28 January 2010

Farm Sanctuary

Click here if you'd like to sponsor a farm animal for Valentine's Day.

17 January 2010

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “More Perils of Ground Meat” (editorial, Jan. 10):

Instead of encouraging efforts to improve food safety, you demonize a company that had the courage to invest in innovative technology proved to be effective in reducing dangerous pathogens.

The American food safety system is the highest standard in the world, and our ground beef is the safest.

According to the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FoodNet Data, there have been no significant increases in food-borne illness since 2005, and there were significant declines before then.

Furthermore, recent analysis by the Food Safety and Inspection Service for E. coli O157:H7 shows that in the last year the percent of positive raw ground beef samples has dropped from to 0.30 percent from 0.47 percent at federally inspected establishments.

Furthermore, where there was a modest increase detected in raw ground beef components, Beef Products Inc.’s rate of positives is well below industry averages (0.05 percent for 2009 versus 0.99 percent).

Food safety is the No. 1 goal of industry, government and consumers. Beef Products’ technology, which has been approved by both the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration—as is thoroughly set forth on its Web site—provides consumers safe products.

Jeremy Russell
Director of Communications and Government Relations
National Meat Association
Oakland, Calif., Jan. 11, 2010

To the Editor:

I’ve been involved in beef safety research since college, and I don’t recognize the industry you’ve depicted in recent articles.

Your readers probably don’t realize how many different individuals—university researchers, lab technicians, quality assurance managers and so many others—work daily to bring safe beef to dinner tables across the country.

E. coli O157:H7 and other food-borne threats are tough, adaptable foes. But the people who raise and package beef share a commitment to aggressively finding and applying safety solutions that keep them out of our food.

Beef farmers and ranchers alone have invested more than $28 million since 1993 in beef safety research, and the industry as a whole invests an estimated $350 million a year on safety.

I know the people of the beef industry, and I’m proud of the work we do every day to provide safe food.

Mandy Carr Johnson
Executive Director of Research
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Centennial, Colo., Jan. 11, 2010

16 January 2010

From the Mailbag


As a historian or even an anthropologist, one could make the argument that being a vegetarian limits one's ability to understand other cultures. I, like you, am not a complete vegetarian. In fact, my diet is worse, but I do justify my eating habits. I refuse to eat pork, but eat grass-fed beef when I am making Persian food, and certain forms of chicken and lamb with other ethnic foods I consume. I also have a rule to eat any cultural food when I am traveling to another country or am a guest or have guests of people from another culture who eat food with meat. Food is such an important part of history. In many ways, it has a lot to do with defining one's culture. If a person is in a discipline in which he or she is attempting to understand a culture or wants to experience a culture, vegetarianism is nearly impossible. So, how you would respond a person like me who cares for animal welfare, consciously stays away from the worse meat he can, and eats it mostly for cultural reasons. When I do cook it (which is maybe once every two weeks), I try to be a responsible as possible.


Note from KBJ: Thanks for writing, Brad. Suppose you travel to a place in which cannibalism is practiced. Do you eat the human flesh served to you by your hosts? Suppose they eat feces, grubs, dirt, or vomit; do you partake? By your logic, you cannot understand them unless you do. And why limit it to food? There are other customs besides diet. Suppose your hosts offer you young women for sex, as occurred with Lewis and Clark. Can you possibly understand them if you refuse? What if it's customary to allow guests to torture or kill one of the tribe? Can you possibly understand them if you refuse? Some things, I think you will agree, are more important than understanding. In other words, there are moral limits to science, as to law.

10 January 2010

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Company’s Record on Treatment of Beef Is Called Into Question” (front page, Dec. 31):

Would the average American have believed that hamburgers were treated with ammonia to remove salmonella and E. coli (or, in many cases, not remove them)?

An earlier article recounted an E. coli outbreak traced to Cargill (“The Burger That Shattered Her Life,” front page, Oct. 4). It, too, traced, with a great deal of investigative reporting, the journey fat trimmings take through the meatpacking industry. This is not unlike what we hear from financial institutions trying to track (or not) derivatives. It’s like trying to grip mercury.

The United States Department of Agriculture has been broken for a long time, and it is clear that it cannot protect the American public from illness and death from contaminated meat products. How many more Americans must die before something is done?

Perhaps simplifying the whole process would eliminate the need for multiple inspections, saving the U.S.D.A. labor costs and saving the lives of hamburger lovers.

Why not add only ground fat belonging to the meat being ground? Period. No outside fat trimmings! Sounds too easy, doesn’t it?

Evelyn Wolfson
Wayland, Mass., Dec. 31, 2009

To the Editor:

Let me see if I have this straight: We are now feeding our children stuff that used to be reserved for dog food, by treating it with ammonia, in order to save three cents a pound? Hey, why not just feed the little tykes dog food? I’m sure it would save even more money.

By the way, since we are using the former scraps (described as “pink slime” by one microbiologist) for people now, what are we feeding the dogs?

Mary Ellen Croteau
Chicago, Dec. 31, 2009

To the Editor:

In the United States Department of Agriculture’s dual, and often conflicting, roles as protector of consumers and promoter of agricultural products, it has once again made a clear choice.

By approving the revolting and often ineffective use of ammonia to sanitize the results of substandard meat processing, it has chosen the profits of big business over food safety for all Americans.

Instead of allowing companies to find ways to turn food a dog might reject into cheap human food, shouldn’t the U.S.D.A. concern itself with why there are E. coli and salmonella in our food supply in the first place?

Jan Weber
Brooklyn, Jan. 2, 2010

To the Editor:

If you can smell a chemical in your food, it’s an ingredient.

Andrew L. Chang
Stanford, Calif., Jan. 1, 2010

To the Editor:

Your article gave a whole new meaning to “Where’s the Beef?”

Not in my mouth.

Lesley Lee
Phoenix, Jan. 1, 2010

Note from KBJ: Enjoy your hamburger.

07 January 2010

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) on Zoophily

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) And here we see the inevitable logic of Vegetarianism, if our belief in the Rights of Animals is ever to quit the stage of theory and enter the stage of fact; for just as there can be no human rights where there is slavery, so there can be no animal rights where there is eating of flesh. "To keep a man, slave or servant," says Edward Carpenter, "for your own advantage merely, to keep an animal that you may eat it, is a lie; you cannot look that man or animal in the face." I am not saying that it is not a good thing that quite apart from food-reform, anti-vivisectionists should be denouncing the doings of the Scientific Inquisition, while humanitarians of another school are exposing the horrors of sport, for Cruelty is a many-headed monster, and there must at times be a concentration of energy on a particular spot; but I do say that any reasoned principle of kindness to animals which leaves Vegetarianism outside its scope is, in the very nature of things, foredoomed to failure and decay. Vegetarianism is an essential part of any true Zoophily, and the reason why it is not more generally recognised as such is the same as that which excludes it from the plan of the Progressive—that it is so upsetting to the everyday habits of the average man. Few of us, comparatively, care to murder birds in "sport," and still fewer to cut up living animals in the supposed interests of "science," but we have all been taught to regard flesh-food as a necessity, and it is a matter, at first, of some effort and self-denial to rid ourselves of complicity in butchering. Herein is at once the strength and the weakness of the case for Vegetarianism—the strength as regards its logic, and the weakness as regards its unpopularity—that it makes more direct personal demand on the earnestness of its believers than other forms of Zoophily do; for which reason there is a widespread, though perhaps unconscious, tendency among zoophilists to evade it.

(Henry S. Salt, The Logic of Vegetarianism: Essays and Dialogues [London: The Ideal Publishing Union, 1899], 110 [italics in original])

05 January 2010

Do Animals Have Rights?

Here is a talk by Mylan Engel.


This blog had 3,084 visits during December, which is an average of 99.4 per day.

01 January 2010

Enjoy the Ethical Synergy of Healthy Eating in 2010!

January is the time of New Year's resolutions. Like most Americans, you have probably resolved to get in better shape and to lose weight. Why not make this the year that you get serious and take a meaningful step toward improving your health and reducing your waistline by experimenting with a vegan diet for 21 days? If you are like most people, you will be amazed at (i) how much weight you will lose, (ii) how much better you will feel, and (iii) how much more energy you will have. If you have been a regular reader of my posts, you already know that switching to a vegan diet devoid of meat and animal products almost always results in significantly lower plasma cholesterol levels. A vegan diet also significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers, while lowering blood pressure and risk of type II diabetes, and is, thus, an extremely effective means of helping you to achieve your goal of improved health.

It has never been easier to try out a vegan diet. Today marks Day 1 of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. This 21-day program is designed for anyone who wants to explore and experience the health benefits of a vegan diet, and it's free! That's right, free! You can access the PCRM's 21-day meal plan, complete with delicious easy-to-prepare recipes, here. If you would like to receive, via email, daily e-tips to put you on the path to weight loss, better health, and greater well-being, you can register for the 21-Day Kickstart here. If you do register, a delicious, easy, and satisfying recipe will be emailed to you every day that will help you break your cravings for unhealthy foods. You will also receive weekly motivational nutrition webcasts featuring Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Elsewhere in this blog (see here, here, and here), I have written about ethical synergy, the regularly observed phenomenon that simultaneously showing respect for persons (including oneself), animals, and the environment typically benefits all three groups (including oneself). Switching to a cruelty-free vegan diet is yet another powerful example of ethical synergy at work. By not ingesting animals you will not only be refusing to support the unnecessary animal cruelty inherent in modern animal agriculture, you will be taking positive steps toward improving your health, eating right, and losing weight, steps much more likely to result in permanent weight loss and improved cardiovascular health than unhealthful fad diets that cannot be sustained for the long haul. You will also be dramatically reducing your carbon footprint, a boon for the environment! Eating vegan is good for you, good for animals, and good for the Earth. Now that's a New Year's Resolution we can all live with!

The Bottom Line: And this time I do mean BOTTOM line! Try the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. You have nothing to lose but your gut and your butt!

Bon Appetit!