Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goal for the New Year - Slow Food, Good Food

I have watched Food, Inc and read Fast Food Nation. I am on to Michael Pollan's many books as well. And I know another person that is striving to eat "clean." (no634.net). I am making the choice to pay a little more at the store as well as venture out into other places (Mississippi Market, Farmer's markets, local farmers). I do not kid myself, this takes planning, effort, a little more money, and a lot more time. But I am doing it for a number of reasons.

Many moons ago, I was a strict vegan, then a lacto-ovo vegetarian, then I started eating meat again. I LOVE meat. But I don't want to contribute to the factory produced meat market currently around. Even if I didn't weep every time I think of those cows, pigs, and chickens, I wonder why people are not up in arms over the pollution and disease stemming from this style of "farming."

Let's talk about pollution first. The first part is simple. Concentrated animal area = TONS of POOP. TONS of POOP = bad water, bad air. Dooky levels at these places are so high that the air in some areas of the farm can't be safely breathed, too much hydrogen sulfide. Gaseous hydrogen sulfide scars lung tissue and can even cause asphyxiation. Scarred lung tissue leads to further troubles, such as increased exposure to disease including bronchitis, pneumonia, and even lung fungal infections.

Poop in my water, not okay. Poop in really tiny amounts is everywhere. Can't be helped, because as the book says Everybody (or in this case everything) poops. But poop from these farms are stored in lagoons. Yep, they have doo-doo lagoons. Can you see yourself sippin' a Mai Thai on a beach chair next to one of those. EWWWW. And those lagoons do not stay there. Spillage is a frequent occurrence because they are so full the poop actually pushes down the earth embankment. What happens next is usually pretty bad. Fish kills, river and stream contamination, and ground water contamination. Poop in my water.

Now the other pollution. Grain is grown for these animals. Grain uses water and fertilizer, plus other chemicals. Even if you didn't care about water, those other chemicals and fertilizer are mainly washed away. So more stuff in my water. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Now let's tackle disease. Commonly recognized foodborne infections are caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7, and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, also known as the Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses. The bacterial infections cause diarhea and other symptoms. Each can cause death. E. coli is usually considered fairly benign. But this lovely creature releases Shiga toxins that can produce all kinds of problems. Thinking of taking an antibiotic to get rid of it? Not so fast. A quick kill can release ALL the Shiga toxins. In up to 5% of people, it causes hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This severe complication includes temporary anemia, profuse bleeding, and kidney failure. For more information, check out the CDC. And factory eggs are at a greater risk for Salmonella than organic eggs.

But I am ultimately doing it because I eat crap any more (hamburger is quite literally partly crap). I want to be able to eat something and know exactly where it came from and be able to pronounce all of the ingredients. I also want to live my values.

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