#BAD11. Another BAD FOOD Blog

My post today is part of Blog Action Day (BAD) 2011.

Blog Action Day started in Australia on October 15, 2007,  when Collis & Cyan Ta’eed invited bloggers from around the world to write about the same global topic on that day. Last year I joined thousands of bloggers from a hundred-and-thirty countries to write on Water.

As this year’s BAD day – October 16 –  coincides with World Food Day, the 2011 theme is FOOD.

Last year on World Food Day I noted that:

  • one in seven people alive today go hungry every day.
  • Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. A child dies every six seconds from hunger.
  • One in eight Americans received emergency food help last year

Nothing’s changed. If anything, it’s even worse.

What can ordinary folks like you and I do? Do we help feed the hungry when we tell our kids to “eat everything on your plate, because children are starving in Africa, Asia, or at the Homeless Shelter downtown?”

We aren’t feeding the hungry with our scraps, but hopefully we’re teaching our kids not to waste food, although I don’t know what kind of lesson they learn when they see how much food is thrown away at restaurants.

One way to defeat hunger, Empower women!

World Food Program’sFocus on Women” Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, “People often ask: What can be done to defeat hunger? My answer is simple: empower women, because women are the secret weapon to fight hunger.”

 in the hands of women, food is far more likely to reach the mouths of needy children.

“I sing for joy as I harvest my crop,”
 said Nangor Lobongia, a widowed mother of seven in the drought-hit Turkana region of northern Kenya.
.
.
 Nangor Lobongia (left). Copyright: WFP/Rose Ogola

* * * *

On this World Food Day us folks with our full pantries and fridges don’t need to rush out and become vegetarians, but if we ate more vegetables with small portions of meat and fish, and never ever ate any animals, or animal “products” produced on a factory farm, that would be a great start.

Did I just hear you say,  “I don’t buy food from factory farms!”

Do you know where your eggs come from? To answer that question, I repost part of  a blog I wrote last year: Why did the chicken cross the road?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/db/AraucanaEgg_vs_Brown_White.jpg/240px-AraucanaEgg_vs_Brown_White.jpg

Araucana egg (blue-green color) with brown and white eggs. By Gmoose1

Do you buy the cheapest eggs you can find;  or perhaps you’re concerned for your family’s health and pay extra for organic;  or maybe you care about the *chickens*, and pay top dollar for organic free-range bought at a local farm?

Before World War II most egg farms in the U.S. had flocks of less than 400 hens, but today, about 95% of our eggs come from “egg factories” i.e. about 245 egg producers have more than 75,000 hens, and 12 have more than 5 million. That’s not a misprint – FIVE MILLION chickens  – and they call it a “farm“? Help!

I’m sure you’ve driven past those huge egg operations without realizing there are around half a million chickens in those buildings. If you were ever allowed behind those nice clean walls you’d be shocked to see the conditions: three or four birds squashed in each cage stand on wire “floors” that make their feet bleed, offer them no space to move around or stretch their wings, and they are never allowed to forage for food, or see the light of day.

Cal-Maine, the largest egg producer in the country, sold 778 million eggs last year from their factory farms.  An undercover worker of the Humane Society of the USA spent a month working at a Cal-Maine egg farm in Texas and videotaped what he saw. It’s horrifying…

Less than 5% of U.S. farmer’s allow their chickens to live cage free as they do at

Their loud cackling warned me not to approach

Robert and Tracy G’s farm near Pisa, in Italy (photo left).

Mr F and I buy our eggs from small family farms at the farmer’s market, and on occasion at Wholefoods or Trader Joes where we willingly pay extra for organic cage-free eggs, because we think the term “organic” means they’re laid by happy healthy chickens and “cage-free” means they’re running around outside.

Not so. The Cornucopia Institute’s two-year-long investigation into organic egg farms shows that about 80 percent of the market’s certified organic eggs actually come from the same factory farms as those producing non-organic eggs,

Robert's chickens don't know how lucky they are.

“a high percentage of the eggs on the market should be labeled ‘produced with organic feed‘ rather than bearing the USDA-certified organic logo,” because many of these birds never actually get to set foot outdoors.

Check out the Cornucopia Instituteorganic egg scorecard” list which shows ethical family farms, exposes factory farm producers, and which brands to avoid in the grocery store.

It’s standard industry practice to wash eggs.
Robert’s eggs straight from the coop

But in some States eggs must be washed in a chlorine bath, which damages the egg’s outer protective cuticle – like our nails – so they coat it with mineral oil “a petroleum product never intended for consumption.” Unfortunately the oil crosses over the semi-permeable shell membrane to end up in the egg you eat with your breakfast toast.

Some egg producers don’t wash in chlorine, some use vegetable oil, you’ll only find out if you ask the farmers directly.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/Auguste_Durst_-_Paysage_aux_poules.JPG

Painting by Jean-Baptiste Auguste Durst (born in France 1842)

* * * * *

Don’t forget the millions that aren’t just hungry today, they’re starving because of famine, floods, earthquakes or wars.

If you’d like to help The World Food Programs

  • 50 US cents per day can feed a hungry child or mother
  • $50 donation will feed a girl in school for an entire year
  • $72 will provide nutrition for a pregnant girl, or a new mother. (A malnourished mother usually gives birth to underweight babies, who are 20% more likely to die before the age of five).

click on this link  to donate.  Several countries offer tax-deductible options. And thanks.

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About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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20 Responses to #BAD11. Another BAD FOOD Blog

  1. E says:

    Another aspect of this story, which often gets overlooked, is that food insecurity is prevalent among all of us right here in developed countries. Food insecurity is the lack of access to nutritional, affordable food, and is a condition that is rampant throughout the US — not only during economic recessions, but during relatively affluent periods, too.

    In the US, food insecurity stems not from a shortage of food but from its inequitable distribution. In low-income areas, large supermarket chains which carry a wide variety of products at competitive prices are not lucrative and thus often absent — but fast food chains and liquor stores (which carry very limited “fresh” produce, if any, and are highly overpriced) are plentiful. The issue is exacerbated by low vehicle ownership, which not only prevents physical access to stores that carry healthy food, but also makes carrying groceries home more difficult, and makes buying items in bulk (which is cheaper, and which can be split among friends and neighbors) a near impossibility.

    The result of these patterns is that in Los Angeles suburban residents spend 12% of their income on food, while low-income families spend 36%. Fast food, junk food and products that contain unhealthy ingredients that are subsidized by the Farm Bill, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are comparatively cheap for a low-income mother trying to pack as many calories into her food shopping as her budget will allow. And of course it’s no coincidence that foods containing high fat, sugar and salt appeal to the human appetite. Unfortunately, the result is a public health injustice, where low-income, minority communities suffer from disproportionate rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and early mortality.

    There are also misconceptions among some populations about what is actually healthy and how to prepare nutritious meals. I did my applied master’s thesis on the subject of food insecurity in affordable housing communities in LA. When I had a chef friend conduct a healthy cooking demonstration in one such community, so many misconceptions arose during our discussion with the predominantly Latino residents — like whether shopping at a farmers’ markets means having to buy in bulk, and whether organic milk has extra preservatives to keep it from spoiling. Many of the residents emigrated from countries where their families cultivated their own crops. But in the city, access to land is limited and the process of securing a community garden plot can be a mystery.

    I could go on and on, but speaking of food, I’m getting hungry for Sunday breakfast. The point to remember is that we don’t have to feel like the issue of inequitable food distribution is far away on another corner of the planet and thus insurmountable from our homes in the developed world. There is plenty of information out there about how food insecurity affects communities among our own and there are many ways of getting involved. Community Food Security Coalition has a wealth of information on the subject on their website. And in LA, Community Services Unlimited is good place to learn more about how to combat food insecurity. You can also support a local farmers’ markets or a farm that offers community-supported agriculture membership (more info here) to keep your dollars local, volunteer for organizations like Food Forward, or become a Master Gardener through your local university extension and work with low-income communities to help secure healthy food.

    • dearrosie says:

      Yes Yes Yes! Thank you for sharing this wealth of information with us E, and thank you for taking the time to add the websites at the end…
      I wasn’t aware that you’d done your Master’s thesis on “food insecurity”. It was only in the past year or so that I heard stories on NPR (National Public Radio) about the lack of supermarkets in poorer neighborhoods. I assumed that if you lived in America you’d have a “Ralphs” or “Vons” in your neighborhood…

      To write one blog on FOOD wasn’t an easy task for me because there’s so much on that topic that I’m passionate about:
      * I can’t imagine why we’re still digging up the rain-forests for our hamburgers.
      * When so much oil and water are needed to raise a cow why aren’t we eating buffalo that can survive on the grasslands without needing anything from us. No oil. No water.
      * How are we going to feed 9 billion people in 2050?
      * the importance of supporting your local farmer’s market.

      Thanks for writing E

  2. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    A very interesting and informative post, I certainly learned a few new things.
    It is very sad the hunger that is in the world, and it does certainly seem like nothing changes, there have literally been Billions of dollars sent from many places around the world, yet things seem to stay the same.

    • dearrosie says:

      HI Mags,
      I’m really glad that you got something from reading my post

      Re the billions of dollars spent but nothing has changed, this quote from NPR:
      “Ethiopia and Kenya have experienced the same double drought as Somalia did, and because of good investments in agriculture and pre-positioning of food, Ethiopia and Kenya aren’t yet experiencing the severe life-threatening famine that Somalia is,” said Tom Hart of the aid advocacy group known as the ONE campaign.

      http://www.npr.org/2011/10/12/141257957/besides-famine-somalia-suffers-donation-drought

      • magsx2 says:

        Thank You for the link, it was a good read, at least some work is being done to try to help these people.

      • dearrosie says:

        I’m glad you read the link Mags. There’s also corruption and bribery. Many countries send emergency supplies of food over to Africa – I’m sure you’ve seen photos of the planes being unloaded – but the grain don’t get to the hungry people, they somehow end up being *sold*.

  3. souldipper says:

    Oh my…what do we do to ourselves? We do preposterous things in the name of food production AND expect the children who eat these foods to be well-behaved, contributing human beings.

    Change is no longer just an option.

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for writing Amy. We’re horrified and appalled, and agree that animals deserve a decent life, but we can’t carry on as before and pretend we don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of “factory farms” because we do know.

      We can bring about change with small steps (a) if we all refuse to eat an animal raised under those horrendous conditions; (b) if we simply eat smaller portions of meat and fish; and (c) stop wasting food.

  4. Sybil says:

    An informative blog. What a sad state of affairs.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Sybil,
      Chickens are smart. At Robert and Tracy’s farm in Italy – the chickens knew I was a stranger and only stopped their loud cackling when I walked away. (Their eggs were the tastiest I’ve ever eaten – the yolks were bright yellow!)
      Thank you for stopping by.

  5. Priya says:

    It pains to see the results of need (and the consequent greed) for money. And the burgeoning demand for more, more, and more.

    Having said that, I have a doubt. People say that empowering women will alleviate a lot of problems related to hunger. I can’t help but question that. How? When the woman does not have any means to find/get the food, how will she provide it to the children and others around her? She can be educated, empowered, strong — but if there is a famine, flood, general unavailability of food, where will she feed mouths from?

    Eggs. Most of our eggs come from chicken farms. As does the chicken. It is a shame because there doesn’t seem to be a way out. Free range birds are now rare to find, and financially non-viable for business people. I can remember those days when most of our meats and eggs came from uncaged animals. Within a matter of a decade or a little more, we’re now a part of the rest of the mass consuming economies. Where is the growth?

    I don’t like this post, Rosie. It makes me very, very sad.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Priya,
      It’s good that you don’t like this post – although I’m very sorry to upset you dear friend. My hope is that after reading it you’ll think about *food* in a different way, and perhaps not buy anything raised in factory farms. I only mentioned eggs in my article. The life of cattle and pigs in factory farms is an even worse horror story. Raising so many animals in such close quarters produce an enormous amount of animal excrement -which on a family farm would’ve been spread on the crops – but there’s so much of it on a factory farm that they don’t know what to do with it, and most of it ends up in our rivers and streams (and as these animals have been fed anti-biotics, it’s polluting our water.)

      We need to answer the question: are factory farms the only way we’ll be able to feed 9 billion people in 2050? During the second world war people in England grew their own food, raised their own chickens and eggs. I know that many of our neighbors are raising chickens, and some have goats in their backyards.

      To answer your question about empowering women: Have a look at the link
      World Food Program’s “Focus on Women”. There are many stories on what uneducated woman have been able to do.

      According to the charity Heifer International (which was started over 65 years ago) give a woman a goat and she’ll learn to milk it so her children will have milk and cheese.

      http://www.heifer.org/

  6. “Free-Range” Eggs – Can You Tell The Difference?

    “Free-Range” Hen

    • Debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old with no anesthetic.

    • Force molted (intentionally starved to shock the body into another laying cycle).

    • Violently packed into a semi and trucked hundreds of miles to an agonizing slaughter when considered “spent” (unable to keep laying eggs at a fast enough pace).

    • Denied the opportunity to live a natural life in truly humane care.

    • All of her brothers (roosters) are brutally killed as baby chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs.

    Battery Cage Hen

    • Debeaked with a hot bloody blade at one day old with no anesthetic.

    • Force molted (intentionally starved to shock the body into another laying cycle).

    • Violently packed into a semi and trucked hundreds of miles to an agonizing slaughter when considered “spent” (unable to keep laying eggs at a fast enough pace).

    • Denied the opportunity to live a natural life in truly humane care.

    • All of her brothers (roosters) are brutally killed as baby chicks simply because they can’t lay eggs.

    http://www.peacefulprairie.org/letter.html

  7. dearrosie says:

    Dear Michael,
    I appreciate that you visited my blog, and took the time to write a comment.

    Thank you for sharing this sobering comparison between a “Free-Range” and a “Battery Cage” Hen. I had no idea.

    I went to the Peaceful Prairie link you attached and read the letter, and to be honest, I cried. I cried with shame that we – who call ourselves civilized people – would treat animals like this.

    Mr F and I do not eat veal for the very reason described in the Peaceful Prairie letter, but even though we only buy meat from places like Wholefoods and TJ’s we have to trust their claim that the animals are raised humanely.

    We buy our eggs direct from small producers at the farmer’s market, and after reading this I think it behooves us to get their addresses and go see their farms.

    We know a source for grass-fed Buffalo, which I’ll write about in a future post.

  8. Hi Rosie,
    Thanks for the reply, and for taking the time to visit the PPS site and read the letter.
    Winter is coming and Bumper needs hay. Here is a link in case any of your readers want to help.

    http://peacefulprairie.chipin.com/peaceful-prairie-sanctuary

  9. Hi Rosie, I think it’s great that you are writing about these issues. For at the very least, it will make us think twice before we make assumptions that organic eggs are organic. And at the most, it will inspire us to make a change.

    I do think about these issues, often, but I must confess that I feel much the same as Priya. Many times there are no nearby alternative choices. I do live in an area with a plentiful amount of Farmer’s Markets. And I frequent them… in the summer. But by the end of this month, they will be closed up. I can do my best to buy products at the grocers that are labelled organic and cage free — but again like Priya, I feel sad. It seems there is just no end to the legerdemain these giant corporations employ.

    On a different note, I agree with you entirely that if you empower women, you will change the world. Women, given a chance, will make milk and cheese from a goat’s offerings, just like you said. :) Great point, and great post.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Happy,
      No one who read my post and all the comments above, will still assume that if an egg comes in a box with a photo of an old fashioned farm on it, or if it’s called *organic*, that the chicken had a life running around in a farm like the painting by Jean-Baptiste Auguste Durst [above]. We’ll all ask questions at the grocery where we do our shopping, which will make those stores re-think their policy, and hopefully they will bring in *real* cage-free eggs from a local farmer…

      I don’t know where you live, but even if the farmers’ markets are closed in the winter, don’t the farmers still have eggs to sell? Wouldn’t it be lovely to take your kids directly to the farm to purchase your eggs over the winter? You could blog about it, and then your readers would take their kids to buy eggs from their local farmers, and so on…

      The Dalai Lama said change will begin with the women. And it has, one goat and one egg at a time.

      Thank you for visiting my blog, and for your thoughtful comment.

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