Every meat-eater has a few vegetarian friends who claim that the main reason other people should be like them is simply because mass-produced meat cannot be trusted. They're right, of course. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone at this point... Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was published in 1906. Like a lot of people, though, I've been resistant, even though I should know better. I'll argue that it's OK to eat Big Macs occasionally because, like, we're all part of the food chain and stuff. What can I tell you... I'm weak. As Vincent Vega would say, steak tastes good, man. Hamburgers taste good. No more, though... I don't trust faceless corporations to prepare my food. I'll be doing some serious reflection on where stuff comes from before I put in into my body.
...there's no beef in Jack Daniels, right?
Article tidbits for this week's 'toon:
- If you haven't seen the Humane Society video that led to the largest beef recall in U.S. history, here you go (prepare your stomach before proceeding).
The video shows Hallmark Meat Packing Co. workers administering repeated electric shocks to downed cows -- animals that are too sick, weak or otherwise unable to stand on their own. Workers are seen kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter.
- Mark Bittman:
...an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.
Because the stomachs of cattle are meant to digest grass, not grain, cattle raised industrially thrive only in the sense that they gain weight quickly. This diet made it possible to remove cattle from their natural environment and encourage the efficiency of mass confinement and slaughter. But it causes enough health problems that administration of antibiotics is routine, so much so that it can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten the usefulness of medicines that treat people.
Those grain-fed animals, in turn, are contributing to health problems among the world’s wealthier citizens — heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes. The argument that meat provides useful protein makes sense, if the quantities are small. But the “you gotta eat meat” claim collapses at American levels. Even if the amount of meat we eat weren’t harmful, it’s way more than enough.
- Katharine Mieszkowski:
[Epidemiologist Devra] Davis argues that again and again, from tobacco to benzene to asbestos, the profit motive has trumped concerns about public health, delaying, sometimes for decades, the containment of avoidable hazards. And, as in the current scientific "debate" about global warming, the legitimate need for ongoing scientific research about many possible carcinogens has been exploited by industry to promote the idea that there's really no need to worry.
- Will Dunham:
France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.
If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year...
- Michael Pollan:
The food industry wants to cook for you, shop for you, they want to do everything but digest for you and if they could figure out a way to do that profitably, they would. It's all about making money. They need to convince you that you can't do this stuff on your own...
The fact is we've had 50 years of letting corporations cook our meals, and it appears now that they were not doing a very good job of it. The food they're cooking is making people sick.
- Jamey Lionette:
Supermarkets are part of mainstream America's identity. Working-class people have little choice but to shop at conventional supermarkets. Middle-class people can shop at places like Whole Foods and appease their consciences with the notion that that food is safer and tastier than conventional supermarket food. And those of the flat earth society -- middle- and upper-class people who do not believe that their climate is changing, that a global market is a bad thing, or that our food systems are in trouble -- favor the conventional supermarket. However, both conventional and progressive supermarkets operate on the same model: mass-produced foods, made cheaply, and sold at cheap prices.
- C.W.A. colleague Stephanie McMillan:
The global economy is a machine with one objective: to extract wealth from the earth and the labor of the poor, convert it to money, and transfer it to the hands of the rich.