Herd About It?
by Ana Grarian
Several years ago I was introduced to the 1973 movie Soylent Green. Somehow I missed it when I was growing up. Anyway, the premise is that in a vastly overpopulated world surviving on processed ration wafers, it turns out that the green ones are made by recycling people who have died into food.
I must admit that the idea didn’t bother me much. Maybe even a good idea. After all the people weren’t being killed….this is what happened to their already dead bodies. Seems like a logical source for the nutrients we need to live. Of course this was before we learned about Mad Cow and the deleterious affects of feeding animals packing house waste, especially of the same species or to critters who are herbivores.
Turns out we’ve found an even more ingenious method of recycling. We now feed sh*t to livestock and fish. Once again it shows how I have known something without really comprehending it.
My husband trucked “feather and blood meal”. Feather meal is a ground up combination of “leftovers” from chicken processing. Feathers, blood, guts etc. Similar products are made from cattle and fish processing plants. And it turns out that in poultry operations the manure which is high in nitrogen is fed to cattle and fish. Besides being “yucky” it has the potential to spread all kinds of disease, produce heightened levels of antibiotics and heavy metals in meat and in waterways (the overcrowded livestock are fed antibiotics which are passed in their manure and urine, which is consumed by the new livestock and then they are fed more antibiotics to counter the overcrowding and disease bearing feed). Cattle are herbivores but up to a certain percentage you can get them to eat bloodmeal. So of course we do it.
I didn’t know that besides the aquatic farms that exist near the shore that raise salmon etc, we are also holding wild fish in vast oceanic paddocks for fattening. The fish are fed man made pelleted feed often made from meat processing plants and antibiotics are dumped into the water to counter the effects of overcrowding and poor diet. They are aslo fed ground up fish often from waters that are contaminated with heavy metals.
Oh by the way – the US gov’t considers this to be “organic”. Well yeah, there are organs in there, but I don’t think that’s the idea the consumers get when they read the label.
Now of course there are many animals who naturally get nourishment from scavaging other animals poop. Birds pick the undigested grain out of horse and cow manure. Chickens can get good nutrition and help with pest control by eating the fly larva from cow manure. It happens naturally all over the place. The difference is that animals are being duped into eating what their system are not made to handle and the high levels of contamination it produces.
MMMMmmmmm! I think for dinner I’ll have some pork chops from pigs eating feather meal, some mercury laden fish from eating chicken sh*t and for desert a nice custard from cows eating blood. Yum yum!
By the way. Did you know that the beautiful salmon pink color in your filet may be from cantaxanthin, a red dye fed to farm raised Salmon because their diet doesn’t contain the red krill they naturally eat? Their flesh would be grey wihout the dye. Cantaxanthin is also fed to chickens to give their egg yolks a nice yellow color. (Oh and in some places you can buy it as a “tanning” pill but the FDA says that is unsafe)
For a better understanding of these issues I recommend “Righteous Porkchop” by Nicollette Hahn Niman. Available through your local Independent Bookstores like Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca NY.