Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool

Not just another “-ism”

veggie

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We Have the Facts 

I’m certainly not naive enough to believe that everyone who has viewed this blog casually or otherwise has undergone some great epiphany concerning their consumption of meat, poultry and dairy. Still, at the very least, I hope you are making better and healthier choices in the grocery store and while eating out.

There is no simple transition, no giving up meat in a day and suddenly knowing where to buy and how to cook the alternatives. When the news broke about Mad Cow disease it was easy enough for me to stop eating beef. When I though I was getting ulcers at the age of 18 or needing my appendix out because of intense stomach pains after eating meals with chicken giving up poultry was next. I was then a Pescetarian (abstaining from all animal flesh with the exception of fish) for a few years and only ate fish because let’s face it Salmon with lemon butter sauce is delicious. Then when the mere sight of Ahi Tuna made me sick to my stomach after considering how the fish are raised and treated I gave up fish soon there after.

My mother is Vegan about 90% of the time and my sister recently said that she’d really like to give Vegetarianism a try after years of eating that way out of convince sake anyways. I can also boast my conversion of a few good friends to vegetarianism over the years who have even schooled me from time to time as far as cooking vegetarian is concerned. While I do not believe that all health issues are genetically linked I’d rather not get breast cancer (killed my maternal great-aunt), skin cancer (paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother), bone cancer that metastasized (killed my paternal grandfather), hypertension (mother), diabetes (mother, maternal grandmother) and so on and I know that choices in diet and health now will greatly reduce my risk of these health issues in the future.

Easily one of the most common carnivorous comebacks I come across when I mention health as it’s related to diet is “Well you have to die from something someday.” While this is true and it’s possible that meat eaters may even out live vegans/ vegetarians in some cases I’d prefer to not only live long but to have a high quality of life that doesn’t rob me of my ability to be physically active and cognitively aware well into my eighties.

Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool

This blog’s namesake comes from the same name of a song by the British band the Editors called Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool. Now there are obvious allusions to the New World Order and Bohemian Grove among other things but this isn’t that kind of blog and I was more inspired by the line “Don’t put a price on your health”. However, you can but a price on what you may spend at the grocery store and non-GMO and all natural products may increase your already tight budget.

PBS.org compares how the United States health costs compare to those of other developed countries. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) points out that this is 17.6 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product at about $8,233 per person in 2010 compared to the $3,268 on average that was spent by the other 33 OECD countries. The “bright side”, as this article puts it, is that as the United States falls behind other countries in life expectancy and physicians per person we “lead the world in health care research and cancer treatment.” Still this is hardly a bright side when this is only the case because of how unhealthy we are as a nation.

Spending obscene amounts of money on medication and procedures is not all together avoidable but the decisions concerning health that you make presently can greatly reduce your risk for many health problems in the future.

HappyCow the healthy eating guide

Vegan-ism

I’d like to think I’ve given you at least nine good reasons to be a vegetarian/ vegan over the last few months and I’d like to refer you to Meatless Musings for a few more. There are health fads that are introduced on programs like Dr. Oz and those who give up meat when it’s socially advantageous but this is no ordinary -ism. The transition to a plant based diet is not an easy one and relapses have been known to occur but should you decide to take the leap the environment and your body will thank you.

Protein Propaganda

protein

[thelife100plan.com]

The Protein Myth

Nutrition.gov (while I am not a proponent of the USDA’s brand of health related information this is the average American’s go to source for health and the like) provides a chart that outlines the daily recommended intake of protein for men, women and children. For adults they say this is about 5 to 6.5 ounce equivalents or 40-60 grams per day. In truth most people consume about twice this or more with the reason being extremely outdated studies which are often backed by the meat industry.

The most frequently asked question to vegans/vegetarians by meat eaters (and it’s often more of an accusation than a question) is “How do you get enough protein?” This is the most formidable weapon used by the meat industry against those who forgo animal protein as a part of their daily diet. The way in which people obsess about protein intake you would think that a protein deficiency is an epidemic waiting to happen. It’s not. There has been no evidence proving that those who intake only 20 grams of protein are at risk for anything in fact the inverse is actually true.

Protein is not a type of food it is actually a nutrient found in many different types of food. The misconception that meat=protein is one that is perpetuated by media, the USDA and enjoyed fully by a multi-billion dollar industry.   


sexy

[thenewluv.com]

Vegetarian/Vegan athletes? Impossible! 

Mac Danzig (pictured above) is a mixed martial artist and UFC fighter and also a vegan.

Joe Namath is a legendary quarterback who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985 and he is likely one of the most well-known vegetarian athletes.

Boston Celtics player Robert Parish (Hall of Fame in 2003) is over seven feet tall and a vegetarian.

Tennis player and feminist extraordinaire Billie Jean King is a vegetarian.

Winner of ten Olympic medals, 9 of them gold, and 1991 Athlete of the Year Carl Lewis is a vegan.

Venus and Serena Williams are vegan (mostly).

All of the aforementioned are highly respected and decorated in their respective sports and each and every one found success without the incorporation of animal protein in their diets.

Animal Protein vs. Plant Protein 

Animal Protein:

A more “complete” protein? This means that is contains all of the amino acids used by our bodies to create protein and ensure that most of the body’s processes take place.

There is an extra step that our bodies must take to break down animal protein

High in fat (particularly saturated) and cholesterol

Proven to contain carcinogens

Plant Protein:

More variety is needed to acquire a “complete” protein. Quinoa and soybeans are two of the complete plant proteins

The body does not need to take an extra step to break down and utilize plant protein

No fat other than fats that are miniscule or added during food preparation

Do not contain any cancer causing carcinogens

comic

[finchsworld.com]

grams of Protein in Vegetables

The following comes from theholykale.com

(1/4 cup; 4 Tbsps)

chia seeds: 12g

Hemp seeds: 10g

Flax seeds: 8g

Walnut: 5g

(1 cup cooked)

Lentils: 18g

Split peas: 16g

Black beans: 15g

Pinto beans: 14g

Lima beans: 15g

(1 cup cooked)

Millet: 8.4g

Oat, bran: 7g

Bulgar Wheat: 6g

Quinoa: 5g

Corn (1 large cob): 5g

Potato (with skin): 5g

Broccoli (1 cup): 4g

I did not intend for this list to be exhaustive but the link above will provide you with more information on grams of protein in other vegetables. Two of the main reasons meat eaters give for not eating more of those items listed above is price and food preparation/cook time. When you purchase items that are in season you will spend less and also experience produce that tastes better. As far as price is concerned a can of beans even in a specialty store will not cost more than .69 cents or so. Seeds and nuts can be a little more pricey but they are also full of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Grains and oats are inexpensive and like beans can be incorporated into a number of meals. Soaking dried beans or lentils the night before takes as much time as marinating a cut of meat.

 I can honestly speak for all vegans/vegetarians and tell you “yes we’re getting enough protein!”

Hold the fries…and the burger

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All those things you already know but choose to ignore

There is little doubt that a hamburger, french fries and a soda have no business anywhere near our mouths. Ever. Yet many of us enjoy, if you can call it enjoyment, the speedy, salty and sweet rush of a greasy bag devoured behind the wheel of our car on the way to work or school. It’s convenient (your endless choice of burgers, tacos, chicken, pizza, sandwiches and more), it’s cheap (relatively speaking as the average fast food meal these days that includes all the fixins will run you nearly $7) and you can even stick to your diet and order a salad (which has more sodium and calories from fat than an order of fries).

I assume that a preface such as this one is unnecessary and that you, you yes you dear reader, are at the very least informed about the travesties that take place in the fast food industry. However it’s still more than likely that you haven’t kicked the habit as I know I for one still indulge occasionally in an order of fries.

So why is it that so many of us know that one greasy bag contains so much artery clogging mush that it makes our hearts hurt and yet we eat it anyway? There is no obvious answer but I’m sure that the most popular one is that “It tastes good”. Still at what cost to your health do you allow your taste buds to be entertained?

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The Almighty McNugget

Easily a favorite menu item among children and adults alike is the chicken nugget. A crispy finger food that can be dipped into a number of sweet or tangy sauces and comes in a little box of as few as four pieces or as many as twenty. The largest fast food chain claims that their chicken nuggets are made from all white meat chicken tempura battered and cooked golden brown. In actuality these little nuggets are only made up of about 50% chicken and that is chicken that has been mechanically separated. This means that it is processed so that bones and bits of cartilage can be smoothed out and turned into a white slime.

Flavors and other ingredients are then added to the white slim to give it shape and texture and as an article in Organicauthority.com points out one of those other ingredients is “…dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent made of silicone that is also used in Silly Putty and cosmetics.” Dimethylpolysiloxane is also used in breast implants but the dangers it has posed have started to push it out and yet it is still marketed towards children by means of the chicken nugget everyday.

This same article mentions the additive TBHQ “…which is a chemical preservative and a form of butane (AKA lighter fluid). One gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse,” according to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. Five grams of TBHQ can kill you.”

Where’s the beef?

For fear of repeating myself I’d like to refer you back to BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part I and BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part II for a detailed look into what beef consumption will get you.

Hazlo a tu manera

Avoir votre manière

有它自己的方式

Have it your way

Haben es auf deine Weise

Hanno a modo tuo

Fast Food Nation(s)

In the 10th chapter of Fast Food Nation entitled “global realization” Eric Schlosser reveals how a McDonald’s became the first building erected in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This McDonald’s was built on an abandoned lot a block away from the steps of the town hall in Plauen.

Plauen is located in a part of Saxony known as the Vogtland and it was the birthplace of the Hitler Youth in 1923 and later became a Nazi headquarters. Along with Dresden, Plauen received a great deal of fire-bombing from the Allies and when Germany was divided the Soviets took control of the decimated city. East Germany under Soviet control was no walk in the park and when the wall was torn down a country once divided by hate filled ideology, death and war was unified again. An American corporation then decides that this is the most appropriate time to build a fast food chain, and right on the steps of a historical and healing site.

But nothing is sacred really because there is a McDonald’s built just one mile from the parking lot of the former Dachua concentration camp. The franchise has no consideration for the 32,000+  people murdered there instead they would rather capitalize on the numerous tourists that flock to the area.

Westward Thinking is not Forward Thinking

Americans are conditioned to believe that the quarter lb. or more of beef in the fast food burger is essential delicious protein. This just isn’t the case but this ideology has spread outside of the growing confines, and waist, of the United States. As they adopt our eating habits they will also accrue our health problems including but not limited to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cancer.   

Monsanto

Monsanto

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Herbicide in the first degree

Monsanto’s Roundup has been widely used since the 1970s and is now the most popular glyphosate (a synthetic compound that is a nonselective systemic herbicide, particularly effective against perennial weeds)-containig herbicide in the world. The United States uses an estimated 100 million pounds of undiluted Roundup annually. This particular herbicide is used in hopes that it will destroy weeds or other unwanted vegetation within a couple of days but it’s now known to cause Sudden Death Syndrome in plants months or even years after it is applied.

An article from June 2011 for Red Green and Blue states that top scientists from a diverse group “including Cambridge University, the King’s College London School of Medicine, and the Institute of Biology” have found (what Monsanto has known since the 1980s) and that’s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses. Monsanto has also known since 1993 that these effects could occur at lower and mid doses.

Malformations in animals exposed to Roundup treated GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) include birth defects, cancer, mammary tumors, pituitary and kidney problems. There have also been high rates of birth defects and cancers found in humans in areas of South America where genetically modified Roundup ready soy is sprayed regularly with glyphosate herbicides.

Naked Capitalism outlines some of the negative effects that Roundup and genetically engineered seeds have and how “Monsanto has (among other things) genetically engineered seeds so that they can’t reproduce, denying farmers the ability to save seeds and have a measure of financial independence. In 2009, Vandana Shiva (an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author) estimated that 200,000 farmers in India had committed suicide since 1997, and Monsanto was a major culprit…”

No-GMO

[growswitch.com]

Genetically Modified Organism(s)

GMOs have been around for quite some time with the early 90’s being their first major introduction into the food supply. Most people don’t know what they are or that they are eating them on nearly a daily basis because the United States doesn’t require GMO labeling of products. The NON GMO Project states that “In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.”

As it’s name implies The NON GMO Project may be considerably biased but none the less those studies composed in the United States that insist that GMOs aren’t actually harmful to humans are studies that are all financially backed by Monsanto. Therefore why would a corporation that profits from their sale release the real dangers that GMOs may pose?

This site Shiftfrequency provides a comprehensive list of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. Unfortunately this list most likely comprises many, if not all, of the items included on your most recent grocery list. There are many brands that would rather not include the GMO label on their products but like the label that provides you with Nutritional Facts it’s your right to know what you’re potentially putting into your body.

Twisted Maize of deceit

Some of the real dangers that GMOs pose are those found in rats who were fed Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. These rats quickly developed tumors and suffered kidney and liver damage. This research is what was instrumental in much of Europe banning GMOs from their shelves all together.

This same article also mention the fact that “Monsanto wants to plant a corn variant across America’s Midwest that will be resistant to a powerful pesticide produced with 2,4-D, the same compound crucial to the make-up of the notorious Vietnam War-era killer Agent Orange.” Agent Orange was a chemical weapon that caused cancer and birth defects and was developed by Monsanto for the U.S. Department of Defense.

I will not post a picture of what over 1 million people have suffered as a result of the use of Agent Orange. However a quick image search will show that the use of this same chemical to treat food coming to a super market near you is easily an example of the most irresponsible business decision ever made.

gmo

[Xinhua/Landov]

“Monsanto Protection Act”

There has been ample backlash against Monsanto and it’s criminal business practices. While the public was distracted by Equal Marriage going to the Supreme Court and DOMA the what critics are calling the “Monsanto Protection Act” made its way virtually unscathed through Congress. This Act signed by Obama last week allows biotech companies like billion-dollar Monsanto to escape any form of litigation. What will prove to be detrimental is that Monsanto will have immunity should any of their genetically engineered products prove to have other harmful long-term effects.

Most of those senators instrumental in passing the bill were also ones that received a great deal of financial support from Monsanto to fund their campaigns. While much of this doesn’t bode well for the public’s health there was a petition containing over 250,000 signatures asking the White House to ensure that the bill wasn’t passed. Even though the bill did in fact pass this was not done entirely in vein. There will continue to be more public awareness about the harmful effects that herbicides and GMOs can have and hopefully with this there will, at the very least, be a demand for the appropriate labeling of products in the future.

Here’s the Catch

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Fish Farming 

According to an article written for the Examiner.com fish that comes from China, Vietnam and Thailand is farmed in some of the most deplorable and unsanitary conditions. In Vietnam the fish are kept in houses built along the Mekong River — a river also used for the local’s sewage, laundry and dirty dishes. This river is one of the largest supplies of fish to North America, Europe and Japan but it’s also one of the dirtiest with a combination of cement plant and salt factory runoff, industrial pollutants and sewage draining directly into the fish ponds.

The Following video provides a look into how fish are farmed on the Mekong River.


In China (where about 70% of fish farming takes place) chicken coops are built directly over catfish farms so that the chicken manure can feed the fish below. The United State’s standards for quality are lacking for food and livestock raised here and there are few to no standards on imported foods. In China illegal veterinary drugs and pesticides are mixed in with the fish feed which helps to keep the fish alive but also leaves behind poisonous carcinogens (cancer causing substance or chemical). Wal-Mart is one of China’s biggest customers when it comes to fish imports.

Over 40% of the fish consumed nowadays comes from aquaculture, or fish farming. These fish are often crammed so tightly together that the weight of the fish on the top crushes the ones at the bottom. To fatten up the fish quickly they are often fed other smaller ocean life and it takes an astounding 10 lbs. of this smaller ocean life to create 2.2 lbs. of high protein fishmeal. This also only contributes to the depletion of our oceans.

PCBs and Mercury

Farmed and Dangerous breaks down the nutritional content of Wild vs. Farmed Salmon and it points out that Wild Salmon have 5 parts/billion of PCBs vs Farmed Salmon’s 27 parts/billion. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are chemicals that have been associated with the development of cancer in humans and animals and were banned in 1979. As this website points out all of the concentrations of harmful chemicals that were tested in the fish were found to be ten times higher in those that were farmed. Most of these contaminants were also classified as being “possible” human carcinogens.

Crab, oyster, grouper, halibut, flounder, eel, bass, carp, snapper and shell-fish, to name a few, are all bottom feeders. This means that they skim the bottom of the ocean and eat plants and other smaller bottom feeders. A common indicator that a species of fish is a bottom feeder is the location of both eyes on the same side of their head. These sea creatures are not picky eaters and consume most of  the matter that has sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor, namely heavy metals like mercury and lead.

Numerous studies have indicated that pregnant women, those who wish to become pregnant and small children have the most risk when it comes to consuming the mercury in fish. The American Pregnancy Association advises these groups to remove the fish containing the highest levels of mercury from their diet entirely including but not limited to tuna, marlin, swordfish and mackerel.

The trouble with mercury is that lower levels are now considered to be more dangerous than once thought. A recent article in the Portland Press Herald discusses how mercury “affects the immune system, alters genetic and enzyme systems, and damages the nervous system including coordination and the sense of touch, taste and sight.”

The scariest aspect of mercury is that of biomagnification. When a larger fish consumes a smaller fish the mercury in the smaller fish grows exponentially inside the fatty tissue of the larger fish. This process persists until a Bluefin tuna weighing in at 400 lbs. is consumed by a human and the mercury levels are extremely dangerous.

dolphins

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Dolphin Free Tuna?

The Eurocbc states that roughly 7 million dolphins have been killed by the use of seine nets. These nets work to herd tuna together by forcing them to the surface so that they can be more easily corralled. Dolphins get caught in these nets as they often travel with schools of tuna. There have been bans on certain methods of fishing that put dolphins at risk hence the “Dolphin Safe” label placed  on various types of seafood. The trouble is that Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Vanautu do not adhere to these regulations and much of the fish imported to the United States still comes from these countries.

Along with dolphins nearly 1,000 marine mammals are killed by commercial fishing everyday. Sea turtles (which are protected by the Endangered Species Act) and at risk porpoises are caught in the fishing nets. There are guidelines that require fishermen to free the endangered sea turtles when they are trapped in the nets but turtles are air-breathing reptiles and often drown long before measures are taken to free them.

I will persist to avoid going into great depth concerning the death and suffering of animals as I’d like to focus on the matter at hand– your health. However, to fully understand the impact that the consumption of meat has for the individual we must consider the environment as well. It’s easy enough to assume that your enjoyment of sushi containing tuna does not have larger repercussions but it does. When you endorse the capture of sea creatures for consumption you encourage the slaughter of more than 300,000 other marine animals every year.

Plight of the Worker

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Welcome to the Jungle

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle provided the first truly ground breaking exposé on the horrors of the meatpacking industry. Sinclair went into great detail about the dangerous and alarming conditions that the average immigrant packing plant worker endured on a daily basis. Concerning the effects his novel had Sinclair said “I aimed at the public’ s heart and by accident hit its stomach.”

While hitting the public’s stomach was unintentional it was instrumental in the passage of the federal Pure Food and Drug and Meat Inspection Acts of 1906 just one year after the publication of The Jungle. Both pieces of legislation were signed by President Theodore Roosevelt on the same day and strict regulation of the new policies set the public’s mind at ease. Enforcement of the Meat Inspection Act was assigned to what we know as the Food Safety and Inspection Service that is to this day a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture is a far cry from the Progressive Era Reform from once it came with its approval of cloned meat, pending approval of the inspection of horse meat for human consumption and continued approval of the use of antibiotics in livestock and hormones in dairy cows.

The following passage is from The Jungle and describes just a few of the horrific consequences felt by those working in the early meatpacking plants.

“Of the butchers and floorsmen, the beef-boners and trimmers, and all those who used knives, you could scarcely find a person who had the use of his thumb; time and time again the base of it had been slashed, till it was a mere lump of flesh against which the man pressed the knife to hold it. The hands of these men would be criss-crossed with cuts, until you could no longer pretend to count them or to trace them. They would have no nails,—they had worn them off pulling hides; their knuckles were swollen so that their fingers spread out like a fan.”

Surely things have changed in over a century though right?

The Killing Floor

Financing a multi-billion dollar business in the most hazardous industry means high rates of turnover, unsanitary workplace conditions riddled with animal remains and feces, injuries from the operation of dangerous equipment, repetitive motion tasks and lack of readily available safety gear.

“The injury rate in slaughterhouses is about three times higher than the rate in a typical American factory. Every year more than one-quarter of the meatpacking workers in this country – roughly forty thousand men and women- suffer an injury or work related illness that requires medical attention beyond first aid.” Fast Food Nation 

Illegal immigrants are attracted to this type of work as there is little to no education required for employment, injuries and turnover make more jobs available to the undocumented worker and it doesn’t require that the worker speak English.

Lack of documentation verifying citizenship voids the employer from being responsible for healthcare that would benefit the worker should they be injured on the job. These workers can also be fired without warning so their likelihood of lodging a complaint about working conditions is slim. The location of meatpacking plants in secluded rural areas can also account for the lack of strict enforcement of OSHA safety regulations and the basic consideration for Human Rights.

The Most Dangerous Job

In chapter 8 of Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser takes a tour of a slaughterhouse and sees what most who consume meat would rather remain ignorant to indefinitely.

“Knocker (who is responsible for stunning the cattle by shooting a bolt into its head. The knocker does this for eight and a half hours straight), Sticker (responsible for slitting the animal’s throat, severing the carotid artery for eight and a half hours straight), First Legger, Knuckle Dropper, Navel Boner, Splitter Top/Bottom Butt, Feed Kill Chain- the names of job assignments at a modern slaughterhouse convey some of the brutality inherent in the work.”

Line speed is integral to the entire process with increased profits being at stake. To keep up with growing demands for speed on the killing floor many workers have resorted to taking methamphetamine to stay alert and energized. There is also great pressure on the workers to not report injuries because “the annual bonuses of plant foremen and supervisors are often based in part on the injury rate of their workers.”

The worst yet according to Schlosser is the job of the late night cleaning crew. Their cleaning tool is a high powered hose that shoots a mixture of chlorine and water heated to 180 degrees which after fog has filled the factory and making visibility impossible often gets sprayed on other workers. They are also working while the machinery in the factory continues to run. ” [A] sanitation worker lost an arm in a machine. Now he folds towels in the locker room.” All of this and “They earn hourly wages that are about one-third lower than those of regular production employees.”

There are countless other horrors experienced by those working in the most dangerous industry but the truth is that when the average consumer demands fast, low-priced meat without regard for its origins they implicitly condone the horrible practices of the meat industry.


Milk does a body good?

Milk

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We’ve all seen the ads in various magazines: sexy athletes, musicians and actors with white moustaches and a caption that reads “Got Milk?” along with some facts about your bones and a healthy calcium intake. Humans are the only mammals who continue to drink milk after being weaned and while it’s marketed as the best source for calcium and a good source of protein is it worth it?

Calcium

1 cup of skim milk contains 50% of the daily required intake of calcium (based on a 2,000 calorie diet)

This website is one of many that breaks down percentages of calcium found in many vegetables.

1 cup of broccoli rabe contains 52% of the DV*

1 cup of chopped collard greens contains 36% of the DV

1 cup of raw kale contains 14% of the DV

These vegetables and others rich in calcium are also low in calories and contain iron, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and protein among other health benefits. Vitamin D does not naturally occur in milk and other vitamins are added to lower fat and skim milks as amounts are lost when the fat content is reduced. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that contains vitamin D and it does not naturally occur in any fruits. Still regular exposure to sunlight can help the body produce vitamin D on it’s own.

*DV=Daily Value or unit of measurement for the recommended intake of nutrients and vitamins

Check your Hormones at the door

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In 1993 the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) a synthetic hormone that increases milk production when injected into dairy cows. There have been studies that have shown no difference between cows who are given rBGH and those who aren’t when it comes to human health. Nonetheless the continued manipulation of growth hormones could increase insulin-like growth factor (IGF) “…which could mimic the effects of human growth hormone in harmful ways. In fact, research has found that milk from rBGH-treated cows contains up to 10 times more IGF than other milk.” Huffingtonpost

An increase in insulin-like growth factor in humans has been directly related to the early production of sex hormones, the early onset of puberty and heightened risks of breast and prostate cancers.

Aspartame 

School children are one of the largest consumers of milk in the United States and recent outrage over the unlabed artificial sweetener aspartame added to flavored milks has only furthered mistrust in the food industries.

Aspartame is a chemical sweetener with toxic effects including digestive issues, memory impairment and even cancer. The International Dairy Foods Association has petitioned the FDA to change the standards on identifying milk in hopes of keeping aspartame off of the nutritional label on many dairy products.

Alternatives to Milk

In the last couple of years there have been many alternatives to milk on the market. Everything from soy to hemp milk is available and for many purposes it’s unidentifiable in flavor from dairy milk when its used for cooking and baking.

These alternatives are often lactose free, low in fat and high in protein, calcium and fiber. My favorite is Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze with Original So Delicious Coconut milk a close second. Most of these other types of milk are also highly comparable to dairy milk when it comes to affordability and available to the consumer in programs like Women, Infant, Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP).

The Foul Truth

EAT MOR CHIKIN.

This is often the request made by three cows holding signs as they urge you away from burger joints and into another fast food line. Sage advice maybe after considering the perils eating beef may bring you. Or is it? Chickens are not carriers of BSE (yet?) but according to an article in The New York Times chickens can be contaminated with fecal matter that carries the E. coli bacteria. This particular article goes on to question whether or not this strand of E. coli is actually one that would make a consumer seriously ill, however, this strand is still antibiotic resistant. Meaning certain types of bacteria, or the colloquial superbugs, are able to survive exposure to antibiotics and when they cause infection in humans are untreatable.

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Recently there have been links made between eating chicken and urinary tract infections in both women and men. If UTIs are a minor health issue that usually clear up in less than a week what’s the worry? The problem is what may start out as a simple UTI could easily turn into cystitis or even ovarian cysts. An article in The Atlantic makes the connection between UTIs and the antibiotic resistant strand of E. coli. According to this article “About 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States each year are given to livestock as “growth promoters” that allow animals to put on weight more quickly…”

Those responsible for meat production do not have to divulge how the drugs are used, the quantities or which animal is receiving the drug and at what age (often times chickens receive a number of “inoculations” before they even hatch).

Antibiotics 

Unlike their much nicer and harder working cousin Probiotics Antibiotics, often penicillin or its derivatives, inhibit or destroy the growth of microorganisms. Antibiotics were first given to animals in the 1960s and it was discovered that small consistent doses didn’t only keep the animals from getting sick but it also made them grow faster. The FDA has actually been active in trying to cease the use of antibiotics in animals since 1977 but Congress has opposed their every attempt. Recently though the FDA has said that they will act judiciously to try and get meat producers on board but they will not enforce any laws concerning the use of antibiotics in livestock.

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Salmonella

When people think about bacteria and illnesses related to food handling or consumption they using think Salmonella. However, most also assume this is something fairly avoidable if raw meat is handled carefully and cutting boards and utensils are cleaned before being used on other foods. This is actually the best way to ensure that the bacteria isn’t spread and infection doesn’t take place.

Those infected usually suffer abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever which usually lasts for a week and is treatable without hospitalization. This particular foodborne illness rarely causes death but it’s the most common due the fact that the Department of Agriculture allows for the sale of raw poultry containing the bacteria.

Beasts of Burden

Chicken has become the number one meat eaten with turkey and pork a close second and third. According to Purdue University 8 billion chickens are consumed in the United States each year (55 times more than any other animal). Chickens are not protected by the Human Slaughter Act and if farmers were to treat a cat or dog in the same manner they often treat chickens they’d go to jail for animal cruelty.

Much like other animals chickens are not given credit for how intelligent they are. These abused and misunderstood animals are actually quite intelligent as the following video will demonstrate.

BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part II

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Escherichia coli O157:H7, or E. coli as it’s better known, is one of the nastier strains of harmful bacteria and according to the mayoclinic “can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting” and can even induce “..a life threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)”

Something that the Mayo Clinic’s website gets wrong though is the conclusion that this bacteria can also be obtained by eating certain raw or undercooked vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are innocent bystandars. The spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and many others that have been in the news in recent years believed to be perpetuating the spread of the bacteria are not to blame.

To give credit where credit is due we must consider the source. Given the rate of slaughter that was briefly touched upon in Part I it’s clear that cattle are raised at an exponential rate. To accommodate this growing demand for meat the cattle are fattened up and slaughtered at younger ages all the time.

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Cows have a stomach with four chambers for a reason. The chambers are responsible for efficiently digesting grass, a rudiment animal’s primary food source. Cattle who are consistently fed grass have a healthy gastrointestinal tract that does not allow E. coli to grow. When cattle are fed grains, primarily corn as its cheap and makes them larger even faster, the pH level of their GI tract is changed and the abnormal environment inside these chambers allows the E. coli bacteria to grow.

The run off of either waste or remnants from the rendering process can come into contact with fruits and vegetables that are grown on lands nearby. This is then how these otherwise bacteria free foods become infected.

The popular and Oscar nominated documentary Food, Inc. explored one of the more shocking methods used to kill the E. coli bacteria present in meat from cows fed diets void of grass. Ammonium hydroxide, a mixture of ammonia and water, was known as an innovative process used by Beef Products Inc. to turn fatty beef trimmings, usually ridden with E. coli and salmonella into hamburger filler. Of course, Beef Products, Inc. provides a disclaimer about this process and how trace amounts of ammonia are not actually harmful to those who consume meat treated with it.

Beef Products, Inc. goes into great detail and fallacy about how ammonia is essential for life and evolution. Your body does in fact produce ammonia but it’s a by product of the production of proteins. This by product is then converted into urine by the liver and as part of a healthy body’s function excreted daily. However, should ammonia enter into your bloodstream and subsequently your brain encephalopathy –an altered state of the brain can occur. This can, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , cause “tremor, muscle atrophy and weakness, dementia, seizures, and loss of ability to swallow or speak.”

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Eric Schlosser’s novel Fast Food Nation provides a sad account of Alex a six year old infected with with E. coli O157:H7 in July of 1993 after eating a hamburger. E. coli O157:H7 releases a verotoxin or “Shiga” that attacks the lining of the intestine. I will avoid going into detail here concerning exactly what took place as Alex’s small body was destroyed by the bacteria. In short, the young boy became infected on a Tuesday and was dead by Sunday afternoon. He was unable to recognize his mother and father after parts of his brain had become liquified. The sad truth is that those who do survive HUS are left with disabilities and brain damage.

Honestly there is no lighter side of E.coli. There is no cure, no preventative measures or treatment that can be taken once a person becomes infected. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from a foodborne illness. These statistics are just based on those cases that are reported and do not represent foodborne illness on a Global scale.

There is no cooking your spinach “well done” to kill the bacteria either.

BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part I

Oprah Winfrey caused quite an up roar when she swore off beef after having the Mad Cowboy Howard Lyman on her show back in April of 1996. Lyman discussed everything from Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad cow disease or BSE) to the hundred thousand cattle who are slaughtered every year in the United States (A figure that has gone up considerably since then). The Texas cattle rancher’s association then sued Winfrey and Lyman on the basis that their bottom line would take a major hit after her un-endorsement of their industry. The ranchers lost and Winfrey proudly asserted that “Free Speech Rocks” after the verdict.

Free speech still rocks and I will throughly be exercising that right as I discuss some topics concerning food and more specifically meat in this blog. There are many health issues including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and even cancer that can be greatly reduced or even cured with the switch to a plant based diet. The latter of those of course can not be cured in the later stages of the disease but can almost be entirely avoided when meat is no longer consumed.

I wanted to preface this post with the story about Winfrey as I feel it is still very much applicable to the point I will be making about vegetarianism/ veganism. While the naysayers will undoubtably congregate and spew what they spew best know that it is not my intention to convert but to educate and all forms of criticism and opinion are welcome.

Winfrey was most worked up about the prospect of Mad cow disease spreading throughout the United States and the practice of feeding cattle dead cattle. A practice that has since been banned as it was seen as the leading cause of the disease being spread in the United Kingdom.

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In humans Mad cow is known as a new variation on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and in 1993 was responsible for the deaths of more than 150 people and 180,000 cattle. CBS News Still it wasn’t until 1996 when the “Food and Drug Administration announced that in order to prevent an outbreak of BSE in the United States, the agency would “expedite” new rules prohibiting the use of certain animal proteins in cattle feed. Again it was even later “August 4, 1997, almost a year and a half after the FDA promised a speedy response to the threat of mad cow, new animal feed restrictions took effect” Fast Food Nation 

Slaughterhouses and rendering plants had scrap meat in excess and for them feeding cattle the dead carcasses of other cows was cost efficient. However, it wasn’t just the carcasses of other cows being recycled as food but also those of sheep, goats, deer, mink, elk, cats and dogs. The new regulations that were halfheartedly put into effect by the FDA soon required rendering plants to provide documentation proving that their cattle had not been fed any of the banned feeds. This was only successful after McDonald’s had pledged to not purchase meat from rendering plants without the appropriate certification.

What the FDA had tried to accomplish for years McDonald’s accomplished in a matter of weeks. I will have more on the diabolical industry that is Fast Food at a later date but in the mean time click on the link below to appreciate the weight of meat consumption.

Rate of Slaughter in 2008

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What does BSE do to a human brain? Mad cow is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the brain and spinal cord to deteriorate into a spongy constancy making the brain look similar to swiss cheese. BSE has a long incubation period and can go unnoticed in someone who is infected for as long as ten years.

Whether or not there is an impending Mad cow epidemic awaiting us  it is important to consider those who are meant to have your best interests at heart and whether or not those who make food safety regulations actually do. As recently as April of 2012 a dairy cow in California tested positive for BSE. Once believed that it was only transferable between cows when infected tissue was consumed it’s now speculated that the disease can spontaneously appear.

BSE