Saturday, April 28, 2007

Arsenic in chicken feed

It's ridiculous that they would put arsenic in chicken feed as a growth promoter. Factory farming has always disturbed me -- for years I was a vegetarian at least in part because I wasn't happy with the way meat is produced in this country. Adding arsenic, antibiotics, and hormones to animal feed is polluting our water supply, creating antibiotic resistent bacteria, and raising unhealthy animals that have nutritionally inferior meat, eggs, and milk. I think just about everyone agrees it's bad for us and the environment. A chicken's natural diet is grass, bugs, slugs and snails, caterpillars, and some seeds. Feeding them a monotonous diet of corn, soy and additives is not good for them. Keeping them enclosed, either in tiny cages or in a large coop, may protect them from preditors and make their meat more tender, but it also causes them to be stressed out. Same with cattle -- they are grazers, and naturally eat grass, weeds, and other leafy greens but they are fed in this country tubers, corn, and soybean meal and kept in pens. Their meat may be more mild tasting and tender, but they are stressed and unhealthy, and must be treated with antibotics, etc. That doesn't even begin to go into the environmental cost involved in transporting these animals to huge slaughterhouses (which I don't want to even get into -- not pretty).

What's the answer? Everyone who eats animals should try to eat most of it as grass fed, free range beef and poultry or wild caught fish. Unfortunately, that's often not available, or extremely expensive. The food production system makes it very difficult to obtain, in an affordable manner, healthy food. That has got to change. Each little bit that everyone can do -- like finding locally produced eggs by someone who has some chickens in their back yard or by hunting for wild game or fishing for wild fish -- can help. It's good to eat lower on the food chain if possible -- like eating vegetables instead of animals that eat vegetables -- but many of us need animal protein to be healthy. I know I do! I used to be a vegetarian and was quite sick often, and was also rather depressed (although the latter seems to still be a problem for me).

If I had a house, I would buy a deep freeze and buy my meat from a local rancher, or even maybe game from a local hunter. I would grow as many of my own veggies and beans as I could fit into my yard. Those of in apartments could band together and buy a whole, grass fed free range cow and divide it up among us like people used to do. If I had a bigger storage closet, I'd get a plot in a local community garden, but I don't have anywhere to store the shovels and such, at least not without getting rid of my Christmas and camping stuff.

To sum up, eat locally, eat low on the food chain, and try to get the best stuff you can find for your budget.

Here are some links:

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