Want to help prevent future flu pandemics? It’s easy. You don’t have to lobby congress for billions of funding for pandemic research. You don’t have to wear a surgical mask 24×7. No, the best thing you can do is to vote with your dollars. Buy pasture-raised pork and other meats. Really, it’s that easy? Indeed it is. Read this fantastic article from Wired.com.
So next time you go the grocery store to pick up a cellophane wrapped package of meat (how convenient!), or you order that steak or the pork chops off the menu at the restaurant, just realize that you are contributing to system that is killing us. Sounds harsh? Well, it’s time we faced the cold hard facts. So what’s the answer? Find local producers in your area that raise their animals on pasture. They care about the welfare of their animals, their workers, the environment, and their customers.
EatWild.com is a great resource to find local producers. Go to the farmer’s markets, or better yet go to the farms, and know where your food comes from. It could prevent the next flu pandemic.
One of my favorite topics to post about here is Food Policy. Here is a short piece at the NY Times that talks about the opportunity that President-elect Obama has to nominate a reformer instead of an insider to the post of Secretary of Agriculture.
Op-Ed Columnist – Obama’s ‘Secretary of Food’? – NYTimes.com
Please read this. It’s important to our future. Really. I’m not joking.
Oh, and don’t get scared away by the fact it is many pages long. Just sit down and dedicate some time to it.
The Food Issue – An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief – Michael Pollan – NYTimes.com
P.S. Yes, it was published almost 10 days ago and I’m slow in getting it posted. What can I say? I’ve been busy.
In an AP article I found on the Seattle Times, they talk about farmers in Wisconsin who are switching from the CAFO (concentrated animal farming operation) approach to a grazing system for their cattle. Here are a few interesting excerpts —
Most milking operations in the state during the latter half of the 20th century used the so-called confinement approach: Animals that were milked twice a day mostly were kept inside, feed was brought to them, and manure was carted away.
Only 7 percent of Wisconsin dairy farmers used the grazing approach in 1993… That increased to 23 percent by 2003 and indications are that the percentage is growing.
“The approach slightly reduces production, but farmers’ costs go down more significantly,” with less barn space and equipment needed, Foltz said.
Confinement became popular when more machinery was becoming available to farmers, and equipment, fuel and labor were cheaper… But the cost of fuel and equipment are much higher now, and many farmers sent their kids to college and many of them subsequently didn’t stick around on the farms…
So you can actually make more money by producing less. To top it off, you can do it with less labor! Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Too bad our federal government hasn’t caught on and they still continue to push the Earl Butz way of Produce More, No Matter What The (environmental) Cost.
Nation & World | Many Wisconsin dairy farmers switch to grazing | Seattle Times Newspaper
The Land Online – Farm and Food File: Long history allows recent system breakdown
This is a great article about the current state of our farm industry and the government that support it. It’s short, to the point, and sums up the situation nicely. Unfortunately, it isn’t a pretty picture.