eric

We Did It!

It’s official, California’s will have the opportunity to vote on more humane treatment of factory farmed animals. We needed just over 400,000 signatures to get on the November 11th ballot and we were able to gather 782,507 signatures! Almost double! This just goes to show that with some volunteer elbow grease and an educated public, we can all make a difference in the lives of millions of animals in this state.

But, we still need your help. The “opposition” will be mounting a formidable campaign with ridiculous claims of higher food prices, hurting small farmers and other silly things. They have lots of money to spend and will be advertising heavily. Please contribute to Californian’s for Humane Farms by either volunteering time, throwing a fund raising party and/or donating money. Any time or money that you can spare will make a difference!

Although this measure has a modest impact on helping factory farmed animals…it happens to be the largest initiative of its kind in the United States, ever! When this passes in California other states will follow and soon the lives of ALL factory farmed animals will be just a little bit better.

So remember, no one is asking that you stop eating meat (although it’d be a lot cooler if you did). All we are asking for is that before that pork chop or chicken wing makes it to your plate, the animal that provided it was able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Pretty simple stuff.

http://humanecalifornia.org/

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)

 

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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: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1645935,00.html

Link to Castleberry’s website: http://www.castleberrys.com/news_productrecall.asp

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By now we all know that animal agriculture places an enormous strain on our planet. Between greenhouse gases, pollution, deforestion, soil erosion, cruelty, the list goes on…we have a very compelling reason to go vegetarian, even one day a week. Check out this statistic found by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan.

A kilogram of (…conventionally farmed…) beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Now consider the impact of going vegetarian just one day a week. By making this simple change in the way you eat, over the course of a year you will save 15kg (35lbs) of meat. Based on Mr. Ogino’s research, that’s like driving a car for 45 hours and leaving all the lights on in your home at the same time…more time than a standard work week! This is a pretty easy thing to do and our planet (and every living being on it) will appreciate it.

A kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

On the days that you choose to eat meat, consider eating grass-fed beef. A 2003 Swedish study showed that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy.

For more information, check out the NewScientist article.

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.

I didn’t like the name “Rundown:” of the news summaries we post. It really didn’t have anything to do with going veg. So, I came up with this one. Let me know what you think about it….if you would like to suggest another name for our periodic news summaries, let me know.

Organic’s better? - A ten year study finds that organic tomatoes have more flavonoids (anti-oxidents) than conventionally grown tomatoes. I’d say most people didn’t need a study to find out that organic is better….but thes studies are nice to see. (bbc news)

Methane Kills- Literally. Five people died last week in a pool of liquefied cow shit. It seems that they were overcome by methane gas while cleaning out a pipe in the lagoon. “You cannot smell it, you cannot see it, but it’s an instant kill” (cnn)

Subsidizing Snacks- Our food system is based on five commodity crops (soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and cotton). Not one of these subsidized crops is a fruit or vegetable. Subsidies lead to cheap snack foods and soft drinks, made from ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Meanwhile, the lack of subsidies for fruits and vegetables makes them expensive by comparison. (ny times)

Live Earth: Go Veg One Day a Week- Say what you want about Live Earth, (see also: ‘Hippie Episode’ on Southpark) they apparently had a publice service announcement tell people about the environmental benefits to going vegetarian one day a week. Good news for wannaveg! P.S. if anyone can find and send us this video, we would be greatful! (nj.com)

Concientious Meat Eater- From the Magazine, “Food: The Way We Eat.”  In his Meat Manifesto, Fearnley-Whittingstall corners the reader: “Are you, among the millions of consumers putting pressure on farmers to produce mountains of cheap meat of dubious quality, by dubious means?” and “Have the animals you’ve consumed lived well? . . . Have they been cared for by someone who respects and enjoys their contact with them?” (ny times via Ethicurean)

eric

The Meat Powered Bicycle

a guy drinking gasThe bicycle is a fantastic piece of human invention. It represents simplicity, freedom, reliability and an economical way to get from point A to point B. Worldwide it reigns supreme as the most common form of personal transportation and estimates show there to be almost 1 billion of them around. Besides walking, bicycles are the most environmentally friendly way to get around. They produce no emissions (maybe a little more CO2 from heavy breathing while going up hills), and the fuel needed to power them comes from the people riding them.

You may see where this is going….If the “fuel” powering the person riding the bike consists mostly of meat, the environmentally friendliness factor goes down quite a bit depending on how much meat the rider eats and where the meat comes from (local vs. distance).

It is actually quite astounding how much energy is wasted by the standard American diet-style. Even driving many gas-guzzling luxury cars can conserve energy over walking — that is, when the calories you burn walking come from the standard American diet! This is because the energy needed to produce the food you would burn in walking a given distance is greater than the energy needed to fuel your car to travel the same distance, assuming that the car gets 24 miles per gallon or better. (1)

So what does all this mean?

It means that the amount of gas you use isn’t just related to how you get from place to place, it’s also related to what you eat. Meatless diets require half as much fuel to produce than the standard American diet. Pimentel calculated that if the entire world ate the way the U.S. does, the planet’s entire petroleum reserves would be exhausted in 13 years. The typical American could save almost as much gas by going vegetarian as by not driving. (2)

So, fine….I’m not going to walk, what about the bike?

The same is not true of bicycling vs. driving, because bicycling is more than twice as efficient as walking (calories consumed per distance traveled) — bicycling uses less fossil energy than driving even if the cyclist were eating nothing but beef. But to focus on this misses the point. It’s no bombshell that cycling uses less fossil energy than driving. What’s important is that meat-eaters use twice as much fossil energy as pure vegetarians — whether they’re bicycling or not. (3)

While bicycling and walking may reduce tailpipe emissions, overall if your diet is “meat heavy” you are using twice as much energy just reading this post. On the most basic level, it’s actually better to be a vegetarian that drives a Chevy Tahoe, than to be a meat eater that bikes or walks everywhere. Even going vegetarian one day a week has a pretty good impact to reducing fossil fuel consumption. And while I’m not advocating that vegetarians run out and buy Hummers and meat eaters throw their bikes away, I am trying to demonstrate in real terms the impact of what a meat centered diet has on our environment.

(1,2,3) These quotes are excerpted from “Bicycling Wastes Gas?” by Michael Bluejay for more detailed information, including the research on how this was calculated, please visit his website above.

eric

Power Foods

Recently MSN ran an article on the types of foods people over 40 should try to center their diets on.  These "power foods" are comprised of high nutrition, low calorie energy that help reduce cravings and in turn help reduce weight.  This age group has the highest risk factor for diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc.  And while we all know it’s important to eat well in order to maintain a healthy weight, it is also important to eat the types of foods that help to increase our bodies’ resistance to these diseases.

The article focuses on 10 quality foods, that when eaten in combination, help to stave off disease and keep weight in check.  One obvious food absent in the list of  "power foods" is meat.  There is a point in the article where it recommends eating a lot of protein to feel satiated.  However, the protein sources recommended are beans, cheese and veg chili.  You can add tofu, soy milk, eggs (free range), nuts, bread, lentils, etc to this list to enjoy a wide selection of high quality proteins. 

With all the bad things happening with meat these days (e.g. hormones, medication, antibiotics, genetically modified foods, melamine, fertilizers, mad cow, the list goes on) it’s easy to see why it doesn’t make the list of "power foods".  Studies are consistently showing that meat consumption increases the likelihood of cancer and heart disease.  Similar studies are showing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables have the opposite effect, and actually reduce the likelihood of cancer and heart disease. 

check out the article at MSN.com

I would imagine that if you are reading this site right now, you consider yourself at least a little progressive (if not a lot progressive).  That is the reason the title of this story caught my eye.  We know that there is a significant environmental impact caused by meat production.  It really does not make much difference whether we raise animals organically or conventionally…they still use the consume amount of land, food and water.  They also produce the same amount of waste.  Yet many environmentalists still eat meat on a full time basis…this is a strange phenomenon.  

This article on Alternet discusses many of the topics and questions associated with vegetarianism and animal food production.  It can get a little deep but the information is good (the comments at the bottom of it are interesting as well).  Even though it discusses going vegetarian all the time, just remember going vegetarian one day a week makes a huge impact without having to change your lifestyle or viewpoints.  Check out the impact you will make on our mission page.

By Kathy Freston
March 14, 2007 - The report released this week by the world’s leading climate scientists made no bones about it: Global warming is happening in a big way and it is very likely manmade. The U.N. report that came out soon after made a critical point: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." And yet, so many environmentalists continue to eat meat. Why?

Being part of the solution can be a whole lot simpler — and cheaper — than going out and buying a new hybrid. We can make a huge difference in the environment simply by eating a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based one. Factory farming pollutes our air and water, reduces the rainforests, and goes a long way to create global warming. Yet for some environmentalists, the idea of giving up those chicken nuggets is still hard to swallow.

So, I thought I might discuss a few of the key concerns that my meat-eating friends offer in defense of their continued meat consumption. Here we go: continue reading at Alternet


eric

Grow your own food

happy cowWe started watching a documentary film called "Animals" last night.  It is about a Canadian urban dweller that decides to become a rural farmer.   One of the reasons he wanted to become a farmer was a decision that if he is going to continue to eat meat; he’s going to raise and slaughter the animals himself.  This practice is easier said than done…and this is the focus of the documentary.  The farmer ends up enlisting the help of some of his neighbors to show him how to slaughter and "dress" his animals.  Although I’m not a huge fan of seeing animals get killed, this is the humane and correct way to do it.  These animals all lived happy long lives on a farm and were killed with respect (they all had names).  And while it is not feasible for all of us to move out of the city to start a farm, it is our responsibility as compassionate (and healthy) people to buy meat from farmers who support this way of farming.  Even for larger scale farms, this is still a viable way to raise animals. 

The documentary is worth a watch and gives us city slickers a view on what it is like to live on a farm.  We will finish watching it tonight and I will let you know if anything else of interest comes out of it.

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