Featured Blog: CAFO Hell

I was searching around for some information on Contained Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) and came across this site. The mission behind the blog is to document people’s experiences that live around CAFO’s in New York State. When we drive out to AZ to visit my parents we pass these things in eastern California and in Maricopa, AZ. I have often wondered how people live around these awful places.

From CAFO Hell

The purpose of this blog is to document residential living near some of New York’s industrial dairy farms. These “farms” are called CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) which confine hundreds and sometimes thousands of dairy cows packed together on a small tract of land. They store massive amounts of cow excrement in football field sized ponds referred to as “lagoons.” The manure is liquefied and trucked out to be spread on the fields, often close to residential housing. Contaminated run-off and extremly poor air quality are the results. Garbage flies and mosquitos reproduce in vast numbers. Property values plummet. Oppostion to this type of industrial agriculture is mounting nationwide. Stay tuned for more photos in the coming months.


Repeat: Foot and Mouth Disease


Back in 2001, the UK had an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. This disease is highly contagious and can be fatal (however, rarely) to hoofed animals like pigs, cows, sheep, etc. Around 2,000 cases of the disease had been reported in the UK countryside and by the end of the “containment” around 7,000,000 sheep and cattle were killed in a psuedo-successful attempt to halt the disease.

Well, it appears the attempt to halt the disease wasn’t so successful. The disease has resurfaced and since last Friday about 200 cattle have been culled on two farms and the UK government has banned the movement of all livestock across Britain.

From Wikipedia:

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have resulted in the slaughter of millions of animals, despite this being a frequently non-fatal disease. The destruction of animals is primarily to prevent the disease from spreading throughout herds intended for human consumption or producing milk. Due to international efforts to eradicate the disease, infection would also lead to trade bans being imposed on affected countries. Critics of current policies to cull infected herds argue that the financial imperative needs to be balanced against the killing of many animals, especially when a significant proportion of infected animals, most notably those producing milk, would recover from infection and live normal lives.

Gordon Nixon saw enormous suffering caused by foot-and-mouth when he was a slaughterman in the north-east of England during the 2001 epidemic. Read about his story hear. Farmers are extremely worried about this epidemic repeating itself.

More information:

What is Foot and Mouth Disease (bbc news)
A Farmer’s Story (bbc news)
Current Outbreak Linked to Lab (bbc news)
2007 UK Outbreak (wikipedia)

Hi everyone! I haven’t posted in the last couple of days because Meg and I were camping/hiking in Sequoia National Park. It was really beautiful and peaceful….but now it’s back to the grind. I figured today was a good day to catch up on the news.

Humane Meat: A Contradiction in Terms- huge numbers of compassionate people have joined the ranks of the vegetarians. Some, however, have looked instead to meat from animals treated less badly, which they call “humane meat.” This raises three questions. First, is there such a thing as truly “humane meat”? Second, would consuming only humane meat satisfy the demands of ethical living? And third, do we, as individuals, have good reason to promote “humane meat” rather than vegetarianism? (huffingtonpost)

Even Kenyans Are Effected by Our Food Bill- As the United States Congress debates an omnibus farm bill, it is considering a small change that advocates say could make a big difference to the world’s hungriest people: allowing the federal government to buy some food in Africa to feed the famished, rather than shipping it all overseas from America. (NY Times)

A Factory Farm Near You- This is a good editorial from the NY Times and it includes a link that shows an interactive map of factory farms throughout the US…..Once upon a time, only a decade or so, it wasn’t hard to know where factory hog farms were because they were nearly all in North Carolina. But since those days, the practice of crowding together huge concentrations of animals — hogs, poultry, dairy cows, beef cattle — in the interests of supposed efficiency has spread around the country. (NY Times)

The Localvore’s Dilemma-  Sometimes buying local food helps in the battle against climate change. Sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes, it’s just too confusing to decide. (The Boston Globe)

Internet Junk Food- Brands such as McDonald’s, Starburst, Haribo and Skittles are using the Internet to target children now that new rules from the media regulator Ofcom have made it difficult to advertise during children’s television. (Guardian Unlimited)



Compost Those Veggies

Composting your food scraps and yard clippings will produce less waste for the landfill and it also makes great garden soil. Yeah, yeah…”but what if I don’t need compost because I live in an apartment,” (like I do)? Well for one, you can start a small vegetable garden on your deck or window-sill or how about showing some love to the trees and plants in your area by giving them some extra nutrients?

For that “out of sight” compost bin, consider putting it under your kitchen sink. It won’t smell and it’s a convenient place to throw your food scraps (instead of down the disposal). These compost bins can range anywhere from a small Rubbermaid container to a large backyard corral.

Starting a bin is easy and you can find one fit into almost any space you have available. Check out this video for more information. Also, a quick search on a the net will provide some good resources on how to get started.


And the meat recall saga continues. The latest suspect is canned meat- that delicious concoction of parts you might not normally eat, sodium, preservatives, and most recently, botulism.

Castleberry’s Food Co., the culinary artists behind Hot Dog Chili Sauce, Barbecued Beef and Beef Stew in a can, has announced a voluntary recall involving 80 types of stew, chili, hash and other products after two confirmed and two potential botulism cases broke out in the U.S. in consumers having eaten the hot dog chili sauce products.

Symptoms of botulism include difficulty in walking and swallowing and impaired vision and speech. From there it leads to convulsions and paralysis of the respiratory muscles then suffocation and death. Sounds great to me….bring on the canned meat, swallowing is over rated anyway!

Oh, and by the way, watch out for your pets! The recall has been extended to cover four canned Natural Balance pet food products, co-packed by Castleberry’s.

Read (one of the many) full articles:,8599,1645935,00.html

Link to Castleberry’s website:


This advertisement is ripped out of this week’s Newsweek magazine. Now, is it just me or is this ad just a little creepy? It shows an ear of corn and the company logo/slogan “BASF: The Chemical Company.” The ad proclaims that corn based ethanol is a viable fuel source (of course it’s not…). Corn based ethanol actually needs as much energy to create the fuel as the fuel produces when burned in automobiles. This is a net zero effect.

What’s really happening behind the scenes is that 33% of all government based farm subsidies go toward corn production. We have too much corn in this country, we don’t need to produce more quantity! BASF makes loads of money by increased corn production, from farmers that “farm the system” using government (tax payer) subsidies. They just so happen to also produce the ethanol on the other end. Pretty clever multi-tiered revenue streams. You see…it’s companies like BASF, Monsanto and others that make all the money in agriculture….not farmers.

From the company that brought you…


Bleaching agents



Melamine (our Chinese friend)

Hydroxylamine compounds


Industrial Coatings

Detergents and Formulators

Superabsorbents Industrial Applications

The list goes on…

They are now happy to introduce, “Food.” (and fuel), but don’t worry, there will be plenty of corn leftover for animal feed, high fructose corn syrup, mayonnaise, soda, apartame, sorbitol, MSG, xanthan gum, etc.

This chemical company creates the genetically modified corn seed, the fertilizers, the pesticides, the herbicides that are the building blocks of our industrial food system. It’s a closed loop, with most of the money coming full circle back to BASF and other chemical companies.

Our food system is one of the biggest lies being ‘fed’ to us today. Let’s get it together and let our government know that this is unacceptable and the system needs real reform! In September, Congress and the Senate will vote on a new food (farm) bill that will be in place for the next five years. We have an opportunity to have our voices heard on this.  The book “Food Fight” by Daniel Imhoff is a great read and resource on the Farm Bill for us regular citizens.


Update: Veggie Booty Recall

There is a bit of news on the Veggie Booty recall front. It seems that the “Veggie Seasoning” is the ingredient suspected to contain the salmonella that was discovered. Last month, Veggie Booty caused 61 food-bourne illnesses in 19 states.

Here’s my favorite part.

According to Robert’s American Gourmet, Inc., the makers of Veggie Booty, the Food and Drug Administration ’suggested’ that the company voluntarily pull Veggie Booty from shelves until it was determined what was causing individuals to fall ill

I bet you can’t guess where the “Veggie Seasoning” came from? *Hint* think pet food and toothpaste.

Now, we are not accepting food from China and they are not accepting food from us (yesterday’s story). This is a great way to keep things local, right!? Too bad it takes poisoning the food system to reduce the “food miles” for both countries. Ok, that may be oversimplified, but it’s nice to dream.

Here are a couple of links to the story.

steamed buns

China has decided to block some pig and chicken “products” from entering their country from the United States. This decision doesn’t boad well for the animal factory operators at Cargill and Tyson. China is a huge market for offloading “variety products” that we don’t eat here….such as pigs ears and chicken feet. Losing this market may cause a big blow to the U.S. Pork industry. But never fear, these dubious companies are not going to take this lying down. No sir! They may file a trade dispute to force China to resume purchasing products from them. Not only that, but back in May, President Bush ‘urged’ the Chinese leaders to accept our meat products. You’d better watch out China!

So, what’s all the fuss about? Well, China recently discovered that salmonella-contaminated chicken and other products with growth agents or other additives were being exported from the United States. Growth hormones, eh? Here is what some guy from Cargill had to say about that.

Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said one growth additive in question, ractopamine, was common in the U.S. pork industry and had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “While it has not been approved for use in China, we understand that steps are underway to get those approvals,” he said in an e-mail message.

It’s good to see that they are taking steps to get these growth hormone approvals underway. I would hate to think that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to share our Salmonella-growth hormone tainted food “products” with the rest of the world. When it comes to things like this we are NOT a selfish country.

China may put plastic filler (melamine) in pet (and people) food and serve cardboard to unsuspecting passersby on the street….but they are not willing to accept some disgusting food from the United States. I guess even China has limits.

Eat It While You Can- because your great-grandchildren won’t. World water supplies are dwindling and that means the water intense animal based diet will eventually become a thing of the past. “It’s going to be almost impossible to feed future generations the kind of diet we have now in western Europe and North America.” (bbc)

Hate Thy Neighbor- If you are a Confined Animal Factory Operation (CAFO) owner and you move your operation to a new community, prepare yourself to be the most hated person in that community. “Can you imagine what it smells like when they burn a pile of rotting pigs for an afternoon or an entire day and night?” a nearby resident said. “The odor is just absurd.” (vernonbroadcaster)

Meats and Sweets = Breast Cancer- A study of Chinese women who adopted a more Western diet that included higher consumption of meat and sweets showed an increase in breast cancer. “The researchers found that overweight, postmenopausal women who ate a western-style diet had a greater than twofold increased risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancers. There was no association between breast cancer risk and a vegetable-soy-fish diet.” (yahoo news)

Have You Hugged a Rat Today?- You should! Rats may be more caring and selfless than their reputation suggests. Or at least they can be very kind to each other, even to rats they have never met before. Ok, so this isn’t vegetarian or food related, but I found it interesting nonetheless. (nytimes)

Slap a Label On It- An overwhelming majoring of folks in the U.S. want to know more about thier food. In fact, 92 percent of Americans want to know which country produced the food they are buying. I hope this has a trickle down effect in create measurable standards for other food labeling initives (e.g. free-range, humane, sustainable), but after seeing what the USDA has done recently to undermine the ‘organic’ standards, I won’t be holding my breath. (msnbc)

Moo Cows Go Poo- I wanted to post this video on wannaveg, but it’s only available on MSN video. This is the PSA I mentioned that was shown at Live Earth last weekend. It encourages people to go vegetarian one day a week. It’s a bit on the gross side, but the message is fantastic! (msn video)

Sheepmower- No need for pesticides or herbicides in this vineyard….also no need for tractors. Some researches are training sheep to clean up vineyard weeds but stay off the grapes. “They don’t use gasoline and keep down weeds — a necessary task to deter pests and keep vines healthy — sans herbicides.” (msnbc)


A Vegetarian Battle

While reading through my daily news I found this article that told a story of a woman who struggles with vegetarianism.   When she first went to college she used vegetarianism as a way to cover up her eating disorder.   This is an unfortunate reality for some so called “vegetarians” that perpetuate a stereotype that vegetarians are sickly and frail.

After college she struggles to not become a “weirdo” vegetarian that no-one likes to have over for dinner, and everyone talks about.  In the end she struggles with her humanity and her conflict around the moral issue of eating animals.

I think many on again - off again (and consistent) vegetarians have these or similar struggles.   This article really does a good job bringing them to light.

Read the story here. (msn)

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