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Healthy Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

In ‘n Out Burger Cancels Contract with Plant Found Processing Downer Cattle

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This week the news has been splattered with reports about downer cattle discovered at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, California, a processing plant which supplies up to 30% of the meat used by fast-food chain In ‘n Out Burger, and also to the U.S. school lunch and emergency food programs.  This establishment, known by its slogan ‘quality you can taste‘  is now facing a publicity nightmare.

Watch the ABC news report

What was shown in an undercover video produced by animal rights group Compassion Over Killing in June and July of this year is that there were animals being poked, proded, and who could barely stand or walk. Federal law prohibits the use of meat from animals that cannot walk on their own for processing.

Ho hum, you might think. Food recalls happen everyday and packing plants are getting shut down pretty frequently. True. However, if you look on the FDA Food Recall list you can see just why the U.S. food system, touted by its defenders such as politicians, big wigs at the FDA, CDC, and USDA, and “food safety” experts from medical and health authorities as being “the safest in the world”, it’s obvious that our system is anything but safe.

“But”, you might argue, “I eat out at restaurants pretty regularly and I’m just fine. “ So why should you care? Sure, maybe you’ve gotten away with doing this for some time and things have been all right. But what about that time that you got sick because you ate at the local drive in or maybe your favorite Chinese restaurant that serves General’s Chicken? So maybe you get food poisoning a few times a year. It’s no big deal. Normal, even…right?

Not really.  As a culture, we’ve grown so accustomed to food recalls, food poisoning, and chronic health issues we don’t really give a second thought to the idea that maybe the food we’re eating is causing more problems than we realize. Consuming industrial foods are now being linked to many different health issues such as antibiotic resistance and the development of superbug viruses such as Salmonella, E. coli, MRSA, Enterococcus, and Campylobacter, yeast overgrowth, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and many other degenerative diseases.

Food poisoning is not something that is normal or that we “should get” regularly. Some years ago when I was eating out a lot and not paying attention to my diet, I had food poisoning 1-3 times a year, whether it was a terrible upset stomach, diarrhea, or all out vomiting for 12 hours or more.

Since I changed my diet and eat mostly real food from safe sources, I haven’t had food poisoning in at least 7 years, maybe longer. During this time, it was common for me to have bowel irregularities, stomach cramps, bloating, and feeling bad in general. And I thought that was normal. It now very rare that I have a mild upset stomach or  nausea, and most of the time I feel great. So when I hear about people I know with “stomach flus” and digestive distress, I remember very well how it used to be. No fun.

Why does factory farmed food make us sick?

  • The food we eat from these facilities, whether it’s from a restaurant or store is filled with preservatives, fillers, dyes and colors, and other chemicals that are harmful to human health on many levels.
  • The food is nutritionally imbalanced because it’s grown or produced in the most unnatural ways – as is evidenced by the video footage from the packing plant supplying meat to In ‘n Out Burger. Many foods are irradiated, heat-treated or pasteurized, extruded, or highly processed in some manner that removes colors, flavor, and nutrition. Then food companies add back in synthetic nutrients and chemicals that give food the right texture and flavor so people will eat it. But it’s completely devoid of anything good or natural for our bodies, and is mostly lacking in any easily-absorbed nutrients.
  • Factory meats contain residue from antibiotics & hormones to make them grow faster than normal to increase business profits, and also  residue from pesticides and herbicides used on the feed consumed.  These substances are linked to many health issues including digestive problems, yeast overgrowth, antibiotic resistance, hormonal and endocrine problems, weight issues, and much more.
  • Cattle and other animals are not on pasture, and are crammed into too-small quarters, standing on dirt or cement, and within close proximity of excrement piles or standing cesspools of feces. The feces is supposed to be used as fertilizer, but you wouldn’t want anything you are eating to be fertilized with this stuff. Because it comes from sick animals, it’s not healthy to use on anything. But it gets used on crops and also ends up running off into other areas such as waterways and land and seeps into our groundwater. It’s a contaminant and makes people sick. Have you heard about spinach, tomatoes, or watermelon recalls in recent years? That’s thanks to contamination from disease such as E. coli and Salmonella from factory farms.
  • Cattle are fed something besides grass and hay (which is what they are meant to consume) such as corn, soy, grain, and are genetically modified (GMOs).  Among other problems, consuming these feeds causes the nutritional content of this meat to be too high in Omega 6s, which contribute to inflammation in the body.

The news reports say In ‘n Out Burger has canceled their contract with the offending CA meat packing plant. ABC News also stated that this packing plant does not only supply In ‘n Out Burger and the school and emergency systems with meat, but other businesses and entities as well.

At this point, 3 very important questions need to be asked:

1)  Should In ‘n Out Burger, who claims to pay a premium price for “quality meat”, be given kudos for ending their relationship with the meat packing company that broke the law?

2) Will In ‘n Out Burger sign a contract with yet another processing plant that has unsafe and inhumane practices?

3)  After the offending meat plant “cleans up their act”, will it then be “safe” to purchase meat from restaurants and grocery stores that have a contract with this company? 

Here’s the reality of this situation: most meat comes from factory farm settings, and simply because the cattle found there are not staggering and unable to walk does not mean the meat produced there is safe to consume. And, just because your favorite fast food joint doesn’t get their meat from this particular plant in CA with downer cattle does not mean they don’t get their meat from a facility that doesn’t use unsafe and unhealthy practices. Downer cattle are not the only factors which make meat from factory farms unhealthy to consume.

Another critical point: because food companies and establishment get busted by the FDA does not mean we have to stop eating meat. You’ll hear many voices from animal activist groups, health groups, and others proclaiming that this is why meat is so harmful for us, causes high cholesterol, cancer, heart disease, and so on.

Animal and environmental activists will prey on your emotions by saying that animals are getting murdered and are suffering mercilessly at the hands of big corporations (which they are), and that all meat farming is devastating to the environment. They will  attempt to persuade you with false studies and infamous books like The China Study by T. Colin Campbell about how all meat is bad for your health, and that you should avoid it as much as possible.

But don’t be fooled. There is a better way, a more natural way practiced for thousands of years by traditional populations around the world. Healthy meat from animals and birds raised humanely, and from natural environments is not only okay to eat, but critical to our health and the environment  – as described by Joel Salatin, sustainable food activist, grassfed farmer and author of various books on the subject.

The solution should be clear:

Choose sustainable meat from healthy, happy animals and birds raised on pasture

Learn why not all meat is harmful to our health 

Questions to ask your farmer – know what’s in your food!

A great rebuttal of The China Study from Denise Minger

 

More information on food recalls and factory farmed foods:

1 in 4 meat packages tainted with pathogenic bacteria 

Nina Planck talks candidly about industrial food

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Industrial meat and pink slime: more recalls = drug resistance

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Real Food Toxin Alert!

The Egg Recall and Why Local Isn't Necessarily Better

www.mypicshares.com

I’ve already written about food recalls a number of times, but the point about finding sustainable food is one that I find must be revisited often…because there are so many misconceptions going around about why simply avoiding one brand over another is not enough.

And I’ll also tell you why it’s really important to know your farmer and what practices he or she uses to raise the chickens that lay the eggs you are going to eat.

Read the conversation that convinced me to write this post:

Last week, someone in my family (who shall go nameless to keep the peace, and he never reads my blog anyway) called and asked me about eggs. He wanted to know where I buy my eggs. I replied that I buy them from the Capital City Public Market (in downtown Boise, ID) farmer’s market from a farmer from Payette, ID (it’s about 60 miles away from where I live in Boise). The farm is Matthew’s All Natural Meats.

Then he asked about another egg supplier, a company that’s been around since I was a child, or maybe longer. I have a distinct recollection of going there and seeing closed-in hen houses where the chickens were confined, and the odor I noticed from this business when I got out of the car was definitely strong of excrement. I replied that I wouldn’t buy my eggs there, and I asked him if he wanted to know why.

His reply: “no, this place is local and that’s good enough for me and my wife.”

To clarify, I asked, “so you don’t care if the chickens at this local hatchery are raised in the same way as the ones in the recall?”

“No.” He said.

So while it’s true: all these eggs are sourced back to Iowa farms Wright County Egg and from Hillandale Farms, owned by Austin DeCoster (who is, by the way, a known offender of safety and environmental regulations), you might be thinking:

“But I don’t live anywhere near Iowa, and the eggs I buy are from another source entirely. How could I get sick from eating those eggs?”

Just because you are buying eggs from some other supplier that wasn’t mentioned on the recall list or even buying foods locally, it does not mean you are going to be assured of a safe, healthy product that won’t make you sick.

Those eggs from the recent recall were recalled because of the farming practices used on those chicken farms – chickens crammed together in close quarters, pooping all over each other, getting diseases and being administered antibiotics, feed  covered in chemicals and pesticides (and from genetically-modified sources). That’s where salmonella contamination comes from. Those birds are not allowed to roam around out in the open and eat bugs, worms, and have access to the outdoors and sunshine.

Buying eggs from farmers who raise their chickens sustainably will guarantee you will not have eggs from diseased and sick birds. It’s always a good idea to know the farmer or call him or her at the very least, and ask about the practices they use.

What does sustainable really mean?

Are the birds out in the open, on grass, eating bugs and dirt, and being exposed to sunshine? That’s what chickens are supposed to do, by the way. It’s what nature intended. Are the chickens free from antibiotics, chemicals, and other toxic substances? Chances are, a smaller operation and farm will be much more likely to care about the relationships they have with customers and to make sure their birds are raised in healthy and sanitary conditions. Most small-time operations have a reputation to protect, and they are not going to put it on the line by not keeping their practices clean. Plus, many of those small farmers believe in the principles of animal and bird stewardship and want to produce a healthy and sustainable product.

And you might pay more for a dozen eggs from a local, sustainable farm. But compare that to the cost of getting sick from salmonella and having to miss work or school, and a trip to the E.R. It’s also the case that eggs from healthy hens on pasture have more nutrients in them because unlike their conventional counterparts, healthy birds on pasture and out in the open are exposed to the sunshine and outdoors (think Vitamin A, D, E, and K), a better balance of Omega 3s to 6s, and up to five times the amount of conjugated linoleic acid – a known antioxidant and nutrient important for many aspects of health including the cardiovascular system. Now that makes financial sense.

There is something else you need to be aware of: the media, food safety officials, nor mainstream health or medical sources will never tell you this information because to do so would compromise the safety regulations and laws that are already in place, and it would uncover a vast number of other farms guilty of the same violations. That would make government entities and businesses look bad. It might also, just maybe, alert the public to what’s been going on in the food industry for decades and decades, start a revolt, and cause those companies to have to change their practices or be shut down. But then again, I think I might just be living in a dream world.

Those companies are huge, profitable, and POWERFUL. They’ll stop at nothing to maintain that status, and everyone in those industries and government positions knows each other, works together, and protects each other. Is it starting to make sense now as to why these operations are allowed to continue on their merry way of selling toxic food and food products to the public? Most of the time, those companies get a slap on the hand at the very worst – a fine, or something of that nature, which is easily absorbed by a big corporation.

And the safety standards? Well, it might be interesting to know that those farms who produced the recalled eggs were only required to adhere to them on a “voluntary” basis. So much for following “the law”.  And guess what? Most of the eggs on the market come from premises like these. So even though the carton your eggs come in might say, “cage-free” or “all-natural”, those eggs are still likely from unhealthy chickens in confinement. Marketing terms and lingo are very tricky that way, and lead consumers to believe they are getting something good, when in fact, they probably are not.

The same goes for any food item on a recall list. More and more you will see these recalls happening, and more and more it is going to be critical for consumers to be aware of why these foods are being recalled…despite food safety regulation laws, despite government laws being stepped up and protocols becoming more strict. Creating more laws and stricter regulations simply won’t prevent what has been occurring from occurring again in the future.

Consumer and farmer habits can change the future

The only thing that will change this onslaught of low-quality foods being mass produced and continuing to be recalled is awareness and activism on the part of farmers and consumers to produce sustainable foods and to buy them and support only those farmers and food growers adhering to those strict standards. It may sound strange or even impossible, but it’s the whole truth. If you think most food recalls aren’t from industrial and conventional sources, just look up any food recall and see where it’s sourced. If nothing else, that alone should convince you.

Here are just a few of the recalls in the recent past (and note, ALL sources are conventional and industrial):

Although not all of these companies are as large as companies like Tyson and Cargill (note, both of these companies are included in these recall articles), they all have something in commonindustrial farming practices are used in growing their food. And therein lies the problem.

So, please, please, please, don’t just keep buying the same foods (Heaven forbid!), or go over to some other brand that you know nothing about. Because chances are, you’ll just end up buying another carton of eggs, or another package of meat, or another bag of produce from a conventional source where the food is produced or raised in a similar way to the Iowa farm eggs – in closed in hen houses and in the most filthy, abominable conditions possible. In the case of produce, most of these foods are being contaminated by run-off water and other similar situations from factory farms where E.coli or salmonella are an issue (again, confinement facilities for animals) .Make it a point to learn about where your food comes from, know your farmer, and by all means, do support local – just make sure it’s sustainable.

More reasons to buy sustainable?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Fortified and processed foods: are label claims about nutrition true?

Huge FDA recall of 10,000 products – another wakeup call to avoid processed foods!