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The Killing Floor: Where Your Non-Organic Meat Comes From

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO vs. Free Range page.

The other day we were forced to listen to an NPR interview, by Terry 
Gross, presumably, with some fellow talking about his garden, about which he had 
evidently written a silly-sounding book. After firing off some well-honed clichés 
about the importance of the garden in making us consider the role of culture
 in man's relationship to nature, the interviewee said ponderously that
 these days most people don't know where food comes from. He and Gross,
or a Gross soundalike, chewed that one over industriously for several minutes.

Why would you
 want to know where food comes from? Ignorance is probably preferable, if not
 morally desirable. Better to think that New York strip or T-bone was put together 
in a lab, which is the way we're headed anyway. Why be curious about where
 your broccoli comes from? In the old days a lot of it came from the Pajaro Valley
 just south of Santa Cruz on California's central coast. The fellows picking 
it were undocumented workers, mostly from Michoacan, earning $6 an hour. Then 
the growers figured it was more profitable to relocate the broccoli down in 
Mexico, pay the pickers $6 a day, ship the veg up to the border, relabel 
it as natural-born American and ship it east. One trouble with this is that
 the broccoli or spinach is often laced with raw sewage. Uncomposted shit isn't
 good for you.

Potatoes? We read an account not so long ago of the chemical conditions in which Idaho russets 
are raised, where the application of pesticides is so intense that when something
 screws up in the irrigation systems, they dare not send out maintenance 
workers right away because the air is too toxic.

Who would have
 thought that eating broccoli or spinach was a high-risk event, an X-treme sport
 right there in your own kitchen or dining room? The big food chains such as 
Safeway are trying to figure out an inspection system that will spot toxic veg 
before it gets onto the shelf. Trouble is, the political economy of capitalist
 agriculture is structurally tilted toward the likelihood that your spinach will 
be shit-enhanced. It's become part of the price for cheap food. The alternative 
is a different system of land ownership and farm production that would give 
you a better class of spinach at a higher price for the farmer. No chance of
that in the foreseeable in this country. Food will just get more dangerous, because the conditions 
in which veg is grown or cows are raised and killed become more noxious. The 
latest scare is a ferocious strain of E. coli (mostly benign), labelled E. coli 
O157:H7, which first became notorious in the Jack in the Box food deaths back
in 1993. It's a strain that has apparently flourished because of the intensive 
fattening methods of the modern feedlot.    


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