Are you as easily lured in as I am by attractively packaged and competitively priced supermarket meats? Have you thought vaguely about going all-organic with your meat consumption, but yet you can’t seem to make the full leap?
If you haven’t watched the documentary film entitled Food, Inc., I recommend that you add it to your movie rental queue for immediate viewing.
Food, Inc. shows the dark side of American agriculture, revealing sobering facts about how cows, chickens and pigs in the US are treated in their short life span from birth to the production line to a serving plate at your table. It is a disturbing inside look at animal abuse and flagrant disrespect for nature and the future health of human beings, by companies we know and trust such as Monsanto Company, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, Perdue Farms, and other major US food suppliers.
No one probably wants to think too much about that poor cow with the soft nose who was fated to become your dinner. But the truth is that if you do picture that animal, your imagined version of its life on the farm, and even the inevitable abrupt cessation of that life, is probably a dream compared to the existence it is actually faced with thanks to the ignorance and greed of humans.
Food, Inc. is an extremely difficult film to watch. I am not a squeamish person by nature, but I felt compelled to either cover my eyes or leave the room entirely at certain points while it was playing on our TV.
If you are deeply affected by the atrocities of mankind, then you may wish to pass altogether on seeing this movie. However, if you think that knowing the truth about where the food you eat comes from might actually inspire a real change in your buying and eating habits… then as tough as it is to swallow, this documentary is worth watching.
For those who can’t bear to witness harsh reality, I will sum up the parts that stayed with me so as to spare you from having to suffer through its various, painful scenes.
Despicably inhumane conditions and treatment
Beef and dairy cows, spending their entire lives crammed together in dark stalls, up to their knees in a pool of their own feces and fed a diet of corn, because it is cheap and plentiful (but which, in the natural world, cows do not actually eat).
Dairy cows, removed from their babies and confined to tight stalls, milked endlessly by machines as they cry out in agonizing pain. No sweet, fresh hay to nibble while nuzzling a newborn calf. Instead, the young calves are taken from their mothers to exist in a human-contrived and created, veritable hell on earth.
A disruption of the food chain
Not only are the living conditions for these animals deplorable beyond comprehension, but the means in which they are being nourished is completely backward and wrong – a disturbing disruption of the food chain as it was designed by nature to function.
Cows are not meant to eat corn. Cows eat grass. This is the natural order of things. The grass absorbs nutrients from the soil. The cows obtain nourishment from the grass. The humans who eat the cows receive the appropriate nutrition as it came from the mineral-rich grass that grew on the earth.
Thus, when you eat non-organic meat from the grocery store, you are consuming an animal that was fed a wrong diet of corn all its life, that failed to see the light of day for even one day, that was not nurtured into adulthood by its mother, and that stood for months in a fetid pool of rotted fecal matter and was injected with antibiotics to counter the effects of this situation.
The real reason for e.coli outbreaks
You may recall a few outbreaks of e.coli that were publicized in the news, with mass quantities of contaminated beef being recalled from grocery store shelves and disposed of after people became ill from eating the diseased meat. Once you watch Food, Inc., it will become obvious to you how the e.coli bacteria got there.
Meat from sickly animals, dressed to appear appetizing
That thick, juicy steak that you see on the shelves of your local supermarket only looks that way because of the high-sugar (corn) diet that the cow was fed to fatten it up. It is red because coloring has been added to make it more attractive for purchase. And yes, it’s highly likely that your dinner was dipped in a sanitizing bleach solution to prevent the spread of disease due to the deplorable conditions from whence it came.
“Vegetarian” chicken diet is actually bakery waste
The chickens, too, are crammed wall to wall in dark, warehouse-like structures where they struggle against their own kind, clawing and pecking viciously in an endless, brutal battle for space that doesn’t exist. They, like the cows, are fed corn, as well as “vegetarian” meal which is actually not vegetables or plants at all but a diet of commercial bakery waste (What does that even mean? Stale pastries from the local supermarket? Factory seconds from Nabisco?). Their diet is high in sugar and, presumably from the “bakery waste,” contains various other chemical ingredients. The high-sugar diet is used because makes the developing chickens grow larger so there will be more breast meat and more meat overall, which of course will entice more consumers to buy that particular brand of chicken.
Filth-ridden, overcrowded chicken coops
The chickens, too, are highly susceptible to disease as a result of these inhumane and deplorable conditions. Once the large, fatty, golden colored (from eating so much corn) breasts are removed from the chicken carcasses, they must be sanitized… and although the packaging does not mention this, the chicken breast meat is actually bathed in a bleach solution to remove any potential salmonella contamination. Yes, people. THIS situation is where salmonella risk actually orginates from.
Another break in the food chain
Farm chickens are supposed to eat grass and bugs. This is where the iron, vitamin B, omega fats, and other nutrients that are supposed to be present in eggs and chicken should come from. And technically, if the chicken that you’re eating isn’t getting the proper nutrition that it needs to thrive, then neither are you. Same goes for the beef.
A workaround for labeling packages as having “antibiotics added to the meat”
Also interesting to note about the chickens: the companies who breed these sickly animals for human consumption have found a way to get around “feeding” the chickens antibiotics directly. Rather than add it to their corn meal or bakery waste or whatever they eat, the actual administration of antibiotics occurs before the chicken is even born. A needle of antibiotics is injected into each egg as it is being incubated.
The second half of Food, Inc. covers genetically modified crops such as corn and soy, meant for human consumption. It is equally disturbing as it is eye opening, and worthy of a Part II, to be written another day.
In the meantime, perhaps this account has inspired you to switch to certified organic and/or locally-raised beef, milk, eggs and chicken. This website contains some NJ-based sources to help you get started.
If you are a supplier of free-range, grass-fed animals of any kind, we’d like to list you on our website. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our directory of NJ companies.