GMO Kick: Part 3- Solutions

The first part of this post is the important part if you want to know how to avoid GMOs. The second part is important part if you want to save the world from GMOs. But if you want the super short version, the picture says it all. Grow your own food even if you can only manage a tiny amount. Look for heirloom seeds, hybrids if you must comprise. Gardening, waiting may be less convenient than just going to the store whenever you need something, but it’s the only way you’ll know for sure what you’re eating.

The problem with GMOs is enough to cause insanity, but I take comfort in knowing that there is something I can do about it, something we can all do about it. Immediately after this comfort I am depressed by the knowledge of how many people are not doing any of these, but then I remind myself that it all starts with the choice of the individual. I am an individual and so are you and we have a choice.

In order to avoid GMOs, try to do the following:

(1) There are two labels that you want to watch out for. USDA (or other agency) certified organic doesn’t ensure much, but it does tell you that you’re looking at something that shouldn’t, at the very least, have GMOs in it. The None GMO Verified seal from the non-GMO project, a non-government group that inspects foods from provider members. View the seal here (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/non-gmo-project-seal.html).

Unfortunately, neither label is an absolute 100% guarantee that there are no slight traces of GMOs. Nearby GMO crops of the same type you purchase can pollute even organic crops and still be USDA approved as organic.

(2) Almost all corn, and soy crops in the USA and Canada are genetically modified. A lot of cotton is and canola is genetically modified. Avoid those cotton seed and canola oils. Beet sugar can come from genetically modified beets. Unless you’re getting it from an absolutely reliable source then avoid these crops at all costs. Corn and soy is, in some form or another, present in virtually all processed foods. Unless it’s certified organic or a fruit or vegetable, it probably has GMOs in it.

(3) Nearly 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMOs. These need to have one or both of the labels mentioned earlier. Besides causing liver damage, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn syrup sweeteners come from GMO corn. Another toxic sweetener, aspartame, is also a GMO.

(4) Realize that the term “natural” on a food product is meaningless for determining an organic or non-GMO food product. It’s simply deceptive marketing.

(5) Non – organic milk and milk products are usually from cows fed GMO corn or soy. Even worse, one-third of commercial milking cows are injected with patented Monsanto GMO growth hormones called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

If dairy is not labeled organic or grass fed, at least look for a labels that says no hormones or rBGH. Traces of pus or blood from rBGH cows’ udder infections is not nutritious. Meat eaters should avoid factory farm meats that are fed GMOs and injected with antibiotics. Look for organic grass fed.

(6) Avoid packaged cereals unless the logos from section (1) are present. If you have children, train them patiently to not demand those cereals in brightly colored boxes. Most are full of GMOs, even if they say “natural” or appear in health food stores.

Here’s a handy free shopping guide to help you maneuver food aisles without buying GMOs (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/download.html).’

I got in an interesting debate with a couple of people over an article about whether our food should be GMO labeled. The first guy said started by saying that labeling would raise food prices. I can’t find the article, so I can only tell you the general outline of our conversation. A lady jumped in and said there was nothing wrong with processed foods and she said something about it being the food she trusted to feed her family. I almost vomited then, but I tried to explain what ‘real food’ was and that it was not the twinkies, chips or anything else that has all the nutrients processed out of it like the fast meals that only have to be stuck in the microwave. Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean you should eat it.

I don’t think I ever got my point across. The guy kept saying stuff like everything was technically a GMO. He called the process of cross-pollination and selective breeding the same as genetically modifying in a lab. He had several classes in bioengineering to thank for this. The lady at some point said that GMOs were needed to feed  the world. I told her that we didn’t need them and even if we did, they are not the answer. I didn’t have the health evidence that I do now, I couldn’t find anything more than probable health complications, and I’m not sure what exactly I told her, but it was more or less my gut instinct. They can’t be good because of how unnatural they are. Her response was that if I didn’t recommend GMOs then what was my solution to world hunger? It was a good question. If someone is going to complain about the answer someone else came up with then they better have a different answer. My answer is less convenient, but it’s still an option. I typed up my response on a word document because I couldn’t do it all at once, so I needed to save it and that’s why I still have it. Here is what I said:

Well first I’ll say that it’s not a snap your finger and it’s done answer. There are many things that have to change if we are to have a sustainable way of feeding people. GMOs are a short term answer for a long term problem. Because there are many things that have to change in our food system, I don’t have all the answers and they won’t be as in depth as they need to be because I’d need a novel in order to cover it all. Second, my answers aren’t something I can do by myself. It can only work if people are willing to work together. Third, it is my personal belief that the Earth doesn’t belong to us. Us as in people, as in people currently living on the planet and us as in humans in general. We’re sharing it with animals, insects, plants, everything else (which no matter how much we modify food we can’t live without. Our success depends on theirs so we should try harder to keep them around) and we’re borrowing it from the generations that are coming after us. People think that they can live whatever kind of life they want and never have any consequences and that just isn’t the case. Nature is not the problem. Humans are the problem. That being said there are a couple of major problems. Overpopulation is a problem. At some point it will be impossible to feed everyone. If we don’t run out of food then we’ll run out of clean water and air. We need to realize that and the sooner the better. Another problem is the meat industry. Cows were meant to eat grass and only grass despite what those big corporations tell you about their healthy diet of corn, soy and whatever else. Over 70 percent of the corn we use today is fed to cows. The other 30 percent is fed to humans, pigs and poultry. If we went back to feeding cows grass then it would free up the space of the corn that we’re feeding them and also the space of feedlot. Not only that, but we wouldn’t be polluting the water with our huge amounts of cow crap. Cow dung is actually supposed to help fertilize soil. The way our system is set up with cows here and crops over here and more specifically that most farmers grow corn and only corn is that the soil isn’t being fertilized properly. Chemical fertilizers aren’t fixing that and can’t fix it. If there are no nutrients in the soil then we can’t grow anything. GMOs won’t fix this.

They aren’t just growing extra corn to feed corn, but they’re putting it in gas. Is that something people should do if the world was starving?

We are actually overproducing food. The world produces enough grain to feed every person at least 3,500 calories a day. http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/denlinger/problems.html  Some say more than 40 percent of food produced in America isn’t eaten, which makes that about 29 million tons of food waste and that they say can fill the Rose Bowl every three days. Food scraps make up 17 percent of our waste in landfills. It seems to me that if we really cared about those hungry people we would at least stop taking more than our fair share and throwing it away.

http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/wasted_food

Once I read an article that said a quarter of the food sent to Africa was wasted because it went bad before it even got there. The problem isn’t growing the stuff; it’s getting it to its destination.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html?pagewanted=all

That’s my first suggestion. Stop wasting. My next would be to start growing our own food. Everyone can grow something even if it’s having a cherry tomato plant or a blueberry bush, every little bit helps keep pressure off the food system, which means they don’t have to take such drastic measures to feed everyone. Also supporting local farmers help. This doesn’t help people in Africa where it’s dry and nearly impossible to grow things, but what we don’t use can be sent to help them.

http://www.naturalnews.com/025699_food_garden_life.html

I have read several articles that claim and have proof of the idea that medium sized organic and non-organic farms are the answer. They can produce more than the giant corporations who are responsible for the all the processed foods.

http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=8764

As far as what real food is, as simply as I can put it is fruits and vegetables. That’s my definition, but here’s a better one. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=pollan+happy+meals

Because I’m no expert and I wrote this late, late last night so I’m sure it’s poorly written at best I’m going to suggest a couple of things. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve heard really good things about it. It should show just what these corporations that you’re trusting to feed your children will do in order to take your next dollar. There is a movie, but it’s horrible and does nothing to explain anything so don’t watch it. Folks, this ain’t normal by Joel Salatin. This book does a good job explaining what is wrong with the current food system. Food, Inc. is a movie. If nothing else watch this movie. It will change the whole way that you see food and it’s only a couple of hours as opposed to a whole book.

The lady had nothing to say after this. That left me with only one person to worry about, but interestingly enough just happened to work in the meat industry. He, of course, said what I said about the meat industry wasn’t true. Some of those people who work in the meat industry think they’re saints. Trying to argue with that wouldn’t have done any good, so I moved onto his next point, which was if the food were rotting before they got to the recipients, what could be better than growing the food where the recipients are? It’s a good point, but if GMOs are going to kill them anyway then what’s the point of that? Also, road infrastructure isn’t like it is here where we have roads to take you where you want to go. Harvesting and transporting would still be a problem. I’m sure we could still be discussing the subject now, but I said that we may have to agree to disagree and gave my last response. I don’t let things go, so as long as someone says something then I’ll say something back. Luckily, this guy was the bigger person and he let us go.

What We Can Do About Animal Cruelty

We’ve all been informed on the high prices of factory farming. The information that I presented is not everything you can learn about animal cruelty on a factory farm. There is fish, turkey, duck, bees and various other animals that still have voices that should be heard. I have barely scratched the surface of this problem. This information has different effects on different people. Depending on what taste has been left in your mouth, you may be willing to take more drastic measures than some. Today I’m going to give you your options.

You could become a vegan. For most, this is the most drastic lifestyle change you can make. It requires giving up all animal products. You should definitely research this in greater detail in regards to nutrition and what exactly you have to give up. Below is a list of a couple of sites that I found that seem to have some good information to help you get started, but there are tons of others that will help you, in a step by step fashion, become vegan.

http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/animal-substances.aspx

http://www.theveganwoman.com/

http://www.veganfamilyliving.com/

Vegan may not be the right choice for you at this point or for me. I know that where I live doesn’t even have vegetarian options, let alone vegan, so if you can’t quite make it to vegan, you could always try vegetarian. You should also really look into nutritional facts before trying either of these diets.

http://www.howtobecomeavegetarian.org/

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian/

http://www.happycow.net/becoming_vegetarian.html

http://www.veggieglobal.com/menu.htm

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. My issue is not eating meat as a whole. It’s not necessary, it’s not natural and vegetables are better for the environment as a whole and I could argue about it until I’m blue, but arguing with people is pointless and it’s really not my main concern to get people to stop eating meat altogether.

So for those who are refusing to give up meat altogether, I have another proposition for you. Open your mind for just a minute, a fraction a second, a teensy tinsy fraction of a second. What if you just ate less? What if you gave it up for one meal or ate half the portion that you usually do? Or if you’re feeling good, maybe gave vegetarianism a trial run for a day, maybe two or maybe even a whole week. I’ll admit that before I watched Food, Inc. that was not happening. I didn’t even want to consider it. I ‘loved’ meat and there was another factor, too. I always felt like I was starving if I didn’t eat it. Two things happened when I watched Food, Inc. I immediately wanted to stop eating meat, but I knew that I had to replace it with something. Something that I really didn’t like at all and that was…vegetables. A couple of months before that I realized how tired I was eating meat and potatoes all the time, so I ventured out and tried…a cucumber. It wasn’t as bad as I remember it being when I was a kid. That gave me some confidence to try an avocado, which wasn’t as bad either. And that got the ball rolling, so when I watched Food, Inc. I was already half the way there because I knew I would have something to replace meat with. I still don’t like vegetables all that much, but it’s worth it to me. My mom had also been cutting back our meat consumption a little a time because we wanted a healthier diet. After the movie, she cut back a little more and the craziest thing happened. I wasn’t as hungry when I ate less meat or no meat at all. Before I had been lacking nutrients in my meat and potato diet which was the reason I always felt like my stomach was eating itself.

She also started looking for less cruel places to get our meat. A little at a time, we started to replace factory farm meat with local farm meat from places that at least gave the animals a good life. This is your fourth option. To find a good local farmer that you can trust or know. That’s the best you can do if you’re not willing to give some up. Here is a great, great, great article about that. It even breaks down what the labels mean. According to this article, the worst places that you can buy from is Buckeye, Cargill, which is the largest corporation in the U.S. and if I remember correctly it’s the largest meat producer in the world, ConAgra, the second largest food company in the US, DeCoster, the nations’s fourth largest egg producer and on and on I could go. Tyson is also in this article and that’s the big one I’ve always heard about in terms of animal cruelty. Of those videos I posted, most came from Tyson. This pdf is 23 pages long, but if you care anything about the environment, yourself, animals, about anything at all, you need to read this. It will give a list of people not to buy from and why. Most of it air and water violations, serious ones, but there are some animal right and cruelty violations. There more than what is on this list and that is why I suggest buying from a local farmer. This pdf also has links to sites with maps of local farms and co-ops.

I’ve read several times, that if you just make one healthy change then it kind of makes your body start to crave healthier things. When I stopped eating so much meat, I actually didn’t want as much sugar. Sugar had been kind of like an addiction for me. I really felt like I needed it, but the more vegetables and less meat I ate, the easier it was for me to control. Part of the reason was because I was craving meat so bad, but that phase is over and I still don’t feel quite the strong pull that I did before. Try to keep this mind when you’re thinking that you could never give up meat. Just give the idea a chance. If it doesn’t work then just do the best you can with any of the suggestions I’ve made.

Tell everyone you know or who will listen. Show them. Sometimes it takes seeing things before they actually register. Don’t bully because that can turn people off.

Sign a petition. Change.org has tons of petitions. Just type in animal cruelty, animal rights or factory farms and sign away or start your own. They have a list of victories, but I honestly don’t know how much these petitions help.

As far as people in charge of policies and who can make the biggest changes, here is a list for that.

EPA. The EPA is in charge of regulating water and air. Right now, the EPA only requires permits for facilities that declare their intention to release manure directly into waterways. Communities across the country are suffering from water contaminated by these unregulated wastes, oversprayed fields and air pollution from overcrowded livestock operations. Learn more about the environmental costs of eating meat here and here. http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5232

Congress is another group that you want to talk to. It’s hard to tell whether they are even listening to us anymore, but they should because being elected seems to be what is most important to them. Here is a great site that gives information by state on how to get in your touch with your legislatures.

And lastly, go to the source. The people that I mentioned above and anyone in the pdf could use a little humbling. They’ll deny that they had anything to do with anything and your letter will probably never even be looked at by someone in charge, but go for it. Just go for it.

There is also any number of organizations like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals even PETA to donate to. And by the way, while I was looking information, I found out that the people who are taping these videos could be charged with terrorism. Making these videos was already considered illegal, but they are so determined to hide this ugly truth that they are willing try to count it as an act of terrorism. Who can we thank for this? Lobbyists. Corporations spend thousands to millions of dollars to make sure that their agenda is pushed in congress. We will have to start screaming at the top of our lungs if we don’t want our voices drowned out by money.

Dairy

One question that I have is what happens to the males born on these factory farms. Are we only eating the poor mothers that have reproduced so many offspring that she is dried up and no longer ‘useful’? That appears to be the way it works. For the chickens I found the exact answer, males are thrown away at birth. I never found an answer for pigs, but for dairy cows, the males are sold and slaughtered for veal. There might be an exception in the beef industry, but probably those male calves are used as veal.

Shockingly enough, the first website that came up on my search was a place called Dairy Farming Today. I was prepared for a horrendous sight that would blind my eyes with pain and suffering because of the awful pictures I see most of them seem to be of a dairy cow. I guess because the oversized, swollen utters are a clear picture of a suffering animal. I was shocked again with something quite different. The site has a blue and green, grassy and fresh theme. They had videos, pictures, a dictionary, a Q&A which I’ll be using after I finish researching this and get a list of questions, a FAQ, explanations of what goes on at a dairy farm. As far as the writing content goes, it didn’t go into great detail and I wasn’t too impressed, but then I watched the videos and that changed. Had I just happened to hear a rumor that the dairy industry was a smelling a little iffy then I would be set. I’m no expert and I’m not sure what I should be looking for, but the place that was featured in these videos was just about spotless. They had pictures of cows eating grass, the greenest grass I’ve ever seen.  If I didn’t know anything about this subject, I could sleep peacefully for the rest of my life. I don’t know a lot, nor have I see a lot, but I know enough to understand that not all dairy farms are like this.

This site states that 99% of all dairy farms are family-owned and that most don’t have more than 200 cows. This may or may not be true. I haven’t been to them all to know.

My issue is that everything they do from what they feed them (some grass, but a combination of feed and they call themselves ‘recyclers of nutrients’. I’ve heard of everything from cement mix to same species meat to manure being put into the feed. So yes, they are in fact recycling) to the antibiotics that they give are so nicely described it’s hard to second guess. It truly sounds like cow heaven. While some places are probably this nice (I doubt any place is that clean which that is part of working with animals) and I know that sometimes animals just get sick, I’d like to believe that all farms are this peaceful, but I just don’t think that is the case.

So what is really going on in some of these dairy farms?

Resting Dairy Cows

http://nycanimalrights.com/dairy_cows_resting1.htm

Machines are used to milk the cows. If the machines are not properly maintained, they can send a painful electric shock though the udder several times a day.

In order for a cow to produce milk, they must be either pregnant or just have had a calf.  The mothers are kept pregnant their whole life. Each time she would be artificially inseminated on what the industry calls a ‘rape rack’ or with a farmer’s arm. Interestingly enough, I didn’t see very many calves in any of their pictures. That’s because the calves are taken away immediately after birth to avoid bonding between the mother and her child. A male calf is usually turned into veal.  Mother cows have been known to break down the stall door to find their calf.

While I was looking at videos, I saw one about dehorning cows to ‘protect the workers’. One guy commented that he had worked with cows for 30 years and that cows could be extremely aggressive. He had seen them barge through a barn door and not be the least bit phased and just kept running on their merry way. Could it be that they had a reason to do this? Could it be that they were running away from something or after something? I might be completely alone in this, but I happen to believe that most animals have a reason to do what they do. It’s called self-defense. Not always, but most of time animals have a reason for their violence. Especially in the wild. Wild animals are… well, wild. If a person gets killed by a wild animal it’s their own fault.

A cow’s natural life span is about 20 years, but most cows are lucky if they live three years. Despite the heavy use of hormones and antibiotics, usually by this time, they are ‘dried up’ and they’ll turn into what we call ‘ground up’ meat.

A male calf born to a dairy cow is the wrong breed to profitably be raised for beef. His fate, unfortunately, is much worse. Veal is the soft, pale, anemic flesh of a calf. Veal calves are kept inside in a crate barely bigger than themselves. Chained at the neck, they can’t even turn around. They are fed a liquid diet deficient in iron, so their muscles don’t develop properly. Many people recognize the cruelty in raising veal and will not eat it, yet are unaware of the intimate connection between the dairy and veal industries. Supporting one supports the other.

Veal Crates

Veal crates.

http://www.occupyforanimals.org/veal.html

Tail docking is when up to 2/3 of a cows tail is remove either by getting it cut off or banded so the circulation is cut off and the tail falls off. This is suggested to promote cleanliness of the cow, utter health, milk quality and worker health. Study after study has concluded that these are not realistic results of tail docking.

Dehorning is something that was not mentioned. There are many methods used to dehorn cows. I don’t believe that this isn’t completely unnecessary because I’m sure that a person or another cow could be seriously injured by these accidently. But I do think that dairy isn’t essential to the human diet and if we didn’t drink it and didn’t cause other people to force themselves on a cow then we wouldn’t have to consider doing this at all. I also think that it’s horrible that cows are subjected to this horror while they’re awake and that the people removing them are so careless.

http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/dairy/

Like all the other animal sections of factory farming, these cows are treated cruelly. They are also injected with Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) to increase by up to 25% the already exorbitant amount of milk they produce. Of the 9 million dairy cattle in the U.S., 7-25% are injected with BGH. The use of BGH to increase milk production results in increased udder size and increased frequency of infections such as mastitis. This causes abnormally large udders and produce problems walking, so a cow’s legs are usually spread apart, distorting the normal configurations of her pelvis and spine. Mastitis and other untreated infections injuries aren’t rare sights on these farms. Once the damages have taken their course and render the cows immobile, the cows are termed ‘downers’ are sent to be slaughtered. If you’ve seen Food, Inc. then you know that they aren’t treated very kindly at this stage either.

Mastitis

http://www.chooseveg.ca/animal-cruelty-canada.asp

Downed Cow

http://nycanimalrights.com/downed_cow.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RNFFRGz1Qs&feature=player_embedded

And those are just a few horrors that you’ll find in some dairy farms. Stay tune because the next post will give solutions to some of these problems.

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.

The Cost of Eating Meat

Here’s the thing:  June 24-30 is animal abuse awareness week. I did not know this and therefore am unprepared, content wise, emotionally and mentally. I’ve been thinking about covering this topic for a while, but haven’t really known where to start or how to get across everything that I want to. Since there is no time like the present, I will try to do my best to get some decent posts out about this subject.  I’m not vegetarian and I am certainly not vegan. I wish I could be. If no one cooked for me or if only I cooked for myself then I could do it no problem. Yeah, sometimes I would crave it, but I’ve craved donuts for years now and will power is an amazing thing. I can’t force the people I live with to rearrange their lives around mine. At restaurants there are very, very few options for vegetarians and no options for vegans. My favorite dishes I can no longer eat, but I can’t replace it with anything that is hardly considered a meal. If I’m lucky I can find a boring quesadilla. Sometimes I’m lucky and I can just get my favorite salad with an interesting dressing and just ask for no meat, but sometimes that even goes wrong and I find little bits of chicken from where they forgot and at the last second picked the pieces out.

I think people who eat meat are selfish. No matter what the reason is. I’m selfish. And I hate it. I hate being selfish, but as long as I choose to pick people’s feelings over lives then I guess that is a hate I’ll have to try not to choke myself with.

With that being said I’m not going to be your traditional vegetarian/vegan. I’d like to be, but A) that would make me a hypocrite because I eat meat and B) it’s highly unrealistic for me to expect that no matter what logic I try to show you or pictures I show you, you will decide to never touch another animal product as long as you should live. Instead, I’m going to beg you to give me just a few more minutes of your time, so that I can share with you some reasons that you should just eat LESS meat if not give it up entirely.

Money Cost. There is different variations to these experiments. What city you’re shopping in, how much you eat, etc. I didn’t use any pro-vegetarian sites for this argument because I figure they have a reason to be biased. Some said you could save money and some said it was more expensive. I think the deciding factor is exactly what you’re buying. That fake meat stuff, or dairy substitutes I think are what make a vegetarian diet more expensive. Also, if you think of how much money you could end up spending on hospital bills due to unhealthy habits then there really is no comparison.

When comparing just fruits, vegetables, and nuts to meat, the savings are pretty noticeable.

Cost/lb Corn- .043

Soybeans-.093

Wheat-.086

Peanuts-.021

Pork-.069

Beef-1.228

Broilers-.471

Milk-.206

http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/55529/2/lusk%20-%20current.pdf

http://20somethingfinance.com/cost-of-vegetarian-diet/

Humanitarian Cost.

Twenty million people will die this year as a result of malnutrition. If Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be fed by the land that was freed. Only 20% of the corn grown in the U.S. is eaten by people. The other 80% is fed to livestock. Ninety-five percent of the oats grown in the U.S. is fed to livestock. By cycling grain through livestock, 90% of protein is wasted. Forty thousand  pounds of potatoes can be grown on one acre, but only 250 pounds of beef can be produced on that same acre and fifty-six percent of our land is devoted to beef production. Sixteen pounds of grain and soybeans are needed to produce one pound of edible flesh from feedlot beef.  Just to point out, grass-fed beef still takes land to grow, but they feed off the land that they are on instead of needing additional land to grow grain.

Percentage of US farmland devoted to beef production: 56
http://www.consumercide.com/js/index.php/food-supply/39-necessarily-vegetarian/379-how-to-win-an-argument-with-a-meat-eater

Health Costs

Vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease heart disease, colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers, diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure). This could be attributed to the fact that the vegetarian diet usually involves a diet low in fat and high in fiber. These affects could be negated when their diet is high in fat or includes excessive amounts of fatty snack foods or fried foods.

There are many benefits of eating meat. It does have things that we need, but these aren’t things that can’t be found non-meat food.  For the most part, these things include protein, zinc, and B vitamins. All of which can be found in several different kinds of vegetables.

Calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies can arise in a vegan diet, but surprisingly study participants did not suffer from osteoporosis which typically related to inadequate intakes of these micro-nutrients.

Not only are vegetables healthier in way of nutrients, but they also don’t require waste or antibiotics to be streamed into our water supply. Which can then lead to our food supply. Ever hear of a recall of produce because E. Coli? You can thank the meat industry. Because the animals are always crammed together, diseases run rampant throughout the feedlots. Antibiotics are used. Those antibiotics are in our food and water supply and are now contributing to antibiotic resistant strings of bacteria.

Environmental Costs.

Worldwide, over 284 million tons of meat was consumed. As Americans, we eat 8 ounces a day which is twice the global average. As Americans, we also represent about 5% of the world population, but as we process and consume 10 billion animals a year, we are representing about 15% of the meat consumption.

About 30% of the ice-free land is dedicated to the meat industry and gives off 1/5 of the greenhouse gases which is more than transportation.

Or, you could also say 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Farm animals produce 16.6 billion tons of excrement per year. That is more than a million pounds per second (that’s 60 times as much as is produced by the world’s human population.) For the UN, animal agriculture is a leading case of water pollution.

Farm animals and water needed to irrigate the crops to feed them are responsible for consuming 240 trillion gallons per year or 7.5 million gallons per second.

It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein.

The meat industry is also responsible for soil erosion, 40 billion tons per year to be exact.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/137737/13_breathtaking_effects_of_cutting_back_on_meat/

All is not lost though. Click here for some solutions.

Palm Oil 1

http://ran.org/problem-palm-oil-factsheet

Palm oil is something I’ve read about recently. Apparently it’s in everything. Food products, cosmetics, soaps and detergents. Everything. It’s one of the main ingredients in biofuel. When people are talking about problems with biofuel, it’s really the problem with palm oil. Why is it bad? Well, rainforests are hotspots of biodiversity. They house thousands of different kinds of species. When the trees are cut down those species lose their homes. The loss of shelter often causes those species to go extinct. Not only do we have the animals to worry about, but we have our health to take into account. The trees filter huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

Agribusiness companies are rapidly expanding fuel crop plantations into the Amazon Rainforest and other diverse tropical ecosystems throughout South America, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Palm oil expansion is the primary cause of deforestation in Indonesia, where forests are disappearing at a rate of more than 2.8 million hectares a year.

Industrial agrofuel production requires dedicating huge swaths of land to fuel production and drives up the price of basic food crops as food production competes against fuel production for land, water, and market resources. This land that people claim we don’t have enough room for grass-fed beef, windmill farms, or actual fruits and vegetables that aren’t corn or soy.

  • Even if all cropland in the U.S. were used to grow corn and all the corn were used to make ethanol, we would not produce enough ethanol to replace our over-consumption of gasoline.
  • Every ton of palm oil produced results in 33 tons of carbon dioxide emissions—10 times more per ton than petroleum.
  • The corn required to make enough ethanol to fill a 25-gallon SUV tank could feed one person for a year.

http://ran.org/getting-real-about-biofuels

A new U.S. government regulation requires that, by January 1, 2006, food labels list a product’s content of trans fat, which comes from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and is a major cause of heart disease. Many food processors are seeking to eliminate trans fat by switching to other oils. Palm oil is one such alternative.

Palm oil is used around the world in such foods as margarine, shortening, baked goods, and candies. Biomedical research indicates that palm oil, which is high in saturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fat, promotes heart disease. Though less harmful than partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, it is far more conducive to heart disease than such heart-protective liquid oils as olive and canola. The National

Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, World Health Organization, and other health authorities have urged reduced consumption of oils like palm oil.

Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83 percent of production and 89 percent of global exports. Oil palm is grown as an industrial plantation crop, often (especially in Indonesia) on newly cleared rainforest or peat-swamp forests rather than on already degraded land or disused agricultural land. Since the 1970s, the area planted with oil palm in Indonesia has grown over 30-fold to almost 12,000 square miles. In Malaysia, the area devoted to oil palm has increased 12-fold to 13,500 square miles.

Of the more than 400 land mammal species of Indonesia, 15 are critically endangered and another

125 threatened. Of Malaysia’s nearly 300 land mammal species, 6 are critically endangered and 41 threatened. The numbers of threatened species climb higher when terrestrial reptiles, amphibians, and birds are included.

Plantations also pollute the soil and water with pesticides and untreated palm oil-mill effluent, cause soil erosion and increased sedimentation in rivers, and cause air pollution due to forest fires.

http://www.cspinet.org/palm/PalmOilReport.pdf

Solutions coming tomorrow.

Why Garden?

Okay, so I have some maybe good news and maybe bad news depending on who are and how you feel about my enthusiasm. And probably how you feel about gardening. This week and probably part of next week will be dedicated to gardening which is the good news. Or that bad news depending on how you look at it.  If I can motivate just one person to even grow a cherry tomato then I will be okay with that.

Gardening. Funny story. My mom has tried many, many times to start a garden or grow things, but everything kept dying. She owns a daycare and some organization offered the local daycares and centers the opportunity of getting raised beds. It was whole program. They were taught how to garden from this expert guy and he gave them tips specific to this area. They were taught where the best places to garden (Sunlight, shade that kind of thing). They were given seeds that grow well in this area, they were given teaching objects (play vegetables, fruits, puzzles and other teaching materials). It was a cool deal. This program started just as I was getting into the whole environmental thing, so we made a lot of changes all at once. The times before when my mom tried to make our lifestyle better she was met with an army of resistance. I’m a stubborn idiot and my dad isn’t usually on board either. If I had started trying to change our lifestyle myself then my mom probably would have jumped on board without much trouble, but it’s just better that it worked out the way it did.

Anyway, the program fell through. The people in charge didn’t follow through which I wasn’t too surprised about. There seems to be very few people who can follow through and get anything accomplished. I don’t think that is specific to this area, but it sure is annoying. After fighting tooth and nail for it, my mom and her friend got the raised bed part, but I think they’re still waiting on the soil and seeds. Everyone else in the program is still waiting for both last time I heard. One thing my mom has discovered is that the reason she can’t grow anything is because of our soil. It’s mostly clay and rock. So the raised bed has now giving her the ability to actually grow something.

I have never liked the idea of gardening. I tried to stay away from anything that was ‘girly’. That was stupid, but sometimes I’m pretty stupid. Another problem was that I hate the heat and that’s mostly when you have to put the work into gardening. Weeding and heat are not a good combination for me, but that can be lessened with the cloth underneath and killing the grass before setting the bed. A summer or so ago, a friend of a friend’s hired me to water her plants while she was gone. It was so hot like 117 degrees or so and I made it out alive. Faced my distaste and came out the other side with appreciation for one thing and the idea that maybe it really wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t burrowing through our house declaring that we should get a garden or anything, but it was when something in my head kind of clicked.

Throughout the years I have grown to hate the idea of being dependent on the huge corporations and hate all the power that they have over us. With that mindset I have grown to love the idea of getting a garden. With the exception of the materials that are needed to start and the wood or whatever to make the raised bed if you need one, it’s practically free. And it’s definitely a lot cheaper than getting it from the grocery store. It just seems so logical and I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. And even when my mom started the garden, I was glad that she was doing it and I knew that it was something I wanted to do when I moved out, but now I didn’t really wanted anything to do with it now. But recently my mom showed me all the stuff that was growing and it was so cute. It looked like a place filled with hope and pride and such cuteness. So now that I have explained my history with it, I will now go into more detail on why gardening is a good idea.

  1. Better Nutrition and Better Taste. This benefit doesn’t take a study to prove it true. We all know the minute we bite into a homegrown tomato that the taste is superior—and can intuit that the nutrition is vastly increased as well. Remember, all fruits and vegetables grown and picked for mass consumption lose much of their nutrition on the way to the market.
  2. Stress Reduction. Gardening is therapeutic. According to Eva Shaw, PhD, author of Shovel It: Nature’s Health Plan, gardening reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and helps fight depression. A study done by Kaiser Permanente showed the brainwave activity of a gardener mirrored that of someone praying or meditating. A related study done in the Netherlands compared gardening to reading. It reported that, “Gardening and reading each led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. Positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress.
  3. Added Health Benefits. A study at Texas A & M University and hosted by the Horticultural Society of the America revealed that gardeners reported more physical activity, claimed more energy, and rated their overall health higher than non-gardeners. In fact, these studies show that merely looking at a garden or plants can generate changes in such things as blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension and brain and electrical activity. (I think in my case this was definitely true.) Reporter Carl Hoffman states, “Gardening – as every devotee knows – provides an individual with almost irresistible stimuli, regardless of his or her physical, cognitive or emotional limitations. Even for the sick or disabled, a garden can provide the counterpoint of order and self-empowerment against the feelings of helplessness and loss of control that often accompany serious illness.” Author Eva Shaw, PhD says, “Hospitalized patients’ wounds heal faster and they require fewer pain killers and antidepressants when they are merely looking at a painting of a garden. Imagine the effect a real garden can have”? Finally, another health benefit is found in the area of addiction recovery. According to www.garden-field.com “For those who are dependent on harmful substances, have been through an accident or a traumatic experience, have an illness, or are in a correctional institute – horticulture therapy is said to be one of the most effective methods for recovery.”
  4. Keeps Your Brain Healthy. David B. Carr, MD, a geriatrician at Washington University in St. Louis, says, “It has been my experience that those patients (with Alzheimer’s or dementia), doing activities (gardening being one example) do better in the long haul and have a slower rate of decline than those who don’t do anything,” says Carr. “Gardening is one of the non-prescription interventions that has the ability to slow the rate of cognitive decline.”
  5. It’s Good For The Planet. One of the greatest benefits of your own garden is that it puts you in touch with the world around you. Suddenly you become much more aware of the seasons—when to plant, when not to plant. What grows easily where you live? What won’t? Is there a chance temperatures will drop below freezing? When will the sun rise and set? Has there been any rain? How much to water? All of these questions come up much more regularly when you need to know to keep your garden happy. And the more in tune we are in nature, the more likely we will be to take care of it. And lastly, everything we grow that is green is helping to reduce our carbon footprint. The crop industry is a nasty one. Our produce is driven thousands of miles to get to our grocery store and they’re usually sprayed with deadly pesticides which aren’t good for the environment, the bee population, animals, or us.
  6. Reduced Costs. According to, http://www.healinglandscapes.org/gardens/prisons.html you could save anywhere from $27 to $2,000. (I think the savings may be higher depending on how much produce you needed before as opposed to fast food and such) That is quite a lot of money. Even $27 is almost a whole tank of gas. And whatever you didn’t eat, you could sell which give you more money or you could give away which would give some else a chance to save money and gas.
  7. It’s Easy. I have never been interested in learning to cook. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do about it because even a year ago I wasn’t too keen in eating out all the time, so I knew I would probably have to learn eventually, but how was the question. My plan now is to be vegetarian which leaves out the problem of learning to cook meat and the problem of undercooking it and giving myself some horrible deadly disease. And all of meals can just come from outside after I take a few minutes to go outside and pick it. This won’t always be an option, but it would solve a lot of problems most of the time.
  8. It’s Fast. Maybe not at a farm, but in your own personal garden it takes just a few seconds to pick your food after you plant it, of course. I would even go as far as to say that it’s faster than waiting in a fast food line right when everyone else is getting off work.
  9. Creates Less Problems. One problem that keeps coming up when talking about organic farms and corporation farms is that organic farms can’t feed the whole world. Whether because it takes more attention, more crops are destroyed by bugs from lack of pesticides, takes more time to grow so there is less food available, it’s too expensive (which having your own garden is practically free) whatever people seem to think this is a problem is, the reality is that organic probably can not feed the world alone. ALONE is the key word. If most people or even more people had their own garden and got the majority or even some of their fruits and veggies from it then there would be a lot less pressure on organic farmers. If not that then there needs to be MORE organic farmers and that would also reduce stress on organic farmers. Commercial farms are HUGE. There are only three MAJOR commercial farms in the U.S. If three farms can feed the world then I’m sure broken up, divided and a bigger number of organic farmers can feed the world too.
  10. 10.  One thing that my mom learned about in her class is the therapeutic benefits of gardening. It even helps prisoners. One study in San Francisco showed that 29 percent of prisoners were re-arrested within four months of their release, while only 6 percent of those who partook in a gardening program were re-arrested.” http://www.healinglandscapes.org/gardens/prisons.html In one prison program, the prisoners were given the things needed to have a garden outside of prison in whatever environment (apartment, house etc) they were going to be living in. I’m a huge fan of prison programs like the one where they raise puppies and all that (and no I’m not in support of prisons like the one in Norway that was recently in the news. That’s just ridiculous. I believe in rehabilitation and I don’t think that non-violent offenders should be mixed with violent ones, but it shouldn’t be a vacation.) And this is one is awesome because it helps with living costs and gives them kind of a trade. The reasoning on why this works is that most of the inmates have never known how to take care of anything or how it feels to be taken care of. It lets them know how pride feels or anything and this gives them a chance to experience that.

 

So this is just a couple of reasons why I believe everyone should have their own garden. If you have or had a garden, feel free to leave a comment below and share how it’s affected your life.