January/February 2014 Newsletter:

How can cheap meat affect your health?

By Laurel Hopwood, NEOSC Human Health & Environment Committee Chair

Children read story books about cows munching on grass in green pastures, chickens pecking on the grounds of barns, and pigs chomping on food at the trough. Unfortunately, there is now a different reality. Most chicken, pigs and cows are raised in crowded confinement factories and fed food that’s unnatural to their bodily systems.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, many factory-raised animals are fed diseased animals, euthanized cats and dogs, road kill, dead horses, manure, plastics, and drugs. Factory-raised animals are also fed antibiotics daily in their feed, primarily for rapid growth. It’s a well known fact that antibiotics are losing their effectiveness due to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

This doesn’t even touch on algae overgrowth from the huge amounts of manure run off into sources of water. Some algae produces liver and nerve toxins. People and pets have become ill after swimming in lakes with toxic algae. Algae blooms have also caused severe gastroenteritis.

Physical illness is just one of many concerns. I have heard people say, “choosing what I put at the end of my fork is a spiritual issue for me. If I buy meat that comes from a factory raised source, then I am contributing to the pain that animal endured during its lifetime.”

How can you effect change? If you eat animals, support producers who feed animals what they are meant to eat and how they are meant to be raised. Farmers markets and community supported agriculture are examples. Choosing a plant based diet is healthy, cheap and beneficial to the environment.