Saturday, 12 March 2016

What's The Beef?

The thing about blogging on theme at the tail-end of the week is that most angles have already been covered in considerable detail and with a passion by my fellow bloggers, so I'm steering clear of the debate on the rights and wrongs of converting livestock into deadstock.

Instead I'm going to highlight a couple of thought-provoking ways in which meat is murder - only in a sense other than the obviously literal one. This is all about greed and the collateral damage being done by the beef industry around the world (regardless of the ethics of actually eating the beasts).

The first way in which meat could turn out to be murder is the environmental impact of beef production. A comprehensive study by the Japanese National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science appears to show that the production of each single kilo of beef generates the equivalent of 36 kilos of CO2 (equal to the greenhouse emissions from a 150-mile car journey) plus 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate. Those figures are derived from the combined impacts of animal management, animal foodstuff production and transportation. The more beef we produce, the hotter the planet gets. One day the critters might be self-roasting on the hoof!

If you think the environmental consequences are somewhat insignificant and remote from everyday life, consider the second way in which meat could turn out to be murder, and that is the medical knock-on effects resulting from the widespread use of antibiotics in the livestock industry.

We are broadly aware of concerns that many bacteria are becoming gradually immune to the standard range of antibiotics and that there are no new antibiotics coming on-stream any time soon. What isn't generally known is that the single largest consumer of antibiotics worldwide isn't the medical profession but the meat industry, and that has been the case for the last fifty years.

Routine use of antibiotics to maintain the health of animals in "large-scale production facilities" (i.e. intensive batteries) has helped lower the cost of meat to the consumer, which has led to us eating twice as much of the stuff as we used to a couple of decades ago. It has also transferred significant quantities of the antibiotics to those same consumers, the human population, thus intensifying the chances of  our antibiotics becoming less effective sooner. There is now a concern among health officials that antibiotic resistance threatens to become "an apocalyptic scenario" and the surreptitious pumping of antibiotics through the food-chain is hastening the advent of that problem. Of course, the drug companies and the livestock industry are reluctant to publicise the impact of what is a very profitable practice for both of them.

The moral is: if you buy and consume meat, try and ensure that you buy ethically-raised and organically farmed produce if you can. It may cost more, but it may save lives - just not the animals'.

What's The Beef?
Pages of The Weekly Bleat,
broadsheet of 'the thinking cow',
swirl in dirty tatters round the yard.

Headlines trodden under hoof
tell how the bovine population,
one nation under a corrugated roof,
has never had it so good,
is the envy of all creation -
that 'we cattle' have better healthcare
than most of humankind,
plus we get all our feed on tap
and lackeys come to clear our crap away.

It's good to have these truths spelled out,
to contradict the few mad cows
who chew splenetic cud
and cast a doubting shadow on our lot.

Why would the ones who serve us,
house us, feed us so attentively
have a mind to see us come to grief?
It makes no sense at all.

Those headstrong heifers talk such rot
about what may befall.
What's the beef?
Graze on, my gentle friends.

Thanks for reading. Have a good week, S ;-)


Annie Walton said...

Power stuff this Steve!

There is something Orwelian here.....( wider truths ie )

Annie x