Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “meat”

The Big E: It’s Back – Roger Ingalls

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 Grass-fed cattle ranches have been replaced by massive high-density feedlots where livestock are crammed together in manure saturated pens until they mature to slaughter age.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.

from Food Inc. (movie)

from Food Inc. (movie)

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.

There Back: Killer Cantaloupe – Roger Ingalls

I’m starting to sound like a broken record with my reoccurring posts about the far reaching poisoning caused by industrialized farming. Today, a single mega-farm can have a single quality oversight and people across the country will get ill or die. It happens two or three times a year.

Here are my previous posts on the subject:

1)      Killer Cantaloupe, September 2011

2)      A Toilet Bowl of Food, June 2011

3)      Strawberries to Die For, September 2001

It’s August 2012 and here we go again with two more occurrences of produce poisoning; a lettuce recall due to E.coli and cantaloupe illnesses due to salmonella. These recent events have caused death and sickness across multiple states.

When will we learn that a centralized food system is not only environmentally disastrous but also puts too many people at risk? It’s amazing that we continue to endorse this food system.

Responsible farming has given way to energy intensive factory farms and as a result, there’s been a change in how food animals are raised and crops are grown. Instead of many decentralized mom-and-pop farms feeding the local population, we now have a small quantity of mega-farms supplying the far reaches of the country.

The solution is locally grown food. If an E.coli, listeria or salmonella outbreak does occur, it is locally contained and only a few people are affected. In addition, local production simulates the economy, creates jobs, uses less energy and has a smaller impact on the environment.

We have choices. Save your life, your family and the planet by buying locally produced goods.

A Toilet Bowl of Food – Roger Ingalls

Photo from greenopolis.com

A little E.coli here, a little E.coli there, a lot of E.coli everywhere. What’s the deal, why are thousands of people getting sick with many dying from Escherichia coli O157:H7?

This deadly bacteria came to light in the early 1980s as a contaminant in meat but is now found in nuts, lettuces, frozen pizzas, cucumbers and a variety of other food products. It was originally called the hamburger disease because contamination often occurred in ground beef.

But why has this foodborne disease become so prevalent over the past 30 years? Responsible farming has given way to energy intensive factory farms. As a result, there has been a change in how food animals are raised and crops are grown. Instead of many decentralized mom-and-pop farms feeding the local population, we now have a small quantity of mega-farms supplying the far reaches of the country.

Photo from Food Inc Movie

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. If you’ve driven by one of these miles-long factories, you know how disgusting they are.

Since E.coli is found in the intestinal tract of animals and is spread to the outside environment through manure, the cramped feedlots create a perfect home for infectious diseases. 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 thrives in an acidic environment. The livestock are given antibiotics to combat illness from fecal-hosted agents and an unnatural diet. Great care must be taken in the slaughtering and processing of cattle to ensure little to no feces comes in contact with the meat, especial since E.coli may be enhanced on the mega-farm feedlots.

Photo from HSUS Video

How does E.Coli get onto vegetables? One source of contamination comes from livestock manure that gets into irrigation water through run-off. Another source comes from wildlife migration through crop fields.

Run-off Photo from Belsandia website

The mega-farms process significant quantities of food which can compound the E.coli problem. When a single contamination occurs within one of these factory farms, the event can be catastrophic. People all over the country can get sick from food processed in one factory on any given day.

Science Photo Library

The solution is locally grown food. If an E.coli outbreak does occur, it is locally contained and only a few people are affected. Feedlots can be replaced with the healthier practice of decentralized grazing of livestock so manure is naturally composted and does not get into the water table. In addition, local production simulates the economy, creates jobs, uses less energy and has a smaller impact on the environment.

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Comparing the Cost of Eating Habits

In a recent post I talked about the high cost of organic produce. I recently came across a hypothetical comparison made by Learn Vest comparing meat diet, pescetarian (fish, no meat), vegetarian, and vegan. Learn Vest is a website that aims to help people raise their standard of living while living within their financial means.

Now this is in no way meant or suggested as a scientific evaluation. They simply took a typical diet from each of the four eating habits. Judging the bottom line, the vegan saves almost $1,300 annually. The vegetarian also saves significantly over the meat eater.

Another interesting observation is that the price rises significantly in each group when more processed foods are used, as opposed to raw ingredients being cooked. This brings up another aspect: time.  Many people who are pushed for time are going to look for the quickest meal, always the processed one. Sadly, this is often also the least healthy. If you are going to deprive yourself of certain foods in order to invest in your health, you are also going to need to invest time.

Unfortunately, time is often the scarcer option.
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

Exciting New Direction

My novel, Oilspill dotcom, has just been published as an e-book by Smashwords. It’s available for an introductory price of $3.99 and can be downloaded to Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone or any computer. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5684. Feeling very 21st Century!
Advert aside – this is exciting!

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords has “meat grinder” technology (his term). You provide him with the manuscript and he puts it through his grinder, producing an e-book that can work on any e-book format currently available. He is committed to enable Smashwords books to be compatible with the new Barnes & Noble electronic reader due out this month and the new Apple reader due in January.

Being an author himself and committed to the e-book revolution, Coker offers authors up to an unprecedented 85% royalty, thereby encouraging his authors to price their book at a lower level, representing the savings in materials, distribution, storage and marketing.

I am excited to be part of the revolution. The reality is that most of us buy our books used, borrow from the library, or pass along to friends. None of these methods provide royalties to the author.

$15-$30 for a book is not sustainable and we are no longer surprised to see many ‘bestsellers’ now deeply discounted in bins at the front of B&N, Borders, or the supermarket.

So, I’m feeling very 21st Century. Over the next few weeks I hope to offer a few insights into the e-book revolution (as I research it myself).

One request: Please go into the Smashwords website, check it out, and let me know what you think. Comment here on the blog or shoot me an email to alshalev at Bigfoot dot com.

Good Writing & Reading,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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