Saturday, June 14


I'm not in favor of dog beating, dog eating, dog stealing or dog killing. But it's still a little screwy that such an act would be beyond the imagination of those who routinely pay for animal killing: "Benzing's other neighbor across the street is suspected, however, of committing an almost unimaginable act: Beating to death a dog, grilling it, and then eating it." It's almost unimaginable! Unless you're in Korea, that is. Or unless you can "imagine" that a pig might deserve the same outrage that the dog does.

Friday, June 13


With the news that one of the people responsible for the spread of Monkeypox, who is himself infected, has been on the line as a meat inspector, we've all got to ask, how credible is our inspection system? A Seattle-area TV station is being attacked with state money over its investigation into the handling of downer cows, in which "videotape shows meat inspectors failing to follow food safety codes and cows improperly stunned." The reporter repeats the company's assurance that this could never happen, and Mike, a former USDA inspector, says "That's a lie. It happens on a daily basis." And let's not kid ourselves that this one plant is the only place where it that's true.

But what about inspectors who are doing their job? The Baltimore Sun reports that even the ispection system in place for downer cows (of which "cow zero" in Canada was one), if followed to the letter, could still miss BSE. And in the meantime, still more holes in the firewall are coming to light, including the "restaurant exemption," which allows beef to be fed to cows if it's gone through a restaurant first. This USA Today article touches on my point that our moral queasiness about animal slaughter is what allows unsafe abuses:
"But opening this delicate topic could have unappetizing consequences for consumers who rarely think about what those sizzling steaks and burgers went through on the way from feedlot to backyard grill. When they do, they might not want to pay higher prices
to change the system." Nope. Especially since we're already paying enough just to keep the system going: As just one relevant example, we're paying to shield ranchers from mad cow risk, as this explanation of the USDA-underwritten insurance program makes clear. "The economics are tilted towards the producer as well, since he or she pays only a portion of the actual risk premium. USDA pays 13% of the risk premium and all of the administrative costs." Sure, why should the fellas slaughtering the downer cows and foisting more diseases onto the public get stuck with the bill?


Eating a diet high in iron could increase the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease, say researchers. In case you didn't know, this article helpfully shows where we tend to get our iron from - mmmm, irony...

Wednesday, June 11


I ignored this the first few times I saw it over the past couple weeks, but now it's everywhere - this news story stating that "A well-planned vegetarian diet can be a healthy alternative for people of all ages." It's pegged to a position paper of the American Dietetic Association, but that position is not new. At any rate, it's pegged to the inclusion of the paper in June's Journal of the ADA, and the full paper is much more extensive and informative than the version I once read on the ADA web site, so I'll link to it. Just a couple of noteworthy items: "Dietetics professionals have a responsibility to support and encourage those who express an interest in consuming a vegetarian diet." (OK, I'll quote you on that) "Studies typically show iron intake by vegans to be higher than that of lacto-ovo-vegetarians and of nonvegetarians" (I did not know that!) "those who ate meat were more than twice as likely to develop dementia. Those who had eaten meat for many years were more than three times as likely to develop signs of dementia." (Didn't know that either, but it explains a lot.)

Tuesday, June 10


A study finds that large hog farms lower property values. Fave factoids:
Allowing a medium- or large-scale factory farm to set up shop near a residential area lowers nearby property values by more than $1,800. And Only landfills have a worse effect on adjacent property values. Think about it.

Monday, June 9


Canada, U.S. likely have more mad cow cases - expert. The exchange of live cattle between the two countries means there is a "high probability" the brain-wasting disease is in U.S. cattle." This from Ulrich Kihm, a member of the Paris-based Office International des Epizooties' expert committee on bovine spongiform encephalopathy). OK, well that's one expert. Another is Micahel Greger, who supplies meticulous detail to back up "US Violates Global Standards on Preventing Mad Cow." As far as mainstream Journalism, the question Is U.S. beef safe to consume? is finally being openly raised, without providing a reassuring affirmative answer. Meanwhile, the cattle industry marches on with a line of hip drinks ever-so-suavely named "Mad Cow" - "but later renamed Raging Cow to avoid comparisons with the livestock illness. Geez, I hope the comparisons would at least be favorable: "Adulterated milk! It's nowhere near as bad as a fatal brain-wasting disease!" it?