Where Does Your Food Come From?


Have you ever stopped to think about where your food comes from? If you are trying to eat healthier, but have not considered the origins of those "healthier" foods, you have missed an important element of nutrition.

A post by Kelly the Kitchen Kop entitled "How We Treat the Animals We Eat" inspired me to share my own opinions on what the typical American consumers are putting in their bodies. In her post, Kelly shares information provided in a recent episode of Oprah about how livestock is treated in the meat industry. I never saw the episode because 1) I don't watch tv anymore, and 2) I rarely watched Oprah anyway, she had become way too preachy and liberal, and she (in my opinion) is the one principally responsible for foisting the lame-duck Obama upon us. He never would have gotten this far without her. Clinton would have mopped the floor with him if it weren't for Oprah and other celebrities "advertising" for him (not that I like Hillary Clinton, but--I hate to say it--she's better than that guy). But I digress...

It sounds like the show wasn't anti-meat, but rather anti-mistreatment of meat animals. However, the real push for the show seems to have been to get California voters to support some legislation that requires more room and better treatment of these animals. Now, I am all for humane treatment of animals. For one, God did give us animals to eat, but ALSO to care for. They are NOT equal to humans, but should still be treated with kindness. They should be allowed to live happy, healthy lives until their time is up, and then killed in the most painless and humane way possible. Second, a happy, well-cared for animal is a healthy animal...which means it is also healthier for US, to eat. I wonder if the owners of these commercial "factories" eat the meat or eggs they produce. I can't imagine it. If they do, they must be dirty, disgusting people with very low standards.

Left: Multiple laying hens crammed into tiny cages. You don't want eggs from these hens. Support local farmers who sell free-range, happy-hen eggs!

Granted, not all are as bad as the worst. But I've talked to too many people who worked or visited commercial dairies, poultry houses, and pig farms to not know there are SERIOUS problems with the way most animals are raised. One woman I know (NOT a vegetarian or PETA member) said she visited a dairy, and saw a worker drop one of the suction hose things that they hook to the cows' teats, that delivers the milk straight into the pipes that lead to the bulk tanks. The hose sucked up some cow feces. Upon seeing her horrified face, the worker said "don't worry, the pasteurization will take care of it." EEEWWW!!! That is what we are drinking, folks, when we buy milk at the store! I think if I worked in one of these places, I would become a vegetarian!!

So, is becoming a vegetarian the answer? No. I mean, if you want to, go ahead...although I recommend you become a raw vegan instead of eating that tofu crud. (See my raw blog for more info on eating raw. I think eating all or at least part raw is the best thing you can do for your body.) Since most people aren't going to become vegetarians no matter what you tell them, the real answer is for people to start finding out about where our food is coming from, and more importantly, where we can find better sources for our food.

8 Ways to Promote Healthy and Humane Food Production

1) Educate yourself. Find out what the typical (not worst-case scenario) life is for a meat or dairy animal, how meat animals are killed or dairy products are collected, and how all these meat and dairy products are handled, processed, packaged, etc. before they get to your table. You don't need to watch videos of animals being horrendously treated, but you should be more aware of the realities these animals face, and how unhealthy the final product is for you. If you're going to continue to support the industrial meat and dairy markets, the least you can do is know what you're supporting.

2) Look for sources of healthier food. Organic is best, but it's not necessarily enough. Organic milk is still homogenized and pasteurized--or worse, ultra-pasteurized. I strongly recommend finding a source for raw (unhomogenized, unpasteurized) milk. Educate yourself on its benefits. It should come from cows/goats that are pastured, not given hormones or antibiotics (unless gravely needed) and are preferably grass fed, and not fed anything treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Check out realmilk.org, ask around at farmers markets and chiropractors offices for sources of raw milk, organically raised produce and meat, and free range eggs.

3) Prioritize your needs. If you can't afford to go all-organic, familiarize yourself with which food products are most notoriously unhealthy, and buy just those foods in the organic variety. Bananas and apples, for example, are some of the most highly-sprayed produce out there. Commercial beef is known for treating cows horribly, loading the cows hormones and antibiotics, and for cows being so sick at slaughter time that they have to be fork-lifted into the slaughterhouse. If you can't find a source for raw milk, settle for unhomogenized organic milk at the health food store, but add in more organic probiotic foods, like yogurt and kefir.

4) Support local small-scale farmers whenever possible. If they have natural meat/dairy/produce, then they may charge more than conventional, but often it isn't as expensive as buying certified organic. Visit the farm, if possible, especially when buying meat and dairy. Check out craigslist in the farm & garden section, to find local sources. Visit farmers markets. Don't be afraid to ask farmers there how their food is grown. You deserve the healthiest food possible, so support the people who grow/raise the healthiest!

5) Call or write to your local government officials, and let them know you want easier access to natural food. Urge them to support the little guys, instead of farming conglomerates. Make them aware of any unfair treatment of local farmers, or unfair laws that need to be changed. For example, in many states, it is completely illegal to buy or sell raw milk. Some states allow it, but with heavy restrictions.
6) Vote with your wallet. Don't just buy from local farmers...tell the managers of local stores what you're doing! Write to the mega-stores' headquarters and tell them to carry more local produce, especially organic or chemical-free. Organize online petitions and send them to these large corporate companies, so they know which way the wind is blowing. All these tactics have worked in getting organic food into more and more stores...now ask for more local food, naturally and/or humanely raised.

7) Educate others! You don't want to become a food nazi, but find ways to let others know (when they are interested--no one listens to someone who is pushy) that there are a lot of myths out there created and sustained by people who have a stake in the perpetuation of food propaganda.
8) Do it yourself! If you have some land, get a cow, even just a miniature cow. Only one acre? Get a goat, or plant a large garden. In the suburbs? Plant a small garden, and raise a couple of chickens in a chicken tractor (a small, moveable pen). Someone on a small city lot can plant a few veggies and have a couple of chickens or some meat rabbits. People in apartments with balconies can grow some veggies in containers if they pick the right varieties. Even someone in a cramped New York City studio can grow little pots of herbs or sprouts in a jar. Every bit of food you raise yourself is a virtual snubbing of your nose at companies who pass off processed chemical garbage as food, mega-farms who mistreat animals to make a quick buck, local governments who enforce and sometimes invent rules that make it impossible to buy or sell locally grown healthy food, and politicians who cave in to lobbyists and create or protect laws that make it impossible for small-time farmers to sell products at a living wage...or even at all. Not to mention, growing your own food is good for you!

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