Food and factories

I do a lot of reading. I go through phases: sometimes, I read books for the purpose of entertainment, others, I prefer to delve into specific subjects and learn as much about them as I can. Typically, these subjects are hot-button issues with which I'm not sure I have enough understanding to form an opinion. I love having an opinion, so I certainly want it to be an educated one.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about the food industry---primarily the meatpacking industry. So far, I've read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer and I'm about to wrap up "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser. I've got "An Animal Manifesto" on my "to-read" shelf, and I devour all the articles I can get in regards to this issue. Why the sudden interest in the food industry, you ask? For starters, I keep seeing these words protrude my supermarket visits. Words like natural and organic keep popping up everytime I reach for the milk--- so what do they mean? And why in the world is it suddenly so important? Could it be because people are becoming increasingly aware of what they put in their mouths, and, as a result, food companies are leading us to believe that they're accommodating that?

So I've delved into modern day muckraking in an effort to educate myself and hopefully make more aware decisions in regards to what I eat. What I've found out has been staggering. It's definitely made me think twice before I pick up the package of Tyson boneless skinless chicken breasts at Marsh. There's no way I can sit here and tell you everything I've learned, but I would strongly encourage advocating for yourself by educating yourself. I'm gonna share a few of the most shocking bits I've discovered, and you can take it from there. But before I start, here's what I'm doing about it:

Farmer's markets. These are a great way to support your local farmers, in addition to tasting better and being healthier.

Organic. If you're concerned about the welfare of the animals, then this doesn't always mean much. For example, "cage free" only means that the chickens must have access to the outdoors. This could mean a tiny square carved into the side of the building where the chickens are kept, whether or not they actually see/experience the outdoors is unknown. And usually, not the case. BUT...in terms of the hormones and steroids that most chickens come to know as just in their blood, chances are you're eating less of these.

Eating less chicken/turkey/pork. The poultry and pork industries' change to assembly line meatpacking and processing has rendered it the most inhumane and frightening of the meat industries. Beef is on its way, but it's not quite there yet. As such, I just don't eat chicken as much. Especially not when I pay attention to the size of the breast, which is, in most cases, unnaturally huge. Kinda makes you wonder what they're feeding those chickens? Yeah.

Did you know that there is no longer just one chicken? Two chickens now exist--- one for eggs, and one for chicken meat. Additionally, chickens have been injected with sulfa drugs and other antibiotics since the 1940s. All in an effort to make "the chicken of tomorrow".

Chickens are so designed to grow faster than their bones can support, that a huge majority of them cannot walk. Some pigs cannot survive outside. Factory farm turkeys can no longer naturally reproduce (it's all done at the hand of man).

Chicken is cheap, and yeah that's awesome, but let's put things into persepective. The average cost of a new house increased nearly 1500 percent over the past ffity years, cars 1400%...milk? Only 350%, chicken and eggs? Their prices haven't even doubled.

Chlorine baths are often used to remove slime, odor, and bacteria. Birds get pumped with broths and salty solutions for their look and flavor ("many labelled as natural are ballooned with 10-30% of their weight as broth, flavoring, or water"--Consumer Reports).

Eviscerators are used to rip open intestines, which release feces into the birds' body cavities. USDA once condemned birds with fecal contamination, but the USDA has since been petitioned by the poultry industry to change the classification of feces to a "cosmetic blemish".

This one's from an interview from a former USDA poultry inspector, written by journalist Scott Bronstein----" Every week, millions of chickens leaking yelllow pus, stained by green feces, contaminated by harmful bacteria, or marred by heart and lung infections, cancerous tumors, or skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers."

That's just from a couple of pages from this book. The rest of it is jampacked with even more shocking facts.

I wanted to record some of these facts for my own references, I need to reread the book and jot down some more. It's repulsive on so many levels, on what it's doing to animals and what it's doing to humans. I won't even begin with the "humane" part of it, but I will say, pick up the book and you will find that these animals are treated as the lowest of the low, they receive no respect for the lives they sacrifice so that we can eat.

I'm not saying that a bird needs a spa prior to the end of its life, but what about the old days and those farms? Isn't that the image that most of us get when we think about where chickens, cows, and pigs come from? And the meat industry goes to such great lengths to hide this from us. Which is what's scary. What in the world are we eating?!

I recently read an article on the Daily Beast that dealt with how much earlier girls were reaching puberty. Are we finally starting to see the effects of the food we've been consuming for so long?