- Soy products, good or bad?
- Grass-fed beef, is it all that it is cracked up to be?
- The dirty deal with industrial food production
- Greed as it relates to the food we eat
Intensive confinement of calves raised for veal has long raised pointed concerns regarding the animals’ welfare. Traditional production practices include individually isolating calves in narrow wooden stalls or pens, which severely restrict movement, feeding the animals an all-liquid diet deliberately low in iron, and prematurely weaning the animals. Stressful conditions lead to a high incidence of stereotypic behavior and illness. Scientific reviews of the welfare of intensively confined calves raised for veal have concluded that the young animals suffer when reared in conventional systems.The Truth About Milk Cows There is a well-known “Happy Cows Come from California” marketing campaign by the California Milk Producers’ Association in which healthy, talking cows stand on spacious, green pastures and declare that “great cheese comes from happy cows, and happy cows come from California”. And yet nothing could be further from truth. First of all, the commercial was filmed on the grassy land of New Zealand, and not California. But more important, the book describes the truth about California cows: most never see a single blade of grass. Instead, they are housed in pens where they can not turn around and where they stand knee high in their own excrement for most of their adult life. They are injected with hormones, fed antibiotics, and in Robbins words, “treated without compassion like four-legged milk pumps.” And then there is the issue of hormones in our milk. Dairy cows are injected with human growth hormones (rBST) in order to increase milk production. Did you know that infants in China who are fed formula have been growing breasts? According to the official Chinese newspaper, medical tests performed on babies between four and fifteen months old found levels of estrogen as high as those in adult women. The consensus is that the hormone rich formula is responsible. And where did these hormones come from? Milk from dairy cows. Here is the part that I do not get: the United States is one of the few countries in the world that still allows bovine growth hormones to be injected in dairy cows. This is banned in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe. Why is this happening? Dare I say that our government (and this includes the politicians as well as agencies such as the US FDA) are more loyal to Monsanto, Eli Lilly, and other corporations with deep pockets than to the people they serve. In John Robbin’s words as he explains the inspiration behind the title of his book:
“There are no happy cows in the industrialized food system. There’s something about that contrast between what they’re portraying and the reality that exists in California dairy production that strikes me as a perfect example of why we have to wake up.”Turning the Corner as a Food Activist – A Personal Choice There is more. Have you ever bothered to learn what “Fair Trade Certified” really means? Very briefly, items that are fair trade certified carry an independent, third-party-verified guarantee that the farmer has been paid a fair price for his products, has had direct involvement in the marketplace, and has upheld environmental and labor rights standards. You will find the Fair Trade Certified label on many agricultural products, the most common being cocoa, coffee, bananas, tea, and sugar. Oh, it also means that the items have not been genetically modified. Now did I know this before? I suppose I knew about it peripherally but never pursued it beyond that cursory knowledge. After reading John Robbin’s description of the harvesting of cocoa (for chocolate) by children tricked or sold into slavery, I stood up and took notice. Did I want to support this cruel and inhumane exploitation of the underclass when for a few pennies more I could purchase fair trade certified chocolate? I think you know the answer. And so I come around to the gist of the matter: as with all things political and all things government, we have a choice not only with the food we eat but with the methods by which they are grown and harvested. At some point we must make decisions for ourselves based upon health, budget and moral considerations. To that end I suggest that we each become a food activist in a manner that is appropriate to your situation. Although what is right for one person may be wrong for another, you have no basis to judge unless you arm yourself with knowledge. It is only then that you can become both judge and jury. The Final Word If you care about the rising epidemic of obesity, food contamination, the perils of GMO foods and the proliferation of controlled animal feeding operations, take a couple of hours to educate yourself. Grab yourself a copy of No Happy Cows or watch one of the videos that are available for streaming through your Netflix account or for purchase at Amazon. Seek out more information at websites such as Green America. What else?
- When it comes to the food you eat, challenge yourself to take a look at your diet to see what you can do to add more plant based items to your daily fare.
- As a consumer, seek out milk and dairy products that are rBST free. Check your labels. For example, Safeway store’s Lucerne brand – typically the lease expensive option in the dairy case – is rBST free.
- Purchase only fair trade certified chocolate. It is more widely available than you think and often at the same price as chocolate produced under the guise of tyranny.
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