Have you ever had food poisoning and wondered why it’s so easy to get sick from food?
The main cause of food poisoning comes from bacteria known as e-coli; this nasty little bug lives in the stomachs of cows and pigs and can find its way into meat. If the infected meat is not cooked properly, the e-coli can infect our system causing severe diarrhea, kidney failure, and even death in young children and the elderly. It doesn’t just take consuming an uncooked hamburger to get this nasty bacterial infection, the bacteria can survive on surfaces and infect anything or anyone else who comes into contact with surfaces which have been infected. Sure, some times these things just happen, but why does our food need to be handled like toxic waste now when food poisoning and e-coli used to be very uncommon?
Some say it’s the result of our industrialized food industry and CAFOs.
What are CAFOs?
This is what a CAFO or concentrated animal food operation looks like.
CAFO is an acronym for confined animal feeding operation.
In these operations, hundreds or thousands of the same type of animal are kept in buildings and forced into pens which usually don’t have enough room for the animal to turn around. They are then fed constantly and injected with growth hormones so they will grow big and fat at a much faster rate than nature had intended them to. In addition to inhumane treatment of the animals, most CAFOs use pretty questionable practices. Many owners of feedlots feed the animals the cheapest food they can get their hands on. This is usually a corn based grain with all kinds of waste in it from rotten candy to other animals. On top of everything else, CAFOs commonly feed animals pieces of their own livestock which couldn’t be sold as food to distributors. These operations are turning herbivores into cannibals.
How Does this Lead to Dangers in Our Food?
When animals are stacked up on top of each other and are crammed into tight spaces, this greatly affects the creatures and the final product that ends up on your dinner table. The animals in these feedlots spend a large portion of their time standing in their own filth and feces, causing them to become sick and while ingesting e-coli bacteria at a much higher rate. Another dangerous thing happens when they feed the animals corn instead of the grass they are supposed to by way of evolution; some research even suggests that feeding an animal a high corn diet results in antibody resistant strands of e-coli.
CAFOs are also run on such a large scale that very little testing is done, if ever, for the presence of e-coli. (So are you hungry yet?)
What the Public Can Do to Change
It might feel like you don’t have much control over what these feed operations are doing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As the consumer, you control what you buy for you and your family. This is especially true with what you decide to put on the dinner table. To start, buy meat which comes from sustainable farming practices. Sustainable farming is basically old fashion farming, a type of farming which is almost unheard of today. The animals are fed the foliage they are meant to eat by nature and are allowed proper room and time to grow. Taking it a step further and eating only certified organic meat can also greatly reduce your risk of getting a food borne illness from contaminated food out of a CAFO. Proper handling of food starts long before you ever get it to your house; it starts at how the food is raised.
(Visit the Food Safety website for information about contamination)