Meat On The Table: What Does It Really Cost?

by Rebecca Huber

Announced last month, the discovery of a new single cell killer bacterium related to the deadly red tide that occasionally sweeps across costal waters leaving hundreds of dead mammals, crustaceans and fish in its wake. Named Pfisteria piscida, a water borne microbe that attacks not only fish but humans as well, causing open sores and neurological damage in humans. Doctors are at a loss to treat it as it overwhelms immunity and ravages the red blood cells. Think we're safe living here in the heartland? Guess again. This newest menace was found in the Neuse river in North Carolina not far from the newest mega hog farming operation. The culprit: high nitrogen and phosphorous content in the water from animal waste!

North Carolinians are so concerned with this health threat the governor has called for a two year moratorium on new hog farming in the state. So, do we really want a these megafarms here in western Illinois? Can we afford them? And what can we do to stop this­­ not only here but nationwide?

Well, maybe we could go and run them out of town­­ (using the term loosely since they're in the country) or burn them out. Or, what if everyone in Galesburg alone reduced their meat intake from one to three times daily, to one to three times weekly or none. That's not a new or novel idea but one that could work.

For those of you who think you can't give up your meat, or at least cut back and switch to free range animals that have been raised more humanely, consider these facts.

A person switching from a typical meat-based diet to purely vegetarian would save 5.3 million liters of water yearly.

40 percent of the antibiotics used in the US are fed to livestock; it's no wonder these drugs are becoming ineffective in combatting human disease.

One third of the world's fish catch is converted into fish meal and fed to livestock.

More than half the world's cropland grows livestock feed­­ only two percent produces vegetables eaten by humans.

In damage to the environment, 85 percent of U.S. topsoil is lost directly to overgrazing.

In damage to air quality, cattle belch 12-15 percent of the methane released into the atmosphere.

Livestock in the U.S. produce 114 metric tons of excrement every second and only half of that waste is recycled back to the soil.

Livestock wastes and sediment from land eroded by livestock account for about half the water pollution in the U.S.

Care for our beloved planet always starts with our own bodies. Are you willing to continue to pollute your body with hormone and antibiotic residues? Are you willing to continue to eat these poor animals that have had no life? The planet you are saving may be your own!

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online May 3, 1997
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