Before those of you who regularly read my blog start to roll your eyes thinking here goes Larry again about the hazards of meat and promoting a plant-based diet, grant me a brief moment and hear me out.
Eat meat if you must but do be aware that not all meats are alike. It’s most likely too that most of the meat you eat has been butchered for processing by four to five firms who supply meat products in the U.S. Eighty-percent of all the beef that crosses your family’s kitchen table or TV tray comes from either Tyson, Cargill, JBS or National Beef. Sixty-Three percent of all chicken comes from Pilgrims Pride, Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, Wayne Farms and Sanderson Farms.
Don’t let that word “farms” throw you off either. These are not small, family-owned bucolic settings. These are huge factory farms known as CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) where chickens, pigs and cattle live in cramped conditions, get no exercise or sunshine from being penned up and are often fed genetically modified feed like soy, corn and alfalfa rather than range grasses and plants. In some cases cattle are fed plastic pellets that substitutes the plant-based roughage they’re denied. To compensate for this lack of being naturally raised, these animals are given hormone shots for fast growth and injected with antibiotics to stay healthy long enough to reach the desired size for slaughter.
But a closer look at this process reveals something that no corporate media source is going to warn you about. In her book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America, Wenonah Hauter illustrates more graphic details about what actually takes place in the process that supplies most of our beef products.
Cattle spend their last three to four months crowded together in megasize feedlots, where they wallow in their own waste. Because they arrive at the slaughter facility covered in fecal matter, from the first step of killing the animal, throughout processing, fecal bacteria are dispersed in the meat product. (p.122)
Compromising the meat supply even further are extremely fast slaughter lines. Large slaughterhouses can kill and butcher four hundred cows and hour, using extremely high-speed slaughtering methods, and as a matter of course some fecal material remains on the carcasses. Hamburger is especially vulnerable to contamination, because it is ground in enormous batches that contain parts from thousands of cows that originated in feedlots in multiple countries. (p.123)