So I just recently watched Food, Inc., and incredibly revealing documentary about the food industry.
I was so affected by the movie that I am giving great consideration to returning to my vegetarian values that I held for 11 years.
I was shocked to learn that literally HUNDREDS of steer's bodies are packing into just one hamburger patty, since there are really very few (I think they said 13) major slaughterhouses in the country.
Thus, the chances of getting a food-borne illness (such as E. Coli) is great, since one bite into a hamburger is a sampling of about a quarter of the country's farmland. Gross. My mouth feels dirty already.
And while you might think that the FDA would have the authority to shut down any slaughterhouse that is found to be contaminated with an overabundance of E. Coli, it does not. Rather, the contamination is permitted.
The documentary explained that hardly anyone is asking the question of "Why?" and are instead asking "How?" in terms of convenience, cheapness, and quickness -- at the sacrifice of our health.
I was surprised to learn that we largely feed all farm animals corn, not because it's good for them but because the prevalent corn industry makes the feeding cheap. This brings unintended consequences, such as the proliferation of E.Coli in the bellies of cattle that a grass-filled stomach would be able to easily shed.
The convenient, quick, and cheap solution to the abundance of E. Coli-infected meat is to simply wash it all with ammonia. And so that's just what we do. Can you believe it? Our meats get bathed in cleaning products -- and then served to us. Yum?
I was also shocked to hear that chicken coops are without windows for a reason. Inside is a crowded mess of unhealthy chickens, who've managed to grow to beyond full size, due to the growth hormones they are given. They mature in something like 28 days instead of 48, and their vital organs and bones cannot keep up with the rapid growth of their muscles. As a result, the documentary explained, the chickens hidden in these coops can only walk a few steps before their bodies become too exhausted and must lay down to rest. Yes, these are the animals we are eating!
So is all hope lost? No.
In the end, I learned that it is the consumer's demands which can bring about positive change. We each get 3 votes a day to bring about this change: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What you buy as a consumer will determine what is placed on the shelf!
So buy organic, buy free-range, buy local, and buy in-season!