This specific blog about meat is to inform and warn the public, often in denial about the truth behind the meat / food industry. It is provided to help anyone, who wishes to make an informed decision about a product that will surely affect someone’s personal health. It’s also designed to counter the mis-information being spread. (Post is limited to cattle raised for beef; milk production was covered in a previous blog.)
“Meat, it’s what vegetarians eat when they cheat” was all over the billboard. Unfortunately, there was no room left to write the truth. Let’s start at the beginning.
The nightmare starts with centuries of severely selective breeding, repeated until we now have milk machines, called cows. When calves are born, they are removed from their mothers after 1 or 2 days, so humans can drink the milk. After the birth, a cow, like any other mammal, yields a substance called colostrum instead of milk. This highly nutritious food is rich in antibodies which help the young animals fight off the many diseases and infections to which they are prone. Without colostrum, in fact, the calves no longer have the ability to survive on their own. Many calves may receive a synthetic colostrum, before being raised on the “bottle” or bucket.
At about 120 days old, the calves start to eat hay and grass, and are moved to the feedlots. They are identified, weighed, vaccinated, drenched, receive 5 in 1 vaccine to cover clostridial diseases such as enterotoxaemia, tetanus and malignant oedema. Two treatments, four to six weeks apart are necessary. Vaccination is done to cover Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), and liver fluke, while lice treatment is required during winter.
Some of the food given to beef cattle at commercial feedlots is designed only to grow animals bigger and faster. A growth promotant is used to produce bulk. Commercially grown and raised beef cattle are often fed a grain and corn based diet, which is meant to increase the body mass of animals quickly. Many commercial farms have also made it a common practice to use antibiotics and growth hormones to increase animal production.
Farmers are supposed to look for signs of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which is a transmissible, slowly progressive, degenerative, and fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle.
A human version of mad cow disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is believed to be caused by eating beef products contaminated with central nervous system tissue, such as brain and spinal cord, from cattle infected with mad cow disease. For this reason, the USDA requires that all brain and spinal cord materials be removed from high-risk cattle, older cattle, animals that are unable to walk, and any animal that shows any signs of a neurological problem.
What is very scary is the feed being shoved into these animals. From antibiotics, GMO food, growth hormones, and literally anything else the companies can get their hands on; the feed for cattle is now a recycling nightmare. Dead cattle, sick animals, dead animals, cats, dogs, horse, chicken feathers, chicken manure, roadkill, you name it and they use it to feed the cattle as cheaply as possible. When they clean up the poultry houses where they raise your chickens, the manure is made into feed; when they pluck the chickens during processing, the feathers and guts are made into feed. It’s an easy way to dispose of the trash, save money, cut cost and make a decent profit.
When an animal is killed for food, about half of its weight is not sold to the human food industry. The intestines (and their contents!), the head, hooves, and horns, the bones and blood are deposited into huge grinders at “rendering” plants. Also, entire carcasses that are diseased are added to the rendering mix. Rendering is a multi-billion-a-year industry, dealing with fifty billion pounds of animal parts and sick animals a year. No animal is too ill, too cancerous, or too decomposed to be included in the raw product of a rendering plant.
Once the animal is butchered, the processing plants rely on chlorine to keep the bacteria off the meat. Then your packaging plants use nitrites and nitrates to make the meat look as red as you like to see it. That’s in addition to the mad cow disease that hasn’t been solved yet.
Sodium nitrate, a preservative that’s used in some processed meats, such as bacon, jerky and luncheon meats, could increase your heart disease risk. In higher doses nitrates are also used as fumigates to kill rodents and these nitrates can leach into the soil, contaminating the food supply. It’s thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.
[And you already know that most processed meats are high in sodium and some are high in saturated fat, which can disrupt a heart-healthy diet.(Mayo clinic)]
The research, just published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, investigated trends in death rates due to diseases associated with advancing age. They found convincing parallels between age adjusted rises in mortality from certain illnesses (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes) and the steadily increasing human exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines through processed and preserved foods as well as fertilizers.
Then to make matters worse, you grill the chlorine soaked, nitrite/ nitrate loaded meat. The National Institute of Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services officially added heterocyclic amines, chemicals created during the grilling of meat to its hit list of cancer causing agents.
(Sources: cancer.gov, worldhealth.org , CDC, FDA, National Institute of Health, DHHS)