumed causing heart disease, animal fat related diabetes and other health problems.
No worries, it’s all self-correcting. Global warming and peak oil will increase grain costs and beef prices will eventually follow. Steaks and burgers will no longer be the food of the masses and the health of people and cattle will return…provided extinction doesn’t intervene first.