A Fascinating Look at Making Ground Beef in America

October 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

truly eye opening. Most Americans (and probably most everybody in the developed world) has no clue how we get literally millions of pounds of ground beef in our supermarkets on a daily basis. We truly have to slaughter tens of thousands of cows every single day to meet the demand of hundreds of millions of people. I tend not to be shocked by the numbers, nor the conditions the animals go through. It’s the price to pay to sustain hundreds of millions of people in a developed industrial nation. I haven’t read Fast Food Nation yet (though I hear I’ll go vegetarian if I read that book), but I’m not generally bothered by how we get our food processed, mostly because we are generally healthy people (though way overweight), and there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the way our food is processed and diseases that kill us off (except those extreme things like e coli). Anyways, I found the article fascinating.



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  1. “…we are generally healthy people (though way overweight)…” I would argue that merely being overweight isn’t healthy, but I don’t even have to. Obesity is by most calculations the 2nd leading cause of preventable death.

    There are many factors in this weight epidemic. Michael Pollan does an excellent job of examining our US food system in his book The Omnivores Dilemma. It is a very well researched work and I would recommend it if you have any interest in the factors that make up what really is a very irresponsible industrial food system.

    As you identified in your post, our industrial food system is what feeds hundreds of millions of people. While that is a noteworthy accomplishment, the system isn’t sustainable and it certainly isn’t healthy. The article does a good job of showing the very long line between grower and a finished ground beef product. And while increased regulations and more attention on part of the huge multinational conglomerates would help the problem, the article doesn’t endeavor to ask why in the world are we importing meat scraps from Uruguay? Or why are we funneling so many cattle through these super processing plants owned by giant corporations? Why is our only motivation cheaper and cheaper meat?

    Our food system is highly dependent on imported oil and government corn and soy subsidies. Again, while it has succeeded in feeding the masses, at what cost? Is there no other more sustainable way to feed people healthier food? There is, but as long as government policy continues to be shaped by the corporations that make billions off of selling cheap bacteria ridden food, it will continue to outbreaks and food scares.

  2. Edward,

    The food processed is not the only factor in our overweight problem. The other big factor is the nature of labor today, where most of our workforce drives to work in cars, sits down in comfy chairs, and then go back home to sit on their couches.

    As for bacteria or other outbreaks, I’m of the opinion that it is impossible to get a completely clean system. Life is simply too complex. It’s like the vain attempt to make us immune to any and all diseases. Life mutates, dare I say, evolves. 🙂

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