Archive for November, 2009

Where’s your beef from?

November 11th, 2009

How many people could answer that question?  I don’t mean which supermarket, but rather from which ranch and from which slaughterhouse.  Follow that question a bit farther and ask about the conditions on that ranch.  Are anti-biotics used? Are chicken remains ground up and sprinkled into the grain to provide more protein? How many cattle pass through the slaughterhouse every day?  The food safety system of this country has been bankrupt for quite some time.  200 people die every year in the United States from E. coli (Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser).  The relationship between big business and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ensures that this number will not decrease unless there is a cultural shift in how we approach the animals we eat.

Stephanie Smith of Minnesota came home one Sunday for a home cooked hamburger at her parent’s house.  Weeks of cramping, diarrhea, and eventually 9 weeks of coma left her paralyzed from the waist down for life.  From a hamburger labeled “America’s chef’s selection Angus beef patties.”  The hamburger patties that she ate that day came were ground up in Wisconsin, and garnered from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota, and Uruguay. (The New York Times, Oct. 3, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/health/04meat.html?_r=2) None of those scraps had been tested for E. coli because the FDA allows hamburger grinders to create their own safety procedures.  Even though Cargill, the food giant that made those patties, had been breaking it’s own safety procedures months before those patties were made, they were allowed to release their products into the public because Cargill had promised to increase its safety requirements. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA8iyzYnXuc

At the Country Cat in Portland, Oregon, Adam Sappington breaks down a side of beef every couple weeks and grinds the burgers himself.  He has visited Sweet Briar Farms in Junction City and has made sure that the beef he serves is grass-fed, raised without anti-biotics, and slaughtered humanely.  All of this is hard work, but worth it because of the piece of mind that accomplishing a job with integrity imbues.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1Wo4O2iepI)

On November 4th Adam broke down a side of beef at the Livestock venture.  Livestock is the new shift away from the production of mass food and enormous slaughterhouses. In their words it is “an urban conversation designed to explore the literary and literal aspects of killing our dinner.”  This is an attempt to create a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that extends not only to the farmers of Oregon, but also to the ranchers. Farmers, and soon ranchers, will be encouraged to grow their produce and raise their livestock in a way that puts health and food safety first.  People should be confident that the food they eat is being raised correctly, and slaughtered humanely.  Perhaps this movement will someday spread to the rest of the nation.

Could someone please feed us?

November 6th, 2009

I have been enjoying the dance of Capital and Demand (read us, THE PEOPLE, the people that buy the Snickers Bar and hence create the demand for Snickers) in the nutritional arena lately.   Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, is changing the way  they do business.  Rather than maintaining Nestle’s role as a seller of cheap commoditys (Nescafe, etc…) the corporate giant is regearing its marketing focus to expand its functional food production.  A study by the Harvard Business School found that between 2004 and 2007, sales of Nestles products such ”functional  ingredients grew by 23.7% a year, compared with growth of 6.2% a year for its ordinary foods.”  (The Economist, October 31-novemer 6, 2009)  Milk chocolate that is good for you…

Heck, ya, people will buy it.

I’m not sure that supplements will ever take the place of real vegetables, for example, and can never fully reproduce the benefits of the real nutrient.

No single nutrient creates heath.  The human condition is an arrayment of nutrients, salts and minerals.  Take vitamin D for example.

Vitamin D, which the human body receives through the skin from the sun, can be transformed into pills that one could swallow, but “only give you the right amount–but not generate the photo products that real sunlight has.” (Dr. Ben Kim, http://drbenkim.com/vitamin-d-facts.htm)  It seems that no amount of ingestion can fully match the vitamins that our sun beams down upon us.

Vitamin D appears to be one of the most important nutrients to prevent disease.  A nutrient largely missing from our diet.   A few facts from Dr. Michael Holick’s book,  The UV Advantage (http://www.bricktowerpress.com/Health/978-1-596879-00-3.html):

76% of pregenant women are deficient in vitamin D

60% of hospitalized people are deficient

80% of nursing home folks are vitamin D deficient

There is a ripeness the sun imbues.  There is a richness, a tawny richness,  but I guess that I am just old fashioned and believe everything made  natural from scratch is the best.  Real vegetables and real sunlight….