Thursday, December 6, 2007

Your Food, Our Environment

The Food Revolution, by
John Robbins (ex-heir to the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream fortune)

Tasked with the assignment at work of researching farm animal regulations as it relates to treatment of animals and government regulations to prevent bad farming practices and potential “exposure” of bad-boy farms who may have received state business $$$, I rekindled some sleeping opinions on food, animals, nutrition and lifestyle. The research led me to a book I purchased a few years back, but never read: The Food Revolution by John Robbins.

John is the heir to the Baskin Robbins’s fortune; but he chose to walk away from it at a young age, and focus his attention on the environment, which led him to vegetarianism and the study of “healthy” foods. (Yes, his dairy-product fortune family pretty much dis-owned him for many years when he proclaimed dairy is not good for you). He starts his book on health and well-being, how you can change your health simply by changing the foods you eat. Dr. Dean Ornish writes the forward and Mr. Robbins makes many references to Dr. Ornish’s highly successful, and scientifically documented reversal of heart disease through vegetarianism (Eat More, Weight Less). Mr. Robbins then talks a good bit on factory farms and treatment of the animals and of course, the slaughtering practices. There are numerous pages on drugs injected into the animals to prevent diseases caused by confinement, and how humans ingest those drugs and can become ill. Growth hormones injected into cows, beaks cut off chickens to prevent insanity pecking from not being able to move, growth hormones injected into poultry to make them so fat their legs break (ever wonder how Purdue really has such meaty breasts?). The list goes on and on. He then gets into the plant industry and genetically modified foods and how those too are developed in a lab and eventually passed onto humans; again causing ailments. Ever wonder why you may not feel as well as you should, or have allergies from seemingly nothing? Trace your food. A co-worker of mine has a daughter with a mild form of myalgia. She changed her food consumption to organic and started feeling better. Mr. Robbins sites myalgia as being directly linked to genetically modified soybeans, which are in 60% of all the soybean products, you buy. And of course he ends the book with hope for the future…how in recent years organic and vegetarianism has gained momentum with the biggest success being USDA certification of organic foods – a certification the organic community felt was a major win. 6 years later, we can truly trust the USDA organic certified label because the USDA does in fact check annually that the food producer is meeting those specs and certifications. Chickens must get light and roam free for at least 4 hours a day; only a certain number of birds can be in cage together (they can move!); organic cows can only be fed organic grass and have no growth hormones or other drugs; and food cannot be grown with any pesticides or herbicides. The book is extremely informative for those that aren’t aware of these things, and re-emphasizes many facts for those that are currently vegetarian or organic. It’s a worthwhile read.

Oh, and the results of my research on treatment of farm animals? The United States feds AND state government pretty much exempt all “normal” farming practices and farm animals from any Animal Cruelty laws. They can stuff as many beakless chickens as they want in a cage; but the farm CAN be sited for neglect if dead birds are found in those cages. So my dear friends, the only answer is to avoid any meat not labeled “organic” and certified USDA organic. It’s the only answer. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey, but we have to pay the price so more is produced; thus eventually bringing the prices down. They’ve already dropped considerably in the past 3 years. Buy only free range, cage-free eggs and only organic milk. Better yet, skip the animal products altogether and go green. That’s the true answer.


DailySAHM said...

Are you going veg again?! Yay! I haven't read this book yet, but heard good things about it.

Chili said...

Yup. no meat/fish/dairy. I'm doing free range eggs tho.