One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the sides. I’m already looking forward to sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and more. But one thing Americans aren’t looking forward to this Thanksgiving is getting their turkey with a side of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, practices in the conventional poultry industry are putting consumers at risk. Read more
Healthy soils are the foundation of a healthy food system. These soils teem with life: earthworms create water channels as the burrow through the soil, allowing rain to soak in; residues from previous crops help soil retain moisture, suppress weeds, and prevent erosion and runoff; microorganisms help filter contaminates and form the glue that helps keep soil intact; and cover crops—second crops planted to protect and improve soil health during the off-season—deliver natural fertilizer to the soil, prevent erosion, increase biodiversity, and improve water filtration as their roots create pores in the soil. Together, all of this works to create healthier crops. Read more
The Meatless Mondays campaign encourages consumers to skip meat one day a week in favor of plant-based foods, and highlights how this simple action can help improve their health and reduce the environmental impacts of their diets. Seems small, but the collective impacts are potentially anything but. According to estimates by the Humane Society of the United States, if every American embraced Meatless Mondays, we would need to raise 1.4 billion fewer farm animals. That translates into a lot fewer toxic chemicals, reduced climate pollution, healthier soils and waterways, and a lot less animal cruelty. Read more
The independent product testing organization Consumer Reports, which regularly tests and rates a raft of consumer products—from lawnmowers, to washing machines, to baby monitors, to cars—recently focused its meticulous consumer product testing methods on America’s turkey burgers, releasing the results of their new study of ground turkey samples from around the United States. The findings were simultaneously unappetizing and encouraging. Read more
In the livestock industry, heroes don’t always get their due. Perhaps that’s because the story of our modern animal agriculture system is so often so bleak—for farmers, animals, our health and the health of our environment.
In the U.S. pork sector, two-thirds of hog production comes from producers working under contract with mega-processors like Smithfield and Cargill. Processing is increasingly automated and farmers feel the pressures of high volume, low cost meat production. In confined animal feeding operations or “CAFOs”, pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in superbug-breeding warehouses, crowded with pens and gestation crates as far as the eye can see. Hogs are raised for maximum weight gain and routinely given antibiotics to speed up growth and prevent the very kinds of diseases that spread when so many animals live in such close, unsanitary and stressful quarters. Read more
On the heels of his agency’s release of a comprehensive report on climate change and its effects on U.S. agricultural production, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said yesterday that America’s farmers and ranchers are a critical part of the solution and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be there to help them step up to the plate. Read more
As the proverb goes, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, new data released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week shows that the livestock industry continues to move in the wrong direction on antibiotic use—digging all of us into a deeper “hole” when it comes to the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance.
The data shows continued very high levels of antibiotic sales for meat and poultry production, with a steady uptick in overall antibiotics use in the livestock sector over the last decade, culminating in record high sales in 2011. Read more