Saturday, December 27


"Cattle in other states may have eaten the same contaminated feed that infected a Washington state Holstein with mad cow disease," begins this Washington Post story, alarmingly enough, then comes the punch line: "but investigators who want to track the infection to its source are being confounded by the lack of an organized system that would lead them to the herd where the cow was born."

Of course. We're talking about a system overseen by the USDA after all, and this is their M.O. to a T. Keep the accountability of the individual producers (meaning massive factory farm operations) low and the resulting risk to the public high. Remember, "job one is to sell more beef for a better price."

(A side note, the flip side of "job one," is that they're now quarantining possibly-infected calves the cow had had, and one of the births was the cause of the animal's trip to the slaughterhouse - "the birth caused injuries that made the Holstein unprofitable to the farm, prompting it to be shipped to the slaughterhouse on Dec. 9." Yes, being a mother - its job description - made this animal something to throw away. That's yer "job one" industry, all right!)

As the story broke, officials worked to muddy public perception of how momentous this is, keeping the question open of whether any of the animal would have actually been sold to and eaten by anybody. "Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the slaughtered cow was screened earlier this month and any diseased parts were removed before they could enter the food supply and infect humans." Isn't that reassuring? But inaccurate. Parts that would be definitely diseased may have been removed. But we don't know, as I pointed out below, what other parts may be diseased. That's why a 10,000-pound recall involving over hundreds of grocery stores was in order, and why people who ate it, or may have eaten it, deserve more accountability both on the cow's origin and the nature of its illness. Mike Read, a spokesman for WinCo Foods, where some customers have returned meat for a refund, related that others "have called in and said, 'I purchased it, and I have already eaten it and what should I do?'"

The only good answer is, sit there and hope other people learn from your mistake. Because it may unfortunately be too late for you to do anything. But it's not too late for the rest of the American public to stop buying beef.

Wednesday, December 24


Well, it's been less than a week since I conjectured that Mad Cow was already here and our government knew it. Now it's all over the news - the news, by the way, that massive portions of the U.S. are not paying attention to because it's Christmas, fer chrissake! Huh. Isn't that a coincidence.

Note that the story linked above has the requisite blather about how beef is completely safe, from meat industry officials, with no balancing commentary from anyone stronger than CSPI or Consumer Reports. Assertions such as "The infectious agent is only found in the central nervous system tissue," which have been shown to be untrue, are passed on to news consumers as gospel. We'll see how well the grand BS strategy works... who knows, it's worked before.

Tuesday, December 23


It's a little more complicated than that, but not much. While it seems to be an obvious abuse of pedagogical power, the, er, experiment conducted by this teacher merely underscores how cow's milk can be an unwelcome presence in our bodies - not that this is news to Meat Facts readers.

It's also not news that adults push milk on kids who don't want it - this is just an extreme example. But you can find just about anywhere complaints that "my kids don't like milk" and testimonials to clever, innovative ways to trick the li'l ones into drinking it - and since This is That Time of the Year, let's not forget that half-a-century-old lyric about the well-known ways things are different at Christmastime - "Windows are dressed in ribbons of silk / And Junior drinks all of his milk!" Gee, maybe kids' natural antipathy towards cow's milk helps explain why there's so much more supply than demand when it comes to milk - all of which makes the concept of cloning animals for this purpose even more ridiculous. As Carol Tucker Foreman puts it, "Is it worth altering the basic nature of these animals just to make more milk? We have a surplus of milk."

Monday, December 22


That seems to be the prevailing opinion among not only vegetarians but meat-eaters. In yet another case of a food animal escaping imminent slaughter and being rewarded with a new lease on life, the slaughterhouse agreed to donate the animal (after getting paid for expenses related to the great escape) to a sanctuary. The change of heart is summed up this way: "He put a face on food," Dorothy Davies said. "Looking at hamburger meat wrapped in a cellophane package is not the same as looking at that face." It's another great example of the hypocrisy inherent in meat-eating, namely: An animal that does something remarkable obviously has an individual will and personality, a face, but get rid of that face, and sure, I'll eat it right up.