Factory Farming – A New Disease Model

factory farmingDisclaimer: This is one of my longer posts, but I believe this is probably the most important blog post I’ve ever written.

The information discussed could directly impact yours as well as your family’s health for years to come. So please, read and study it carefully!

There aren’t very many things that irritate me, and I’m not really a political guy…but there are some issues that I just can’t let slip through the cracks.

Factory Farming is definitely on the list.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not a tree hugger, dog lover, whale saver, or hardcore environmentalist, etc by any means, but I do believe that as humans, we have a civic duty to preserve and protect our environment and habitat…as well as the animals that exist in it along with us.

You see, I believe that as humans we have a moral responsibility to protect other living creatures who aren’t as high as we are on the food chain…and there is NO excuse for us not to honor that duty.

When we abuse that power, terrible consequences can and WILL happen. For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. This holds true in just about any aspect of life.

Before we get into the meat of this post I just want to make one small point…

I know that people place dogs on a pedestal here in the states, and that’s fine I guess, other countries have their own celebrated animals as well. For example, the cow is holy in India. That’s also perfectly fine by me.

But wrap your mind around this for a minute. What if there were dog farms here in the United States…where dogs were tortured beyond belief, fed a bunch of drugs to keep them alive in unbearable, filthy conditions…and then were sent off to slaughter to be our dinners. You’d probably be outraged right?

Ok…now if you’re still with me…wrap your mind around this point as well. All animals, from snakes and lizards, bears, dogs, cows, birds, rats, whatever…are all God’s creatures and they all feel pain. So you can’t just “kill a rat and let a dog sleep in your bed” so to speak. Don’t go out there and rescue a dog and then turn a blind eye to the cows, pigs, chickens, etc that are being slaughtered and tortured in your own neighborhoods.

That’s not being fair, just, righteous, or responsible. If you care for animals…CARE FOR ALL ANIMALS. Don’t play favorites. (For example, I have a friend with a pet rat and it’s a cool ass rat. Probably cooler than your dog. Just saying.) Don’t go hunting/fishing and then crucify Michael Vick because he killed dogs. Get a clue. All of those animals feel pain…and probably want to stay alive. We should protect ALL animals.

Now that I got that off my chest…let’s continue :D

FACTORY FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES

Factory farming is a term referring to the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. The main product of this industry is meat, milk and eggs for human consumption.

The official name for a factory farm (according to the United States government) is a Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a CAFO as “new and existing operations which stable or confine and feed or maintain for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period more than the number of animals specified”.

A large CAFO includes 1000 cattle (other than dairy, which is 700), 2500 hogs over 55 pounds, or 125,000 chickens (as long as a liquid manure system isn’t used). You can see all of the CAFO numbers listed for each animal category on the EPA website.

In addition, “there is no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area during the normal growing season.”

The main problem with factory farms is that there are unnaturally large numbers of animals are confined closely together. If you ever go visit one of these farms you’ll see thousands of cattle feeding in one small area…you’ll could also probably see a chicken coop/house with hundreds of thousands of chickens inside. And this practice doesn’t just stop at the “popular meats”…similar practices are also applied to various other types of poultry, as well as rabbits, sheep, goats, etc. These types of conditions are the perfect breeding ground for disease…

factory farming

The numbers below will give you a glimpse of how large this operation is nationally:

Number of chickens slaughtered every minute in the US: 14,000

Number of cows and calves slaughtered every 24 hours in the US: 90,000

Food animals (not counting fish and other aquatic creatures) slaughtered per year in the US: 10 billion

But I digress…

If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you’ll probably already know my stance on factory farmed animal meats. Frankly, I find them disgusting and socially irresponsible…and don’t entirely believe they are sustainable or ethical.

Many of today’s farms are actually large industrial facilities, not the nice pleasant farms we all imagined as kids with green pastures, red barns, and smiling cows. Farming is now a mass scale operation…which allows these farms the ability to produce cheaper food (which we all demand) in high volume. The problem is that food safety, animal welfare, and the environment have taken a back seat to profits. So if you’re eating meat from these farms, your health is most likely in serious jeopardy.

The fact is, factory farms pose a major health threat to us all…and in case you aren’t aware of the factory farming health issue, let me quickly get you up to speed. In the past 20 years or so, food production has consolidated so to speak…which has contributed to the growing issue of socially irresponsible corporate ownership.

For example:

Under this new vertical integration structure, one corporation typically controls every single aspect of the production process…and they leverage this tremendous consolidation of power against small farmers. From raising the animals to feed production…to slaughter, packaging, etc…the entire process is controlled by ONE corporation.

Due to the lack of free market economies in the industry, corporations are more likely to to act irresponsibly and be far less accountable than if they were operating under a perfect competition type of situation.

There is also cost externalization at play here. The small farmers are pretty much forced to do contract work for these corporations…and the corporation dictates all aspects of animal rearing, while the farmer is left out in the cold to assume all of the risk. The farmer also has to pay his or her own dime on overhead, waste management, and the disposal of any animals that don’t survive until slaughter. Also, we as consumers are directly impacted because of the environmental and health issues at play.

Now you may ask yourself…how the heck is a small farmer going to help ensure the majority of his animals make it to slaughter despite all odds being against that animal…so that the farmer can get paid? Simple…pump the animals full of antibiotics!

Here are some startling statistics:

-Antibiotics administered to people in the US annually to treat diseases: 3 million pounds.
-Antibiotics administered to livestock in the US annually for purposes other than treating disease: 24.6 million pounds.
-Antibiotics allowed in cow’s milk: 80
-Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13%
-Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91%
-Reason: Breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock.
-Response by entire European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: Complete ban.
-Response by American meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: Full and complete support.

Confinement at high stocking density requires high doses of antibiotics and sometimes even pesticides to mitigate the spread of disease and pestilence exacerbated by the crowded living conditions on these farms…and roughly 70% of all antibiotics in the United States are currently being unnecessarily used on healthy chickens, cows, and pigs for growth production.

factory farming

Of course you may have already known that our meat supply was chock full of antibiotics, growth hormone, as well as a variety of other toxins and diseases, but I am assuming you were unaware of magnitude and scale of the issue.

Now you may want to pause and ask yourself…

Why the heck are these animals being force fed antibiotics on such a large scale?

or…

How is it even legal to pump farm animals full of antibiotics when the stats clearly show that the percentage of drug resistant bugs is steadily increasing each year?

or…

Why aren’t those drugs being saved for use by the humans who so desperately need them?

These stats are disturbing to say the least…but are you beginning to see why these small farmers would be a little bit more inclined to use high doses of antibiotics on their animals? They have to if they want to make any money and survive as a farmer!

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to bash farmers, many of whom became farmers because they love animals and had a strong desire to work on the land and be close to nature. Trust me, most farmers don’t like what’s happened to the industry any more than you and I do.

But the dark reality is that more animals than ever are being subjected to brutal conditions on these farms than ever before, and the potential human health hazard from consuming these factory farmed animal meats is huge.

Here’s the scary part: I believe this unnecessary force feeding of antibiotics to the meats we all eat is dramatically increasing the risk of creating new drug resistant superbugs that could potentially open a pandora’s box for the next “black plague” in the near future.

Many pundits may argue that factory farming is health & nutrition issue, which is fine. I can totally see their point. But that’s not really “the point”…and that argument won’t put a DENT in the real issue at hand. You can’t just tell the government to “just outlaw” factory farming because of  “potential” health risks and expect them to spring into action. It’s just not that simple. The problem is much deeper than that. There are issues that must be examined on levels beneath the “obvious” surface issues. You see, this isn’t actually a health issue at all. Well at least not directly. Allow me to explain…

In my opinion, this is an economic issue, and an issue we all must be aware of and be more vigilant about.

PROFITS OVER HEALTH

The entire food industry in the United States runs on a for profit model. This typically means that they operate using the same financial rules as most major corporations. ROI.

This means that most “health concerns” take a back seat to the bottom line, which is money and profits. From what I’ve seen, it almost appears as if America doesn’t care. Most of us still go out and gorge at fast food restaurants…and buy pre-packaged and processed foods which are cheaper to make…but heavily laden with artificial colorings, chemical additives, fillers, MSG, artificial sweeteners, toxins, etc.

And every time we “buy cheap” we encourage large companies to produce new “more efficient” methods of providing us food that are less expensive to us…even though these innovations typically make our food less and less healthy than the previous “innovation” did.

I don’t want to get off topic and make this an animal rights issue because I feel strongly that it is more of a human rights issue. However, we should not just bury our heads in the sand and turn a blind eye at how livestock is being treated. Especially if there is a direct impact of how factory farmed animals can impact our health and environment.

Transcript of New York Times full page ad published June 22, 2001 detailing the horrors of our modern-day slaughterhouses. With 309-330 cows per hour coming by on the “disassembly” line, there are many who are still fully conscious with eyes wide open when skinned and cut apart. They die literally piece by piece.

People are getting sick from contaminated meat at a rate never seen before in world history. Have we forgotten that whatever toxins, medicines, hormones, etc that’s in the animals we eat is passed onto us directly? Think about it. Our kids are developing faster. 12 year old girls have the fully developed bodies of 20 year old women. 8 and 9 year olds are sexually active. Growth Hormone perhaps?

Hey, perhaps a contributing factor to our “obesity issue” is the high level of growth hormone in our meat supply. Who knows? It’s at least worth looking into I think.

AN ECONOMIC ISSUE

Confinement at high stocking density is a major component of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale.

If your economics is a little rusty, economies of scale is a term used in microeconomics, which refers to the cost advantages that a business obtains due to expansion.

Typically, a company that achieves economies of scale lowers the average cost per unit through increased production since fixed costs are shared over an increased number of goods. So as output increases, the average cost per unit decreases. Economies of scale gives big companies (large farm corporations in this case) access to a larger market by allowing them to operate with greater geographical reach.

This basically means that as these large farm corporations grow and produce more units, they have a better chance of decreasing costs, and therefore improving ROI and/or profits.

Here are a couple important stats…(for those of you who know me personally you know I’m a stats kinda guy :D)

1. Almost 30% of agricultural subsidies go to the top two percent of farms and over four-fifths to the top 30%.

2. In 1970, there were approximately 900,000 farms in the United States; by 1997, there were only 139,000.

3. Between 1969 and 1992, the number of producers selling 1000 hogs annually or less declined 73%. Producers selling more than 1000 annually increased 320%, according to the US Census of Agriculture.

4. Estimated inputs to produce a pound of: Pork: 6.9 pounds of grain, .44 gallons of gasoline, 430 gallons of water Beef: 4.8 pounds of grain, .25 gallons of gasoline, 390 gallons of water.

5. Meat production has grown worldwide from 44 million tons in 1950 to 211 million tons in 1997.

6. The price of meat would double or triple if full ecological costs – including fossil fuel use, groundwater depletion and agricultural-chemical
pollution – were factored in.

7. 90% of the nation’s poultry production is controlled by 10 companies.

8. In my home state of Maryland, chickens outnumber people 59 to 1.

9. American farm animals are fed roughly 80 percent of the domestically grown corn crops, 95 percent of the oats, and 98 percent of the soybeans. That’s a food quantity that would be equal or greater than the entire caloric needs of everyone in the world. Over 6 billion people!

There are billions of farm animals being raised within the factory farming system in North America. For those of you who have worked in a supply chain, you will understand the significance of the sheer volume of this issue.

Here is how the current factory farming system works in America: This is an intricate system which allows farmers to squeeze as many animals as possible into a specified space. Typically, these spaces are small, dark, and nasty. This practice makes efficient use of space, animal feed, labor and other resources. It also requires less land and makes animals easier to handle and maintain. So it is relatively efficient when it comes to costs.

The animals are then fed a bunch of antibiotics to prevent disease and keep them alive in crowded, unlivable, factory farm conditions. They are also given growth hormone, which helps the animals grow faster so they can go through the system and onto the market quicker. This is also very cost efficient for the farmers.

(In my opinion the system is flawed because most small farmers lack the resources to care for the large volume of animals that come through their facilities…so many animals end up dying slow painful deaths.)

factory farming

The factory farming process is very disturbing…BUT… the farms are forced to do this because we as consumers demand cheap prices for chicken, eggs, pork, and beef when we go grocery shopping. So this is a basic supply and demand issue, and not directly a health and nutrition issue. The health and nutrition aspect is just a secondary spin-off of our demand for cheaper meat.

From my understanding, the antibiotics play a significant role in the system. The entire model appears to be geared towards maximizing production at the lowest cost by placing the maximum number of animals into any one space, feeding them inexpensive government subsidized grain, and pumping them full of drugs to keep them healthy enough for our consumption. The antibiotics are simply used to help the animals deal with the sicknesses associated with overcrowding and a poor diet.

So until our demand for meat goes down, factory farming will continue to operate on the same, if not greater, scale. People may hate the cold hard truth, but economically speaking, it will be very tough to get this antibiotic/hormone situation to ever go away because small scale farming can in no way support the ten billion or so farmed animals that go to slaughter each year. So if we got rid of the antibiotics, large scale farming would cease to exist. As a result, there would be a limited supply of meat…which would drive up the price. Meat could go up to $30 per pound or more!

BUT…perhaps price DOES need to increase so it can reflect the ACTUAL cost of eating meat. For example, if price were to go up, consumption would definitely decrease. Portion sizes would decrease, and I bet people would end up being much slimmer.

THE NEXT PLAGUE

First a few environmental and waste pollution stats…

1. The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste – or five tons for every US citizen.

2. North Carolina’s 7,000,000 factory-raised hogs create four times as much waste – stored in reeking, open cesspools – as the state’s 6.5 million people. The Delmarva Peninsula’s 600 million chickens produce 400,000 tons of manure a year.

3. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

4. Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina.

5. Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay. These deaths can be directly related to the 10 million hogs currently being raised in North Carolina and the 620 million chickens on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

6. The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin infections, nausea, depression and even death for people who live near factory farms. Livestock waste has been linked to six miscarriages in women living near a hog factory in Indiana.

7. In Virginia, state guidelines indicate that a safe level of fecal coliform bacteria is 200 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. In 1997, some streams had levels as high as 424,000 per 100 milliliters.

8. A report by the USDA estimates that 89% of US beef patties contain traces of the deadly E. coli strain. Reuters News Service 8/10/00

9. US pigs raised in total confinement factories where they never see the light of day until being trucked to slaughter: 65 million (total confinement factories are banned in Britain)

10. US pigs who have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%

11. 90% of US chickens are infected with leukosis (chicken cancer) at the time of slaughter.

12. Average lifespan of a dairy cow – 25 years; average lifespan when on a factory dairy farm – 4 years

The issue of humane treatment of farm animals is important, but it goes beyond the scope of this article. A far more important issue is the fact that we are exhausting limited resources. We don’t currently spend enough money on new antibiotic development; and most of the antibiotics we use are, more often than not, are the same ones our grandparents used.

Of course, in America, profits usually take precedence over health…but you would think that since most of the major worldwide disease epidemics arise from diseases which cross over from animals into humans…that we would be more vigilant about researching and developing new drugs.

I am by no means an expert, but any reasonable person can assume that this antibiotic misuse in farm animals, combined with the continued increase in the human population as well as meat consumption will only make the risk of a superbug epidemic that much greater…and on a much larger scale than we have ever seen before.

Of course our society will continue to grow, and new innovations in medical science keep people alive longer, but if we behave irresponsibly when it comes to drug usage, we could be paving the way for our own demise.

And we do this for what reason? Cheaper bacon? Ground beef that’s 99 cents cheaper per pound? $2.99 per pound cheap ground turkey? Do the risks balance out the potential reward? I think not.

Just so you can understand the seriousness of this issue…The Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, and other health and science groups filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week for allowing factory farms to waste our precious antibiotics on healthy livestock, just to help them grow fatter faster.

I’m not sure what will come of this suit but I think it may be a major step in the right direction.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This factory farming issue isn’t about health & nutrition really. It’s more about finance and economics, supply and demand, as well as self interest and greed. Frankly I think it is all our fault as consumers. We demand cheap prices…the system sort of just gave us what we wanted and now we’ve created a monster.

But regardless of who is at fault here…there are toxic medicines/chemicals/substances that are getting into our food and water supply and most Americans unknowingly eat/drink/breathe them on a daily basis. This practice must come to an end sooner rather than later.

The potential health threat is enormous, and don’t think that just because you don’t eat meat that you’re safe. We all still drink water and are subject to various other throwbacks as well. So the vegan/vegetarian argument is null and void here. If you live in this society, regardless of the type of diet you follow, you are still subject to the various trickle down effects that our environment places upon you.

In case you think I’m full of it, see the bullet points below…

1. Concentrating large numbers of animals in factory farms is a major contribution to global environmental degradation, through the need to grow feed (often by intensive methods using excessive fertilizer and pesticides), pollution of water, soil and air by agrochemicals and manure waste, and use of limited resources (water, energy,etc).

2. Man made lagoons on industrial farms hold millions of gallons of liquid waste, from which contaminants can leach into groundwater. The manure is normally sprayed on crops (yes yours too my vegetarian/vegan friends), but often excessively, leading it to run off into surface waters (yes we drink it).

3. Excessive waste created by large concentrations of factory farmed animals is handled in ways that can pollute air and water.

As nasty as it sounds…US livestock in confinement operations produces about 1 billion tons of waste which is not recycled. This waste often ends up in our water supply.

Check out this crazy stat…

The Exxon-Valdez oil spill amounted to 12 million gallons of oil…BUT…there were 25 MILLION gallons of putrefying hog urine and feces spilled into the New River in North Carolina on June 21, 1995, when a “lagoon” holding 8 acres of hog excrement burst. Gross. And it could happen in your town as well.

The bottom line is that the Agriculture business needs to clean itself up. It needs to be come more transparent and more accountable.

The problem is that the industry (backed by the U.S. Government) appears to be writing it’s own rules…and anything that gets in the way of profit margins or ROI is immediately neutralized.

But who can blame them? A single dairy cow contributes roughly $1,300 to a local rural economy each year, each beef cow over $800, and so on. As Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff stated, “Research estimates that the annual economic impact per cow is $13,737. In addition, each $1 million increase in Pennsylvania milk sales creates 23 new jobs. This tells us that dairy farms are good for the state’s economy.”

The solution isn’t as simple as telling people to “just don’t eat meat” or “go vegan” because there are larger economic issues at stake than just reducing consumption. What happens to all of the pigs, cows, chickens, etc that aren’t eaten? Do we just put them on a farm to live out their lives? Who pays for that? Do we kill them to keep population numbers down? Who pays for that? What’s the REAL solution?

What happens to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs, just in the United States alone, that will be lost due to farms shutting down? How will that impact the economy? Can our current system produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed our Nation of roughly 300 million people if everyone suddenly became vegetarian/vegan?

There are a ton of variables in play here…human health, animal health, the environmental issue, the animal welfare issue, labor problems, economics, food safety issues, pollution, ethics, disease, the list goes on and on.

You see…the solution is not as simple as some may lead you to believe. The current system, despite it’s flaws, may be the best option out of the bunch who knows.

POTENTIAL OPTIONS

1. Do your research. It’s hard to be a true voice on an issue when you don’t have a clue what’s really going on.
2. Stop eating factory farmed meat, eggs, and dairy. Eat grass fed beef, free range chicken, and cage free eggs.
3. Follow a plant based diet. You’ll be much healthier as a result.
4. Buy locally from small farmers, they can definitely use the support.
5. Raise your own livestock (in a way that does not cause unnecessary suffering to animals, our planet, and/or our health)

I want to hear what you think about this issue. Your opinion matters…and I want to hear it so please don’t be shy, voice your opinion in a comment below!

As always, thanks for reading. Stay healthy :)

Jamin Thompson
Jamin Thompson has been called "the most handsome fitness model in the world" and "a brilliant actor & writer", both by his mom. He's a former Clemson & UMiami athlete and World Ranked tennis player who writes to help others dominate in the gym, on the field, and in life using his real world, in the trenches experience. His book, The 6 Pack Secret, has been sold in over 50 countries and has helped thousands of folks from all walks of life get cut and jacked the healthy way.
Jamin Thompson

@jaminthompson

Athlete. National Champion. @MiamiHurricanes + @ClemsonTigers alum. Econ/MBA. Fitness Model/Actor. IG @JaminThompson. Business inquiries: info@JaminThompson.com
@Quackarazzi @nimamovassaghi lots of puking, cramping, and passing out...not the most fun time to say the least. lol - 7 hours ago
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28 Responses to Factory Farming – A New Disease Model

  1. Mindy May 31, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    I guess we should expect just as much since the drug companies are in collusion with the FDA

    • Jamin Thompson June 1, 2011 at 12:35 am #

      Good point Mindy. Anytime you give one entity that much power…you risk corruption.

  2. Bill Edwards May 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    People need to realize that everything comes back up through the food chain. There’s no doubt that the antibiotics and hormones that factory farmers are using are starting to affect the health and disease resistance of people in general. So I agree with you…a mass scale plague is a real probability.

    Bill Edwards

    • Jamin Thompson June 1, 2011 at 12:31 am #

      Yes, the probability of a mass scale plague is definitely larger than many people would have you believe. When you look at the stats/data/trends/etc…and really dig deep into the economics at play…the results are beyond scary.

  3. Chris Lu May 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Yes, finally a health and fitness “expert” with a business brain who can relate from an economics and finance perspective! You make some very strong points and I completely agree. I don’t see factory farming stopping anytime soon because our over population. It’s just not economically practical…and that’s the sad reality. 

    • Jamin Thompson June 1, 2011 at 12:28 am #

      Thanks for the kind words Chris…I try to be as well rounded as I can! Overpopulation is definitely a major concern and it will be interesting to see how this whole situation plays out.

  4. LOL! May 31, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Now we know the true power of the “chicken soup cure”! It’s loaded with antibiotics! At least I won’t have to pay a deductible right? :D

  5. Jamin Thompson May 31, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Guys, it appears that China has now banned the use of antibiotics in the food chain.
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-04/13/content_9719351.htm

    “Excluding
    therapeutic purposes, antibiotics are banned from being used on
    livestock, including chickens, pigs and cows. Once used, the drugs stay
    in the animals’ bodies, as well as in their meat, eggs and milk
    products. After people consume the products, the
    antibiotics enter their bodies and activate the harmful microorganism’s
    resistance against the drugs. Once a disease is caused by that very
    microorganism, treatment would be difficult”. – A leading expert on feed research in Beijing, who declined to be named.

  6. Jamin Thompson May 31, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Guys, it appears that China has now banned the use of antibiotics in the food chain.
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-04/13/content_9719351.htm

    “Excluding therapeutic purposes, antibiotics are banned from being used on livestock, including chickens, pigs and cows. Once used, the drugs stay in the animal’s bodies, as well as in their meat, eggs and milk products. After people consume the products, the antibiotics enter their bodies and activate the harmful microorganism’s resistance against the drugs. Once a disease is caused by that very microorganism, treatment would be difficult”. – A leading expert on feed research in Beijing, who declined to be named.

  7. Lephrat May 31, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    I think your article is VERY interesting and raises a number of important points… Very well written and lots to think and debate about. It is always about economics, that is life! It is sad but true!!!!

    • Jamin Thompson June 2, 2011 at 12:28 am #

      Yes, the economics of this issue cannot be overlooked. While it may be easy to point the finger, or just say “hey eat this not that”; finding a practical solution may not be all that simple.

  8. Kevin Wang June 1, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    The large conglomerates such as Monsanto are monopolizing and taking over the entire food production industry. The part that really irritates me is that they use subsidies from our tax dollars, put small farmers out of business, and facilitate the abuse of animals. It’s corporate greed at it’s finest!

  9. Marie June 1, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Horrible, horrible, horrible what they do to these animals! I couldn’t even watch the video…. There needs to be more education getting to the general public, its the only way things are going to change!

    • Jamin Thompson June 2, 2011 at 12:31 am #

      Yes Marie it is horrible…and I cringe every time I watch the video. And you’re right…the more we speak up about this and raise awareness about the issue…the greater chance we have of finding a resolution.

  10. Bodyn Soil June 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Thank you for this article, I need to go over it once again for all the points of interest you have shared. Did you know that the factory farming association, through their lobby groups, are trying to pass a law banning documentaries which show details on what happens within these factory farms. They also want to make any photography or videography of these farms illegal as well, why, because they don’t want the public to know what really happens as it hurts business. So why does the government support this, contributions from these huge conglomerates support the people in office, their best interest is money not the health and well being of the American public.. 

    • Jamin Thompson June 2, 2011 at 12:36 am #

      Yes I have heard about the lobbyists trying to pass laws like that. It sounds highly  unconstitutional to me and I doubt it will ever go through…but even if it does I’ll continue to speak up about the bs that’s going on. Plus, there is no way they will be able to convince bloggers, website owners, people on Facebook, etc to completely quit…and if they really try to push that motion I think it will just cause more people rally more people against them.

      As far as the government goes, it just comes down to economics, like I suggested above. I can’t even imagine the chaos if the price of meat went up to $30 per pound and milk was $15 per gallon. The government knows that the crap that’s going on, as bad as it is, keeps prices low and stable (which is what us consumers want). Plus I’m sure the people in office enjoy a nice kickback or two ;)

  11. Lori June 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Great article, Jamin. As a mother of 3 I’m always concerned about what I’m feeding my kids. It’s disturbing the amount of antibiotics that go into our meat, dairy, chicken, milk… etc. I tend to have many products on hand like organic milkand meat in my fridge.. and I would LOVE to do Raw milk, but unless I buy a cow of my own that won’t be happening as Raw milk is $13 a gallon here in the NW. No wonder we get sick and stay sick… all the crap we ingest every day, all day… it’s scary. Thank you for always putting out articles that make me think… Truthfully I was just at the grocery store and was in the meat aisle… all I could see was that dead cow being lifted with heavy machinery. Yuck.

    • Jamin Thompson June 2, 2011 at 12:40 am #

      Thanks Lori! And yes, the food we eat is directly correlated to how we feel…as well as to how healthy we are at any point in time. I know it is hard if you have kids to be tempted to buy the “cheap $2.99″ per pound bulk meat from Sams Club for example, but when you offset the costs of sick kids/allergies/colds/weird ailments/etc that kids may be getting from eating the tainted meat, it’s never worth it in the long run.

  12. Jamin Thompson June 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Someone on Facebook asked me about egg whites and if they are ok to eat…so I figured I would post my response here as well.

    A few years back there was a story concerning Tyson Chicken (I’ll never forget it because the court case was in my hometown of Baltimore) concerning Tyson advertising antibiotic free chicken…however, it was discovered upon further investigation that they were actually injecting long duration type antibiotics into the egg BEFORE it even hatched…thus cheating the system. Here’s the story:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/01/AR2008050103514.html

    Also, there have been recent reports of antibiotic resistant bacteria being found in many chickens who have been fed antibiotics, as well as chickens who were never fed antibiotics before, which leads me to believe this practice is still happening. In my opinion, your best bet (besides raising your own chickens) is to buy egg whites (and eggs) that are of the organic & cage free variety.

  13. J Wolf June 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Ugh.  So disturbing. 
    I did a paper on modern farming techniques for a college class in 1997 and after reading Diet for a New America, vegan / vegetarian / animal rights books, and watching Super Size Me, Food, Inc., and King Corn, etc, etc….I was shocked.  Being vegan and vegetarian and now back to a carnivorous diet, there isn’t any where that you can turn where you don’t realize that your food is messed with.  Either by getting your fruits and veggies sprayed with chemicals, worrying about food poisoning, or getting meat from diseased and mistreated animals that are pumped full of things that they can’t even digest (no pig I ever met could eat plastic!), nothing is safe.  I researched grocery stores and tried to find companies or places that sell clean and safe meat where the animals were treated fairly, and even then the companies lie or they are only “grass fed and free to roam” for the first few weeks of life.  Shame.

    Thankfully I found US Wellness Meats, and I will never buy commercial meat again.  They even have pictures of how well the animals are treated and what they eat, and will readily answer any questions you have about where their products come from.  And let me tell you, the meat DOES NOT taste the same.  It has taste; it doesn’t taste like nothing, and I have even found that I am consuming smaller portions because I feel better after I eat and apparently my body is using it better.  I also am thankful to the animal that gave its life so I could eat it and therefore nothing goes to waste.  Anyway, I also found a lady that sells eggs down the street from where I live, and the first time I stopped by she was chasing her chickens around the yard.  First time I cracked an egg, the yolk was orange and I couldn’t break it to scramble it!  Plus I like supporting a local business.  But anyways, I’ve noticed that more and more farmer’s markets are popping up, and the ways to eat healthier and cleaner are more prevalent than ever. 

    I think more and more people need to take a stand and support the local and humane movement.  We are pushing subsistence levels with the exponential growth of our population also.  And also, just because we view an animal as FOOD vs PET, I would never stick my cat in a box and force it to get really fat so I could eat it.  I find that I don’t do well on a vegetarian or vegan diet with my training protocol, so I would rather have someone run outside, chase down a chicken and slaughter it instead of modern farming techniques.  And one more thing – I think for modern gardens and fruit trees, there are anti-bug treatments that are not chemical, and I think if people took the time to research the fact that the way to keep slugs off your strawberries is to put out plates full of beer instead of using carcinogenic sprays, they would realize that just because the mainstream way of doing things is the most adopted doesn’t make it right.

    • Jamin Thompson June 3, 2011 at 12:44 am #

      You raise some very interesting points…and I agree with you. It is definitely hard to find quality food these days that hasn’t been messed with…and it’s scary what often makes it into our food supply. With that being said…I also love US Wellness Meats (I usually get half of my meat from them and the other half from Whole Foods) and I believe I have a link to them above. They, (USWM) are one of the few companies out there who are pretty much transparent and keep lies & propaganda out of their marketing. Plus their meat is some of the highest quality around.

      As you said, we definitely need more people to take a stand and support better practices. Step one is raising awareness, because many people have no clue what’s going on. In my opinion, the problem will be very difficult to overcome, but little by little, if more people become educated on the issues, perhaps there will be some movement in the right direction.

      By the way, how and why did you decide to switch back from being vegan/vegetarian to now eating meat?

      • J Wolf June 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

        Exactly.  The more people are not ignorant, the better off they will be.  Ignorance is not bliss, and what you don’t know can and will hurt you!

        I became vegetarian in high school and vegan after when I was in college after I learned about modern farming techniques.  I tried to research and learn how to eat properly, including lots of fruit and vegetables into daily meals, with soy replacement meat/proteins.  To get the proper amino acid profile I learned to combine certain products to get the essential 20 in one fell swoop. I always felt like crap, as if I was doing something wrong.  I was bloated all the time, had horrible acne, felt tired and run down, was sick a lot, and my periods were just horrendous.  But I persevered because I thought I was doing the world some good.  Then I got into weight lifting, and I was just so tired all the time.  I would get home from a workout (nothing half as strenuous as I do now) and I’d be nauseous.  I wasn’t gaining any muscle at all, all fat.  I was always hungry.  There were just too many calories coming in from carbs, as I tried to keep my fat intake down because that was when the “fat is bad” movement was in full swing, giving birth to Snackwells and eat-whatever-you-want-as-long-as-it’s-fat-free.  One day I got caught at a friend’s house and his mom invited me to stay for dinner.  She had made a turkey stew and I had to eat it to be polite, they were such wonderful people I felt horrible saying “Oh I don’t eat that I’m vegan you have to make me something else.”  So I had a small bowl and it tasted really, really good.  Over the period of a few months I slowly went back to eating chicken, fish, and eggs and I found that I was feeling better. I found that seitan = too much salt, tempeh = too much salt, soy=too much salt, beans=too many calories to be worth it and added in too many carbs…etc… So fast forward 10 years and now I’m more paleo/primal, eating all kinds of meat, eggs, butter, some dairy (mostly just skyr or Kefir), tons of veggies and a small amount of fruit.  I think I mostly have a gluten sensitivity, but no more acne, female stuff is spot on, I’m at 15% body fat without even trying, and I’m known as the Beast at the gym – strongest female.  I used to be pasty white  – like I was brighter than a bleached white t-shirt out in the sun.  Now I have color to my skin and look like I have a slight tan year round.  And I have only gotten sick once in three years.  I think it’s a combination of getting rid of the gluten and eating cleanly.  But my muscle gains are incredible after three years of heavy lifting and I couldn’t get anywhere near where I am now in the past, no matter how hard I tried. 

        • Jamin Thompson June 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

          “The more people are not ignorant, the better off they will be. 
          Ignorance is not bliss, and what you don’t know can and will hurt you!” I completely agree with what you said here.

          I love your story by the way. It seems like you have gotten to the point where you know EXACTLY what works for you. That’s awesome. You should applaud yourself for sticking with it even through the tough times!

  14. Taiman June 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I know about the antibiotics and chemical and getting the animals to grow faster but had no idea about confinement, this need to be shared and to be understand by many.  You are absolutely right on people buying cheap cheap cheap, but never thought about the consequences – how it affected our economy as a whole.

    disgusted on the beating on the animals as well, what kind of animal are these people!

    • Jamin Thompson June 3, 2011 at 12:47 am #

      Yes, it’s mainly an economics issue and regardless of whether a person eats meat or not…this situation will still affect them in some form or fashion. On the flip side of that, economics are no excuse for any farmer to mistreat an animal…that’s just abuse and never called for. When you really think about it…it’s criminal.

  15. nem621 May 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    im doing a project for school and i want to use your pictures but i need to know were they are from may you please cite!!

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