Tuesday, July 28, 2009

meat and mrsa...what are we thinking?

Hi Guys-
I was reading a magazine the other day and I saw a tiny blurb talking about the connection between eating red meat and MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus)…remember that super-bug that was wiping people out in hospitals and long term care facilities because bacteria can flourish in these environments and many of the people there have compromised immune systems and are heavily antibiotic-reliant?

Well, it seems that MRSA is back in a big way and you’ll never guess how…turns out that confined animal feeding operations (aka factory farms) have become a spectacular breeding ground for this vicious little villain because the animals are compromised and so antibiotic-reliant. And then it’s passed on to us, through the meat we eat and since we are so heavily antibiotic-reliant and compromised, MRSA can thrive in us, too. Wow, another selling point for McDonald’s, Arby’s and Wendy’s!

And it gets better. A new study has been released linking the consumption of red meat and dairy products to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. The study was done by the Division of Cancer, Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD (wow, that’s a mouthful…) and was initiated because ‘up to now, the link between pancreatic cancer and dietary fat, a risk factor that people can do something about, has been inconclusive.’ Ay, ay, ay!!!! But I held out hope…

So the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and AARP got together and studied more than 300,000 men and 200,000 women to search for links between fat consumption and pancreatic cancer. They also took into account, smoking, body mass index and diabetes.
The study concluded that people who consume the greatest percentage of their diet as saturated fats had the highest risk of pancreatic cancer and here’s the kicker.

‘We did not observe any consistent association with polyunsaturated or fats from plant food sources.’ And…‘Altogether, these results suggest a role for animal fat in carcinogenesis.’

Seriously? That was the conclusion???? It suggests a role? Who are we kidding?

Okay, so here’s my beef (pun intended). What will it take for us to really get the message that meat is not the best choice of food for us? And while I live a vegan lifestyle, I don’t for one second think that the entire world will follow suit. It would be nice, but I live solidly in reality.
I go back to, what for me, are the million dollar questions. What will it take for us to wake up and look at how our food, particularly meat is produced? When will we demand better and stop swallowing the swill they market to us?

Where, in all of our ability to reason, do we see the logic in producing more than 14 billion animals a year for slaughter? Do we really think that it’s sustainable? For us, the planet or the species we kill by the millions? Do we think that these animals are raised in a healthful manner (forget being nice to them for a second…) that makes them fit for human consumption? Or do we just refuse to look at the issue because that would demand change? Real change…and then we’d have to do something about it.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe we think that we can just ignore all of this and it will disappear on its own…obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer (good lord, if I see one more bloody race, walk or other sporting event to support research for disease…that will never be cured because the pharmaceutical giants out there would close their doors…). Well, here’s a clue. Lifestyle diseases, as we have come to know the modern day plagues that rob us of our health, aren’t going anywhere as long as we continue to cling to our childish eating habits and old ways of doing things.

The time is over for us to wait for someone else to do the work. We can not sit idly by and wait for an ambitious soul to come along and rescue us from ourselves. There is no magic wand to wave. We can’t bury our head deeply enough in any sand to escape the hard realities of the effects of meat-eating on health.

Another article I read this morning questioned whether or not meat is the villain in this drama we call our health. The article showed results from a study that said that it’s the quantity and quality of meat that affects us, not so much the actual components of meat. Seriously, this article goes on to say that if Americans ate one or two servings of organic, grass-fed meat a week, surrounded by lots of whole grains and vegetables, then it would be okay to eat. Well, duh. And just how many fine Americans are doing that? How many are spending a mortgage payment to buy organic, grass-fed meat for the family and eating it only once of twice a week?

With less than 19% of Americans eating the 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruit a day and consuming close to 4000 calories per person, per day on average, with 40% of the average diet coming from saturated fats, not many of us are following this utopian eating pattern that includes organic, grass-fed meat and lots of fruits and veggies.

While most of us are aware that we should be eating vegetables and fruit each day…we even know how much, we take in most of our veggies in the form of potatoes and our fruit in the form of juice…more calories and sugar.

But look, it’s not easy and marketing makes us nuts and literally makes it hard not to be fat and sick. There are more than 50,000 fast food chains in this country, translating to more than 500,000 places to buy junk food. Kids between the ages of 6 and 14 eat at fast food restaurants an average of 157 million times a month…a month!!!! Americans spend more than $100 billion (with a ‘b’) on fast food every year. And that number is growing with our waistlines.

And the real kicker? Most Americans know that fast food is not their healthiest option.

So why? What’s it gonna take to wake us up and get us on the path to being the healthy, fit humans we are meant to be? Whatever it is, I hope it happens soon because I am tired of paying for other people’s childish indulgences each month when I write the check for my health insurance premium.

Time to be well, people…



christea said...

Hi Christina ~ Very informative post! Who knew?
To that point, I believe Americans need to be educated as to how food is grown (meat, dairy, fruits & vegetables), how it is processed (including irridation issues), and the truth in food labeling (additives and preservatives). Americans have a false sense of security that the FDA and USDA would not allow "junk" in our food supply. As you and I know, nothing could be further from the truth. Who is educating Americans about the truth in food? Certainly not any mainstream media outlet with their happy cows and wholesome Special K ads. Food, Inc. & Future of Our Food is a start, but not reaching enough people. If an individual does not take the time to research this stuff, then they buy into the marketing mirage that has so affected the mindset of our culture. Myself, I'm trying to find out just what is allowed in "artificial flavoring" on a label, etc. It isn't easy to sift through all this stuff even with the best of intentions. This is your strength and your gift. I hold out hope that IF Americans saw the truth about how food is grown, processed and labeled, then they would make and demand better choices. If not for themselves, then at least for their children or grandchildren. How to do it affordably is also another issue for another day. I applaud the work of Will Allen trying to bring access to nutritious, organic food to the inner city. People need to grow something organic, anything ... GROW SOMETHING ORGANIC!!! My rant ... keep up the great work!

Barbara Allen Moore said...

When I was growing up on the farm in Nebraska, my parents raised hogs. My mom would order hog feed regularly. One day she told me that arsenic was put in the feed to keep the growth of parasites down. In other words it was to keep worms from invading the meat since it was thought hogs had lots of parasites in their intestines and they would travel in the hogs body and get in to the muscle that was the money maker part. So ... That was it for me and pork then the beef ended and chicken held out longer but even that tasted like chemicals. Again as a child I was sent out to work the fiels cutting down sunflowers and thistles out of the milo and corn. During those times it wasn't unusual to have an airplane fly over and douse the field with pesticides to keep the bugs off the plants. I guess us kids were just the victims of "friendly fire" nobody thought to have farmers keep folks out of the fields when spraying. After being diagnosed with leukemia, probably caused by those drenching sprays, I was very ill for a very long time. During that time I was unable to stand any foods except vegetables and not alot of those. It made me think about what we were eating and finding a better way. That led to lots of research and finding out about how our protectors are in the pockets of those poisoning us. I feel so ignorant and niave. Thanks for being one of my teachers.

christea said...

Hi Barbara ~ Thank you so much for sharing your story. If more Americans could hear about these instances that affect family farmers, maybe it would give them pause. There is such a disconnect between farm subsidies, farming practices of agribusiness, the food processing plants, the transportation of food, the glitzy marketing with wholesome, healthy, attractive families the cheap prices on the supermarket shelves, the Golden Arches along with sweet, dead, Grandpa Colonel.

May good health and many blessings be yours today and tomorrow! Thank you again.

Gweithgar said...

Dear Christina,
Thank you for another passionate, well-thought-out blog post. This information needs to get out to the omni-eating general public. I used to "hobby-farm" and we grew our own vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, and dairy. After leaving that life behind (with regrets) a big part of going vegan, for me, was noticing how "odd" commercial meat, eggs, and dairy tasted. For instance, I get terrible indigestion from factory-farmed eggs, so giving them up was a no-brainer. The more I learn about mega-farming practices, the more I am strengthened to stay away from their products.

rene said...

hello christina. first time blogger - not sure what got into me! Yes I do know.....have been enjoying your show on PBS and love the way you present your recipes. so when I got a diagnosis of above average cholesterol and creatinine levels this past week, I thought to myself that you are always talking about liver, heart and kidney healthy recipes, so you will become a resource for me in my questions. i was given a diet for low fat and low cholesterol (1,500 calories/day). I would like to have some good recipes for kidney health. I am not vegetarian; however, I cooked vegetarian for about a year for my hubby before his kidney doctor directed him/me to add meat back into his diet. The diet I was given last week by my doctor has 7 bread exchanges, 5 meat-fish-poultry/dairy exchanges, 3 exchanges each of fat, fruit and veg and 2 milk exchanges. Prior to this and ending with Christmas 2008, I went on a diet of my own doing and lost 38 pounds. I have gained back 10. I don't want to yo-yo again. I will add swimming for my exercise. It is abt the only exercise I can do with arthritic knees - both of which need to be replaced 5 yrs ago....so I am searching for a surgeon too. I retired last Sept 08 after working for 30 yrs for Gallaudet Univ. in DC. I thought knee replacement would be first on my list for things to do in retirement; however, an emergency gall bladder removal and later another gallstone caught in another duct had to be taken care of first. Isn't retirement grand! I guess this is pretty much the picture for you.

sailnoble said...

Hi Christina,
I have just completed a project called 90 salads in 90 days, it combines short stories with original salad recipes. It is about cultivating a relationship with food. It isn't a vegan blog, but it is about food and love. Check it out if you get a chance :)


By the way, do you remember me? I am the sailor gally chef you met on the tall ship!

Barbara Allen Moore said...

Thanks Christea for your comments. I think about those times on the farm and that we never questioned how our food was raised whether animal or plant. I wish I had the information then that I do now. Christina I am reading the Cancer Prevention Diet the newest edition. I saw that you had CML as well. How do I get the courage to stop treatment and go macrobiotic? There are no counselors in NE the closest is Minneapolis, Gabriel Kushi. I have developed an intolerace for the Gleevec after just a year of use. I can't aford the bone marrow test that the doctor wants to do so they have stopped comunication. I'm feeling a bit isolated, angry and confused. Any advice you have would be helpful or from any of you fellow bloggers.