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Every year I spend some time in a tiny apartment in Paris, seven storeys above the mayor’s offices for the 11th arrondissement. The Place de la Bastille – the spot where the French revolution sparked political change that transformed the world – is a 10-minute walk down a narrow street that threads between student nightclubs and Chinese fabric wholesalers.
Twice a week, hundreds of Parisians crowd down it, heading to the marché de la Bastille, stretched out along the center island of the Boulevard Richard Lenoir.
Blocks before you reach the market, you can hear it: a low hum of argument and chatter, punctuated by dollies thumping over the curbstones and vendors shouting deals. But even before you hear it, you can smell it: the funk of bruised cabbage leaves underfoot, the sharp sweetness of fruit sliced open for samples, the iodine tang of seaweed propping up rafts of scallops in broad rose-colored shells.
Threaded through them is one aroma that I wait for. Burnished and herbal, salty and slightly burned, it has so much heft that it feels physical, like an arm slid around your shoulders to urge you to move a little faster. It leads to a tented booth in the middle of the market and a line of customers that wraps around the tent poles and trails down the market alley, tangling with the crowd in front of the flower seller.
In the middle of the booth is a closet-size metal cabinet, propped up on iron wheels and bricks. Inside the cabinet, flattened chickens are speared on rotisserie bars that have been turning since before dawn. Every few minutes, one of the workers detaches a bar, slides off its dripping bronze contents, slips the chickens into flat foil-lined bags, and hands them to the customers who have persisted to the head of the line.
I can barely wait to get my chicken home.
Chickens roam in an outdoor enclosure of a chicken farm in Vielle-Soubiran, south-western France. Photograph: Iroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty Images
The skin of a poulet crapaudine – named because its spatchcocked outline resembles a crapaud, a toad – shatters like mica; the flesh underneath, basted for hours by the birds dripping on to it from above, is pillowy but springy, imbued to the bone with pepper and thyme.
The first time I ate it, I was stunned into happy silence, too intoxicated by the experience to process why it felt so new. The second time, I was delighted again –and then, afterward, sulky and sad.
I had eaten chicken all my life: in my grandmother’s kitchen in Brooklyn, in my parents’ house in Houston, in a college dining hall, friends’ apartments, restaurants and fast food places, trendy bars in cities and old-school joints on back roads in the south. I thought I roasted a chicken pretty well myself. But none of them were ever like this, mineral and lush and direct.
I thought of the chickens I’d grown up eating. They tasted like whatever the cook added to them: canned soup in my grandmother’s fricassee, her party dish; soy sauce and sesame in the stir fries my college housemate brought from her aunt’s restaurant; lemon juice when my mother worried about my father’s blood pressure and banned salt from the house.
This French chicken tasted like muscle and blood and exercise and the outdoors. It tasted like something that it was too easy to pretend it was not: like an animal, like a living thing. We have made it easy not to think about what chickens were before we find them on our plates or pluck them from supermarket cold cases.
I live, most of the time, less than an hour’s drive from Gainesville, Georgia, the self-described poultry capital of the world, where the modern chicken industry was born. Georgia raises 1.4bn broilers a year, making it the single biggest contributor to the almost 9bn birds raised each year in the United States; if it were an independent country, it would rank in chicken production somewhere near China and Brazil.
Yet you could drive around for hours without ever knowing you were in the heart of chicken country unless you happened to get behind a truck heaped with crates of birds on their way from the remote solid-walled barns they are raised in to the gated slaughter plants where they are turned into meat. That first French market chicken opened my eyes to how invisible chickens had been for me, and after that, my job began to show me what that invisibility had masked.
My house is less than two miles from the front gate of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that sends disease detectives racing to outbreaks all over the world. For more than a decade, one of my obsessions as a journalist has been following them on their investigations – and in long late-night conversations in the United States and Asia and Africa, with physicians and veterinarians and epidemiologists, I learned that the chickens that had surprised me and the epidemics that fascinated me were more closely linked than I had ever realized.
I discovered that the reason American chicken tastes so different from those I ate everywhere else was that in the United States, we breed for everything but flavor: for abundance, for consistency, for speed. Many things made that transformation possible.
But as I came to understand, the single biggest influence was that, consistently over decades, we have been feeding chickens, and almost every other meat animal, routine doses of antibiotics on almost every day of their lives.
Antibiotics do not create blandness, but they created the conditions that allowed chicken to be bland, allowing us to turn a skittish, active backyard bird into a fast-growing, slow-moving, docile block of protein, as muscle-bound and top-heavy as a bodybuilder in a kids’ cartoon. At this moment, most meat animals, across most of the planet, are raised with the assistance of doses of antibiotics on most days of their lives: 63,151 tons of antibiotics per year, about 126m pounds.
Farmers began using the drugs because antibiotics allowed animals to convert feed to tasty muscle more efficiently; when that result made it irresistible to pack more livestock into barns, antibiotics protected animals against the likelihood of disease. Those discoveries, which began with chickens, created “what we choose to call industrialized agriculture”, a poultry historian living in Georgia proudly wrote in 1971.
Chicken prices fell so low that it became the meat that Americans eat more than any other – and the meat most likely to transmit food-borne illness, and also antibiotic resistance, the greatest slow-brewing health crisis of our time.
For most people, antibiotic resistance is a hidden epidemic unless they have the misfortune to contract an infection themselves or have a family member or friend unlucky enough to become infected.
Drug-resistant infections have no celebrity spokespeople, negligible political support and few patients’ organizations advocating for them. If we think of resistant infections, we imagine them as something rare, occurring to people unlike us, whoever we are: people who are in nursing homes at the end of their lives, or dealing with the drain of chronic illness, or in intensive-care units after terrible trauma. But resistant infections are a vast and common problem that occur in every part of daily life: to children in daycare, athletes playing sports, teens going for piercings, people getting healthy in the gym.
And though common, resistant bacteria are a grave threat and getting worse.
They are responsible for at least 700,000 deaths around the world each year: 23,000 in the United States, 25,000 in Europe, more than 63,000 babies in India. Beyond those deaths, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics cause millions of illnesses – 2m annually just in the United States – and cost billions in healthcare spending, lost wages and lost national productivity.
It is predicted that by 2050, antibiotic resistance will cost the world $100tn and will cause a staggering 10m deaths per year.
Disease organisms have been developing defenses against the antibiotics meant to kill them for as long as antibiotics have existed. Penicillin arrived in the 1940s, and resistance to it swept the world in the 1950s.
Tetracycline arrived in 1948, and resistance was nibbling at its effectiveness before the 1950s ended. Erythromycin was discovered in 1952, and erythromycin resistance arrived in 1955. Methicillin, a lab-synthesized relative of penicillin, was developed in 1960 specifically to counter penicillin resistance, yet within a year, staph bacteria developed defenses against it as well, earning the bug the name MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
After MRSA, there were the ESBLs, extended-spectrum beta-lactamases, which defeated not only penicillin and its relatives but also a large family of antibiotics called cephalosporins. And after cephalosporins were undermined, new antibiotics were achieved and lost in turn.
Each time pharmaceutical chemistry produced a new class of antibiotics, with a new molecular shape and a new mode of action, bacteria adapted. In fact, as the decades passed, they seemed to adapt faster than before. Their persistence threatened to inaugurate a post-antibiotic era, in which surgery could be too dangerous to attempt and ordinary health problems – scrapes, tooth extractions, broken limbs – could pose a deadly risk.
For a long time, it was assumed that the extraordinary unspooling of antibiotic resistance around the world was due only to misuse of the drugs in medicine: to parents begging for the drugs even though their children had viral illnesses that antibiotics could not help; physicians prescribing antibiotics without checking to see whether the drug they chose was a good match; people stopping their prescriptions halfway through the prescribed course because they felt better, or saving some pills for friends without health insurance, or buying antibiotics over the counter, in the many countries where they are available that way and dosing themselves.
But from the earliest days of the antibiotic era, the drugs have had another, parallel use: in animals that are grown to become food.
Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States and more than half of those sold around the world are used in animals, not in humans. Animals destined to be meat routinely receive antibiotics in their feed and water, and most of those drugs are not given to treat diseases, which is how we use them in people.
Instead, antibiotics are given to make food animals put on weight more quickly than they would otherwise, or to protect food animals from illnesses that the crowded conditions of livestock production make them vulnerable to. And nearly two-thirds of the antibiotics that are used for those purposes are compounds that are also used against human illness – which means that when resistance against the farm use of those drugs arises, it undermines the drugs’ usefulness in human medicine as well.
Resistance is a defensive adaptation, an evolutionary strategy that allows bacteria to protect themselves against antibiotics’ power to kill them. It is created by subtle genetic changes that allow organisms to counter antibiotics’ attacks on them, altering their cell walls to keep drug molecules from attaching or penetrating, or forming tiny pumps that eject the drugs after they have entered the cell.
What slows the emergence of resistance is using an antibiotic conservatively: at the right dose, for the right length of time, for an organism that will be vulnerable to the drug, and not for any other reason. Most antibiotic use in agriculture violates those rules.
Resistant bacteria are the result.
Antibiotic resistance is like climate change: it is an overwhelming threat, created over decades by millions of individual decisions and reinforced by the actions of industries.
It is also like climate change in that the industrialized west and the emerging economies of the global south are at odds. One quadrant of the globe already enjoyed the cheap protein of factory farming and now regrets it; the other would like not to forgo its chance. And it is additionally like climate change because any action taken in hopes of ameliorating the problem feels inadequate, like buying a fluorescent lightbulb while watching a polar bear drown.
But that it seems difficult does not mean it is not possible. The willingness to relinquish antibiotics of farmers in the Netherlands, as well as Perdue Farms and other companies in the United States, proves that industrial-scale production can be achieved without growth promoters or preventive antibiotic use. The stability of Maïsadour and Loué and White Oak Pastures shows that medium-sized and small farms can secure a place in a remixed meat economy.
Whole Foods’ pivot to slower-growing chicken – birds that share some of the genetics preserved by Frank Reese – illustrates that removing antibiotics and choosing birds that do not need them returns biodiversity to poultry production. All of those achievements are signposts, pointing to where chicken, and cattle and hogs and farmed fish after them, need to go: to a mode of production where antibiotics are used as infrequently as possible – to care for sick animals, but not to fatten or protect them.
That is the way antibiotics are now used in human medicine, and it is the only way that the utility of antibiotics and the risk of resistance can be adequately balanced.
You like beef that has a nice fat marbling? We say Beef should be lean and tender. NOT FAT! WATCH THIS!
If you’ve dined at a local steakhouse recently, you may have seen USDA Prime Beef advertised on your menu. What does this mean? Is prime beef better or healthier than other beef?
Prime is a designation given by the USDA and is a label that producers can choose to pursue, to distinguish their meat from lower-quality products. However, in the case of USDA meat grades, “quality” refers to the amount of flavor, the juiciness, and the tenderness of the meat. It has absolutely nothing to do with the level of nutrients within the cut, nor does it refer to how the animal was raised or what that animal ate during its lifetime (as organic, non-GMO, or grass-fed food labels or designations do).
It’s also important to note that any cut of meat can receive any grade, no matter how sought-after or expensive that particular cut happens to be. For example, a ribeye can be graded as prime or standard, a lesser-quality grade.
Finally, the quality grade has nothing to do with health or sanitation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) ensure all meat sold within the United States — either locally or nationwide — is inspected for safety, diseases, and other necessary measures. Once again, the quality grade is entirely optional; producers actually pay the USDA to grade their meat so they can price and sell the cut accordingly.
There are two different ways to “grade” a cut of beef. The first, and better-known method is the quality grade. There are eight different USDA quality grades, evaluating the steak or roast for tenderness, flavor, and juiciness.
The second method doesn’t grade the actual cut — it grades the entire carcass. Yield grade measures how much lean meat can be used compared to the amount of marbling (fat). Yield grades are given a number between one and five, with one being considered “the best,” with the highest portion of lean meat; and five the lowest quality, with the lowest portion of lean beef available.
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Follow a few food bloggers on Instagram and you will find the world’s latest obsession everywhere: avocados. While full to the brim with potassium, heart-healthy fats and fiber, the avocado’s effect on the world is not always net positive, especially when it comes to avocados from Mexico. This newest foodie trend is threatening an ancient yearly migration of monarch butterflies.
Each year, millions of monarch butterflies migrate from their summer mating and feeding grounds in the United States and Canada and make the arduous 3,000-mile (4,828-kilometer) journey south to central Mexico where their winter roosting forests are.
If you visit the monarch sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico, during January, February, and March, you can experience the marvel of seeing clouds of tiny winged creatures floating to the ground during the day looking for food and huddling together at night in the tops of the oyamel fir trees. The butterflies wait until the first rays of the morning sun hit the outer layers of their clusters, and then drift away one by one as they start to warm up. It’s a breathtaking sight, and one that is in danger of disappearing for good.
That’s because Michoacan is not just known for its butterflies; it’s also known as the greatest source of avocado imports into the United States. With the rise of demand, prices have been shooting up. For Mexican farmers, many of whom were once corn farmers who were finding it impossible to compete with subsidized agricultural imports from the U.S., avocado farming has been a boon to their pocketbooks.
In Michocan, at the base of those same forests that serve as wintering grounds for the monarch butterflies, many pine and oak trees are being cut down in favor of avocado trees. To avoid the notice of federal officials, some farmers plant avocado trees among the pines and slowly thin the forest out as the trees get older. Just this month, illegal avocado groves were discovered west of Mexico City and close to butterfly sanctuaries.
This deforestation and replacement of pine and oak with avocado trees creates problems on many levels. These lower sections of the forests are needed for thermal cover and protection of the monarchs’ roosting grounds. The avocado trees also use significantly more water and have much shallower roots than the forest ecosystem that they replace. This means that the water that was once filtered by the pines and oaks is no longer being filtered, and that avocado farming is quickly reducing the area’s water supply. Then there is the problem of the pesticides and insecticides that are used on the trees filtering into ground water and endangering other flora and fauna in the area.
There are programs in place to help preserve the monarch habitat, and many farmers are working to reforest the areas near their farms. Cooperatives such as this one are working to get certified as sustainable and organic and refuse to except members who have not been farming for at least six years – about the time the latest wave of deforestation started.
The case of the monarchs versus the avocado farmers is another classic example of the conflicts that often exist between market demand, environmental protection, and the economic needs of farmers and producers. A just solution will most likely be a combination of reduced demand and higher consciousness among consumers, alternative income-producing projects for local farmers, and a widening range of places (in Mexico and in other countries) that can grow avocados in areas that don’t endanger one of the world’s most incredible insects.
Food with a view: check out the best rooftop restaurants in Mexico City.
If you live in the U.S., you’re far more likely to get hit with salmonella or some other foodborne illness, than if you live in the U.K. You can thank the factory farm industry for that.
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian found “shockingly high” levels of foodborne illness in the U.S. The Guardian reportsthat “annually, around 14.7 percent (48 million people) of the U.S. population is estimated to suffer from an illness, compared to around 1.5 percent (1 million) in the UK. In the U.S., 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year of foodborne diseases.
Driving these grim statistics is the multi-billion-dollar industrial factory farm industry that not only makes us sick, but pollutes our water and air, exploits workers, is causing an antibiotic resistance crisis and is unconscionably inhumane.
And it’s all done in the name of “cheap food.”
TBIJ and the Guardian conducted its investigation based on U.S. government documents containing data on 47 meat plants across the U.S. According to the Guardian:
Some of the documents relate to certain companies, including Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the US’s biggest poultry producers, and Swift Pork. Although not a comprehensive portrait of the sector - there are around 6,000 US plants regularly inspected by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) - the documents provide a snapshot of issues rarely detailed in public which has rung alarm bells with campaigners in both the US and UK.
Those rarely detailed “issues” include: meat contaminated with fecal matter; meat processing equipment contaminated with grease and blood; and chicken dropped on the floor then rinsed with chlorine and put back in the production line.
It’s enough to make anyone’s stomach turn.
It’s also enough to make consumers and entire neighborhoods revolt, and citizens to get more politically active.
Last year, the citizens of Tonganoxie, Kansas (population 5,000) stood up to Tyson and successfully scuttled the meat giant’s planned $320-million chicken factory farm.
In Nebraska, citizens are trying to keep out a $180-million factory farm poultry operation that Costco wants to build in the small town of Fremont. (Please sign our petition asking Costco to stop raising and selling factory farm chicken).
People aren’t just getting active. They’re also getting political.
Civil Eats recently reported on candidates running in Iowa, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania who all have one thing in common: They want better food and farming policies in their states.
One of those candidates is Brandy Brooks, who’s running for Montgomery County (Maryland) city council. Brooks told Civil Eats:
“Food is this amazing lens for talking about justice. You could be talking about land use justice, racial justice, economic justice, immigration, health justice, housing—you can talk about everything through the lens of food.”
Brooks is right. Food is at the center of so many of the issues facing communities large and small, across the globe. That’s why Organic Consumers Association (OCA) partners closely with Regeneration International as we look to transition from our industrial, degenerative food system to a regenerative alternative.
It’s also why we’re inviting consumers to get more politically active through our Citizens Regeneration Lobby.
The factory farm industry tells us there’s no other way to produce meat. But farmers like Ron Rosmann in Harlan, Iowa, are proof that alternatives exist. The Main Street Project is proof that those alternatives can be scaled up to meet the growing demand for regeneratively produced meat.
We just need to take a stand against Big Meat. Our health depends on it.
Previously unseen government records detail ‘deeply worrying’ incidents in pork and poultry plants, raising fears of ‘dirty meat’ entering the UK under a post-Brexit trade deal
Shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants, as a new analysis reveals that as many as 15% (one in seven) of the US population suffers from foodborne illnesses annually.
A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian found that hygiene incidents are at numbers that experts described as “deeply worrying”.
US campaigners are calling once again for the closure of a legal loophole that allows meat with salmonella to be sold in the human supply chain, and also warn about the industry’s push to speed up production in the country’s meat plants. And UK campaigners warn that the UK could be flooded with “dirty meat” if a US trade deal is signed post-Brexit.
The unpublished US- government records highlight numerous specific incidents including:
All of the reported breaches resulted in immediate remedial action with no risk posed to consumers, according to the companies involved.
But campaigners warned that other violations may go undetected. Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist with Food and Water Watch, said: “While the inspectors are able to cite the plants for hundreds of violations per week, I am confident that they are not catching every instance of unsafe practices being committed in these plants.”
Meat hygiene inspectors interviewed by the Guardian agreed, saying fast line speeds and other pressures in some plants meant it was “inevitable” that some breaches slipped through the net.
The findings are worrying, according to Prof Erik Millstone, a food safety expert at Sussex University, “because of the risks of spreading infectious pathogens from carcass to carcass, and between portions of meat. The rates at which outbreaks of infectious food poisoning occur in the US are significantly higher than in the UK, or the EU, and poor hygiene in the meat supply chain is [a] leading cause of food poisoning in the US.”
A large number of people have a hard time telling the difference between a healthy, all-natural egg and an unhealthy one. However, it is crucial to know which eggs come from factory chickens, and which from farm chickens.
A large number of people have a hard time telling the difference between a healthy, all-natural egg and an unhealthy one. However, it is crucial to know which eggs come from factory chickens, and which from farm chickens.
Egg With Dark Orange Yolk
A dark orange yolk usually signifies that the egg is extremely healthy, and most likely to be originating from a chicken farm, where chickens get all of their day light, instead of being stored in big dark rooms with no windows. The farm animals are also given the liberty to consume crickets, grasshoppers, insects, ticks and spiders, which is why their yolks are rich in nutrition.
Egg With Yellow Yolk
Eggs with yellow yolks are usually found at supermarkets, and they are eggs that originate from factory chickens, raised in huge factories with nightmarish conditions. There is no sunlight, not enough space, and the rooms are dirty. Apart from that, they are only fed grains, and the chickens that lay these eggs have been hatched from incubators, which isn’t at all a natural process.
Egg With Light Orange Yolk
Eggs with a light orange yolks are most likely to come from local groceries, originating from chickens which come from large chicken farms whose conditions aren’t as terrible as the ones in big factories, which are still not that suitable, but tolerable. One basic rule to follow is that the more chickens a farm produces, the lower their quality is.
So for the healthiest egg in the image is number 1!
Not only are eggs that come from local farms much fresher, but the conditions under which the chickens are raised, are far better. These chickens are much healthier and the color of the yolks of their eggs signify this. If you’ve never tasted them, it’s well worth going out of your way to do so. Pass this important information on!
Here is a little video for you to enjoy. Forward to the last 25 seconds if you get bored(Remember Grandma always knows best!
When it comes to cattle, size certainly does matter. But how big is too big? And at what cost?
The beef industry has come to rely on growth-inducing drugs to bulk up cattle before slaughter. But the consequences of using such drugs are a concerning unknown. And in a major move away from one particular growth drug, feedlot operators are refusing to participate in a new, large-scale study of Zilmax, Merck’s branded growth promotant for cattle, NPR reported last month.
好書推薦 ～ 讓你更認識穀飼牛肉背後的許多問題！
美國柏克萊大學新聞學教授波倫（Michael Pollan），在他被《紐約時報》評為「二○○六年十大好書」的著作《雜食者的兩難》（The Omnivore’s Dilemma）中寫著：一九五○年代時，美國養殖場剛出生的牛要兩到三年才能宰殺，如今讓一頭剛出生的牛達到同樣重量標準可屠宰，只要花十四到十六個月。