Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The other white meat

Let me out!Last week The New Scientist reported the results of a study regarding the disease rates in organic pigs versus ones raised conventionally.

This is a no brainer, right? The organic pigs are by far going to be healthier, have less exposure to disease given their healthier living conditions and just generally be happier and shinier, right? Um, well, no.

According to the study, done by researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University, of the U.S. pigs that were tested, they found traces of Salmonella in 39% of the conventionally raised pigs (which are routinely given antibiotics) and in 54% of organic pigs raised outdoors without the drugs. Did you just snort those pork rinds out yer snout? Well, read on.

Additionally, the study found that two of the organic pigs had signs of infection with Trichinella, our dear roundworm friend that can cause trichinosis when undercooked pork is eaten. Trichinella has been nearly eradicated in livestock in the the U.S. and Europe, although it still exists in wildlife. The rate they found it was 23 times the average frequency in conventional piggies.

And, just to wrap things up, the researchers also found traces of the parasite Toxoplasma, which is carried by cats and other animals, in 1% of conventional pigs and 7% of free-range animals. For those of you who have been pregnant, you will recognize this as the parasite that can damage developing fetuses.

Now, before you start throwing out all your organic pork products in fear for your life let me remind you that as long as pork is cooked thoroughly according to federal guidelines, the presence of these infectious agents in food animals should pose no risk to human health. So, what's one to do? Shooting pigs up with antibiotics prophylactically breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but not giving them drugs means more animals carry Salmonella and other nasties.

Pork. It's what's for dinner.This doesn't, of course, take into consideration animal welfare or other environmental impacts, but if we were to look strictly at food safety this poses a huge conundrum. Does eliminating antibiotic pre-treatment create an environment for the resurgence of diseases that we thought were somewhat under control? What does this all signify and can the same parallels be drawn in other animal stock? Will we see similar results if organic poultry and cattle operations are similarly studied and compared against conventional?

The obvious argument will be just to choose a vegan or vegetarian diet and you then eliminate all chance of meat-borne pathogens, but let's face it, that's just not a realistic answer.

Now comes the biggest question of them all, if you dig deep into the bowels of the original study article in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease you'll find this gem: "This project was funded by a grant from the National Pork Board (NPB-04-108)."

How significant is that? If you read the study it appears that the researchers are basically just reporting the numbers of animals found exhibiting the presence of certain pathogens, but we all know how numbers can be massaged to support one argument over another. How can we trust food safety research if there is the possibility of an ulterior motive funded by industry?

In either case, we are in a bit of a pickle. On one hand, organic pork appears to have more contaminants. If this isn't actually the case, then we are being bombarded by food safety studies that are skewed to smear the organic industry.

So, what should we do with this information?


knittinandnoodlin said...

Ew. I remember swearing off pork in junior high when I learned about trichinosis. Of course, I got over it the next time someone cooked bacon. But, when I read this I realized that I apparently forgot all about that class the other night when I ordered some chops medium-rare. I now have a terrible case of the heebie-jeebies. *blech*

That is a good point that you raise, though. The results of research are only as good as its source...and after reading Michael Pollan's books I'm convinced that any information that comes out of the food industry as to what is good or not good for us is absolute crap. I'll take these results with a grain of salt, but you can bet I'm going to be cooking my pork a lot more thoroughly now.

Robj98168 said...

Lets see if I can spell now.
When I first saw the title, I was afraid to go on The other white meat? The way your posts have been so racy lately I thought it would infect my virginal mind.
My grandma had an obsessive fear of trhiconosis.She never, never undercooked her pork. When she cooked pork chops you couyld just add a couple of straps and you could use them as sandals.

lacemase said...

As a side note, pork that has been frozen for more than 21 days at <5F will also kill trichinosis. So for those of you that buy pork from a local farmer and store it in your freezer are in luck (as I am)!

Anonymous said...

I wonder about the source data for the comparisons. Did these researchers travel around to the kind of very small farms that maybe raise a dozen hogs at a time and sell out of chops and roasts if you don't buy them the very first day they are at market? Or did they make a comparison between CAFO pigs and pigs raised without benefit of drugs and "outside" but also confined to pens in larger numbers. I guess I'm wondering if these were pastured pigs or just pigs outside.
I tried to take a look at the original source article and found I could purchase it for $29. I'm not willing to do that, but if anyone does I'd be interested in learning the answers to these questions.

Anonymous said...

It's great that you look at who funded the study. Although scientific research should be neutral, the way that it reaches the public can be influenced by press releases, etc. It makes sense that pigs who have not been given antibiotics would have higher rates of of these diseases. This reminds me of the decision of some parents to skip vaccines for their children. We must be aware that if we skip antibiotics and vaccines, there's the possibility that we can get sick.
I have always questioned the idea of "antibiotic-free" meats. If the animals are sick, please give them antibiotics. In my opinion, it is cruel to leave a sickness untreated. I must say, however, that I don't know how these diseases affect pigs, and I suppose it's possible that they are just carriers.
Anyway, we'll be raising our own pigs for our meat this year. Thanks for the information, as I'll be sure to cook our pork thoroughly.

maryann said...

I had the same question as three herbs, what was the source of the pigs in study? I'm especially curious since it was funded by the Pork industry. I don't have a whole lot of faith in any big industry food source, whether it's vegetables, grains or meats. To me, food was never meant for factory farms.

Anonymous said...

this is a really interesting post. after I became vegeterian a million years ago I was researching the topic for a paper and learned that pigs will eat any and everything whether it's supposed to be eaten or not. this is the mentality of a pig so it makes sense that the organic ones (no drugs) would potentially transmit more diseases.

Here's my question for your readers. If you HAVE to shoot an animal up with antibiotics to make them safe to eat, doesn't that clearly demonstrate that we should not eat said animals at all? I love bacon just like the next guy but it is simply unsafe to eat on a lot of different levels.

Joyce said...

My sister is a food scientist, who did her Master's research at the University of Illinois. She says pretty much all food research is funded by various segments of the food industry. However, the industry does need the research done, and uses the results for the most part to improve production and food safety, as well as to find new applications and markets for their products. I don't think we need to automatically assume that the funders of this research were trying to bad-mouth organically raised pork.

Unknown said...

Once again, Crunchy, you prove you're the place to go for the latest info! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check the organic pork in my freezer.

Frisky said...

ugh. more proof that most of the people in the food business don't care about keeping us safe, but about making more money. they'll skew the information however they want.

i'll just stay a vegetarian, thanks.

J said...

As a vegan, I do not really have to be too concerned with meat, as obviously, I do not eat it. However, I am not naive nor do I think the world should become vegetarian or vegan, so I think this issue deserves even my input.

First off, of course the National Pork Board is going to have some influence on the study. If, say, most of the member of the board are in conventional pig rearing, than of course, there is an obvious conflict of interest.

I think in many ways, people feel if something is organic, then certainly it's better. I thought so too until I read The Omnivore's Dilemma where Pollan discussed an organic chicken farm, really no different from a conventional once accept that the people who worked with the animals had to wear essentially haz mat suits since they couldn't give the chickens antibiotics.

If the animals were raised in an integrated ecosystem, as opposed to an assembly line, you would probably see a reduction of these contaminants and pathogens as a result. Monoculture is a bad thing, all around.

Greenpa said...

Whoa nellie! :-)

You have bought into the Food Industry's hidden assumption/LIE. Which is:

Food should be sterile. And presence of "disease" organisms is always bad.

Both of those are totally untrue; but since the development of the "germ" theory of disease, it's been used to frighten people for a wide variety of reasons; in this case, to convince you that their "clean" pork is better/healthier than that "dirty" pork.

Back up folks!!

Did you take a breath of air anytime in the last minute? yes? You just breathed in 1,000,000 "germs". And the breath before? The same. Are you dead yet? Apparently not.

The world has always been full of germs- and humans are, in their natural state- totally able to cope with them. Have been ever since we were Homo erectus. oh, I guess even before that. :-)

By amazing good fortune, here's an article from todays NYT - on how badly you NEED to have a FEW hookworms in your system. Though they don't put it that way.

It can be hard to relax, I know- we've had this pounded in to us for so long. But the reality is; an ultra-clean biological system is a plague waiting to happen. A nice dirty pig- has got all his armor on, and will likely pass his resistances on to your family, too.

Not kidding- this area is one of my main professional focuses.

Anonymous said...

Abbie, the problem with antibiotics is that they aren't given to sick animals, they're given to all the animals in the herd, mostly to boost production - minor colds & other illnesses slow growth slightly.

If a farm had a small number of animals and treated them on an as-needed basis, it would not cause as much of a problem with breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans.

But since we can't trust big ag to self-regulate, we can either find a farmer we trust or go with the antibiotic-free label and hope it's occasionally checked up on.

Personally, i think the risk of disease from improperly-handled pork is *much* less of an issue than the risk from strains of common illnesses that become antibiotic resistant.

Now I'm going to go look up if you can get toxoplasmosis from meat, or only from fecal exposure - which is much less likely from small farms than from confinement operations, organic or not.

Anonymous said...

...and it looks like pork is a major source of toxoplasmosis. I found a Canadian govt source on top of Google -

The fetal damage only happens if you did not have toxoplasmosis before you got pregnant and *do* get infected during pregnancy. But toxoplasmosis, like chicken pox, can cause problems long after the initial infection, if you become immune-compromised (which we all do eventually if we live long enough -that's why shingles is so common in really elderly people.)

I guess I will continue to cook pork well done when we serve it.

Anonymous said...

wait, how do people delete their posts?

I meant to say up there, antibiotic resistant diseases are much MORE of a risk than trichinosis, since you can avoid mishandling your food. Jeez.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpa - there is a difference between "sterile" and a 50% infection rate. Of course, those critters harboring bugs sans antibiotics probably have a stronger immune system, but that's still, I believe, a risky venture.

As for the NYT article, that is a fairly desperate approach to medicine. Infecting someone with a parasite that is known to risk the host's health on the offchance that it helps their allergies is a little nutty.

In addition to potentially stunting growth, kids that are "infected" with the hookworms risk being robbed of their daily iron requirement, "and because the worms suppress the immune system, they can increase the host’s susceptibility to diseases like AIDS and malaria."

I'll take the sneezing and watery eyes, thankyouverymuch.

Kelsie said...

Rosa had it spot on with the antibiotics question. I used to think that antibiotic-free animals were forced to suffer illness without proper care, but when I went to work on an organic goat farm, I discovered how it works--or at least how it SHOULD work.

Basically, we gave NO preventative antibiotics (that concept to me is mind boggling, anyway). Like humans, the goats got colds, cheek abscesses (VERY common), pink eye, foot infections, etc., and like humans, we treated them holistically with herbs, vitamins, and diet until they were better. In my two years on the farm, I saw a goat receive antibiotics three times--once for an udder that was so badly abscessed that the goat ended up losing a teat and being retired to pasture, once for a goat who lost her pregnancy and went septic (she ended up passing away), and once for a goat who was passing bloody milk. Because we hand-milked the goats prior to hooking them to the machines, and because and spent every day with them, we were able to immediately isolate the bloody milk goat from the herd and, yes, give her antibiotics. Once she was better, we hand milked her and fed the milk to the barn cats/dogs FOR TWO MONTHS so that the antibiotics could leave her system.

And that's how it worked--and, ideally, that's how it WOULD work, if every organic animal farm were a small-scale operation.

Unfortunately, that's just not the case, and I find myself unable to trust all those free range, organic meats, eggs, and milk products available at the supermarket. :/

Lynnet said...

Sponsorship by the Pork Board would certainly make the conclusions suspect in my book. Confinement raising of any animal is evil IMHO.

The Pork Board was probably feeling the heat from the public about the cruelty, the tremendous load of pollution produced by these operations, the fact that the pigs (and cows in feedlots) barely make it to slaughter weight before they die of something.

So they had to do something, right? Let's point out that these poor confinement pigs, who are about to die anyway of natural causes, don't have as much trichinella and salmonella.

You can expect the same broadside attack on organic vegetables soon, as the market for them grows.

Meanwhile the Beef Council says nothing about the infection of feedlot beef with E coli 0157, caused by feeding corn and soy to grazers.

A few mega-corporations are working day and night to control all our food supplies. They've pretty well done it with meat and staples, and they're well along the way with vegetables. Just Say No.
Buy from local growers, join a CSA, Grow Your Own. This is your life and the life of your family you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

I think we all need to take proper food handling and cooking seriously. Most all these "nasties" can be killed by proper cooking temperatures. It's all well and good to get freaked out by what we read, but like you said in this post, consider the source of the information.

We do not eat pork anymore for other personal convictions. But if we did, I would cook it properly before I ate it! :)

Anonymous said...

i'd say 99/100 times i don't side with religion, but in this case i will. just don't eat it. the muslims and jews have it right... it's a dirty animal. they're cute and smart and all these other wonderful things. but they don't seem to be too great for human consumption...

Greenpa said...

Kimberly-" but in this case i will. just don't eat it. the muslims and jews have it right... it's a dirty animal. "

I think most anthropologists looking for underlying reasons for the semitic ban on pork look elsewhere than for dirt- particularly since so many other cultures; eg. China, do not share the ban.

Consensus a number of years ago seemed to be settling on the idea that pigs were banned because they compete directly with humans for food; we're both omnivores.

All speculation, of course- but if pigs are dirty and contagious- why is China the ONLY surviving ancient culture? :-)

Greenpa said...

Kelsie- the meat industry really doesn't feed antibiotics to everything so much as a "preventative" but because of a side effect of the antibiotics.

Almost all animals put on weight faster if they're on antibiotics; probably because they aren't spending any energy on fighting off the everyday bugs. That does take some energy to do.

They let everybody think (and encourage the lie) that they are fighting disease- but it just ain't so. It's purely profit. Surprise!

Greenpa said...

Kelsie- the meat industry really doesn't feed antibiotics to everything so much as a "preventative" but because of a side effect of the antibiotics.

Almost all animals put on weight faster if they're on antibiotics; probably because they aren't spending any energy on fighting off the everyday bugs. That does take some energy to do.

They let everybody think (and encourage the lie) that they are fighting disease- but it just ain't so. It's purely profit. Surprise!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, but are Vegans really safe these days either? I seem to recall a problem with salmonella and tomatoes recently ... luckily we grow all our own.


Walter Jeffries said...

This study is bogus. Start with the fact that it was funded by Big Ag who is looking to prove their pork is safe in the face of the recent revelations that antibiotic use in confinement feeding operations is causing multi resistant super bacteria (MRSA). Go read this article to find some of the flaws in this sort of corporate led press release 'research'.

Yael said...

eat kosher? :-)

Jen said...

Since I work at a biotech, I can read the full article for free. The New Scientist article made much bigger conclusions than the primary article. I was surprised to see them go so far as to say the meat was less healthy. The original article just said that the animals from the outdoor raised, "anti-microbial free" tested seropositive (that's antibodies in their blood) for these pathogens. That's a pretty good chance that the pathogen is probably in the meat as well but they didn't test the meat only the blood of the animal. Also, if you look at the significance test for the findings, only one farm had a significant number of infected animals for salmonella, the others were below significance. The toxoplasma was significant but not surprising since you can get toxoplasma from cat feces and cats like to poo just about everywhere as anyone with a garden probably knows.
So, I would say New Scientist is making bigger conclusions than I would and just cook your meat and you'll be fine.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpa - I'm hoping that the anthropologists looked into the compounding issues with how Asian cuisine tends to rely heavily on spices and citrus which have been found to have some protective effect against contamination.

Not having lived in China and only having experienced American Chinese food I have found that, at least in that cuisine, the pork is always cooked until it was beyond recognizable.

I don't believe the same spicy factor exists in kosher and I don't know much about what Muslims eat, but there's my 2 pennies.

Kristijoy said...

OH for goodness sake, food had bugs and germs in it. News at 11.

My s.o. bought halibut with the skin on a few weeks ago and as I was cutting it up I found worms in it, cause that's what they do, live in wild caught fish.

The only time toxoplasmosa is dangerous is if you have a pregnant woman who has never been exposed to it before.

Most of us get exposed to it at some point if we are raised around animals. (this includes environments in which mice and rats may reside in homes, not as pets.) Otherwise you have immunity to it.

Bacteria can grow IN plant foods food too. Plants can get you as sick as animals.

And you can get human transmitted pathogens from veggies and fruits too, like hepatitis. which scares me more than trichinosis. One will kill you slowly, the other just maybe mostly inconvenient. Guess which is which.

You can't expect living organisms to be pathogen free. it's all a part of life. Parasites too.

Cook your food, filter yer water, wash your veggies.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Good grief, people, the point isn't that pork has contaminants in it (of course it does!), it was the comparison between organic and conventional growing methods and the rates of infection.

Anonymous said...

Feeding organic isn't the answer, it's a part of the answer.

Feeding an animal an organic SPECIES INAPPROPRIATE diet is not healthy.

Pigs, Chickens, Cows cannot be healthy eating grain - even organic grain.

That's not what their biology dictates that they should eat.

Feeding a species appropriate diet is the foundation. Feeding an organic species appropriate diet is ideal.

Feeding an organic species inappropriate diet is useless. Eating organic non-gmo corn syrup is still unhealthy because corn syrup is unhealthy!

hoorayparade said...

all i can say is... "Ack!"

JessTrev said...

Yowza, great post, I am most intrigued (got a bacon lover in my home). My dad won't eat Wilbur 'cause pigs are so smart -- and he's not even a strict vegetarian -- just no pig. Love Greenpa's point about how germ phobic we all are (myself most definitely included).

Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand the issue with the antibiotics in the food being a problem, treating all the animals due to confinement making them more likely to get sick.
However, as someone who lived for the first 26 years of her life on a small, family run farm, I have a problem with the idea that animals have never been treated with antibiotics. For example, it's easy to dump the milk of a dairy cow until the antibiotics are out of her system, and then resume milking. I don't think her milk should then never be able to be considered healthy because she was given antibiotics for an infection like mastitus or something like that. If my animals are sick, I'll give them medicine.
Moving on with the pork issue, I'd have to agree with Greenpa. Sterile is not the way to go. But also, organic is not always the way to go, either, as we see in huge agro-business owned organic farms.
I say, know your farmers, know your risks and how to avoid them (like cooking pork all the way), and you'll be albe to make your own decisions.

Spot-On said...

Doesn't affect me being veggie for nearly 20 years, but the fact that it's paid for by the pork industry makes ya go hmmmmm.
Anyone who's seen the real side of monstanto (watch the documentaries! seriously!) will know that reports can be played with to reflect the outcome they choose to portray.
On a similar note, did anyone see that monsanto are trying to patent the pig? WTH?

Wendy said...

I don't eat "organic" food - at least not "organic" labeled food from the grocery store. I've read all of the statistics and research, and in my opinion, if it was raised in a monoculture (food or plant), regardless of the label, there are bound to be problems.

Instead, I raise what I can, all of our eggs, much of our produce, and recently some of our meat, I buy dry items in bulk (beans, flour, sugar, olive oil, rice, cereal), and everything else is sourced from LOCAL farmers.

If you're worried about what you're eating, my advice would be to either raise it yourself, or to find a farm where you can see the animal (or plant) before it becomes your food.

Otherwise, you're playing with fire regardless of the labels.

Robj98168 said...

soylent green is ...people?

e4 said...

So did the study check E. coli counts? Hmmmmmm? I bet they just forgot...

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

If you are going to eat the critter, for gods sake cook it thoroughly. I,like Rob, grew up thinking pork chops and shoe leather were synonymous.

Anonymous said...

in the end, i think that all you can do is weigh the risks and the benefits and use good judgement when it comes to what you put in and on your body. cook meats thoroughly, wash your hands well and often using good technique (soap, friction, clean water and time)and don't believe everything you read. there are 3 kinds of lies.. lies, damned lies and statistics. studies can be manipulated by individuals with an investment in the outcome. use common sense. if you belong to or cook for a high risk group such as those who are (for whatever reasons) immunocompromised, infants, small children and the elderly pay extra care to your preparation technique.

Jenn said...

The obvious argument will be just to choose a vegan or vegetarian diet and you then eliminate all chance of meat-borne pathogens, but let's face it, that's just not a realistic answer.

Crunchy - I'm curious to know why that's not a realistic answer. Even going "part-time" vegetarian (or vegan) would help reduce risk of illness through contaminated meat (or animal) foods and would really reduce your ecological footprint.

People who abstain from meat and animal products impact the earth far less with their food choices than people who eat meat. Given the options that we have in the US -- why not abstain from meat? You can get plenty of protein from plant sources (like quinoa - yum!) that is cheaper, nutritious and lower in calories without any risk of antibiotics or growth hormones.

In fact, you can even grow your own quinoa as an edible ornamental (fuschia, ochre and orange quinoa!).

Greenpa said...

Becca- "Just a thought, but are Vegans really safe these days either? "

most of the vegans we've eaten recently have been pretty raunchy- so we go with the pressure cooker, just to be sure. Pulled vegan is pretty ok, but like La Crunch says; add plenty of spices.

Sharlene said...

Isn't it nice to live in a country where we can be finicky about our pork? There are plenty of people in this world who would gladly take our pork, cook the hell out of it, and be happy campers. That being said I will continue to cook my pork to the safety standards or freeze it as necessary.

Nia H. said...

Whoa, Crunchy Chicken. I'm afraid you've bypassed my threshold of knowledge. We've gotten ourselves in a nice predicament, haven't we?

What's an innocent organic food consumer to do? Well-- time to assume the fetal position...

ruchi said...

I will just add my two cents: given the tomato debacle, being a vegan isn't necessarily the magic answer either. My main concern with veganism is that a lot of vegans I know (though probably fewer vegans on this blog) rely a lot on processed faux meat. And that faux meat can be compromised as well. Apparently Gardenburgers (the original variety) got pulled for a month. No one's saying why, but there it is.

Anonymous said...

greenpa - "Pulled vegan is pretty ok, but like La Crunch says; add plenty of spices."

what part ya pullin?

Jenn said...

arduous - Gardenburgers are GROSS! That and they contain cheese and lots of dairy -- I'd pull them permanently if I could!

Personally, I avoid fake meats like the plague. They are basically over-processed junk food. That, and anything with soy protein isolates makes me nauseous and puts me out for the night.

Being vegan is pretty darned safe - tainted tomatoes aside (I grow my own anyway). The worst thing I have to watch out for is sneaky legumes or processed soy products -- so, if you go macrobiotic or (mostly) soy/legume-free vegan like me, that leaves plenty of "safe" foods like arugula and quinoa.


Anonymous said...

Who did you expect to fund this study? The tomato growers union? OF COURSE the pork industry funded this study. It is in their interest to find out the impact of different ways of maintaining their livestock. Contrary to popular opinion, science doesn't pay for itself. No one says, "I think I'll put a couple of million toward researching x" without some kind of agenda. Does that mean the study was necessarily biased? No. Does that mean the funding source had no impact? No. Sure, take the funding source into consideration when you read the article, but don't immediately discount it as tainted because the money came from an interested party.

To be perfectly honest the results sound common sense to me. I'm a regular pork eater who buys pastured pork from a local farmer and I cook the pork well because I expect it to contain pathogens. The pig is hanging out eating bugs and mushy acorns and half rotted apples and who knows what all else. Cooking kills the nasties and I get the tasty, tasty pork.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Angel B - Hmm, let's see... the NIH, CDC, FDA, and NGOs interested in food safety.

I don't know about you, but I like to keep my science separate from the industry that benefits from it. At least directly.

Unknown said...

Considering that there are still contaminants on fruits and veggies, I still think it is a better (and realistic) option for people to go at least partially veg*n.

And then look at why the pigs are being kept in conditions that would lead to infections to begin with.

nemo said...

Bacteria and parasites in animals used for food do not necessarily pose a problem to those eating those animals. We are clearly ignoring several important steps here.
1. Where are those bacteria/parasites and is there a risk that they will contaminate the edible parts? I.e. if these organisms are in the gut and you eat the muscle there is nothing to worry about unless the preparer is careless. Most "factory" food processing is quite careless.
2. Your digestive system has defenses. Stomach acid is there to sterilize food. Enzymes destroy a lot toxins.
3. Food preparation. Most food preparation is there to destroy parasites and bacteria. That includes cooking but also drying, salting and other methods.
4. Different species. Not all organisms can jump species.

Food that is mass produced and widely distributed clearly offers many more opportunities for contamination than food locally produced and eaten. That is why you can drink raw milk from the local farm (provided the cattle is tb free), but distributing raw milk of a wide area is very dangerous.

It is all about the context.

Greenpa said...

Blonde Overboard- what parts ya interested in?? 8-)

Anonymous said...

abbie b, I'm a locally-produced pork girl myself (ironically, right after I left my last comment I checked my email and one said "My mom wants to know if you want half a pig?") It's not hard in the midwest.

But the national standards aren't really there for the small farmer-consumer relationship, they're there for the giant agricorps, and as such they have to either be absolutist or set measurable standards. Since you can't necessarily tell the total lifetime antibiotic exposure of an animal by testing the meat, they made it an absolute measure. And in terms of large producers, it's a good step - if we can't get them to be humane or sustainable, we can at least stop some of them from breeding superbugs to infect us.

I'd like the no antibiotics rule applied to all CAFOs, it'd put them all out of business.

Becky said...

darned, I have been eating raw and severely undercooked meats for decades in Europe, Asia, and the US.

I also graze through my garden and there are lots of birds helping with fertilizing.

Maybe I am sick and don't know?

Anonymous said...

The reason you need antibiotics with industrial animals is simple: all species exhibit stress when confined to overcrowded environments. Stress leads to a much higher frequency of illness. The antibiotics are preventative. It may be that they grow faster/bigger but the money also says don't lose half your pigs before they are harvestable.

After reading Omnivore' Dilemma I am skeptical of the organic label. As someone else said, monoculture is what stinks, as does feeding animals a diet they were never designed to be healthy on (organic or not).

Apropos of my last comment, I am a happy omnivore for the same reason: it is the diet we humans evolved to be most healthy on. That, and frankly you simply cannot substitute animal fat and get the same quality of flavour (call me a gastronome).

However, for environmental reasons (and $$ reasons) we limit meat consumption in our family to once or twice week. I love pork meat (and pork fat is divine), and I buy it from the farmer's market where there is an excellent farm whose pigs have plenty of room to live and breathe (and eat what pigs are supposed to eat). I don't buy it often so when i do it's a real treat.

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)