CAFO pulls back the curtain on industrial agriculture.
CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories (Earth Aware, 2010) takes no shortcuts as it squires us on an uncomfortable walk through the ways of modern meat production. It’s a grimy, grisly world and while much is immediately apparent, it’s important to stay for the entire tour so you can appreciate all the connections, redundancies and stupidity in the system.
This isn’t easy. There are pictures — and text — that are pure horror show; glimpses of the slaughterhouse where you can almost smell the stench. But stay on the walk, so you’ll understand. That’s important, because in the end, this is not about a more efficient system that’s brutal but necessary to feed the world, but about a super-controlled corporate game that’s out of control.
Like eel? Tuna? Catfish?
You might want to find some new entrees. The Food and Water Watch’s Smart Seafood Guide for 2010, published this week, warns that many such popular fish and seafood are simply not safe to eat, while others are not ethical to eat. Some marine food sources present both health and ethical problems.
Here’s a little cautionary tale about how bigger is not always better, and knowing who to blame doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. It’s also about the inter-connectedness of our energy and food systems, and specifically how coal-fired power plants affect your diet.
Say you were camping with friends and caught a really BIG fish. This squirming monster would give you bragging rights for a year. Now say you caught a smaller fish, suitable for pan frying but not Kodak-worthy.
What do you do? If you’re Daniel Boone, you toss the little guy back. But if you’re a post-industrial age sportsman or woman, you will want to consider this: Keep the big hunker and you’ve got more to eat, and disproportionately more mercury contamination.
PALO ALTO, CA (KGO) — A federal agency has issued an alarming report that mercury contamination in fish has become widespread across the country, including Northern California. Many people fish for recreation; they also eat what they catch. But the U.S. Geological Survey says they also could be ingesting unhealthy levels of mercury. >> Read the full story
The Denim Diet: 16 Simple Habits to Get Into Your Dream Pair of Jeans by Kami Gray claims to be a “no-nonsense guide to a smaller you and a healthier planet”. While I would not go far to say that it is a guide to a healthier planet, it does provide a glimpse into an environmental approach to dieting.
This book would appeal to people who are unfamiliar with the benefits to eating organically, a great source for the newly green.
Gray explains what it takes to be certified as organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is also notes that just because food is labeled as “all natural” or “100% natural” does not necessarily mean that it is, because the term “natural” is not yet regulated by the Federal Drug Administration. Anything can be labeled as natural. Go beyond the label to look at the actual ingredients, Gray advises.
Since most people avoid organic food because of the cost, she also provides some money-saving tricks, like buying fruits in season and freezing them and buying store-brand organic foods, which are less expensive.
It doesn’t get much more local than your own backyard.
A Georgia company is selling ‘Farm in a Barrel.’ It’s a self-contained eco-system that allows homeowners to raise organic fish and vegetables at the same time. The method, called aquaponics, combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in a soil-less system.) The fish produce the nutrients to feed the plants, while the plants and bacteria clean the water for the fish.
The U.S. Geological Survey has released a study showing an increase in mercury emissions from human sources is affecting the fish population in the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists had predicted a 50 percent increase in mercury levels in the Pacific Ocean by 2050, if mercury emission rates continue as projected. Human contribution to mercury pollution includes coal burning power plants and waste incineration. The water sampled for this study — released May 1 — shows that the mercury levels in 2006 were already approximately 30 percent higher than the same samples in the 1990′s.
Most fishermen are disappointed if they don’t come back with the biggest fish possible. But research shows catching only the biggest and throwing the smaller ones back may be speeding up their evolution – and that could be a very bad thing.
When UC Santa Cruz researcher Chris Darimont tells a fish story — it’s not about the big one that got away — it’s about the smaller ones being left behind.
In yet another indictment of industrial farming methods and another threat to fish, researchers are reporting vast growth of ocean “dead zones.” Once rare, dead zones are multiplying and now total more than 400 around the world’s coastal waters, putting stresses on marine life by upsetting the underwater food chain, according to an August article in the journal Science.