The most compelling reasons for the purchase of organically raised animal products are actually quite numerous — and potentially life saving if you live in the U.S.A.
Part IV: Meats & Poultry, Factory Animal Farming, Steroids, Arsenic, Antibiotics, Fertilizer, and Mad Cow disease
Until quite recently, animals in the U.S. were being fed, given, or grazing on lands treated with the following:
• Dairy cows – antibiotics, pig and chicken byproducts, growth hormones,
pesticides, sewage sludge (Not steroids or arsenic)
• Beef cattle – antibiotics, pig and chicken byproducts, steroids, hormones,
pesticides, sewage sludge (Not arsenic)
• Pigs – antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (Not steroids)
• Broiler chickens – antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (Not steroids)
• Egg laying hens – antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge,
arsenic-based drugs (Not steroids)
Most of these practices continue still — but a very few positive changes have occurred.
Arsenic and Pesticides:
Beginning in the 1940s, arsenic started being used to promote faster weight gain and make the meat look healthier and more appealing in appearance.
However, around 2013, following a long lawsuit lasting for a few years, the FDA finally put a stop to the addition of arsenic in poultry and hog feed — after concerns arose over the ability of non-carcinogenic organic arsenic to transform — becoming carcinogenic (cancer causing) inorganic arsenic in the environment, animal tissues, manure-treated soil, and in humans.
Instead, they now inject meats and poultry with even more salt water (brine) solutions and artificial preservatives — after butchering — to keep them looking more appetizing as well as extend shelf life — and to increase the weight further post-mortem.
As far as pesticides go these animals are ingesting large quantities in much the same way that we do because of its use on our plant based food sources. The same is true of weed killers, GMOs, and other contaminants. Their diet is far less varied than our diet so they consume large quantities of only a very few types of plant based foods — thus they have far greater exposure. These contaminants then build up inside tissues such as fat and liver cells.
If they are grazed only on grass — but the grass is frequently sprayed with pesticides and weed killers — then they too are over exposed.
Just because the label say “grass fed” does not mean it is any safer. While they may be less fatty, it only means the quantity of contaminants are even more concentrated in what few fat cells and the liver that they do have.
They must be grass fed only on “organic” grass lands where much safer, more natural means are used to control pests and weeds.
Contrary to popular belief, organic farming also uses pesticides but more natural and in less quantities. Some of these are also harmful but to a lesser extent than most commercially used pesticides and used in smaller amounts decreasing exposure.
Hormones and Steroids:
Hormones and steroids are to be used only in beef cattle and sheep — but they are not allowed to use steroids on dairy cattle, nor poultry or pork.
Most drive a steroid-loaded pellet between the skin and cartilage of the back of the animal’s ear, which is removed when the animal goes to slaughter to prevent it from entering into the food supply. This artificially fattens the cattle putting more money into the pockets of the rancher or farmer.
They have to produce beef quickly to meet demands without going broke, so they pump cattle full of growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics just to meet their bottom line. There are also far fewer farmers and ranchers today to keep up with demands.
Between the WWII baby boom and the Vietnam war baby boom, the population exploded making the 1910 meat shortage crisis pale in comparison. So it doesn’t look like factory animal farming is going away anytime soon.
However, we are aging, aged, and our numbers are dwindling. Furthermore, far fewer babies are being born in spite of advances in reproductive medicine because of the choice not to have children or delay giving birth until much later to pursue a career — as well as decreased fertility issues due to a combination of causes (delaying birth too long, poor diets, sedentary lifestyles, illnesses, drugs, environmental issues, etc.). Just as our generations caused a panic that social security might not be able to keep up with such a great and growing number of the aged, the fear now for future generations is that there will actually be too few people so there might not even be enough workers to be able to keep it afloat.
Perhaps as the decreasing population trend continues, things will actually even out so that our now adult children and/or grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) can eventually return to using the previous safer, healthier methods of farming and ranching and still be able meet the meat demands.
At one point Tyson foods refused to accept any cattle receiving a type of steroid called Zilmax — due to cattle showing up to slaughter with missing or desentigrating hooves and other deformities until it could be reviewed.
Eventually the drug was pulled by the pharmaceutical company Merck pending further review.
The cattle treated with Zilmax were found to have much shorter life spans and run a greater risk of dying than those not treated.
The drug company producing it basically insisted that it was safe when used as directed.
The FDA has this to say:
Many scientists question the use of any hormones or steroids — whether natural or synthetic — for the safety of both the animals and those consuming them.
Saturated Fats In Traditional vs. Organically Raised & Grass Fed Animals:
According the American Heart Association (AHA) saturated fats in meat contributes to heart disease. Other nutrition experts maintain that it is the un-natural diet of the animals and that organically raised grass fed animals are healthier.
In truth, both are correct.
Too much of anything is unhealthy including saturated fats.
Furthermore, contaminants like pesticides and weed killers are often stored in tissues and particularly prone to becoming trapped within fat cells and the liver of both animals and humans. The more contaminated fats from animals that are consumed the more contaminates that will be stored in human fat and liver cells.
Cattle now have much higher fat content due to use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids as well as being kept in crowded conditions which do not allow for adequate movement.
We actually need small amounts of fat to absorb certain vitamins and minerals properly and form certain hormones as well as fats serving other functions such as acting as an anti-inflammatory within the walls of the arteries and heart — in the proper amount — not too little or too much. Fats can be obtained from both animal and plant sources.
There are several types of fats of which saturated fat is the least healthy consumed in large quantities. However, all fats can be detrimental when consumed in quantities that are too high — or too low. Like salt, we only need a very tiny amount. They must all be carefully balanced in the diet.
For centuries cultures around the world have used bio-waste (feces, poop, scat) as fertilizer on grazing and agricultural lands. This waste could be incinerated, used as landfill, or be recycled into fertilizer.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that the best and only true option is to use it as fertilizer (with strict controls and management) which benefits the environment greatly and causes it the least amount of harm. It is certainly a far better choice than any man-made in a chemical laboratory type plant fertilizers!
It is not completely without risks but many decades of extensive and large scale research has guided federal and state sludge regulations and how sewage and waste water treatment plants operate.
Putting it into perspective, according to extensive EPA studies, you run the same amount of risk from agricultural lands being fertilized with treated sludge as you do by eating 4 tablespoons of peanut butter per day — which is to say, less than one death per one million people.
Treated sludge provides farmers and ranchers with valuable plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, as well as heavy metals — that plants absolutely require to live, be healthy, and thrive — at a lower cost — for growing food and enriching grazing lands for cattle.
Nitrogen, even though required by plants, is the most concerning due to its ability to leach into groundwater and its responsibility for causing excessive algae blooms — which in turn — sucks all of the oxygen from the water, suffocating, and killing aquatic plants and animals.
However, treated sewage used for fertilizer contains mostly nitrogen that remains in an insoluble (not able to be dissolved) form, — and, along with proper levels of application — are believed to pose little to no risk.
It is the run off from untreated animal waste (wild and domestic) that is the predominant cause of most soluble (able to be dissolved) nitrogen induced algae blooms. Factory farming of animals is the most common cause.
Proper management of grazing lands treated with sludge fertilizers and more current grazing management guidelines are designed to reduce the chances of grazing cattle ingesting it.
Furthermore, while studying its effects over decades, researchers have directly fed cattle (up to 20 percent of their diet) with treated sludge with no ill effects which is far more than the quantity they are likely to consume while grazing when current guidelines are followed.
Personally, I’d be less concerned with their ingesting properly treated waste matter when grazing — than the likelihood of the cattle ingesting their own untreated waste matter.
All grazing animals (wild and domestic) end up inadvertently ingesting some of their own wastes and dirt.
Canines (including domestic dogs) are notorious for purposefully ingesting their own as well as other animal fecal matter. It provides them with additional nutrients that didn’t fully digest the first time around, boosts their immunity naturally, and adds to the healthy gut flora. It is not without risk, however, particularly when ingesting fecal matter of other animals rather than their own, for picking up things like unwanted bacteria and parasites.
Humans also inadvertently consume their own fecal matter and from others on a daily basis — such as when not properly and adequately washing their hands and under the nails, storing toothbrushes out in the open in the bathroom, not closing the toilet lid before flushing (it is there for a reason), from the toilet flush handle (think about it — do you and others wash your hands before or after flushing), the bathroom door knob, or from bathroom sink faucet knobs/handles (which you turn on with soiled hands then turn off with clean hands — picking up the germs all over again), when changing infant diapers, when food handlers of any kind (commercially or at home) do not perform proper adequate hand washing and nail cleaning, by shaking hands with or when hugging or otherwise touching someone, any contact with contaminated surfaces touched by the unwashed or inadequately washed hands of others (even if not visibly soiled or dirty), and so on. Plus, you are contaminated with and inadvertently consume the fecal matter of your family pets.
We rarely become ill from it since they are usually small exposures, but when illness does strike, like with any other living organism, it can be life threatening.
On the other hand, exposure to large quantities of untreated fecal matter — such as what food source animals are exposed to today in over crowded factory farming conditions — poses far greater threat.
Factory Animal Farming and Antibiotics:
In 1910, severe meat shortages caused a great deal of unrest and protests –and as a result the over crowded factory animal farming concept began to take root.
The result is animals with little to no room for movement so they are much fattier (higher in saturated fats) — yet less tough, but they have lower immunity — yet higher exposure to disease, plus disease spreads more rapidly throughout the herds and flocks in such over crowded conditions.
About 80 to 90 percent of all animal antibiotic use in the U.S. is done not to treat disease but as an attempt to prevent it — as well as help fatten — and are added routinely to their feed.
However, this has resulted in the development of super bugs not only in animals but also in the humans consuming them. Humans are also frequently over treated with antibiotics for conditions that are not helped by antibiotics (colds, viruses) which is adding even further to the problem.
Studies are underway to find alternative solutions which will put an end to the need for prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics being used in animal feed, but that also will not result in a repeat of the unrest and protests of 1910 — so they are looking for solutions that do not involve reverting to previous safer farming methods which produces far less meats and poultry and simply cannot keep up with demand.
Prion disease (the “Cannibalism” disease) and Mad Cow disease:
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a neurodegenerative prion disease commonly known as Mad Cow disease, has a very long incubation period of 2.5 to 5 years before any signs or symptoms of illness even begin — yet the disease is contagious before symptoms start. Over 200 known cases of beef to human transmission resulting in death have occurred world wide. There is no cure and it always ends in death.
In 1997, in response to Mad Cow disease that was occurring in the U.K., the FDA in the U.S. (along with Canada) posed a rather limited ban on feeding beef parts (brains, spinal cords, and vertebrae/back bones) — and then later on included bans against cattle blood and poultry litter containing bird manure to prevent it from being fed to beef cattle — but it still allows beef parts to be fed to other animals and allows other animal parts to be fed to beef cattle.
Scrapie in sheep is also a prion disease and can occur if a dead diseased animal is left to rot in the field and is inadvertently consumed by other sheep grazing too close to the corpse. This used to be the only way in which the disease was spread among any grazing animals. A close and watchful eye to remove any corpses from grazing lands before they began to decompose prevented its spread.
However, it is believed that the feeding of one such infected sheep to beef cattle, then the feeding of infected beef cattle to other beef cattle was what started this BSE strain — which in turn infected and killed people in the U.K. It may have infected a far greater number who have not yet begun to have symptoms.
Many animals and humans are able to contract various forms of prion disease — including but not limited to: poultry (chickens, turkeys, and other birds), pork (hogs, pigs, domestic or wild), felines (cats), canines (dogs), rabbits, mink, and ungulates (elk, deer, kudu, ornyx, bison, sheep, goats, bovine, and other hooved mammals), and many other animals. Pigs are apparently more resilient than hogs and other animals, thus less likely to contract it, — but they can still contract it.
Depending upon the animal and/or strain, it is given many different names such as wasting disease, encephalopathy, and others.
It occurs when a normal protein folds in on itself, is highly infectious if consumed, has no known treatment and a prolonged incubation period (is carried for a long time before any symptoms emerge), — and it is always fatal.
These folded proteins wreak havoc in nervous tissue leaving sponge-like holes in many parts of the brain. They are found in all nervous tissues — and can even be detected in urine — but are predominantly found in the brain and spinal cord.
The FDA is afraid (with good reason) that humans will become ill and die if they consume prion infected beef.
Yet, while other countries completely banned mixing animal parts in feed across the board, the U.S. FDA continues to allow it — stating that they have no proof prion disease can cross from one species to another.
Have no proof that prion disease can cross from one species to another?!!
Well, people and beef cattle are completely different species, are they not?!!
The first human victim to die because of Mad Cow disease was 18-year-old Stephen Churchill of Great Britain who contracted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease from eating infected beef. There were over 200 deaths in the U.K. and Europe from the consumption of such infected cattle.
There have also been deaths in the U.S. — but because all had either lived, visited, or were born in other countries — claims are that they contracted the disease while they were outside of the U.S.
Obviously cross species infection is possible, does, and has happened! The question is when will happen again next — since the U.S. FDA will not take the same precautions as our brothers and sisters across the big pond.
Beef and poultry are herbivores (plant eaters; vegetarians) so shouldn’t they be fed plant based proteins instead of animal proteins?
Actually, chickens will peck meat from a carcus given the opportunity and in current over crowded conditions frequently feed on the corpses of any deceased fellow bunk mates increasing their risk for all sorts of infections including prion disease. Beef cattle, however, do not do this — yet are still being forced to eat protein from animals hidden inside their feed rather than being given plant protein sources.
Beef fed animal byproducts and grains rather than the grass and similar roughage normally eaten by their species often have more digestive issues, colic, ulcers, gut biome imbalances, etc. — much like some people when fed an over abundance of artificial additives, fast foods, and other such things.
Animal byproducts, normally just thrown out such as the spinal cord and even chicken or turkey litter containing poultry manure, are cheaper than plant proteins — so are rendered, cooked, and put into feed instead of plant proteins — as a means to increase growth in food animals as well as increase milk production in dairy cattle. Ranchers are therefore able to get the animals to market faster.
Being cheap does not, however, make it the healthiest choice for the animals nor the humans that consume them.
When an animal or person eats or is exposed to tissues containing abnormal prions, their own prion proteins are converted into the deadly abnormal form.
The human version is known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) disease to distinguish it from a form of CJD — that occurs naturally in about one in a million people particularly the elderly.
It is only spread to other animals and people if infected tissues are consumed (or via transfusion with contaminated blood) and often referred to as a the disease of cannibals.
In people, the incubation period can last five to ten years on average, although symptoms can occur in as little as 2.5 to as much as 15 years after infection — and it is always fatal. There is no cure. It debilitates prior to killing the victim as it destroys brain and nervous tissues. It is a pretty gruesome way to die!
Normally unusable parts of animals are rendered in a meat grinder then cooked at temperatures of 270 to 300 degrees for up to an hour. This takes care of many bacteria and viruses but does nothing at all to prevent prion disease.
It is also how the pet food is made that you feed to your dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, — even monkeys and chimps, etc. — all of which are able to contract prion disease.
In spite of the much softer FDA regulations imposed to prevent Mad Cow disease from occurring in the U.S., it happened anyway.
They blame the first case on a mix up in which rendered beef parts were accidentally put into the feed. Then they lost track of that animal’s location. It still isn’t known if it ended up as human or animal food or what became of it.
If it can happen once, it can happen again, — and it did.
They also informed us that even if it did end up in our food supply we likely wouldn’t be at risk because the disease resides predominantly in the brain and spinal cord.
False reassurances to prevent a wide spread panic no doubt. Are they protecting us from ourselves or themselves from us? I recall having to sign gag order agreements in the early to mid 80s when HIV/AIDS was first discovered — which weren’t lifted until a test for it was developed and they could learn more about how it was spread.
It resides in nervous tissue — something found throughout the entire body of all animals and humans alike — and while the majority may be located in the brain and spinal cord it is also detectable in other nervous tissues and even in urine. It can even be contracted by an animal receiving a tainted blood transfusion from another infected animal (or with person to person tainted transfusions) thus resides in the circulatory system and blood also. There are three known cases of people in the U.K. contracting the disease from an infected donor who was not yet showing signs of illness.
The last thing the U.S. wants or needs is to face a shortage of donor blood. Yet it would hardly suffice to accept only vegans as blood donors. Besides, you can’t even catch anything at all by actually donating blood — yet as soon as any scare begins there is a sudden drop in those willing to donate. There is already a constant shortage simply because people are afraid of needles and don’t like the idea of having their blood drawn at their doctor’s office much less a whole pint.
Until recently however the only means of testing for prion disease was to cut open the brain post-mortem (after death) — but they are finally getting closer to finding other ways to test for it — either as a urine screening test or as a blood test.
Perhaps when they have readily available means of actually testing for prion disease they will stop hiding the truth from the public and trying to protect us from ourselves — or themselves from us — the way they tried to do when HIV/AIDS was first discovered. Is it any wonder people are so distrustful?
Other countries have eliminated the disease in their part of the world — by destroying all infected animals and banning the use of animal byproducts in all animal feed. They also prohibit the use of animals beyond a certain age to be used as food or feed since certain strains of prion disease occurs naturally (but rarely) in old age.
Yet, it continues to be a concern in the U.S. — even though there have only been a handful of deaths and all are claimed to have contracted the disease while out of the country.
However, there are identified cases of Mad Cow disease occurring in U.S. cattle, originating on U.S. soil, even if not yet attributed to human deaths.
The last known case was an Alabama born cow identified in 2017 that had a naturally occurring age related strain.
As a result of the U.S. FDA weak response and very limited ban, beef prices have rocketed while the stock market has nose dived. Yet, the practice of forced animal cannibalism continues as does the use of older animals as a food source for animals — and people. With a new case discovered in July just last year, U.S. citizens continue to be fearful and distrustful of the government’s lack of desire and willingness to protect their food sources –certainly not in the vigorous way that the U.K. so successfully protected their food sources from prion disease after it wreaked havoc on their continent!
Unfortunately, a 2013 report estimates perhaps 30,000 were already infected and just have not yet started having symptoms so their nightmare may not yet be quite over. Is one of our own yet to begin?
More people are turning to organically raised animals and grass fed beef. It is expensive and in limited supply, thus not all can afford to pursue this avenue. Nor is it readily available in all areas.
Yet, our regular but untrustworthy beef supplies have now become so expensive that there is actually very little difference in the cost between purchasing it and organically raised grass fed beef.
To Be Continued …