The story of your meal

Gabriel has always have this predilection for hamburgers, either store bought from fast food stores or from the frozen meat section in the supermarket. In fact, one of the more vivid memories I have of his grandmother is her saying, “Ang alam lang kainin ni Gj ay puro hamburger o hotdog” (The only things Gj knows to eat are hamburgers or hotdogs), referring to his food choices since his youth.

Even at home, whenever I ask him of his preference of what to include in the weekly menu, he’d name Beef Stroganoff, Bistek (Filipino beef steak) and Picadillo (Minced beef with vegetables) right off the bat. As you can tell by now, he loves his beef.

I, on the other hand, prefer seafood, chicken and pork (in that order). Although I also eat beef, I would usually opt for something else given the choice. I just don’t understand how some people could eat a slab of beef in one sitting. No matter how tasty, juicy and tender it is, I just can’t imagine eating all that much beef.

Anyway, after reading the Fanatic Cook’s blog regarding beef production and being directed to Eric Schlosser’s Fast-Food Nation: The True Cost Of America’s Diet article, I don’t think my beef consumption would increase anytime soon. In fact, I’m seriously considering refraining from eating any more beef. Part one of this article takes you through the history of the fast-food industry in America and the realities of how businessmen keeps the industry profitable. It was a nice read with very interesting tidbits about how the founding fathers of fast food made it big in the business from almost nothing – real rags to riches stories.

Part two discusses the dark side of the industry, taking you through the plight of the small time potato farmers and through the slaughterhouses of Greeley, Colorado. The latter reads more like a horror story than anything based on reality. Here’s an excerpt:

The speed of the production line at a slaughterhouse is largely responsible not only for the high injury rate but also for the contamination of the meat. The problem starts in the feedlots. A government health official, who prefers not to be named, compares the sanitary conditions at a modern feedlot to those of a crowded European city during the Middle Ages, when people dumped their chamber pots out the windows, raw sewage ran in the streets and epidemics raged. The cattle now packed into feedlots get little exercise and live amid pools of manure. Far removed from their natural habitats, the cattle become more prone to illnesses. And what they are fed often contributes to the spread of disease. The rise in grain prices has encouraged the feeding of less-expensive materials to cattle, especially substances with a high protein content that can accelerate growth. About eighty percent of the cattle in the United States were routinely fed slaughterhouse wastes – the rendered remains of dead sheep and dead cattle – until August 1997. The USDA banned the practice, hoping to prevent a domestic outbreak of mad-cow disease. Millions of dead cats and dead dogs, purchased from animal shelters, are being fed to cattle each year, along with dead ducks, geese, elk and deer. Steven P. Bjerklie, a former editor of the trade journal Meat and Poultry, is appalled by what often winds up in cattle feed. “Goddamn it, these cattle are ruminants,” Bjerklie says. “They’re designed to eat grass and, maybe, grain. I mean, they have four stomachs for a reason: to eat products that have a high cellulose content. They are not designed to eat other animals.”

Now, if only I could encourage Gabriel to try something else other than beef…

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Published in: on March 29, 2005 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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