Meet the Meat

Chicken Little? When it comes to confronting corporate abuses, chicken farmers chicken out. Now we’re left with oversized chickens, corporations, and jeans. It’s time to see what’s really in the butcher’s bucket.

The meat industry seems to have ingeniously invented a way to make food cheap, quick, and uniform, but in the process they are crumbling animal rights by inhumanely turning their farms into factories, destroying the natural environment while negatively affecting consumers, and gaining immense power while abusing chicken farmers as they construct a deceptive environment behind the scenes.

McDonald’s may be known for being unhealthy, but that doesn’t stop the food chain from being one of the most powerful fast-food chains in America. Their game-changing idea of making interchangeable food has paid off. According to Food Inc, suppliers had to create a factory environment to match the fast-food market in order to stay on top of the economic game. Chickens are raised and killed in half the time they were 50 years ago and are now twice as big (Food Inc.). In order to make the animals plump enough for business, they are fed growth-inducing hormones that can cause painful inflammation of the udder known as mastitis (Geer). The animals are forced to live in crowded warehouses where they will walk the crammed spaces on their own feces. Because of the unnatural size, they acquire due to what they are fed, many become too heavy to walk on their own two feet and die of starvation or dehydration (Food Inc.). Old-fashioned farming has disappeared, as money and speed have become the two predominant factors to suppliers, taking precedence over health, quality, and human decency.

Moreover, many of the health issues that plague the animals have now translated to humans. The hormones have caused an increase in the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in meat consumers (Farm Sanctuary). Huffington Post says that more than 80% of antibiotics produced were fed to livestock because of unsanitary conditions. These drugs are actually contributing to the spread of super bugs that thrive in the absence of weaker microbes (Huffington Post). Diseases like E. Coli, salmonella, swine flu, and avian flu are communicable from animals and are being passed on to humans.

Worse still, the top four meat-supplying companies control 80% of the market, as opposed to the 25% that was controlled by the top five companies in the 1970’s (Food Inc.). Farmers go into debt buying resources and stay in debt because of all the forced upgrades. They have no say in the treatment of the chickens and if they refuse to upgrade to a dark tunnel-ventilated house system, their contract can be terminated. Because of the payment system, farmers who produce fatter chickens with less feed get raises while the others get pay cuts. Last Week Tonight states chicken farmers live below the poverty line. If a farmer dares to speak out, companies will retaliate through pay cuts and inferior supplies (Oliver). Nothing is done about this because these large companies sponsor many of our representatives in congress. Protective rules for poultry farmers were written, but they are not being enforced because a rider is inserted into the Agricultural Appropriations bill that forbids the USDA from enforcing these rules (Oliver).

The path humans now tread is one of misery for animals and consumers alike. In a capitalist system, it is not surprising that corporations will go the extra mile to rake in more dough, but some are now arriving at surreal ends through despicable means. The public cannot continue to ignore the fine print. Together we can make the issue a more prominent topic until change becomes a reality.

-Christine Magnuson


1. Food Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Official Food, Inc. Movie Site – Hungry For Change? N.p.,n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017. http://www.foodincmovie.com/.

2. Oliver, John.”Scandals.” Last Week Tonight. 17 May 2017. Youtube. Web. 28 Mar.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9wHzt6gBgI&t=821s.

3.”9 Facts About Factory Farming That Will Break Your Heart.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/factory-farming-facts_n_4063892.html.

The Dollar Menu and Its Risks

Homemade Burger

Fast foods and processed foods are a big part of American lifestyles today. Fast and processed foods are easily accessible and affordable which is why they maintain their popularity. However, only a few consumers are fully aware of the contents that are in those foods. Because fast food and processed foods are cheaper than healthy foods, they are more affordable for low-income Americans. However, they are negatively affected by the processed foods over time. Every American should have the right to know what exactly is in their food and have the right to access healthy food without worrying about costs in order to avoid health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Many nutritional professionals believe that all Americans, regardless of income, have equal access to a nutritious diet of whole grains, lean meats, and fresh vegetables and fruit. In reality, food prices pose a significant barrier for many consumers who are trying to balance good nutrition with affordability. “When incomes drop and family budgets shrink, food choices shift toward cheaper but more energy-dense foods. The first items dropped are usually healthier foods – high-quality proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Low cost energy-rich starches, added sugars, and vegetable fats represent the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.”¹

A consequence of regular and habitual consumption of these types of food is potential of chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, diet-related chronic diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States and they tend to greater affect those having low income. “Low-income [Americans] tend to have diets that promote obesity, morbidity, and premature mortality, are low in fruits and vegetables, and are high in processed and fast foods.”²

Sustainability is the capacity to endure or continue. According to the Weisser essay on sustainability, “if a thing or an activity is sustainable, it can be reused, recycled, or repeated in some way because it has not exhausted all of the resources or energy required to create it.” Based on this definition of sustainability, fast and processed foods are not sustainable at all. All ingredients that are put into fast and processed foods are not used appropriately to increase the nutritional value of the foods. Instead, they are used to increase the energy put into the food but at the same time are used to decrease its nutritional value because of all the negative counter-effects such as higher risk of diet-related chronic diseases.

In order to increase sustainability related to the issue of food, which is a necessity in maintaining life, each and every American should know exactly what is in their food and should have the access to healthier food choices that they can afford. A way to solve this problem is nutrition profiling. “Nutrient profiling involves systematically ranking or classifying foods on the basis of nutrient content, through calculation of key nutrient content, relative to dietary energy. Nutrient-rich foods provide relatively more nutrients than calories.”¹

When every American gain access and the right of way to healthy foods, there will be an increase in sustainability.

Hyunji Park


1. Drewnowski, Adam, and Petra Eichelsdoerfer. “Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet?” Nutrition today. November 2010. Accessed April 20, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2847733/.

2. Lucan, Sean C., Frances K. Barg, and Judith A. Long. “Promoters and Barriers to Fruit, Vegetable, and Fast-Food Consumption Among Urban, Low-Income African Americans—A Qualitative Approach.” American Journal of Public Health. April 2010. Accessed April 20, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836356/.

Picture credits: http://topreviewtracking.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Dollarphotoclub_61600915.jpg

 

Quality over Quantity

In terms of producing food, the focus has shifted towards having the mindset of quantity over quality. This mindset is what drives mass production companies. It seems as the quantity of food goes up, quality has gone down within these companies. Mass production companies have its advantages, but the negative aspects of this type of producing greatly outweighs the benefits.

Mass production has been beneficial in this busy life. Food that has been processed last longer and does not spoil as easily as natural foods. Storing, packing, and transporting becomes easier after it has been modified to be less perishable (“The Benefits and Drawbacks of Food Manufacturing”). A premade or packaged meal is quicker and more convenient than spending an abundant amount of time prepping and cooking a meal (Thorne).

Small farms are being run out of business because of the FASM Act that was passed. This places a burden on small farmers who can’t afford the costs (Collins). Eventually they will struggle with payments and will run out of business. Small local farms are essential in healthy food production because they increase the availability of locally grown food that has been minimally processed (Collins). Quality of labor is also significantly better in small farms since small farms are usually owned by families.

The main focus of large companies is to produce large amounts of food efficiently and to keep the costs of production low. The problem with this is that because they have a certain mindset, they will go about whatever ways to fulfill their goal. After all, the food company industry is a business and businesses are all about profit. This causes them to take shortcuts which potentially could include using lower quality product, paying lower wages to increase profit, and even using more chemicals (Food, Inc). For example, animals raised in factory farms are fed the cheapest possible feeds and grains to keep the production cost low (Lipman). When an individual consumes processed animal meat, the individual is also receiving a serving of the animal’s questionable diet.

Mass production puts food that is produced at risk of being contaminated with chemicals or even bacteria. One reason why chemicals are often utilized is to make sure all the food tastes the same. Sick animals are given chemical additives and antibiotics which in turn enters the system of a consumer (Lipman). Although measures are taken to reduce the number of bacteria found in meat, there can still be some traces of bacteria found.

Mass production has changed the way our world functions. In today’s society, people are always busy. Having food that has been processed to last longer and having ready-made meals has been very helpful. With the positive benefits, there is also always a negative aspect. Local small farms are being run out of business, the quality of food is not at its highest, and traces of bacteria and chemicals being found in the processed foods are just a few of the numerous negative aspects of mass production. It is important for us to know where our food comes from and to know that the quality of our food is more important than the quantity of food. Despite all the positive aspects of mass production, the negative greatly outweigh the positive.

Stephanie Trinidad


Lipman, Dr. Frank. “FOOD FOR NAUGHT: 5 Reasons To Kick Mass-Produced Meats Off Your Plate.” Be Well. July 23, 2013. Accessed April 20, 2017.

Be Smart. Eat Smart.

When someone is given the choice to eat a meal from the dollar menu or a healthy salad for $5.00, they will most likely choose the unhealthier meal due to the lower price. Many people choose eating at McDonalds over buying vegetables/organic food from the grocery store because they do not want to spend an excessive amount of money on food. Organic foods are generally perceived as more expensive, but people are defining price by the wrong factors. Society tends to prioritize the cost of meals above the quality of the food they are consuming. By understanding the cost of healthy food, people will see that the quality should be prioritized above the cost of it.

In an article from The Washington Post, a study was revealed in which consumers were asked to select the healthier type of chicken wrap; roasted, priced at $8.95, or balsamic, priced at $6.95[1]. All participants selected the roasted wrap. After this test, a second one was conducted with the wrap prices switched. The results revealed that the new test subjects chose the balsamic wrap as the healthier one. The test subjects were not considering what each wrap consisted of, but rather focusing solely on the price of each one and basing their choice off that. They all assumed that the most expensive wrap was the healthier one.

There have been many studies done which reveal why eating healthy is more expensive. On the Harvard T.H. CHAN website, it says that eating healthy costs $1.50 more per day[2]. The reason for this is because there is such high demand for the unhealthy food, this results in mass production. An article from Straight Health on eating healthy mentions that this demand has created a large network of farming, manufacturing, and transportation[3]. The organic food brands do not have that big of a network, which makes it more expensive to buy.

Rather than thinking all organic and healthy food is overpriced, individuals should be looking at the overall health benefits. Eating unhealthy can cause various health-related issues. Diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are just a few risks that are increased when living an unhealthy lifestyle. Many of these diseases are difficult or impossible to get rid of. The medication for these sicknesses outweigh the cost of eating healthy by a considerable amount. While shopping for healthy food is usually more expensive than buying cheap food, eating healthy will save you in the long run.

In conclusion, maintaining a healthy body should be the number one priority. People should not settle for what is on the dollar menu. It is important to equip the body with everything it needs to be sustainable. Everything that enters the body will either fight or feed it. People should be concerned with what they choose to eat because it will affect their health in the future. The easily accessible, and higher priced organic food is there for consumers to buy and benefit from.

Eating healthy can cost you money, but eating unhealthy can cost you your life.

-Emily David


  1. Haws, Kelly L., Kevin L. Sample, and Rebecca Walker Reczek. “Why is healthy food so expensive? Maybe because we expect it to be.” The Washington Post. January 05, 2017. Accessed April 18, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/05/why-is-healthy-food-so-expensive-maybe-because-we-expect-it-to-be/?utm_term=.8c14534c24a3.zxd
  2. “Eating healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day.” News. January 13, 2014. Accessed April 18, 2017. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/healthy-vs-unhealthy-diet-costs-1-50-more/.
  3. “Why are healthy foods expensive?” Straight Health. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://straighthealth.com/pages/qna/healthyfoodexpensive.html.
  4. Fig 1. Burgers vs. Veggies. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/09/healthy-food-more-expensive_n_5957038.html