My Day of Meats

The same day I finished Ruth Ozeki's fascinating Fast Food Nation-style novel My Year of Meats (complete with gory scenes of beef slaughter run amok, a 5-year old girl whose perfectly mature breasts are the result of livestock hormones, and the preemptive use of antibiotics on healthy chickens--surprisingly profound and entertainingly written), I picked up Frances Moore Lappe's new book Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. "To get just one calorie of food energy from steak, we burn 54 irreplaceable fossil-fuel calories," she writes, "so producing one pound of steak--providing less than 1,000 calories--uses up 45,000 fossil fuel calories." It was also that day when none other than McDonald's offered yet another reason to give up factory-farmed meat: antibiotics used in meat production can lower the effectiveness of antibiotic use in humans. Currently an estimated 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs in the United States are given to healthy pigs, cows and chickens to promote growth and prevent disease. The AP reports on McDonald's new policy about buying meat treated with antibiotics:
Under the four-page policy, McDonald's is telling its direct suppliers - which provide most of its poultry and 20 percent of all its meat - to phase out the use of antibiotics that promote growth in animals by the end of 2004. They will be asked to submit annual certifications testifying they are complying and face periodic audits.

Indirect suppliers, those providing beef and pork, also are being encouraged to stop the practice or risk losing business clout with one of the world's largest meat buyers. McDonald's said those seeking preferred status will have to certify compliance and maintain records of their antibiotic use.

The new policy does not prohibit the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals.
Kudos to McDonald's, but, regardless, I'm switching to grass-fed, or none at all.

For related resources, visit Ruth Ozeki's excellent links page or the Organic Consumers Association website.

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