Sunday, September 16, 2007

Supermarket Stories

I've been reading a book called "The Omnivore's Dilemma," by Michael Pollan. It's an amazing book about what we eat and where it comes from. Turns out almost everything we eat comes from corn -- and our diets are getting cornier all the time. When I saw a commercial for Kraft Cheese during a football game, I was sort of outraged by the image of cows eating grass behind the actors. That is how cattle should eat -- but it is not how Kraft cows (and most other cows eat). Instead cows are force-fed corn to fatten them up quickly, even though it causes them to get sick and requires that they be given massive antibiotic shots. I'm no vegetarian, but I was struck by the "natural story" that Kraft advances when they clearly practice factory farming. One other quick point from the book: the words "free range" (which we use to describe chicken and cattle) were hotly debated over the last decade. The watered-down compromise definition now reads "Animals have to have access to the outdoors during some part of their lives" in order to be considered free range. Not the story most of us conjure up when we buy these products at the Whole Foods.

10 comments:

Carly M said...

Ugh god, thats terrible! I hate to think about all these facts that are kept from the general public and how they affect us! I never realized how mistreated cows were (with an exception of veal). When I was younger and less informed, I ate veal every so often, since I learned what it is, I haven't eaten it once.

Even when I learned the truth about veal, it was incomplete. I hate to say it, but I think South Park really taught me the most about it, along with a great deal of other things which are irrevelent. Those baby cows were tortured and kept in very harsh conditions, but I never thought it was the same for adult cows. They are being force fed foods that intentionally make them sick and are then injected with medicine that are not good in high doses. Antibiotics are meant to be taken rarely so that resistances aren't built; when the cows are truely sick, how are they going to get better?

Andrew said...

This reminds me of when 7up came out with their ALL NATURAL drink. What does that actually mean? It still contains High Fructose Corn Syrup. Or Smuckers Uncrustables with honey spread on "WHEAT" bread. Are they saying that they've been making bread without wheat? THE MAIN INGREDIENT? However, a quick look at the label reveals the exact same ingredients as the regular "wheat"less bread.

Bernadette.Brandt said...

The book you are reading reminds me of a book my mom read recently that changed the way our family shops for food and eats meals. It was called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It talks about how ineffecient our grocery stores function. In order to have grapes all year round, an enormous amount of fossil fuel is used to ship these fresh foods that only grow in certain climates around the globe.

My sister recently returned from a three month trip in Australia. She used to go to a huge mile long market selling everything from clothes to seafood to fruit. She explained that there were strawberries grown in Australia two hours away from the market that were three dollars. Then for some odd reason they also sold strawberries shipped all the way from Florida for seven dollars. If you think logically about this for even a second, I think you can see how ridiculous this is. We should by using our resources to our advantage, and not abusing the ease of shipping things around the world.

At my house, we now eat dried or canned fruit when it is out of season. But when it's in season, we eat it up!

helfmank said...

I find the facts about how Kraft feeds cows to be quite controversial. Im not a vegetarian, but i now see a better view as to why people are. Force feeding cows the wrong way and giving them antionbiotic chots for it, couldn't that leave a bad affect to people who eat those cows? Next time i have a burger from portillos, it will be be the last i have for a long time. Maybe a steak every so often though

Julia B said...

This is Amy Barrow, Julia Barrow's mom. Michael Pollan makes such interesting points about food - although I read an article about the eating habits of his teenage son who is a very picky eater. It's nice that even an influential food writer has trouble getting his own family to eat right!

mross said...

Well i AM a vegetarian and for some of the reasons listed in this blog. The vast majority of the meat produced in this country is factory farmed. Animals are treated terribly in these farms. Farmers will often use extremely grotesque ways of killing the animals and often torture them for no reason. The hormones injected into animals can be harmful to the humans that eat the meat or biproducts such as milk. Factory farming is cruel because it does not allow animals to operate as they would in nature. These animals often live in their own excriment because it is cheper to pump them with antibiotics that prevent disease than cleaning up after them.

Factory farms can be described as; "A large-scale industrial site where many animals (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) are confined and treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent disease." (http://www.fao.org/avianflu/en/glossary.html)

For an in depth definition of factory farms go to, http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Factory_farming

Watch what you eat!

Maseeh M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark@NTHS said...

Hello, I am Mark Jones's father, Thomas Jones.

The truth is often very difficult to find these days. I'm not always able to determine if this is a deliberate attempt to slant the news or just poor journalism. The best way to sort through this is to investigate the facts further, which your class is being encouraged to do. There are always two sides to every story.

carly m said...

Harry M said...

I am generally against the idea of factory farms. They are a product of our society's drive for more consumption, profit and efficiency at a cost to the quality of our lives. In my visits to several foreign countries, I have noticed a distinct difference in the taste and freshness of the food served. I have partially attributed this to how they produce their crops and raise their livestock.

I also believe from a moral position that it is terribly wrong not to provide some basic dignity and respect to how animals are cared for and raised. It is one more element in the erosion of our respect for nature and our environment.

Harry Major, Carly's dad.

Lars said...

yeah the whole idea of factory farms is pretty sick. I dont really like to think about that when i eat or really at all, but it's not something we should forget. And i think thats how most people feel, they eat whats good and dont care a whole lot about where it came from. It would be pretty terrible to be one of the people that runs one of these factory farms because then you would be reminded of it every day. Yeah its terrible but you gotta wonder if there is anything we could do to stop it or if it will ever stop.