What Red Meat has to do with Going Green
Let’s not debate climate change… I’m not even advocating that we need to control methane gas to avoid climate change. There are issues related to our dietary selection that DOES impact the environment in a very real way. Let’s talk turkey, or chicken, or pig, or beef and the volume of meat demanded by our ever-growing “meat-and-potatoes” society. The world’s consumption of meat continues to rise not only from the increase in population, but the American Way of loading our diets with meat is spreading around the globe. With this diet comes all of the health-related issues that threaten over 66% of the US population who are overweight.
Part 1: Fertilizer – What a pile of poo
There is absolutely no doubt that without artificial nitrogen fertilizers, the majority of the world’s population would starve. This graph shows the increase in fertilizer use, and and in food production over the last 40 years. We could write volumes about the effects of fertilizers and the runoff into our waterways and intrusion into our aquifers. Can you say, “algae bloom?”
While the presence of antibiotics in our water systems is often blamed on the ill-advised plan to flush unused prescription drugs down the toilet, the truth is that many prescription medications are passed through our bodies and enter our water systems to go totally undetected (because we don’t test for them!) and passed on to you and our children. For half a century, meat producers have fed antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth and stave off infections. Now scientists have discovered that those drugs are sprouting up in unexpected places.
Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and lettuce absorb antibiotics when grown in soil fertilized with livestock manure, according to tests conducted at the University of Minnesota.
Today, close to 70 percent of the total antibiotics and related drugs produced in the United States are fed to cattle, pigs and poultry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Although this practice sustains a growing demand for meat, it also generates public health fears associated with the expanding presence of antibiotics in the food chain.
Most people have heard about the exposure of antibiotics in meat and milk. But now, new research shows you may be ingesting those antibiotics from vegetables, EVEN those grown on organic farms!!
Minnesota researchers planted corn, green onion and cabbage in manure-treated soil in 2005 to evaluate the environmental impacts of feeding antibiotics to livestock. Six weeks later, the crops were analyzed and found to absorb chlortetracycline, a drug widely used to treat diseases in livestock. In another study in 2007, corn, lettuce and potato were planted in soil treated with liquid hog manure. They, too, accumulated concentrations of an antibiotic, named Sulfamethazine, also commonly used in livestock.
As the amount of antibiotics in the soil increased, so too did the levels taken up by the corn, potatoes and other plants.
“Around 90 percent of these drugs that are administered to animals end up being excreted either as urine or manure,” said Holly Dolliver, a member of the Minnesota research team and now a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. “A vast majority of that manure is then used as an important input for 9.2 million hectares of (U.S.) agricultural land.”
In 2006, the European Union banned antibiotic use as feed additives for promoting livestock growth. But in the United States, nearly 25 million pounds of antibiotics per year, up from 16 million in the mid 1980s, are given to healthy animals for agriculture purposes, according to a 2000 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Tainted manure impacts more than just soil. Antibiotics infiltrates water supplies as it seeps through the soil into aquifers or spills into surface water due to runoff.
What a Green Tiger would do?
“Evaluate my diet and see just how much meat I’m consuming and see if there aren’t healthier (and greener) alternatives.”
Green Tiger Product Recommendation:
Perfect for a fast and easy morning shake or the Meal Bar can’t be beat for that quick and healthy lunch.