New York Times columnist, Nicolas Kristof, wrote on 5 April about the use of antibiotics to “treat” livestock destined for our tables. He made the very good point that once you know just what big ag is doing to your food, you have every reason you need to demand organic. Interviewing a research scientist from the Johns Hopkins Center for Sustainable Living, Kristof learned that “poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.”
And while the researcher makes the point that they hadn’t found anything that was an “immediate health concern,” I had to say to myself, “yet”.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I met Dr Robert Lawrence, the founder of the Sustainable Living Center, and heard what he had to say, in particular about the use of antibiotics. His points were:
1. The quality of the food we consume has a direct bearing on our wellbeing: 2/3 of the children in Pakistan, for example, suffer from nutritional stunting that effects them physically and mentally.
2. We self-medicate with food every day: Only clean food can feed your immune system.
3. It should be our urgent goal to eliminate all antibiotics from food production, or restrict their use to only for sick animals under veterinary care, not as a prophylactic shotgun administered by the farmer.
4. Alert the Moms of the world to the health threat posed by the indiscriminate use of antibiotics:Eat much less meat, but make it clean meat.
5. Engage food industrialists and then give them a pathway to make them part of the change. Encourage them to reinvent the meat industry.
At the moment this could be the biggest challenge as, simply put, they don’t appreciate that there is a problem and that their methods are part of it.
Vote with your dollars: I’d rather pay a bit more to the farmer for clean food, than to the doctor for medical care when standard treatments for infection no longer work because the strongest most resistant immune system isn’t my own.