Category: livestock

The latest on the dangers of feeding antibiotics to livestock

Tom Philpott’s latest post for Mother Jones addresses a topic that’s high on my list of concerns about most modern meat production, i.e., indiscriminate antibiotic use on factory farms contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As he describes,

Nearly 80 percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States go to livestock farms. Meanwhile, antibiotic-resistant pathogens affecting people are on the rise. Is there a connection here? No need for alarm, insists the National Pork Producers Council. Existing regulations “provide adequate safeguards against antibiotic resistance,” the group insists on its site.  It even enlists the Centers for Disease Control in its effort to show that “animal antibiotic use is safe for everyone,” claiming that the CDC has found “no proven link to antibiotic treatment failure in humans due to antibiotic use in animals.”

So move along, nothing to see here, right? Not so fast. On Monday, the CDC came out with a new report called “Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013″….. And far from exonerating the meat industry and its voracious appetite for drugs, the report spotlights it as a driver of resistance.

As usual, the post is informative and chock full of great links. Find it here.

An infographic from the CDC report.

A new kind of restaurant

Image courtesy Grazin’ diner

Caroline Abels at the Humaneitarian blog had a great post recently in which she she visits

Grazin’, a diner in Columbia County, New York. The waitress beat me to [the topic of their animal products] — told me all I needed to know about the meat before I even glanced at the menu. And what she told me was heavenly: that all the protein served at the diner (meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) came from farms that are Animal Welfare Approved. This means all the farms providing the diner with animal products were certified by one of the country’s top humane certification organizations. AWA is the only humane certifier that requires the pasturing of animals, and Grazin’ is the first all-AWA restaurant.

For all the details, including photos, a review of the burgers, and a link to a great video profile of the restaurant, check out Abels’ full post.

Life of a family, death of a lamb

Photo by Sue Schlabach of 129 Twig and Vine, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5)

The WordPress folks regularly feature a variety of blogs at their very own blog. Sometimes they do so to highlight skillful merging of design and function; such was the case with 129 Twig and Vine, which Cheri Lucas Rowlands wrote about yesterday. Boy, am I glad she did, not necessarily for the blog’s design (which is lovely) but for its content. Sue Schlabach—artist, spouse, mom, and much more—uses her blog to share a wonderful mix of photos and text, some of which touch on themes highly relevant to my own blog.

As just one example, let me recommend her post, “Death of a Lamb.” Here’s how she describes the start of a day late last August:

Oh E.B. White. You came to mind immediately yesterday. A day so long and multi-faceted that my memory of it now breaks it into chapters.

More of E.B. White to come. Stay with me.

Chapter 1

12:15 a.m.  Lights out. We’ve just finished watching the sad and slightly disturbing movie, “Margaret.”

2:30 a.m.  R gets up, can’t sleep.

2:35 a.m.  I go ask him if he is sick, needs anything. No, just wide awake. I slowly fall back into restless sleep, interrupted by strange dreams.

Chapter 2

8:20.  Drag myself out of bed but leave R with hopes that he will get some more rest (he fell asleep after 4 a.m.) It’s a beautiful morning, with fog burning off early. Three lambs dash from the barn when L (the 10 year old) lets them out, but the fourth saunters slowly into the field. The others rip into the grass quickly and he just looks off into his own private space.

R hears us remark our worries about lamb #4 (Oscar). He can’t sleep anymore and comes down to see. We brew tea to help ourselves wake up. I am very tired, but R is crushed under the weight of his bad night.

Chapter 3

9:00.  After breakfast Oscar has moved from where he first stood to further down the meadow near the other three. He is lying down. We approach him and he doesn’t move or run. He is shaking.

Time to call the vet. She tells us we can bring him in if we can put him in the car (a 25 mile trip). Otherwise she has appointments until noon and can’t come to us until 1 or 2 p.m. We look at each other and decide we can’t risk that Oscar may die between now and then. We have to take him in….

The piece is a touching example of Schlabach’s work at its best. Check out the full post—and find a link to E.B. White’s gently, profoundly humane 1948 essay, “Death of a Pig”—here. Both are great reads that I can’t recommend highly enough.