Tag Archives: industrialized food

Gardening and Seed Saving to Become Illegal

A place where gardening, eating the fruit of your labours, and saving your seeds is illegal is some kind of bad, B-rated, Orwellian science fiction movie. Right?

Wrong! It’s being proposed in the United States (for real) and (you guessed it) agri-business is behind it. The industrialization of food isn’t just a bad 1950’s experiment that we can easily amend. Big, powerful and heavy handed corporations have sunk their teeth into the profits to be made by monopolizing supply. And they are not going to let go easily, consequences be damned.

If I hadn’t seen this news television clip, I’d be certain someone was pulling my leg with the whole idea.

I don’t like to think of myself as a conspiracy theory kind of wingnut, but what do you say when it starts looking like maybe the wingnuts have got it right? It’s pretty hard to dismiss the video footage as conjecture or fear mongering.

I’m stunned, frankly. The impact of this kind of legislation on individuals’ right to access quality food, and food security in general, is breathtaking. In the bad way.

Learn more about Survive and Thrive, as featured in the clip, and if you have a US vote, you may want to send it over to the Stop S 510 Campaign.

Not convinced that your ready access to quality food is under threat? How about a guns drawn police raid at your local organic grocer? Good grief, what is the planet coming to? Can’t win the War on Drugs? Then switch to a War on Cheese!

Is Organic Meat Worth It?

While chatting about trends in organic food, my friend Sandra boldly declared, “I don’t care if it’s grass fed or spoon fed. I just want to know if it tastes good.”

She has a point. If it doesn’t taste good, the discussion ends there. However, organic meat does taste good, very good. So if that’s all you need to know, consider the issue resolved. If you still aren’t sure why you’d want to pay more to get the good stuff, you may want to know a bit more about what you’re actually eating when you sit down to that nice, juicy steak.

As I’ve become more aware of what’s involved in meat production, I’ve also become much more keen to source organic, grass fed beef for the occasions I choose to eat it.


On the organic side of the equation it boils down to this: the last thing I want entering my body is genetically modified corn, pesticides (sprayed on the corn), hormones and antibiotics, passed down to me in the form of beef.

  • Cows in the industrialized meat industry are fed GMO corn.
  • Corn is a grain, which cow stomachs are not designed to digest.
  • Mass-produced cattle are also fed animal by-products. Note: cows are herbivores. Feeding them their kin is messed up on many levels. Remember “mad cow” disease…
  • Cows are ruminants, they chew their cud. In the industrialized food process, cows are kept closely packed together and cannot lie down to chew their cud.
  • Cows are kept in such close quarters and in such great numbers that disease is easily spread, hence the heavy dosing of antibiotics.
  • The only priority in commercial farming is profit, so cows need to fatten up quick. That’s where the growth hormones come into play.

Cutting out the carcinogenic chemicals and going organic was a no-brainer, especially when I learned that all the nasty stuff collects in the fat of the animal. Fat is also what gives food its flavour so if you want tasty meat, you are eating fat.

Grass Fed

Then there’s the “grass fed” part of the equation. Why  not choose beef that’s organic and be done with it? Or choose “naturally raised” beef?

Well, if you’ve never seen how mass-produced cattle are raised, just wonder for a moment why it’s called “factory farming.” Really, it’s just like that. No pastoral scene of mother and calf, this.

  • Grass fed cows eat grass. Not grain and not other cows. That’s more healthy.
  • Grass fed means a cow has had access to grass. In a field. At liberty. With other cows, doing what cows do.
  • Cows need to chew their cud to digest their food. It’s what nature intended. In a field, there’s room for a little ruminating.
  • Stockyards used to be where cowboys drove their cattle after life on the open range. Now, they may live almost their entire short life there. To me, that is inhumane.
  • Cows are animals, not machines. The research is very clear — they have feelings, they need to socialize, they develop bonds. Providing them an opportunity to live without undo stress seems the least we can do.

If you are still one of the few who believe the treatment of animals is no big deal, you can hold to that opinion and still recognize the value of grass fed beef. When I thought that way, I still couldn’t believe there was much nutritional value in a cow eating food it was never meant to eat, in an unnatural environment.

The Final Word

Don’t take my word for it that. You need to know enough to decide what matters to you. Just don’t stay in the dark about where your food really comes from.

The resources are endless, but here are a few to get you started:

Our Daily Bread the Movie
FRESH the Movie
King Corn the Movie
Food, Inc. the Movie
The Food Revolution by John Robbins
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil

Readers, I welcome your comments on books, movies or other resources you’ve found helpful in understanding all that goes into choosing healthy food. Please leave a comment and share…

Organic Eggs and Factory Farming

Most of us believe that if we’re buying organic eggs, they are automatically going to be better. Better for us because the chickens are given good quality feed and not dosed up on hormones and drugs. And better for the chickens because they are treated more humanely. After all, that’s what “organic” stands for, right?

Sadly, not always. Yet again, making the choice for artisan farming over industrialized farming means making the better quality choice.

The Cornucopia Institute has just released it’s organic egg report and scorecard, Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production From Authentic Organic Agriculture. It’s an eye-opening revelation for those of us who thought we could avoid the downsides of corporate agri-business — a.k.a. industrialized or factory farming — by choosing food based on an organic label alone.

There truly is no substitute for knowing the farmer you buy from.

Would You Like a Side of E.Coli With That?

If ever there were a case for artisan vs. industrialized food production, the meat packing industry is it.

In the summer of 2008 an outbreak of listeria resulted in 23 deaths across the country. You all remember the Maple Leaf debacle, right? That was only one of over 90+ instances of meat and poultry contamination that resulted in a food recall that year. And it’s not getting any better.

Here’s the problem:

  • Regulations that require all meat be processed in a relatively small number of licensed abattoirs in the country
  • Huge meat packing plants processing up to 1,000 cows per day
  • Those cows come from all over the world
  • The cows are mechanically processed, making for less control over the meat’s contact with feces
  • Individual products may be made up of meat from many different animals
  • And forget food safety regulations, they aren’t being enforced

Basically, current meat processing practices mean we’re playing a high risk game of cross-contamination Russian roulette, with potentially deadly results.

Read more at How Effective is Canada’s Meat-Inspection System? from The Georgia Straight and tell me if it doesn’t affect your decisions around eating meat (including pork and chicken). Especially processed meats.

Here’s the crazy thing. There are good arguments for smaller, locally run abattoirs:

  • Greater control over which animals are processed through the plant and where they are from
  • Animals have to travel shorter distances and are less like to become stressed and ill (which goes hand in hand)
  • It’s easier to locate and contain the source if a contamination issue does arises
  • A better track record for cleanliness

As it stands now, even if you buy humanely raised beef and chicken, artisan farmers must have them processed in industrialized packing plants so you’re still at risk.

Hmmm, it might be time to re-evaluate vegetarianism, simply as a matter of basic food safety.