Monday, August 18, 2008

recall blues

When are we going to get the picture?  Stop eating the fucking industrial meat people!
The store that makes us all feel really good while shopping, Whole Foods, has just issued a massive recall on several of its Beef products. Whole foods is not the only store to issue a recall on beef, several supermarkets across the country have responded to the recall by overall craptastic Nebraska Beef bringing the total to over 1.2 million pounds of beef.

Hold the phone - I thought Whole Foods had standards, that they had better sources of food then the local supermarket.  More importantly, I thought Whole Foods had the kind of ethically sound, natural and organic products I buy to make me forget that I am part of a culture of destructive consumerism.  Well the meat was actually purchased from Coleman Natural, who seem to say all the right things on their website.  Coleman is run by another company, Meyer Natural Angus, who use Nebraska Beef as their processors.  (They also use the absurd phrase "true corn-fed flavor" when talking about the corn feeds they use)  So this web of businesses, 4 in all, leaves us with a lovely gift, the contaminated product.  But it is not just these 4 companies, one of the problems in tracking the contamination is that nebraska beef moves its product to several different distributors.  So it is difficult to determine where the end-product, the food we eat, came from.

The recall was based on E. Coli contamination.  For those of you who do not know what that means, I'll just say it involves sewage.  This isn't the first time Nebraska Beef has gotten in trouble, in fact it was their third recall in 2 months.  How do these bastards stay open?

One reason is politics.  Ben Nelson, the distinguished Senator from Nebraska, received a few bucks from them, $14,000+ in 2006 alone.  Nelson also sent about $7 million in tax breaks to Nebraska Beef while he was Governor in 1998.  

A large processor like Nebraska must kill and process over 2000 animals every day.  This is anywhere from 10 to 100 times more product then a small house will slaughter.  The employees are under far more stress, and are generally less skilled then those of a small house that processes the farmer's market, halal or kosher meat.

Why would a large processor be more prone to e. coli outbreak?  In the case of Nebraska beef it was likely due to unsanitary equipment.  This means the equipment was not cleaned properly or frequently enough.  In a large slaughterhouse, oversight is much more difficult, and standards must fall to meet the higher demand.  In a large chicken facility for example, an inspector will see 1000 birds in the same amount of time that he or she would see 100 in a small house.  Mistakes are not hard to imagine in these factories, and one needs not imagine them, as several were caught on tape at several facilities in California.  Now, companies like Nebraska Beef, Coleman Natural, Meyer and Whole Foods can soak up the costs of an expensive recall and stay afloat.  Particularly while they are reaping the benefits of tax breaks and other types of corporate welfare.  But a small producer would be instantly destroyed by a contamination.  

Imagine the impact of e. coli from farmer's market meats or vegetables on the industry of small local farming.  It would be devastating.  This is an important market factor.  These producers, either organic, bio-dynamic or humane, with their  pastured animals, are finding the best processors they can.  They are paying a tremendous amount to the slaughterhouses and traveling processors per animal, and their final product is their very livelihood.  There is no political bailout, no team of lawyers, no bean counters, there is nothing to protect these small business people.  The imperative is quality product.  This is why you will pay $3-5 more per pound to purchase your meats.  Bacon costs me twice what supermarket bacon costs, chicken 3 times and beef 5 times.  But I am assured of a quality product from clean, healthy, hearty animals with robust immune systems.  And if I need to see it to believe it, my producers allow me to visit any time.  If I tried to get close to a purdue CAFO or processor I would be arrested by men in HAZMAT outfits.  No, I will gladly pay more for products from men and women who must adhere to the strictest quality standards to secure their livelihood.  Not those big companies that can take a hit and keep trucking.  

If only the rest of us would wake up and stop feeding the maw of the disgraceful, unhealhty, and un-american industrial food production business.  Teddy Roosevelt would have a field day with the current food industry.  

Here is my proposal:  Get a bunch of rabbi's to produce a Golem that is subsumed with the soul of Teddy Roosevelt.  Then just sit back and watch as he shows these bastards what America used to be about.

Be Angry.

1 comment:

ChrisC said...

I think you're right. Preach on!