Tuesday, April 02, 2002

The food we eat

This past weekend's New York Times' Magazine has a fascinating, scary, (long) article on the industrialization of beef production. In order to fatten beef more quickly for slaughter, ranchers feed cattle corn in crammed feedlots rather than rather than having the cattle graze on grass; the government-subsidized corn is grown using petrochemical fertilizer, which requires oil to produce; (a steer that eats "25 pounds of corn a day and reaches a weight of 1,250 pounds...will have consumed in his lifetime roughly 284 gallons of oil"); the corn-fed beef has more saturated fat than grass-fed beef; animal fat proteins (think mad cow disease) are added to the feed along with antibiotics that protect against a new strain of E. Coli that thrives in feedlots, amongst other bacteria; the list goes on.

Doris Janzen Longacre, author of the More-With-Less Cookbook, and Frances Moore Lappé of Diet for a Small Planet, amongst others, have long advocated cutting back on beef consumption because of the resources mass produced feedlot beef requires.

My uncle still raises grass-fed cattle on the family farm, as my grandparents did. Hopefully, our family will continue the tradition.

In other farm animal news, the WSJ reported that raising chickens is becoming popular amongst upscale urban dwellers.

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