Know what you’re eating and why it matters

By Diana Campeggio
November 24, 2010

When you head into the supermarket to grab some ground beef for hamburgers, do you ever stop and wonder where that meat has come from?  Do you wonder how the cow was treated or what chemicals they are doused in?

After watching “Food Inc” I have to say that I am generally concerned for the quality of the food we put in our bodies and I wonder if anyone else in the country is as concerned as I am.

In a country that is technologically advanced in every field, farming and ranching is something that needs to remain closer to its roots.  It needs to rely more on hard work and human contact with these animals instead of machines and technology doing all the work.

I am not saying that farmers don’t work hard, because I’m sure that they do, but I’m simply trying to say that I don’t believe that machines should be the main contact that these animals have to the outside world, because machines do make mistakes.

This is evident with the amount of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, contaminations this country has had in the past several years.  I believe that these contaminations have been caused by farms and factory workers no longer being involved in the slicing and dicing of the meat that will eventually be placed on people’s dinner tables.

Certain E. coli can make people very sick and these types of E. coli bacteria are called “shiga toxin-producing” or STEC for short.  This bacteria lives inside the stomachs of animals, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “infections start when you swallow STEC—in other words, when you get tiny (usually invisible) amounts of human or animal feces in your mouth.”

Isn’t this enough to make people want to change the ways our food is being harvested and produced?  I can’t even discuss this without thinking about Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” When do we make times change?

If you have ever bought a package of chicken breasts and thought that they were huge, that is because our meats and poultry have been hormone induced and feed a heavy diet of corn until they are eventually killed.  Animals in these plants are not feed a correct, natural diet that they would eat in the wild, nor are they aloud to roam free.

I think the fact that we specifically have to label our beef that they are “free roaming” is ridiculous and disgusting.  All animals should at least have the right to roam around outside before they are slaughtered at an early age.

I feel like in writing this, I need to state that I am an avid meat eater and I don’t plan on changing that, but I am concerned about what I put in my body and the quality of the food I am eating.  Should I need to be concerned that every time I eat a chicken breast it was submerged in chemicals to kill the bacteria and create a later expiration?

In a country that is ripe with people who love to stand up for whatever it is they believe in, I feel like people are letting the quality of our food fall to the wayside.  I feel that the standards that the FDA are setting are being too lenient on these big businesses, and the these standards need to be revised.

These large companies aren’t treating their animals as animals, but more as meat.  They aren’t feeding them a natural diet; they aren’t letting them roam freely.  They only have a short time to live and they are spending that time in a crowded barn or at the milking station.  I understand that these are eventually going to be eaten, but shouldn’t we treat them with even a little respect while they are stilling living?

The only solution that seems to make sense to me is to back away from these big business farms and to search out local farms or farmers’ markets that steer away from these methods.  They have a smaller amount of livestock, but, in most cases, they are taking care of them while they are alive.  They usually aren’t hosing their produce and chemicals with chemicals to keep the expiration dates to be later.

These farmers don’t have the finances to have these machine-based operations.  They are running their farms as a farm should run, with a lot of manpower and hands-on work.

If buying through farmers’ markets and local farms is not an option, then people should be looking for local, organic produce and free ranging meats.

People are deterred from taking these actions because it will cost more to the consumer.  In my thinking, I would rather have quality meats and produce, which is not contaminated with chemicals, and pay a little more per pound.  I wish that more people had a similar thinking as I do.

I think that the thought process is that to believe that the mistreatment of animals, in any circumstance, is horrible gives you the label of vegan or an activist of some kind.  But I don’t really believe in labels.  I believe in treating people and animals the way they should be treated, and I don’t believe that big business farms are doing this.

I hope that as a nation, we can reevaluate the quality of food and the way we treat the animals that will eventually become our food.  I believe in the saying, ‘what goes around, comes around’ and the idea of karma.  If we are cutting corners and taking the easy way out, then what will that mean for us in the end?  Maybe this explains these E. coli and salmonella outbreaks.

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Diana Campeggio

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