Cheap Meat

An endangered species?

What’s the hidden cost?

The true cost of cheap meat – beef, chicken, and pork – is slowly making its way into the public consciousness. A recent example comes from the Guardian of London, published last Thursday.

The issue arose because newborn babies in a British hospital were found to have a deadly form of bacteria called Livestock Associated – MRSA (LA-MRSA) in their umbilical cords. This sparked an 18-month investigation by the Guardian to find out why. Their report revealed the following:

(1) This is not hospital-MRSA but a cousin of you will, animal-MRSA. This particular type of MRSA is now well established in UK farms. But how, exactly, it found its way to these babies remains a mystery.

(2) LA-MRSA has contaminated the British food supply. The Guardian tested 100 samples of pork from 4 major supermarkets and found 9 of them contained the MRSA, a result they say is “significant” and “shocking.”

(3) The root problem is our “insatiable demand for cheap meat.”

(4) To meet this demand – which grows with world population – we’ve turned to a different kind of farming altogether: the large-scale industrial farm. Such “farms”: (a) Pack their animals together (b) In unsanitary conditions – in filth (c) Wean piglets early so sows can be quickly impregnated again. The stress of early weaning increases the risk of disease (d) In an effort to prevent disease the use of antibiotics is rampant (e) The use of antibiotics has backfired: we are breeding “superbugs” resistant to the antibiotics – often the same ones we use  – which is fueling a “crisis” that’s part of the global problem of antibiotic resistance.

(5) The solution lies in more natural farming. Better conditions for the animals means less disease and less drugs. Inevitably, consumers will have to pay a higher price for their bacon and eggs and so on because the price of cheap meat is too dear.

The Guardian video report is well worth looking at because it contains undercover footage of the conditions the pigs are raised in. Think cows, chickens, and turkeys as well. You don’t have to be a scientists to understand why this is a hotbed for disease.

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