This morning I watched a live webcast of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogue meeting in New York City. I listened in on the second section focusing on the use of antibiotics in livestock and intend to write about it for the Journal.
But the section got me thinking. Life is all about choices. From the moment you wake up until the time you shut your eyes at bedtime, choices are made. You choose what to eat for breakfast/lunch/supper. You choose whether or not to cut that car off on the road or roll through that stop sign. You choose what clothes to wear. Whatever the choice, what you do has a ramification.
One of the panelists relied on “studies” to prove her points on how there has been a super bug building up because farmers and ranchers use so many antibiotics to raise livestock. I’m not even sure that she has set foot on a working farm or ranch. With her perceptions and education as it stands I doubt she would get anything out of it. While this woman had a few valid points, my brain wondered how she would survive if she didn’t have any food or clothes on her back. But I reined my thinking in and tried to listen to her objectively. And that was very hard..
A pediatric nutritionist on the panel made some very valid points regarding the use of human antibiotics and their over use. He saw no relationship to the use of antibiotics in livestock to human health issues. He believes that the misuse/overuse of antibiotics by humans are causing many health problems. I completely agree with him. I am the kind of person who will let a cold run its course. Antibiotics won’t help a virus anyway. I won’t go to the doctor or hospital unless there’s a broken bone or bleeding. I am the same way with my son. He plays in the dirt, he gets messy and sure he has been sick, but that is all part of building his immune system. Same with the horses. Prevention is key. Keep them in a clean environment, practice good animal husbandry and a lot of health issues can be avoided.
Not everyone thinks the way I do as far as health issues go. I have a family member who runs to the doctor every single time she has the sniffles or sneezes. I’m not joking. Either she’s that big of a chronic or her doctors see her coming so she can be the one to pay the light bill. We are night and day in our thinking and some of her complaints could probably be fixed by changing her eating habits, lifestyle and thinking.
What you choose to feed your family is your choice. As a consumer you need to make the best choice for you. But, please make an informed choice. Livestock are not fed antibiotics haphazardly. They are fed small amounts of antibiotics in short duration to prevent sickness. Good management practices help the animals grow and thrive. It costs producers much more when they have to treat a sick animal. An animal with a depressed immune system will grow slower, produce less and not thrive.
Let’s face it. Food animals (beef, sheep, swine and poultry) have one purpose. To be someone’s source of protein. Farmers and ranchers work very hard to produce food that is safe for consumers. I am not afraid of farm-raised beef. I never buy organic food in the grocery store (I avoid it). I trust that farmers and ranchers and food vendors have consumers in mind when they provide their products in the stores.
I am slowly stepping down off my soap box, but bear with me. For the last few years my husband and I have been getting beef from his dad. Beef steers that he fed and raised himself. I never once questioned the safety of the meat I was cooking and eating. Not one single time. This year my husband fed out the steers his dad had saved back. I watched those animals every single day they were at my house and I know how they were handled. I trust other farmers and ranchers have the same values and ethic as my husband and I do when it comes to livestock and their care.