Monday, February 25, 2008

Giving up milk...

A lot of people right now are swearing off meat. It will be temporary in most cases but a few will stick with it. They probably aren't thinking about milk and cheese though.

Recently the government recalled 143 MILLION pounds of beef as a result of a video by the Humane Society. The video showed cows staggering and being tortured as they headed to be slaughtered. You may have seen the video on TV. It's horrible to think that people could be that cruel.

What's worse is that the meat was headed toward our children's schools. A lot of the meat had been eaten prior to the recall.

What's all the hoopla about eating the meat? It's possible, although probably remote, that some of the cows had bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease. If a cow has it and you eat it, you have a high chance of someday having your brain turn to mush. From what I've read the brain ends up looking like a sponge. There is no cure.

I think the fact that the cows in question were DAIRY cows has mostly been overlooked. Prior to ending up on the chopping block these older cows spent their life squirting milk into containers that ended up in refrigerators across the country. Processing doesn't kill mad cow disease.

They've done experiments where the turned infected cow parts into dust at temperatures that kill everything, reconstituted the stuff and voila, you could still get mad cow. They haven't quite figured out how to make it go away. I read about one case where tools used in surgery where disinfected, heated, etc. then, after a lengthy period of time were used in eye surgery. The person contracted the disease from the equipment. You'll have to look it up 'cause I don't remember the particulars.

I don't eat meat. Haven't since I was a teenager. It started out as a teen-age protest of some sort, partially because I didn't want to kill and eat Bambi or some poor cow, partially I think because my parents enjoyed it so much. My personal stand for independence on some level probably. Whatever the initial reasons, over the years I've read enough about our food processing to convince me to stay on the straight and narrow in regards to meat. Now it's a habit and a way of life.

I don't like milk, so I've never been one to drink full glasses of the stuff unless it was drowned in chocolate or mixed with ice cream. However, as you can already tell, I eat dairy products. I keep it to a minimum and shoot for tofu or soy products whenever possible. But I do have a sweet tooth that only chocolate ice cream will satisfy at times, albeit sugar-free in most instances.

The fact that the cows in question were dairy cows opened my eyes yet again and I'm going back to soy, tofu and similar. The only time I drink milk anymore is in my hot tea, so that's not a problem. I have a yogurt a day, so am gonna have to switch back to non-dairy, again not a problem as I like it.

I've already cut cheese out of my diet. Not for mad cow reasons, but because I've been watching my hips widen and cheese is high in fat and calories. I can't stand the low-fat cheeses so it has just been easier to bump it from my diet.

Enough about what I'M going to be doing. What are YOU going to be doing? Have you wondered how long this plant has been supplying meat to our kids and fast-food restaurants? They recalled 143 million pounds of meat. How much meat has been processed by this plant during its history? How many other plants have similar practices? How many dairy cows are out there potentially pumping mad cow milk?

I seriously don't expect we have many, if any dairy cows with problems. From what I've read these cows were simply abused, tired cows. They were older dairy cows that were past their milk-producing prime and thus were headed to slaughter. They traveled a great distance, probably in conditions that had them standing packed into cattle cars for a long period of time. They were more than likely just wanting to sleep.

However, cows with BSE symptoms aren't noticeable until the cows are older. In the United States we kill our cows young, long before symptoms would be visible to the naked eye. We don't check them for the disease.

And here's another scary fact. If one BSE infected cow gets in the mix, it affects the entire batch of meat. Plus, since you can't kill it, they can sterilize and clean those killing machines and processors all they want but they can't get rid of the stuff. The next batch of meat going through the system is going to be tainted.

If you eat it, chances are someday your family will think you're suffering from dementia. But it will be mad cow. Read about it. It's not common, but it IS scary.
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