Ahhh, the Fourth of July, we can all look forward to pleasures that stimulate all of our senses. There’s the feel of the hot sun combined with a gentle breeze, the sound of the band and the crackle of a lit sparkler. We can expect to see beautiful fireworks and people marching in parades. We will smell the fresh cut lawns, the blooming flowers and smoldering barbeque grills, and we will taste the antibiotic-laden food that will eventually make most of us sick in one way or another.
The Fourth of July is one of the biggest weekends for meat sales. People are buying steaks, ground beef, chicken, and a whopping 150 hot-dogs. Most “conventional’ beef, poultry and pork products come from animals that are routinely fed antibiotics. The FDA has said that they have no objection to farmers giving antibiotics to animals when they are sick, but these antibiotics are fed to the animals because they promote growth, producing artificially larger animals and thus more profits to the farmers. If it promotes artificial growth in animals, and then we turn around and eat those animals, is there any wonder why so many Americans are obese?
Yet obesity may be the least of our worries. If you have ever taken antibiotics prescribed by a doctor, you have no doubt heard the order to take the entire bottle. The reason for this is that they are specifically measured and doled out over a specific period of time. The last pills in the bottle are the ones that are killing the “Super Germs,” the most drug resistant bugs that cause the most serious illnesses. You have also probably heard that you should only take antibiotics when they are prescribed by a doctor, and that the more you take them, the more resistant your body becomes to them, actually making you more likely to become sick. With these facts in mind, one can see how feeding animals a nearly constant low-dose amount of antibiotics is making them very unhealthy, and passing potential illnesses onto us when we eat them.
According to the Center for Disease Control, (CDC,) new forms of drug-resistance in bacteria is one of the biggest health concerns worldwide. The Food and Drug Administration, (FDA,) has been strongly advising farmers to stop using antibiotics in this way since at least 1970, but to no avail. Factory farming is big money, and despite years of efforts, the FDA has not been able to illegalize the use of antibiotics for growth purposes. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that some antibiotics are genuinely used to prevent illnesses in animals. Thus, even if it becomes illegal to use them for the purpose of producing larger animals, farmers can always say that they are buying the drugs for health reasons. However, FDA estimates that currently, at least 80% of the antibiotics that are sold are used for making animals larger, not healthier.
So what do you do? Well, you can always go vegetarian. With the variety of products available in stores year around, it is easier than ever to be a healthy vegetarian. For tips on becoming a vegetarian, see the following link-
If you feel like you cannot make the shift to a vegetarian diet, there is another option, you can be more choosy about what kind of meat you buy. This week, the Consumer’s Union is asking people to make the pledge to buy antibiotic-free meat. The Fourth of July is a great time to start! To make the pledge, see the following link-
Here’s some good news- there are enough people out there concerned about this issue that restaurants have started listening, and we’re not just talking about gourmet five- star restaurants, but less expensive alternatives as well. Both Chipotle and TGI Fridays have been commended for providing menu options with antibiotic free meat. For more information, see the following link-
Here are some local sites that sell antibiotic-free meat-
For more information about antibiotics in meat and the effects it can have on your health, see the following sources-
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