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Food for Thought: More than just a Flesh Wound.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
May 6, 1999


"If we can't act on knowledge, then we can't survive without ignorance." — Ruth L. Ozeki

Like Oprah I too have a book club. In the past I have recommended the work of Daniel Quinn, Edward Abbey, and Henry David Thoreau. Most recently it was The Family Tree by Sherri Tepper. The books I recommend, are the books that inspire me to continue swimming upstream against a river of humanity, intent on poisoning itself. "Meat is murder" has just taken on a whole new meaning for me.

My Year of Meats, by Ruth L. Ozeki, is a fictional account of an American television producer's, filming of a documentary series that promotes beef consumption in Japan. It is a very funny, and twice as disturbing, look at the production of a Saturday morning cooking show called My American Wife! I should also point out Ozeki's debut novel won the 1998 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. Oprah should read this book.

It is no secret that I am a vegan, and that I promote such a lifestyle, on both environmental and ethical levels. Human health runs a close third. Personally, I believe I am genetically predisposed to be a herbivore/frutivore. When I call myself a monkey boy I mean it. So it's a no brainer that I would suggest that everyone read a book that sheds light on the dark doings of America's meat industry.

Next time you hear someone talking about America's war on drugs, after you stop laughing, you should hand them My Year of Meats, so that you can both share in the joke. If our government is really serious about saving us from drug abuse they would stop subsidizing the science, and agriculture, that continues to pump pesticides and hormones into the animals the meat industry is feeding to our families.

The Beef Industry has been so effective in wrapping the slaughter of cows in the American flag, it is down right treasonous to question their motives, or their methods. Growth hormones to fatten up beef cows, a chemical gruel to keep veal calves anemic, and another hormone to keep dairy cows lactating long after their calves have been sold to the veal industry. Add to that antibiotics to keep them alive in substandard living conditions, and pesticides in their feed so that insects won't be attracted to manure. Ladies and gentlemen, the meat you are eating is killing you.

Not that cattle are singled out by the pharmaceutical industry. Their are plenty of chicken drugs, aimed at combating threats to the poultry profit, yet every factory farmed chicken is infected with the salmonella bacteria. In 1995, a USDA study found that more than 99 percent of broiler chicken carcasses had detectable levels of generic E.coli.

O.K. if I haven't put you off animal products yet, consider this. Feedlot cattle, as well as most dairy cattle, are forced to spend long periods of time standing in their own excrement. The methane and fumes can become so strong, on warm days cattle can actually be blinded by it. That is if the don't drop dead first. Egg-laying chickens, are so malnourished that color additives are put in their feed so that yolks will be yellow. Steak and eggs anyone?

What's good for America is good for the rest of the world, right? Meat based diets are on the rise world wide so much so, that meat consumption increased 40 percent in China in the first half of this decade. Throughout Asia consumption has doubled, and Japan is the number one importer of U.S. pork and beef. In 1996 Japan experienced an epidemic of E-coli that killed four. Not to be outdone, in 1997 an influenza virus, originating in the factory farms of mainland China, killed four people in Hong Kong, and forced the eradication of millions of chickens.

Had enough yet? Mad Cow disease was traced back to the practice of feeding beef cattle the remains of cows that have gone to the Big Mac in the sky. Cannibal cows, are not alone in this farm house of horrors, shitty pigs also have a place. To save money, the pork industry forces pigs to eat the droppings of their fellow captives. Waste not, want not I guess. Ham and cheese anyone?

So for those of you that are ready to bar-b-que me for speaking heresy against the America a juicy slab of cow represents, maybe a quote from My Year of Meats will smooth your ruffled feathers. "We are paralyzed by bad knowledge, from which the only escape is playing dumb. Ignorance becomes empowering because it allows people to live. Stupidity becomes proactive, a political statement. Our collective norm."

Did somebody say Mc Donalds?

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