pounds of antibiotic-free chicken
There is a big announcement from the windy city this week and this time it relates to school lunches. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced that on November 1st, they would begin serving antibiotic-free (ABF) chicken too all 300,000+ students i their 473 schools. The deal with main food service provider, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality, will bring 1.2 million pounds of locally grown ABF chicken to Chicago schools.
Seeing Michael Pollan speak was on my list of things to do. When it was announced he was coming to Santa Barbara, I marked it on my calendar. But somehow, I got busy. Let’s see, there was a birthday party to plan and a book club dinner to prepare for. By the time I looked up, it was Thursday evening and the event was sold out. If you know me well, you may have heard this sentence come out of my mouth, “things just tend to work out.” Thursday was a prime example of my life philosophy. I decided to take a chance and go down the Granada Theater early to see if anyone was selling a ticket. The end result? I got a FREE orchestra ticket from the director at my daughter’s school after they had a last minute cancellation. The bonus? The parking attendant was no longer at the kiosk, so I got free parking too.
The event was billed, An Evening with Michael Pollan in Conversation with Renee Montagne. The newly remodeled Granada stage featured two oversized, tan leather chairs and a coffee table filled with a mound of whole fruits and vegetables (although from my vantage point, they looked fake). Michael walked onstage with Renee, he in an slim-profile olive suit, her in a black dress ensemble. Renee announced that this would be a casual event; she would ask questions first and then there would be an audience Q&A at the end. The theater has a strict policy against the use of cell phones during any show, so I was forced to take notes on my program in the dark. I did my best to get exact quotes, but some may be slightly off (since I couldn’t read all my own handwriting).
On Wednesday, consumer advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the FDA for their failure to address the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed. Factory farms include antibiotics and antimicrobial drugs in animal feed to fight against the myriad of illnesses that cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys suffer from as a result of their CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) lifestyle (horrendous living conditions, restriction of natural behaviors, use of unnatural feed and growth hormones). The antibiotics can also help increase production in food-producing animals which is an obvious plus for farmers. The major concern with this practice is that humans and animals will eventually become resistant to these drugs and then they will no longer be effective when they are really needed. The FDA itself has acknowledged that non-therapeutic use of antibiotics contributes to antimicrobial resistance in humans and has urged the meat industry to phase out antibiotics in feed. The FDA issued a draft guidance for the industry and recommends “judicious use” be applied. Specifically, the “FDA recommends that all antimicrobial drugs for animals and people be used only when necessary and appropriate.”
Part of my job as the primary blogger for Be Food Smart is to stay up to date on what’s new in the food and nutrition world. For the most part I love it, but inevitably, there comes a point in my week where I throw my hands up in frustration. It seems that every type of food I thought I knew somehow becomes a subject of debate. Need some examples?
Sugar – The stuff that comes from the lush sugarcane plant is now suddenly associated with the “T” word. Remember when toxic was primarily used to describe a pile of nuclear waste oil drums with skull & crossbones? Robert Lustig’s YouTube video has only been viewed 1.16 million times.
Wheat – Between whole, unbleached, enriched, stone ground, and bleached, wheat is downright confusing. And all this before I even mentioned the almighty power word: gluten.
Salt – Sodium is bad, right? Or wait, is the regular stuff bad and sea salt good? What about rock, kosher, or unrefined pink Himalayan salt? Do I need the iodine (especially since the Japanese nuclear reactor is leaking)? I predict a future blog post on salt…
Watch this well-spoken, charismatic 11-year-old kid take on the industrial food system in this TEDx video. Birke Baehr is a homeschooler who began learning and taking notice of how food actually gets to the table. He wants all kids to know that food animals do not live on the picturesque farms he had always imagined and outlines his case for why we need to localize and clean up our food production. Pretty remarkable and inspiring message from someone who has only been on this planet for 11 years.
At age 9, while traveling with his family and being “roadschooled,” Birke Baehr began studying sustainable and organic farming practices such as composting, vermiculture, canning and food preservation. Soon he discovered his other passion: educating others — especially his peers — about the destructiveness of the industrialized food system, and the alternatives. He spoke at TEDxNextGenerationAsheville in 2010. Birke Baehr wants us to know how our food is made, where it comes from, and what’s in it. At age 11, he’s planning a career as an organic farmer.
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This is Part 3 of a three-part series on raw milk.
Last week I attended a meeting given by the Santa Barbara chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) on raw milk. The guest speaker was Mark McAfee, CEO of Organic Pastures. If you are following this series on raw milk, you’ve already learned a bit about the differences between factory farmed milk and raw milk (click here for Part 1) and how raw milk relates to the all the good bacteria in your body (click here for Part 2). This is Part 3 of the series.
In standard dairy pasteurization, raw milk is heated to 161 degrees F and kept there for 15 seconds. This process will generally kill harmful bacteria in the milk. However, like antibiotics, the pasteurization process does not discriminate and also kills the good bacteria too. Mark is not a fan of pasteurization and continued his session with a whole bunch of reasons why. As you read this list, some make obvious sense and others require a bit more explanation (I’ll do my best to relay Mark’s enthusiasm on the subject). In my opinion, some of these reasons are not directly a result of pasteurization, but more of an after-effect of the new dairy production world, post-pasteurization.
Pasteurization was revolutionary because it allowed for a completely different way of raising cows. No longer did the dairy cows need to remain disease free or kept in clean and sanitary quarters because pasteurization would kill all the harmful bacteria.
This is Part 1 of a three-part series on raw milk.
When the local chapter of The Weston A. Foundation (WAPF) announced their March topic, All About Raw Milk…Samples Will be Provided, I have to admit that I got a wee bit squeamish. I’m not really sure why since I like almost everything else raw. Maybe it stems from the fact that drinking a tall glass of milk with dinner was never part of my childhood. Mom breastfed all her kids until we self-weaned and did not “graduate” us to cow’s milk like most American parents. We consumed cow’s milk with cold cereal and in cooking (my mom makes a mean cream of cauliflower soup), but never to drink. I suppose it could have something to do with childhood, or maybe it’s all the fear surrounding raw milk. I receive virtually all food-related updates from the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) and “the dangers of raw milk” seems to be a very frequent topic. If you believe the hype, people must be sick and dying all the time because of this dangerous stuff. I pushed aside my squeamishness and I vowed to attend the meeting anyway (I figured I’d skip the plastic sample cup of raw milk and just go for the presentation).
I arrived at the Goleta Library a few minutes late and pasted my name tag onto my cardigan. The meeting room was packed with about 50 local people and I was directed to sit in the front row (don’t you love showing up late?). After a brief introduction to the WAPF by chapter leaders, Eric Brody and Katie Falbo, the CEO of Organic Pastures approached the podium. Mark McAfee is a big guy, both in stature and personality. The minute he started talking, I knew I wouldn’t be bored. The passion Mark has for raw milk seeps from his every pore.
Mark’s presentation was filled with powerfully memorable slides and you know he’s spoken these words a hundred times over. There were three main intertwined themes:
(1) the differences between the two raw milks in America
(2) the ever-important bacteria in the human body
(3) the negative sides of dairy pasteurization.
Two Raw Milks
We started with the two raw milks; what do they have in common and what are the differences?