Outrage erupted after the discovery of horsemeat in products labeled as beef in England, France and Ireland. The horsemeat found has been traced to Romania, Cyprus and the Netherlands. In a cycle of endless finger-pointing, no country wants to take the blame for such a shock-inspiring discovery.
My response: am I really supposed to be surprised? I would hate to shatter the facade of the modern, industrial food industry, but the production of non-organic meat is incredibly corrupt.
Most modern-day farms, besides those that are organic, are not the image of rural, hard-working, tight-knit families working the land in the sun with their hoes and rakes with chickens running around coups and cows grazing in the open grass fields. They are instead factory farms, owned by incredibly large and affluent corporations, and they are comprised of industrial factories. Cows and pigs are kept in incredibly small, over-packed pens where they live in their own excrement, and they are fed corn meal injected with growth hormones and animal-byproduct to make them grow unnaturally fast and obscenely large to increase profits. They are then sent to horrendous mass slaughterhouses and their bodies are sent down assembly lines where underpaid laborers, who tend to lose their fingernails in the rancid meat, pulverize the food.
One of the side effects of feeding cows cornmeal is the development of E. coli when fed exclusively corn. Instead of changing practices and feeding them grass — which is much harder to inject with growth hormone — the “farmers” allow the cows to develop the E. coli and, after they are slaughtered, douse their meat in ammonia to try to kill the bacteria. Yum.
When you order a hamburger, especially from a fast-food restaurant, do not expect the meat to have come from one part of one cow. The contents of that “beef” are from various unappetizing parts of thousands of different cows from all over the world. And, apparently, horsemeat can easily slip through the cracks and join your sandwich.
If E. coli, ammonia, growth hormone and horsemeat don’t sound appetizing to you, I suggest you switch to organic food. Organic farms are under much stricter regulation than these industrial-sized meat producers. The animals are treated more humanely, killed more humanely and fed their natural diet sans growth hormone and animal byproduct. That means no ammonia and no horse meat either, believe it or not.
If you are terribly upset about the fact that you may have eaten horse meat, I don’t blame you. My advice: if you want to change the food industry, support organic farms. If not, enjoy your daily servings of growth hormone and horse meat labeled “beef.”
Audrey Wright is a contributing columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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