If you go to this website, http://beefretail.org/wholesalepriceupdate.aspx, you can see that one year ago beef was about 30 percent cheaper than it is this week. About a 25 to 30 percent increase in every cut of beef in one year. We can safely assume that this rapid spike in price is not due to the cost of raising those animals going up at a corresponding rate. There has been no increase in costly safety regulations, no huge die-offs due to disease, no huge spike in demand for beef. There is no good reason for this increase.
At the same time we read in today’s New York Times that according to a Federal Appeals court, even though the FDA has determined that using antibiotics on feedlot animals that are not sick is dangerous to human health, the FDA cannot be forced to prohibit the practice until it has been proven safe by producers. Here is news of the ruling.
According to the Times:
For years industrial meat and poultry producers have fed healthy animals antibiotics to fatten them up fast. The antibiotics also prevent disease in what are often overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. This practice breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten us all.
Why would meat producers do this? To cut costs. If you are going to have 150 head of beef on an acre of ‘land’ (more than 150 if the ‘land’ is paved), then you have to medicate them to keep them from killing one another from disease. It also turns out that for some reason if you give them antibiotics they grow faster eating the grains and silage you are feeding them, even though this is not their natural diet. That means that instead of having them on the pasture for three or four years to get to market weight, an 18 month old will go to the feed lot for a maximum of six months. Longer than six months would kill the animal. While there, it will gain three or four pounds per day, eating a scientific diet of protein, grain, roughage and antibiotics. This is less ‘expensive’ than letting your herd eat the grass that nature provides.
And that lower cost is passed on to you. Right?
So, maybe beef is not cheap. You can still get steaks on sale for six or seven dollars per pound. Hamburger is sometimes down to three dollars per pound. So in exchange for not getting inexpensive beef, we are getting fed antibiotics in it. Plus, the huge concentrations of these animals are an environmental hazard due to the highly concentrated wastes. Also, their diet and living conditions are such that they are breeding dangerous new diseases that get into our food supply. Not only is there a beef or other meat recall every week, but sometimes their polluted poop finds its way into fresh vegetables and fruits, too. Remember the spinach recall? No spinach anywhere while the supply chain got the E-Coli cleaned up? Well it might not have been that particular pathogen, but it was a beef-feces related disease that caused that recall.
So the appeals court says that we can’t force the FDA to force the producers to even stop feeding antibiotics to animals that don’t need it. The Congress is busy removing all of the money from the FDA that it needs to enforce the laws that are already on the books. This Congress defunds the FDA, and the next Congress might pass laws that the one after that will then defund. Some Congressmen in office now believe that the government can’t do anything right, so they do everything in their power to cripple it and make sure that their opinion is proven by history. In the meantime, there are antibiotics and dangerous germs in our food supply.
Stop buying beef at the grocery store.
It’s really the only thing you can do. Keep eating it and they will keep finding ways to make it cheaper so that when they raise the price their profits go up. The states and the producers keep trying to make it harder and harder for us to find out what they are up to. They pass laws to make it a crime to photo or report on conditions in our food system.
What are they afraid of? They are afraid of your outrage. They are afraid that you care more about your kids’ health than you do about how cheap meat is. They rightly fear that you will quit eating their polluted products. GET OUTRAGED.
This is one of many reasons I have stopped eating beef and other terrestrial animals. Thank you for spreading the word about how the money saved on meat production is not money saved in the long run. Check out my post on this topic: http://dontweightforchange.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/would-you-like-a-drug-resistant-infection-with-that/
It can be done, because that is how people used to eat. In the PBS documentary ‘1900 House’ I learned that city dwellers used to get most of their protein from eating eggs. Meat was a rarity. Think about it, back then people had no really good way of refrigerating meats, but there weren’t all the scary food borne diseases then either. Something has changed.