The Dangers of Mass Food Production
Many people are still in the dark about the vast differences between Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and organically-raised, grass-fed beef, both in terms of contamination and nutrient content.
It’s important to understand that when you raise animals in a CAFO — away from their natural environments and diets – you dramatically increase the risk of pathogenic contamination that can make you ill. Just take a look at the 2011 USDA list of recalls for various meat products. We’re not even half-way through the year and the list is already a long one.
Most CAFO cows are fed grains (oftentimes genetically modified grains, which make matters even worse), when their natural diet is plain grass. Grain diets create a much higher level of acidity in the animal’s stomach, which E. coli bacteria need to survive.
Meanwhile, E. coli contamination is actually quite rare in organic beef for this reason—the cows just aren’t susceptible to those kinds of disease-causing bacteria and viruses when they eat what they were designed to eat.
You’d think that since the meat is being raised in ways that are known to encourage disease-causing organisms, there’d be stringent requirements on testing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. For example, there is no federal requirement for meat grinders to test their ingredients for E. coli prior to selling them. And most retailers do not test either. In August 2008, the USDA issued a guideline urging meat processors to test their ingredients before grinding. But the guideline is only optional and has been met with criticism and resistance from the meat industry.
Other Health-Harming Side Effects of Mass Food Production
Modern mass production of food has created a wide array of safety problems. And the methods employed to make food “safer” typically deepens rather than solves them. In fact, once you delve into the world of the food industry, it becomes clear that eating much of it is like playing a game of Russian roulette with your health.
While I’m not going to address them all here, one problem in particular, which relates to the issue of meat, is the issue of contamination with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. As much as 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are for animals, primarily to serve as growth enhancers. The excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture is the primary reason for the rampant increase in antibiotic-resistant disease in humans.
As for pesticides, most people do not realize that conventionally-raised meat is actually one of the primary sources of pesticide exposure—not fruits and vegetables!
Again, it goes back to the fact that CAFO animals are raised on a diet consisting primarily of grains, which are of course sprayed with pesticides.
Genetically modified (GM) grains are another growing problem. Not only are they sprayed with MORE pesticides than conventional crops, but we also do not know exactly what the health effects on humans might be when you eat meat raised on GM grains.