145 million pounds of ground beef was recalled after the Humane Society of the United States released this undercover video, showing "downer" cows being moved to slaughter with forklifts and other nasty things that will put you off your dinner. Newsweek did a terrific interview with Michael Pollan, who is no vegetarian but is a vociferous critic of the American meat industry. He explains the problem with eating downer cows, "Whatever the risk, do you want to be eating meat from sick cows?", the reason that the production line moves so fast (economics- that is why a hamburger is 99 cents) and:
How can a consumer who wants to continue to eat beef avoid food from factories that break the law?
Photo credit: Ken Light
"I've written a lot on industrial meat production, and it's very interesting to see how people react. Some people react by saying, "That's it, I can't eat meat anymore." Other people look at this and they put it in a box. They don't make the emotional connection between their 99-cent double cheeseburger and this process that we've seen in the video. Still other people decide they want to still eat meat, but they want to eat meat they feel good about. They want alternatives. Luckily for us, there are some really good ones. There is meat produced in small batches, from ranchers that keep their animals not in feedlots standing in their own manure but in pastureland. They are slaughtered in small plants, just a few head a day. It does tend to be more expensive, but you get what you pay for. What it takes to get a 99-cent double cheeseburger are these kinds of shortcuts: downer cattle and 400 head slaughtered an hour. But cheap food has a very high cost. ::Newsweek