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Wednesday
Sep072011

What's Up on the Dairy Farm?

Eat, Share, and Prosper

Note: I just finished this article sharing some of the unsettling realities behind the food sold in our grocery stores and supermarkets.  There will be more to come.  I want to, at the onset, mention that my friend and colleague, Jordan Rubin (founder of Garden of Life, Author of the Maker’s Diet) has created an incredible resource for “real food.”  I urge you to look into Beyond Organic and consider the cost-free “Insider” opportunity.  Now I’ll talk about cows, and Avatar, and other stuff leading us to the conclusion, Eat, Share, and Prosper.  Here we go. . .

 CAFO’s can house well over 100,000 animals and they’re typically driven by one force, namely, the want for profit.  What’s a CAFO?  It’s an acronym.  It stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.  More than 95% of the livestock that enter our food supply come from such operations.

If you’re an animal lover, it might concern you that these operations have little or no commitment to supply the farm-bred animals with clean air, sunshine, or freedom from pain.  Whether you are an animal lover or not, looking at the health ramifications of Industrial Farm Animal production might lead you to believe you’re reading science fiction.  I’d say some of the realities are so bizarre, so scary, it’s hard to believe the methodologies of industrial farming are accepted as conventional practices. 

Let’s start with a recognition of the present paradigm.  In 21st century commerce, “food” is more thought of as a manufactured commodity than anything delivered by nature.

Jake Sulley “understands”

There was a great scene in James Cameron’s Avatar evidencing that Jake Sulley had in fact learned from Neytiri’s lessons on “respecting the cycle of energy.”  Jake is conflicted early on, trying to balance the intention of his contrived mission of greed with all that he witnesses among the native people.  He expresses his frustration in seeking a new wisdom.  “I try and understand this deep connection the people have with the forest. She (Neytiri) talks about a network of energy that flows through all living things. She says all energy is only borrowed and one day you have to give it back.”  We realize Jake finally gets it when, after learning to hunt, he kneels next to the still living body of the hexapede (a deer-like animal) and speaks to it in Na’vi.  “I see you brother, and thank you.  Your spirit goes with Eywa.  Your body stays behind to become part of the people.”

What in the world does that scene have to do with fitness, health, or anything I typically write about?  What does it have to do with cow farming?  Quite a bit.  Avatar was a great movie for so many reasons, not the least of which is the obvious metaphor for the struggle between “those who destroy to feed their greed” and a respect for a connectedness and an interdependent biosphere.  All living beings are reliant upon a force of interdependence, a force that is anything but man-made.

Earth is incredible.  The sun shines.  The energy from sunlight causes grass to grow.  Cows eat grass and grow large and meaty.  If we respect the transfer of energy, we may choose to consume the meat of the cow, because we know life on earth is sustainable.  More sunlight, more grass.  More grass, more cow food.  More cow food, healthier cows . . . oh . . . wait.  Maybe the equation isn’t quite that simple.

Man has learned to manufacture cow-food from grains, and through the process of manufacture, these foodstuffs can be converted into lifeless pellets.  If man can manufacture food, man can grow more cows.  That’s where the flawed thinking begins, and it goes downhill from there.

Before we get to the health ramifications of eating industrially farmed meat, let’s consider the concerns that impact even those who opt not to consume industrially farmed livestock.  The CAFO farms emit pollutants that are not well monitored or controlled by the EPA, thus, the toxicity of air and water becomes a serious health issue. 

Waste runoff and disposal bring about increased nitrogen and phosphorus in nearby water bodies.  This leads to an increase in algae growth.  This decreases available oxygen and threatens the health and even the existence of local species of fish.  When waters become toxic, so too do the living entities that rely upon that water for life.  It isn’t only organic compounds that alter the environment, but the waters are also contaminated with drugs.  Yes, drugs.  

Animals held in industrial farms are not treated as individuals, but they are treated as a mass crop, thus, to prevent disease, ALL animals receive antibiotics.  These antibiotics find their way into animal urine and waste and they too find their way into local rivers and streams.  When the drugs hit the water, it leads to pathogen evolution.  In other words, organisms evolve and new generations of drug-resistant bacteria emerge, and the good people of the community suffer for it.

Cows may be artificially inseminated to produce more beef.  More beef = less room, and a greater demand for more cow-food.  To accommodate the volume, overcrowded farms keep cows in stalls in large steel industrial housing facilities with barely enough room to step left or right, back or forth.  The one thing the cows can do is eat, but they haven’t access to the food for which their digestive systems are designed.  They eat those manufactured grain foods I mentioned earlier.  What I failed to mention is, those “pellets” are made with farm-grown genetically modified corn and soy raised on soil treated with pesticides.  The pesticides tend to bio-accumulate in the fatty tissue of the host and can be transmitted from meat to consumer.  This is getting nasty . . . and it gets worse.

To cut costs further, these genetically modified pesticide tainted grains are added to filler which makes up the bulk of the food pellets.  Because cows do not digest corn and soy well, let alone filler that may contain anything from chicken manure to unnatural non-edibles, some cows become prone to liver disease.  To prevent these prone cows from getting diseased, industrial farm workers inject them with antibiotic drugs (remember, they’re ALL treated for the diseases of some), so the natural effects of stress, restraint, and captivity can be minimized.  Science has brought even more wonder to our food supply.  If they infuse the pellets with synthetic proteins, the cows will get bigger, and if the suppliers of beef inject their cows with growth hormone, the cows will get bigger still.

Here’s the bottom line.  If we’re consuming the food products put out by most of America’s farms, we are consuming items that have nothing to do with sustainable life.  Add in the environmental toxicities we all face and you realize how difficult it is to “respect the balance” metaphorically presented in Avatar.

We can’t go to Pandora, but we can become educated.  We can learn to make the most natural food choices possible.  This article is specific to beef, but I can sicken you with realities behind pig farming, chicken farming, egg farming, and even industrial fruit and vegetable farming.

I’ve been urging people to be response-able for decades, and have continued to empower people to make “better” food choices.  It would be nice if it were as simple as to say, “buy the foods labeled organic,” but, you can find beef packaged with the words “organic” and “grass fed” that comes directly from industrial farms.

Nowhere, in the cycle of biology, nowhere, in nature, nowhere on Earth or on the metaphorical Pandora, do people “make” cows, or even cow-food for that matter.  God, or nature, or biological wonder allow for an incredible balance, a balance where life is sustainable on all levels simply because of a “network” of energy flow.  

I always encourage people to buy fresh produce, and if they have to pay more for “organic,” it’s an investment in health and well-being.  Am I certain the foods in your grocery store that say organic are pesticide free?  No.  I do, however, know of a legitimate and opportune resource for clean water, grass fed organic beef, and dairy products that haven’t been nutritionally destroyed by “conventional practices.”  That resource is Beyond Organic.

Jordan Rubin is mission driven.  He set out to provide a resource for food . . . as it was created by forces other than man.  I will tell you here only that he has a rare integrity and he’s one of the most genuine and sincere people I’ve ever connected with in business.  He’s the real deal, and so too is his new launch. 

Jordan literally bought land, farmed the land pesticide free, and created true organic dairy farms where the conventional practices of the industry are left outside the gates.  With his mission, not only has a brought us a resource for clean, healthy food, but he’s also brought those who have interest an opportunity to share the message and prosper.

I will put out more articles and more information helping you, the consumer, sort through the absurdity and deception that sways people away from “eating well.” For now, remain vigilant carefully scrutizing whatever you're going to put into your body . . . and if you want to ensure the beef, dairy, or nutritionals you buy are pure, consider Beyond Organic as a trusted resource.  

Be Better, Always Better,

Phil Kaplan

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for the article Phil! As always you are leading the way in which hopefully will educate and influence the masses to the extent that reality shows do. Support your local farmer's market!

Best Regards,
Nick Outlaw

September 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick

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