Friday, March 12


Another state has the Bird Flu: "More than 300,000 chickens on Maryland's Eastern Shore were destroyed yesterday to stem a fresh outbreak of avian influenza. The flu has infected birds in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey in recent weeks and is threatening the heart of the tri-state Delmarva economy." Just wondering - is it wise to have an economy so tied to animals that a flu can torpedo several industries at once? And - forgetting for the moment the egregious ethics of killing 300,000 "food animals" without even turning them into food - is there in fact another industry that routinely has to destroy and discard such a large amount of its core product because of problems generated by the product itself?

Thursday, March 11


Those not repulsed by consuming dead flesh in a variety of tasty products may think twice if that flesh is human. Such is the case in British Columbia, where "health officials issued an alert urging anyone who may have meat from Robert Pickton's farm near Vancouver to contact police. Mr Pickton, 54, has been charged with 15 murders of women, most of whom were linked to Vancouver's sex trade." But don't worry - "The risk to human health for those who consumed the products is extremely remote, based on the fact most pork products are typically well-cooked, which is known to effectively destroy most infectious agents," local health authorities said in a statement. Well, then. All along the trouble with cannibalism was that we weren't cooking our fellow humans enough.

Wednesday, March 10

_________*NEW FEATURE: MONTHLY VEGAN*_________

In an effort to focus on the positive as well as the negative here at Meat Facts, I'm starting a new feature of including one story a month of the human-interest vegan. This is a story about some local person and/or family going vegan and how it's improved their life to one degree or another, and recipes for people to try in case they're so moved. This is not to diss the story genre, because each of these deserves to be heard, it's just that usually I haven't included them because there's no news hook, nothing that will be truly new or noteworthy to Meat Facts readers, since each of these is practically another introduction to the concept of veganism. But now I'm ignoring that concern, and I'll spotlight one a month. Here's March's Monthly Vegan.

"We did it for health reasons, and this was well before mad cow disease was in the news a lot," said Roger Browne, an engineer who had a health screening before beginning the vegan diet. He's since lost 35 pounds, feels great and plans a follow-up physical exam to compare the results of the diet. "We decided to avoid animal products, including dairy, which seems to be a source of allergies for a lot of people," he said. "I have a lot more energy since changing my diet and don't get as 'loggy' late in the day. At each meal, I eat until I'm full and my snack is often a handful of mixed nuts -- usually a no-no for other people."

Tuesday, March 9


"Americans are eating more fat and cholesterol as 'low-carb' diets grow in popularity, but people do not seem to be losing weight and they are putting their health at risk, U.S. researchers said" in a Reuters story from the weekend.

After a probing analysis of food consumption and health-risk data comes the meat of it, if you will, in another study:

"[Low-carb diets] may not help people lose weight, suggested a study by Linda van Horn of Northwestern University in Chicago and colleagues. The study assessed more than 4,000 people in the United States, Britain, Japan and China, asking them to write down everything they had eaten over two 24-hour periods. 'Lo and behold, what we did find is that without exception, a high complex-carbohydrate, high-fiber, high vegetable-protein diet was associated with low body-mass index (the standard measure of healthy weight),' Van Horn said.

Huh. What was that again? "The more animal protein a person ate, the higher his or her weight." Huh. Can ya beat that.

UPDATE 3/10: Another sun-rises-in-the-east discovery, via Vegan Porn: "Consuming foods high in animal protein, saturated fat, eggs and dairy" raises your risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that attacks the immune system, say Yale researchers in the American Journal of Epidemiology. "The study also showed that diets high in dietary fiber -- tomatoes, broccoli, mixed lettuce salad with vegetables, cauliflower, etc.-- were associated with a reduced risk of NHL."


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services are now officially examining the apparent cluster of CJD cases centered around the former Garden State Race Track in Cherry Hill. Janet Skarbek now has a list of at least eight and possibly 13 deaths from CJD in people known to have frequented the track. Steve Mitchell mentions the recent scientific discovery of a new form of CJD that mimics the sporadic form, and notes this interesting factoid: "One racetrack employee, Carrie Mahan, 29, died from a mysterious condition in 2000 that initially appeared to be vCJD. Subsequent tests, however, ruled out both vCJD and sporadic CJD, and it remains unclear exactly what killed Mahan. But at least one expert, Dr. Omar Bagasra, a biologist at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., suspected it could be a new strain of CJD related to mad cow-infected meat." Well, with one area developing at least twice the number of cases that could be explained by chance, it's gotta be something. Here's hoping these two agencies honestly work out the answer and provide it to us.


Here's a little human-interest story that fell through the cracks when the Mad Cow criminal probe was announced: An entire Green Bay-area family was forced out of their home by polluted water due to manure runoff from a nearby factory farm.

    Scott Treml, his wife, Judy, and their three daughters, ages 8, 6 and 6 months, were looking for a place to stay early Tuesday evening after presenting the Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Committee with a sample of water Tuesday morning taken from a kitchen tap Monday that looked more like ditch water than drinking water. "If my kids drank that they'd be in the hospital in 48 hours," Judy Treml said. "It's very scary living with that."

    The Tremls said manure spread on Stahl Farm fields starting on Thursday and ending on Saturday began showing up in their water over the weekend, and tests of their well water over the last two years have turned up evidence of fecal bacteria in water that appeared clean. David Bougie, an agricultural wastewater specialist for the state Department of Natural Resources, said Stahl Farms is the target of an ongoing investigation. "This facility has had a history of issues," Bougie said. Stahl Farms' owner, Glen J. Stahl, was cited and fined twice by the state for water pollution in the 1990s, according to computerized Circuit Court records.

    Treml said he has called Wallander and Bougie at least two dozen times to complain about manure handling at Stahl Farms over the past two years. Wallander said his hands are tied by regulations that limit the county's ability to regulate big farms.
Huh. Funny you should mention that, because on the same day, an editorial in a different Green Bay-area paper railed against exactly this level of heinous abuse of the system that animal exploiters enjoy. As Wisconsin considers a bill like those in other states to override counties' (and municipalities') concerns about huge factory farms moving in, the Green Bay News-Chronicle points out that "Development of CAFOs will be contrary to the interests of the real estate and tourism industries as well. Who would willingly patronize a restaurant downwind of a factory farm? How many folks would build a house in an area of strong stench? This bill should not attempt to force all counties to come under this proposal. There is no advantage for FAMILY farmers in this bill, so support by family farmers is inexplicable." Well, actually there is one possible explication for that, but it's not a charitable one, so we'll skip past it.

The article continues: "Concentrating one species in a small area is highly artificial, and invites disease outbreaks and defies good sense because of the concentration of manure. Reasonable people would not invest money in such enterprises." Exactly. And yet every single person who pays for a burger or a pound of USDA beef is doing precisely that.

Monday, March 8


Here's an interesting wrinkle in the Mad Cow lawsuit - the family is arguing that the store should have alerted them based on their purchase going through a "loyalty card." "QFC, through that card, has a databank which gives the addresses and phone numbers of all of their Advantage Saver customers and all they had to do is make one phone call and tell these people they had meat that might kill them," said Nick Steyant-Browne, the attorney for family. Sure, it sounds simple now, but would you want to make that call?

The funny part, though, is the comments of some of the loyalty-card customers on the prospect of using the card records for emergency contacts: "I think they should make their best attempt to post it conspicuously, but I don't really want them knowing what I bought," said David Chatt, an Advantage Card holder. And: "I just don't believe in giving the personal information out, that's all," said Lamar Beaber, another Advantage Card holder. Isn't this exactly the attitude of the meat-eating consumer? "As long as I don't quite understand what's going on in the back room there, it must be fine." Better than that, it's Grade-A!


Not sure how scientifically sourced this is, but Britain's Channel Five apparently will air findings that the infamous gladiators of old were vegans, so rough & tough they fought not in sandals, but barefoot! "Anthropological autopsies ... indicate a vegetarian diet of beans and barley which produced a thick layer of fat. 'They got enough of this food every day to make them very fat and strong,' said Karl Grossschmidt, a forensic anthropologist at Vienna University. Grossschmidt said the diet likely provided protection from slashing wounds and damage to nerves and blood vessels, with the layer of fat augmenting their scant armor." Well, OK. If you say so. All I can say is, if they were eating vegan and getting that fat, they must've had a hell of a lot of barley.


Well, OK, it's McDonald's Japan. But as I've pointed out before, what happens at the biggest non-US franchise of McDonald's Corp. is sometimes a harbinger of trends for the company at large. I mentioned the Japan unit's recent tailspin and how it was a bad sign, and Businessweek seems to concur: "Given that the Japan operation generates nearly $2.7 billion in sales... the troubles there made the folks back at headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., a bit edgy." So... tofu sandwiches! Let's get 'em over here!