Why You Should Care About the Meat Industry – Part 2/3

By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel

Continued from Part 1

I wrote the following for the 264th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

“Factory-farmed chicken”, Dr. Mercola writes, is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning. Beef is no exception to this rule: the USDA has been considering labeling beef that’s tenderized mechanically because during the process, pathogens are compressed from the surface down into the meat. Once there, the pathogens can potentially survive being cooked. This is why it’s been to blame for “at least” 5 E. coli outbreaks in 6 years (2003-2009). (2)

Here are some more fun facts about industrial farming Dr. Mercola shares:

  • It’s responsible for loss of water quality, as it causes phosphorous and nitrogen contamination in streams, rivers, and groundwater. This can contribute to “dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones” (2)
  • It may be responsible for making crops less nutritious, with the focus on harvesting a high yield over crops high in nutrients (2)
  • It’s responsible for the emission of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases (2)
  • It negatively impacts soil quality (2)

With these problems that plague industrial-scale farming, it seems sensible to make the switch to more sustainable farming practices on a national level. In a society as advanced as ours, we should be able to get our meat and dairy without worrying about our groundwater being contaminated or our food being less nutritious.

Slaughterhouses Can Be Dangerous for Workers

Luke Runyon at NPR reports that Ralph Horner (also known as Ed), a worker for a beef plant in Greely, Colorado, tragically died at his job in June 2014. The plant in which he died is owned by JBS, the “world’s largest meatpacker”. (6)

Luke reports that Ed died when a piece of equipment he was working on pulled him in by catching his hair and shirt sleeve. His sleeve bunched up around his neck and mouth, suffocating him. Ed was 54 and married, with three sons and a grandkid. (6)

Meat and poultry processing plants are safer than they used to be, Luke writes, but they can still be a dangerous environment for workers. In the plants, workers disassemble chickens, hogs, and cattle with hydraulic saws, industrial blenders, marinade pumps, steel hooks, metal chains, and conveyor belts, with mats on the floor to “avoid slips on blood or water”. (6)

Luke writes that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2004 to 2013, 3,737 deaths occurred on the job at manufacturing facilities. Meat and poultry plants report higher injury rates than the rest of the manufacturing industry. Also, U.S. Department of Labor data suggests beef and pork workers are injured and become ill more than poultry workers. (6)

Fines for regulation violations are “embarrassingly low”, Luke writes; even when the violations lead to death. By the end of it all, the JBS only ended up paying $38,500 in fines for the violations that caused Ed’s death. (6)

Ed’s story gives us all a reason to care about the industry’s lax regulations, the injuries and deaths those regulations can cause, and the pathetically low penalties that result.

The FDA Makes Raising Grass-Fed Beef a Headache for American Farmers

Dr. Mercola writes that most grass-fed beef sold in the U.S. (potentially 85% of it) is imported from Australia and New Zealand. Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Brazil are a few other countries we get our beef from. (2)

Chipotle recently began receiving its beef from Australia to keep up with the demand for grass-fed, Dr. Mercola writes, as American suppliers don’t have enough and are unable to match Australia’s lower prices. Founder Steve Ells said in a Huffington Post op-ed that the cattle that become Chipotle’s meat spend their lives on pastures eating grass and roaming freely. (2)

This sounds much better than being subjected to horrific factory conditions.

He also said he hopes for Chipotle’s decision to influence American ranchers to “adopt a grass-fed program”. He would like to see grass-fed beef go mainstream. (2)

Dr. Mercola writes that the climate in Australia and New Zealand supports grazing year-round. There’s also an abundance of grassland in these countries, making it easier for 70% of all cattle in Australia to be “pasture-raised and finished”. Then there’s the fact that, according to Dr. Mercola: “Australians can sell their meat for less than American grass-fed cattle ranchers can”. (2)

One reason it’s so difficult for American ranchers to keep up with Australia and New Zealand’s rate of grass-fed beef production, Dr. Mercola writes, is that the USDA has effectively put in place a “stranglehold”. Laws in our country restrict grass-fed slaughtering to a degree; such as the restriction that a grass-fed rancher can’t stay in business if he has no access to a slaughterhouse. (2)

According to Dr. Mercola, large slaughterhouses can refuse small jobs from humble ranchers. If they are accepted, these small-time ranchers have no control over the way the animals are treated once handed over to the slaughterhouse. Citing The Carnivore’s Dilemma, Dr. Mercola explains that the grass-fed beef from these small ranchers cannot be considered humane if the animals’ deaths are inhumane. Only some slaughterhouses do their job humanely. (2)

Concluded in part 3 tomorrow. Subscribe to read the full article.

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Sources:

(1) Henry Imhoff Helena, “Problems with the Meat Industry”, Independent Record, September 17, 2013 – http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/problems-with-meat-industry/article_387e394c-1f24-11e3-85b7-0019bb2963f4.html

(2) Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Shocking Facts About the Meat Industry” Mercola.com, November 25, 2014 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/25/shocking-facts-meat-industry.aspx

(3) Adam Voiland and Angela Haupt, “10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”, U.S. News, March 30, 2012 – http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/03/30/things-the-food-industry-doesnt-want-you-to-know

(4) Sam P.K. Collins, “Pink Slime Is Making a Comeback”, ThinkProgress, August 20 2014 – https://thinkprogress.org/pink-slime-is-making-a-major-comeback-c58aa671f639/

(5) Joe Satran, “‘Pink Slime’ Ground Beef Product Returns To School Lunches In 4 States: Report”, Huffington Post, September 10, 2013 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/pink-slime_n_3900851.html

(6) Luke Runyon, “Fines For Meat Industry’s Safety Problems Are ‘Embarrassingly Low’”, NPR, August 10, 2016 – http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/10/489468457/fines-for-meat-industrys-safety-problems-are-embarrassingly-low

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About the author:

I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run Openhearted Rebel, a daily news blog dedicated to igniting a revolution of love by raising social and spiritual awareness.

I also have a personal blog, Wes Annac’s Personal Blog, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

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