Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool

Month: March, 2013

Here’s the Catch

catfish

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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.

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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.