As an answer to our globe’s growing population and increasing meat consumption, scientists in the Netherlands are very close to debuting their meat grown from stem cells of healthy cows. The scientists have been working to grow muscle tissue from a small number of stem cells they’ve extracted from the cattle.
As awkward as this process sounds, the researchers believe it’s going to be beneficial for the world. As the trends lead us to believe that the world’s meat consumption is expected to double by the year 2050, this man-made meat will be able to be produced without the need for livestock.
When a food is titled organic, that means that it was produced using methods that avoided synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The food does not contain genetically modified organisms and it was not involved in radiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives while being processed. If livestock or meat products are labeled organic that means the animal was raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
Obviously this is how farming used to always take place. Synthetic inputs are a creation of more modern times. All of these organic practices have been linked to sustainability in that they foster the cycling of resources, contribute to ecological balance, and protect biodiversity.
The health benefits of eating organic products come from the simple fact that one is consuming food, not chemicals. While the jury is still out on what impact these chemicals and artificial elements exactly cause, if you’re like me, I’d prefer not to eat a bug spray or an artificial flavor if I can avoid it. Even if it may not be “that bad” for me.
The McRib sandwich from McDonald’s is a strange product of the food science world: fake “ribs” molded out of mystery pork and drowning in sauce. First McDonald’s created the “Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America” spoof. Now, the fast food chain is running a campaign to get customers to submit a video with a “legendary” creation story of the McRib sandwich. The winner will receive $10,000 dollars and a trip to Germany. The fact that McDonald’s is making fun of the nebulous origins of its food is borderline offensive to anyone who would like there to be some transparency in our food chain.
Well, OK, McDonald’s, we’ll tell you where the McRib comes from: an enormous factory farm. A giant shed with a floor covered in feces, where tens of thousands of pigs will be born without ever having enough space to turn around in and most will never see daylight. Let’s remember that, unlike a chicken, a pig has fairly advanced mental capacities, much like your pet dog. Because these pigs live in such tight quarters, they tend to develop bizarre behaviors due to stress. The animals, taken away from their mothers shortly after birth, nibble on each other’s tails because they are not allowed to wean. The pig having its tail nibbled is too apathetic to fight or object, but the chewed tails are likely to be infected. The solution? All the pigs get their tails cut off at birth. I’ll spare you a description of a slaughter. A typical slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs per hour, according to PETA.
While much attention is paid to the environmental benefits of organic produce, the local food movement is starting to also make real headway. No matter how your food is grown, if it’s shipped from across the U.S. or even from another country, that’s a long way for your food to travel.
Locally grown foods are fresher because they don’t have to be picked before they’re ripe for shipping, and are less likely to be subjected to different means of preserving freshness. Many fruits and vegetables must stay in refrigerated trucks, which increases the amount of energy the trucks consume.
While there are some extreme locavores out there, introducing more local food into your diet isn’t as hard as it seems. Plus, eating locally puts more emphasis on eating fresh, non-processed foods that will benefit anyone trying to lose weight. When you eat locally, you’re also supporting the local economy. Here are a few simple ways to eat local.
For veterans of the organic food debate, the cover story of Time Magazine offers few new insights into the question of eating cleanly and sustainably. Any general discussion of the food industry in America is rife with rhetorical potholes, and the debate is as massive and complex as our food production systems themselves.
The Time article, written by Jefferey Kluger, makes a judicious attempt at outlining some of the biggest points of contention in the great food debate: cost, nutritional value of organics vs. conventional food, treatment of livestock, fertilizers and pesticides. He also oddly tries to extricate himself from the debate in which he is participating, referring to “food purists” and “the shouting of the food partisans.” If Kluger is trying to mount a non-partisan argument, he ends by leap-frogging from issue to issue without settling for a conclusion. While Kluger ultimately appears to be in support of organic food and the consumption of less meat, he seems dismissive of the practicality of feeding the nation with organic food. (more…)