Food, Inc.

Last Sunday, my brother-in-law and sister had me over for dinner, along with my daughter.  For BBQ…we LOVE BBQ.   They had just watched Food, Inc., the eye-opening documentary by Robert Kenner, that digs into the food chain we depend upon.  I hadn’t yet seen the film, but my bro’ and sis filled me in on how much our food chain has changed (for the worse) in the past decade.  So they tried a small experiment.  They went to Whole Foods and spoke to the butcher.  They got one, very expensive, steak from a grass-fed, free-range cow, and a few (also pretty pricey) steaks from free-range, grain-fed cows.  They wanted to see what the difference in taste would be from meat from a cow eating what nature intended it to eat (grass), vs. the impact of corn feed (the major of all majors in the “new world” food industry.)

Having all come from Canada, in our youth, our parents would, once or twice a year, order a side of beef from the local farmer and deep-freeze it — and families would take out a piece for a roast, or steaks — throughout the course of  the year.  All the meat from one animal, cleaned and cut by one farmer, after having lived a life of grass-grazing in acres of grazing farmland.  I had forgotten how that meat tasted.  Slightly gamey, rich and delicious.

So, we were all blown away when we tasted the different steaks.  The grass-fed, free-range meat tasted EXACTLY like the meat all of us remembered.  And, seriously, we had forgotten the true taste of meat.

Last night, I sat myself down and watched Food, Inc.  And it shook me to my core.  I truly hadn’t realized (or hadn’t wanted to realize) how food got to our tables.  There were two things that got me in my gut.  The first was the indignity and lack of respect for the animals we eat.  When you looked at the free-range animals against those in the meat industries version of concentration camps for cows, pigs and chickens, there was no question.  The free-range animals were not stressed, eating what nature intended them to eat and looked healthy.  The meat industry animals lived and died in abject fear.   Not an ounce of respect for creatures of this planet — regardless if they were being bred for our consumption or not — just absolute disrespect for their living, breathing existences.   That was the first.  The second insult to my sensibilities was the image of the cows standing in, living in, and dying, in their own excrement.  Up to their knees in sh**.  Literally.  Watching their excrement covered carcasses being cleaned and treated made it a no-brainer to realize how e-coli was working its way into our food.

So…I’m done.  Yesterday (after years of becoming more and more back in touch with nature), I decided that I was shifting my food consumption to fully organic.  Pesticide, hormone-free, free-range, corn filler-free, soy filler-free organic.  No more fast food pit stops (because I’ll likely be ill if I do.)  No more chocolate filled with high fructose corn syrup or any of the million differently named preservatives.  I figure if I don’t know what that ingredient on the label is…well, then I should probably not eat it.

What can I control vs. what can I not control?  Well, I certainly can’t control the meat, produce, and manufactured consumables industries.  But I can control what I choose to purchase.  I can go to the Tapia Brothers farmers just 2 blocks from my home and purchase their in-season produce.  I can go to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and purchase only certified organic.  I can try to find grass-fed cows and free-range chickens and farmers who aren’t using genetically-altered soy bean seeds (of the few that are able to still survive the monopoly hammers on their heads.)  I can and so, I will.   I walk about 5 miles a day and yet I can’t rid my mid-section of a roll of fat.  Well, I’m pretty sure, that just as the cows and chickens become super-marbled with fat in record time, the same is happening to me.  I’d make a delicious meal, most likely, for a tribe of cannibals.  But rather than wait until diabetes claims me, I’m making the move to better food choices today.  Even though money is tight.  Even though it costs more.  Even though.

Here’s just the first few minutes.

3 thoughts on “Food, Inc.

  1. Welcome to reality.

    By the way, the basic nutritional content of organic and “other than organic” is the same…and, in terms of vegetables, very little to none of the pesticides or other “unnatural” chemicals used in nurturing them are left by the time you buy them.

    1. Food, Inc. as the title suggests, is a problem of “FREE MARKET CAPITALISM”. Capitalism needs REGULATION or excesses become commonplace. True for banking as much as food production, drug production, oil extraction, etc. etc. etc.

    2. As you point out, eating organic (if you can trust those lables, speaking of regulation BTW…) does cost more. It also uses up more land, and the yields aren’t as high. If you are doing so for health reasons, that’s one thing, but, environmentally, one must also be cognizant of where the food comes from, eating locally is far more ecologically sound.

    3. Sure, cattle are poison, in oh so many ways, since they contribute a huge percentage of the greenhouse gas problem (cow belches and farts are actually a major contributor, not to mention the energy used in creating the corn, transporting the feed to the cattle, transporting the cattle to slaughter and transporting the meat to store and then home…)

    Here’s some “dense” information on fermentation in cattle:

    Enteric Fermentation is the largest anthropogenic source of CH4 (…Methane…) emissions in the United States. In 2007,
    enteric fermentation CH4 emissions were 139.0 Tg CO2 Eq. (approximately 24 percent of total CH4
    emissions (((that’s teragrams *trillions) of CO2 equivalent)), which represents an increase of 5.8 Tg CO2 Eq., or 4.3 percent, since 1990)

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads09/ExecutiveSummary.pdf

    4. I could go on, as you well know, but hey… just had to share this gem from the recent news.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10103179.stm#skip_feature_02
    “Twenty-one percent of all known mammals, 30% of all known amphibians, 12% of all known birds (and)… 27% of reef-building corals assessed… are threatened with extinction,” said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains the Red List.

    Oh, and don’t eat fish either…
    http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=456&more=1
    “What you can do – Eliminate or decrease fish from your diet. If you are going to eat fish, be sure to eat only those species that are not depleted and that are not caught using methods that result in high bycatch or destruction of sea habitats.”

    1. Frish: It seems like I’ve opened a can of worms for myself and I’m now going to be compelled to keep exploring and investigating. The Methane info is mind-boggling, and if Food, Inc is correct, then it is a direct result of the demands of the fast food industry. The Big Mac responsible for the death of the planet?

      I have also received emails: “You are fortunate to have the financial wherewithal to shop “Whole Paycheck”” and even a phone call from a very enlightened reader, who had lots to say on this subject, including a discussion of soy-based products (yes, even certified organic soy milk) and a nasty parasite: Blastocystis hominis.

      It seems like an overwhelming issue, but I’m going to take my little steps, one at a time, and find my own best practices. I’m not vegan material — I like my meat. The first will be switching to grass-fed, free-range for my meat and poulty supplies (my caller also has her meat shipped to her from a Texas farmer whose grass-fed, free range meat is apparently delish and worth the extra dollars). The second will be avoiding pesticide/herbicide saturation to try and reduce my own ingestion of additional estrogen (oh…and other poisons). I get the idea that organic costs a hunk of a whole lot more, however, I think I read recently that the average American family throws out about $500/year on wasted food, PLUS if I eat really healthy and get all my nutrients from this healthy food, it will require LESS food. I suspect that it’ll even out over the year.

      I don’t consider myself an activist at any political level — except for having a rapier-sharp tongue at times (and I’ve discovered that some of my observations bring up inflammatory emotional responses), but I can be an active in taking personal steps to positively impact the planet and the creatures on it.

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