Corn

Corn. When we think of corn, we usually think of corn on the Cobb or kernels. It’s usually white or yellow, sweet and delicious. That’s what I think of when I think about corn, but the reality is that vision is long gone and is a very old-fashioned way of thinking of corn.

Believe it or not, corn is in virtually everything. It makes up about 90 percent of our diets.

High fructose corn syrup? Made from corn.

Beef, chicken, pig, every meat you can imagine? Fed with corn. (Unless you get grass-fed. )

Sweetener in soda? Made from corn.

Corn starch? Made from corn.

Favorite French fries from McDonalds? Fried in corn oil.

Sauces? The thickening agents found in sauces are Dextrin and Maltodextrin. They  are also found in dressing, frozen veggies and ice cream. Made from corn.

Decyl Glucoside – used in personal care products such as shampoo.

Gas used to ship all this stuff all over the country? Comprised with ethanol, which is made from corn.

This isn’t even half of it. The list goes on and on and on and on.

Why is it in everything? Because it’s cheap. Because there is an over-production of it. Why? Because the government subsidizes it. The government has given over $77 billion in corn subsidies from 1995 to 2010. It’s why junk food is so much cheaper than real food.

Why are they doing this? Federal support for agriculture, begun in earnest during the Great Depression, was originally intended as a temporary lifeline to farmers, paying them extra when crop prices were low.

What has kept the cash flow coming? “Big Ag”. Industrial farmers, which are not to be confused with small farmers, have been lobbying congress ever since. Industrial farms grow huge amounts of corn. This not only contributes to the problem of corn overproduction, but it also is bad for the land because crop rotations helps keep nutrients in the soil. Growing huge amounts of corn over and over will cause the nutrients to dry up and then what? Small farms are now switching to this corn business because they aren’t making enough money growing other fruits and vegetables.

What people don’t realize is that food is supposed to cost something. It costs something to produce it. The government pays to make corn cheaper, but the cost comes from somewhere else. And the low prices doesn’t help pay for labor, so the people growing the food get paid and treated like crap. Not only that, but when America produces a certain kind of food like rice or corn and ships it to a poorer country that mainly grows that crop as an income for their own farmers and we sell it to them for cheaper than they can grow it themselves then that puts their own farmers out of business and ruins their economy.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the drought and food prices will soar. I don’t know about you, but anytime I heard about the soaring food prices they show rows and rows of corn and then they talk about corn. Corn, COrn, CORN!!!! I’ve shifted through article after article and the most I’ve got is that it’s affecting subsidized crops like corn, soy, wheat, mostly what is grown in the mid –U.S., which will in turn affect the meat industry. What, are apples, peaches, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, not food? They never mention that the reason ‘food’ prices will raise is because corn is in EVERYTHING! It’s a bit interesting that they say ‘food’ and then they only mention those kinds of crops and fail to mention why that should affect processed foods. People still don’t see the correlation. I’m guessing that other fruits and vegetables prices will stay the same, unless there isn’t enough to feed everyone because farmers have grown less because not enough people wanted them. If those fruits and vegetable prices don’t soar, I’m wondering if people will even notice that they’re cheaper or will people die of starvation because ‘food’ is so expensive.

Advertisements

Chickens

Chickens. Over 8 million of them are born and raised on a factory farm. They’re called Broiler chickens and they are what line our store shelves and mostly stock our refrigerator shelves. From the time they are born till the last second they die, they are just treated with such cruelty that it’s sickening. Like with the other farm animals, there is not a day that goes by that they are actually treated with any type of kindness. Everything that they go through from the crowding to the food they eat, to the lack of lighting goes against everything in their nature.

Because male chicks can’t lay eggs they have no value in the chicken industry. As soon as they hatch they are thrown away without even being killed. They often suffocate as other chicks are thrown on top of them.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2009/05/21/even-as-a-hen-gathereth-her-chickens-under-her-wings/

They have all kinds of diseases, skin lesions and health complications. It’s awful. This breed is genetically predisposed for fast growth, lameness and heart disease. If they were fed an unrestricted diet only 20 percent would reach full growth. Instead, they are fed one-fourth of the food they would otherwise eat which causes malnutrition and frustration.

Chickens are seen inside cages on a truck near a poultry market in Dengzhou

http://poisonedpets.com/tag/rendering-plants/

In the 1950’s it took 84 days to grow a five pound chicken. How long does it take now? 45 days. What’s the difference? Today we rely on selective breeding, antibiotics and hormones to get us these diseased, health problem infested chickens. As a result of the speedy growth spurt, the chickens go through a number of problems such as, disorders and heart disease. One study said that , 90% had visible leg deformities and around 26% were suffering from chronic pain due to bone disease.  Leg deformities are fatal for 1% because they can no longer stand to reach food or water. Tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), an abnormal mass of cartilage at the growth plate of a bone, usually the tibia, is the cause of some leg problems. The end of the tibia may become enlarged and weakened, and the bone may bend backward as it grows. Lesions can become necrotic and may lead to spontaneous fracture, severe lameness, and, in some cases, the complete inability to stand.  Studies show that 45-57% of the chickens raised for meat consumption have this, but the disease is rare in other types of birds.  The chickens are now growing so fast that the heart and lungs aren’t developing fast enough to support the body, so they’re dying of congestive heart failure.

 http://www.safe.org.nz/Campaigns/Chicken-cruelty/

One study found that 92 percent of male breeders had pelvic limb lesions, 85 percent had total or partial rupture of ligaments or tendons, 54 percent had total ligament or tendon failure at one or more skeletal sites, and 16 percent had total detachment of the femoral head.

 http://www.culinaryhatchet.com/meattype-chicken-pickin/

Broiler chickens are confined in grower houses which are usually long warehouses which house up to 20,000 chickens in a single shed. A five pound chicken is usually given a generous space the size of one piece of paper. As with the pigs, this causes a great amount of stress and makes it easier for diseases to run rampant. Because they are all packed together in such confined spaces and creates stress, each bird has a portion of their toes cut off and males have their combs and leg spurs removed, so they can’t harm each other as much. Their beaks are also cut off. Sometimes it’s so the chickens won’t peck each other to death and sometimes it’s so a feeding tube can shoved down their throat.  This of course is done without anesthetic.

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/fact-sheets/what_is_a_factory_farm.html

After those 45 days, the chicken are transported to a slaughterhouse without food, water, or shelter from extreme temperatures.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/06/big-meat-fueling-change-or-greenwashing-fuel/57304/

In the U.S. there is no law that requires chickens to be unconscious during slaughter, so as soon as they arrive at the slaughterhouse, the chicken are dumped onto a conveyor belt, hung upside down in shackles by their legs. Then their throats are slit by either a hand or a machine.  An upwards of 8,400 chickens go through this in one hour. Mistakes are made and many chickens are still alive when they enter the tanks of scalding water.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2009/05/21/even-as-a-hen-gathereth-her-chickens-under-her-wings/

These current standards insure that every single chicken experiences some kind of pain. If anti-cruelty laws applied to farm animals, but there is no such discretion

http://www.chickenindustry.com/

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/welfare_broiler.pdf

Click here for some solutions.

Pork

One of the worst animal cruelty videos I’ve ever seen was that of a pig farm. It was about a month ago, a regular day, a pretty good one and I saw this video. Whenever I see a video of this nature on any feeds from people that I follow or in my e-mail I always watch it. I believe that they deserve to have someone watch that. I’m always hearing people talk about how they can’t handle to watch something like that and it makes me fume. If it wasn’t for people like that then we wouldn’t half the problem that we have today. Seeing is what makes sane people want to do something to fix it. It doesn’t have to be this way. It only is now because we haven’t stepped up. We’re too busy turning our heads the other way because ‘we can’t handle it.’  As Albert Einstein once said, “The world won’t be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those watch them without doing anything.”

Businesses won’t sell what isn’t bought. We don’t have to stay away from meat forever. Once we got the change that we demanded then we could go back to eating meat.

For inspiration, I’ll be telling you a bit about the pig farming industry.

A sow whose life wasn’t meant for eating, but simply breeding spends most of her life in a gestation crate.

After impregnation, the sow is locked in a narrow metal gestation crate. The width of the crate varies from 18 to 24 inches, and the length is 7 feet, extending just beyond the sow’s own body. She is restrained in this unbedded, cement-floored crate for her entire pregnancy – nearly four months. She is unable to walk or turn around. She’ll be expected to have 20 piglets per year.

She is fed at one end of the crate, while her feces collects at the other. Some crates are so narrow that simply standing up and lying down require strenuous effort. On some factory farms, the sow is literally tied to the floor by a short chain or strap around her neck. Deprived of all exercise and any opportunity to fulfill her behavioral needs, she lives in a constant state of distress.

When in a natural environment a pregnant sow will isolate herself from the herd one or two days before delivering her piglets, so she can seek an isolated spot and build a nest.  Even when raised in the shelter of a barn, domestic sows who are given straw and room to move will put together a nest for their piglets. The mother and her piglets form strong bonds.

Near the end of her four month pregnancy, the sow is moved from the gestation crate to yet another restraining device, the farrowing crate. Against all her natural instincts, she must give birth to piglets, nurse them, eat, sleep, defecate, drink, stand, and lie in the same cramped space.

I’m not mother, probably never will be and I’ll probably never want to be, but I know that mother’s will go through hell and back in order to protect their kids. Even this pig, this animal, has the natural instinct to protect her young, to build a nest, a fortress for them and in a factory all she has is cement. Can you even imagine what that would be like? Mothers break down in Wal-mart because they can’t buy their brat the toy that they want. It’s their natural instinct to supply their child every need and want, no matter what the cost. Could you even imagine if you couldn’t even build your kid a safe place to be for the first two days of their life?

The piglets are taken from the mother to have their tails cut off to minimize tail biting, an aberrant behavior that occurs when these highly-intelligent animals are kept in deprived factory farm environments. One article I read even suggested that their teeth be cut out. I’m not sure if all farms, factory or not do this. I haven’t seen this anywhere else.

The nursing period is cut drastically shortened to 2-3 weeks by the premature separation of the piglets from their mother. The sow is immediately re-impregnated – and sent back to an even bleaker existence in the gestation crate. This vicious cycle is repeated over and over again until the sow’s “productivity” wanes, and she is sent to slaughter.

Poor air quality, extreme close-quarters confinement and unsanitary living conditions (In Iowa alone, hog factories and farms produce more than 50 million tons of excrement annually) combine to make diseases such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), swine influenza virus (SIV) and salmonellosis a serious threat to animal welfare.

In addition to their direct effects on animal health, several viruses are known to suppress pigs’ immune systems, leading to greater risk from opportunistic bacteria which further degrade health and result in on-farm deaths. These viral infections frequently go undiagnosed because they are masked by the overlying bacterial disease and testing is expensive.

The overcrowding and confinement is unnatural and stress-producing since pigs are actually very clean animals. If they are given sufficient space, pigs are careful not to soil the areas where they sleep or eat. But in factory farms, they are forced to live in their own feces, urine and vomit and even amid the corpses of other pigs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNY4Fjsdft4&feature=share&list=PL43796356A6DFD781

In addition to overcrowded housing, sows and pigs also endure extreme crowding in transportation, resulting in rampant suffering and deaths. As one hog industry expert writes:

Death losses during transport are too high — amounting to more than $8 million per year. But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out why we load as many hogs on a truck as we do. It’s cheaper. So it becomes a moral issue. Is it right to overload a truck and save $.25 per head in the process, while the overcrowding contributes to the deaths of 80,000 hogs each year?

In June of 2008 when levees broke and torrential rains in the Midwest flooded massive hog farms. While some producers evacuated their animals, several others failed to have evacuation plans for the thousands of animals in need of relocation. Some opened their barn doors before they fled for high ground, leaving the pigs to fend for themselves. Others left animals locked in their pens and gestation crates to thrash in vain against the bars as the water rose inexorably over their heads.

Prior to being hung upside down by their back legs and bled to death at the slaughterhouse, pigs are supposed to be ‘stunned’ and rendered unconscious, in accordance with the federal Humane Slaughter Act. However, stunning at slaughterhouses is terribly imprecise, and often conscious animals are hung upside down, kicking and struggling, while a slaughterhouse worker tries to ‘stick’ them in the neck with a knife. If the worker is unsuccessful, the pig will be carried to the next station on the slaughterhouse assembly line — the scalding tank — where he/she will be boiled, alive and fully conscious.

Click here for some solutions.

http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/pork/

http://www.hfa.org/porkIndustry.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?pagewanted=all

Food, Inc.

I woke up because something in my brain told me that Cheerio was in the bed and I felt a little pressure like a cat was sleeping there, so I was kind of wondering how he got there. There was no cat, but it’s too hot to go back to sleep and plus I can do more useful things with time besides sleep. Like running the risk of sounding like an idiotic, raving lunatic by writing this post.

Over the course of this past week, I have come into contact with quite a lot of ‘interesting’ information. I think as I’ve started this blog and learned other ‘interesting’ information, it has slowly prepared me for what I know now. For part of it I’ve told a less gruesome version and for part of I still have to do research and write it in a way that will convince someone to listen. From here on out, it will get a little repetitive.

I watched Food, Inc. the other day and while I talked about a certain aspect of the meat industry, I talked about it with a fanciful image in my head compared to what I can see now.  As I watched the movie, I saw animals being abused in such a horrible way. They were crying out and no one was there to save them or even care. Some couldn’t even walk or didn’t have the energy to cry out. Not only did it talk about that, but it talked about the food industry as a whole. The things we’re letting them get away with are despicable. The worst part to me, is how far we’ve let them go. It’s amazing how much power they have. We’ve become insects. A nuisance to be squashed if we get in their way.

When did it get this way? When did we stop paying so much attention? When did we start being so indifferent? When it stopped being convenient? When it became cheap?

I don’t even know what to say about it because there isn’t any way that I say anything that will even compare to what they said or what they showed. Every time I see something like that or something ‘insignificant’ like the turtle I saw get run over, I go through such a wave of emotion. First, I feel sad and just stricken, sad because I can’t understand why people do the things they do. Why don’t they care about the workers? Or even us? Why don’t they see or even care about how horridly they are treating these animals? Why are they not grieved by the cries of the animals? I don’t except people to react the way I do, with such strong emotions, but why don’t they care at all? Although, my bias for animals seems unwarranted for some, I think I should point out that the mistreatment of animals is only where it starts. If people saw the worker conditions are proof in this video or if people knew the disrespect that they show us then I think they would feel a little differently.

Frustration is my second emotion. Because I probably will never be able to talk to someone in any kind of leadership role, someone who can make a change, but chooses not to. Instead, I can only sit here and run my brain into a wall trying to figure it out. I understand that people are in it to make money, but why do they need so much? Why is it so important that they have to give up every moral just in order to have it? Why do they need it all?

Then comes anger. Frustration, for me, is just anger without the judgment. I still understand that people can’t always afford to do the best thing, so they do what they have to to survive. But, now all the understanding gets thrown out the window, I start thinking about everyone who lets them get away with this crap. The government, you, me, the workers (who only get treated a little better. They’re abused in their own way) and everyone else who has power to stop it, but won’t out of convenience or because they’re getting paid not to (the government). I’m angry because there is absolutely nothing I can do except talk about it and encourage my family and you to put our little few dollars to somewhere else. These huge companies took on several farm owners and the only person who confronted them and got out without their whole lives being destroyed was Oprah, who isn’t even a farmer, but they sued her because she said something about it on the show.

The thing about anger, at least for me, is that it doesn’t go away. It sits in my chest and in the back of my brain. I can’t confront my anger about too many things because it’s usually on something I have no control over. Sure, I can yell at my best friend when she makes me mad. She’ll apologize and we’ll go on, but this I can do nothing about, so my anger builds and builds and I can feel it. It’s always back there waiting for me to do something stupid just so I can let it go. No amount of working out, writing, talking, laughing, praying makes it go away. I can’t just not care either. How much easier my life would be if I didn’t care, but it’s not in me. I don’t have an off switch. It’s exhausting and sometimes I would rather not care at all because then I could get some peace. It would also be different if I had someone who was just as angry as I was, so that I would feel as if someone else understood, but most people don’t want to live like that. I wouldn’t either if I could help it. And not to say that no one cares, or that they’re not working hard enough, just sometimes when you don’t see immediate results, it’s hard not feel frustrated. I care way too much, I’m way too sensitive when it comes to that of animals, but I can’t help it and I’m starting not to care if people think I’m crazy or take it too seriously or too anything else because there is no reason for animals to get treated that way with no one to fight for them. If it has to be crazy nuts like myself or PETA, whatever, but there isn’t any excuse for it.

Anyways, I’m going ask you to watch this documentary.

“In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.”

These links are to a couple of sites that have the commercial

http://www.takepart.com/foodinc/film

http://content.bitsontherun.com/players/46Oa1XrL-5Z0lSrn8.html

This little snippet doesn’t do justice to what goes on behind all the closed doors. I  ask that when you watch this documentary (which I know you just can’t wait) and if you get to the parts that make you want to turn off the T.V. that you don’t. Don’t reach for that remote. Don’t even think about it. Why? Because that is what it takes. Being horrified, being disgusted, being angry, that is what it takes to change. If you turn off that T.V. right before that final moment, that final moment that will change your life forever, then you’ll never change. You’ll still be able to be in denial and push that knowledge to the back of your mind. Watch it. All of it. Whether it’s the animals, the workers, how weak our voices have come, something about this should disturb you. If it doesn’t disgust you watch it again and again and again, until you feel something. Anything. Contempt, anger, bitterness, happiness, fear, guilt, whatever. What you should not feel is indifference.