I used to be an avid fan of The Simpsons. I still like the show, and watch the reruns often, but I don’t watch it nearly as much as I used to. That doesn’t stop me from quoting the show however. One of my favorite quotes is from the Episode “Lisa The Vegetarian.”
Homer: Are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal!
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
Most of my friends and family members are omnivorous. Many of them believe they are doing the “right” thing by eating organic foods. I’ve put right in quotations, because right is a subjective term, and organic is perceived as being a better choice than conventionally produced foods. However, it appears this isn’t necessarily the case, for pork at least.
“Animal-friendly, outdoor farms tend to have a higher occurrence of Salmonella, as well as higher rates of parasitic disease,” said lead study author Wondwossen Gebreyes, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University.
Site: The PigSite.com
Wondwossen Gebreyes and colleagues at Ohio State University in Columbus tested US pigs for antibodies – telltale signs of infection – to pathogens that can also affect humans. They found traces of Salmonella in 39 per cent of pigs raised in standard indoor pens and routinely given antibiotics, but in 54 per cent of organic pigs raised outdoors without the drugs.
This poses a dilemma, says Gebreyes: giving pigs routine antibiotics favours antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but not giving them drugs means more animals carry Salmonella, which causes a million cases of food poisoning a year in the US alone.
Site: New Scientist Magazine
It gets even better… Gebreyes’ team found traces of Toxoplasma in 7 percent of free-range animals but only 1 percent of conventional pigs. They also found two organic pigs infected with Trichinella. This is particularly troubling as Trichinella is virtually non-existent in livestock in the the US and Europe, although it is still found in wildlife populations. Finding this parasite in two pigs of the 600 tested is 23 times its average frequency in US pigs.
Any way you slice it, it looks like the “magical animal” isn’t so wonderful. If you eat conventionally raised pork, you are contributing the overuse of antibiotics, pollution, and a more inhumane treatment of animals (among other things). If you eat “organic” pork, you are potentially exposing yourself to bacterial infection, contributing to the contamination of groundwater with pathogens such as Salmonella, and contributing to a slightly less inhumane treatment of pigs (among other things). The costs of eating meat are simply too high.