December 23rd, 2010
**THIS POST COURTESY OF RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM**
True story. First, it must be noted that chickens are NOT allowed anywhere near industrial turkey farms. That would be DANGEROUS (more on why later). But it happened … and here’s the story. One day last summer RC was driving through the countryside looking for a few new egg-laying friends to pick up. On this particular day he was depending on an address he’d entered into his GPS system. Unfortunately, GPS doesn’t always get it right. He saw what looked like a large chicken “farm” beyond some gates at the approximate place indicated by the GPS. He reasoned to himself that perhaps the chicken factory was having a “going out of business sale” but that turned out to be merely wishful (?) thinking. RC drove right through the gates and right on by the biohazard and anti-visitors signs to the front of no less than 4 football field-sized buildings each with no windows and a single human-sized door. He’d noticed that many of the neighbors on this street had angry signs posted in their yards with various slogans such as “what kind of idiot puts a CAFO in a flood plain?!” and “The Fowl Smell is Making Us Sick!.” He’d also noticed about 1/2 mile down the road that a horribly pungent odor filled the car. The smell was worse in front of the buildings. He could tell that three of the buildings were full of animals, at this point, presumably chickens. The place seemed deserted. Not a human in sight. Just a horrible sound of what sounded like struggling birds coming from within each of the buildings and the whiring of huge fans pumping putrid air from each. RC waddled around, knocked on a couple of the doors and then began to walk over to the 4th building which had its front end opened and appeared to be empty. ”Mabye I’ll find someone in there,” he thought. On the way, RC found out this was no chicken farm. He nearly tripped over a dead turkey! That’s right, laying right out there on the ground it was. Must have been dropped, poor thing. Continuing on, RC spotted what he thought was another dead turkey, but he was wrong. This turkey, while lying in a heap just like the other, was not dead, but still “alive.” It lay there convulsing slightly and gasping for air. There was nothing RC could do for it, except maybe get some human help. RC finally reached the last building and leaned in slightly without entering in hopes of spotting someone. He nearly fainted as he breathed the noxious gases from inside the building. Then, from around the corner came a human driving a tractor with a large tank of chemicals and a sprayer attached. “What are you doing here?” asked the human. RC explained his predicament and the human told him where his likely destination was, a quarter of a mile down the road on the other side. But the human wasn’t done asking questions! He was extremely concerned. ”Did you go in any of the buildings?” “Of course not, why would you ask that?” ”The turkeys can’t come in contact with any chickens. They’ll die.” This surprised RC given that, on his farm, chickens and turkeys have been raised side by side on the pasture without incident. ”Why would they die?” RC asked. No answer, just more questions. ”Didn’t you see the signs? This is a biohazard protection area.” It was made clear to RC that he, or anyone who’d even had contact with chickens, was not welcome here. As RC pulled away he saw the human positioning the tractor next to the building in preparation for fumigating it with whatever chemical was inside his tank. ”Getting ready for the next batch, I guess.” Later, RC learned that the turkeys in these industrial turkey factories have such weakened immune systems that they are highly susceptible to “cross-contamination” from chicken germs. He also realized that the reason for the dead and dying turkeys strewn along the front of the buildings was likely because the human had been cleaning them out of that building with the front-loader of the tractor. Part of the horrid smell was the piles of dead and rotting turkeys that had been recently added to the giant composting pile alongside one of the buildings (the pile had its own roof and was several hundred feel long, just like the buildings). As RC drove home that day, to green pastures, fresh air and his fellow chickens and turkeys, he felt a deep sense of sadness. Sadness for the turkeys that struggled for survival in that place, sadness for the neighbors who had to live with that smell every day, sadness for the “farmer” who was so defensive and scared of his neighbors and sadness for all of the people who would eat those turkeys not fully understanding what they were doing.
April 23rd, 2010
****POST COURTESY OF RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM****
On Thursday, April 22, Federal Agents invaded a Pennsylvania dairy farm for a 5 a.m. inspection and served a warning letter to farmer Dan Allgyer claiming that he was selling raw milk into interstate commerce. The requirement now is for federal agents to claim they have “credible evidence” in such a case, but the new “Food Safety” Law being proposed by the Senate (vote this week?) will replace those words in the law with “reason to believe.” According to a report at (http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=144557): “The phrase ‘reason to believe’ would be inserted 14 times into the code with S 510. If this bill goes through, the FDA will have control of farms. They will not need ‘credible evidence’ to act. They will essentially be given a free hand to act as they want. And look at how they already act, even with the existing constraints in place.”
Of relevance in this case are the words of dairyman (criminal) Michael Schmidt at the recent Raw Milk Symposium in Wisconsin: “Those who control food control the people, control countries, control the world, all without the huge expense of a visible army. ( for sure it keeps a lot of bureaucrats busy) Food is the most important element determining whether you enjoy health or suffer from disease and sickness. Food can determine your spiritual well being. Food can influence your mental ability. Food can make you crazy. Food can turn you into a liability or into a non thinking member of society or even better — food can turn you into the perfect slave, where free thinkers and a moral consciousness are inherently dangerous to those, who run this country and the world.”
April 3rd, 2010
***** POSTED BY RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM ****
Recently, RC read a splendid article in the Farm Bureau Magazine about a splendid northern indiana family who raise CAFO chickens for a giant chicken corporation. Now, we’re not certain what the salary from raising these 2 million chickens per year is, but for the sake of argument let’s say it is $100,000. (Note: the family carries the mortgage on the huge chicken houses, tractors, compost shed, feeders, brooders, grain bins, etc. That mortgage is probably in excess of half a million dollars and that is probably a very conservative estimate.)
Now let’s do some quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations just for comparison sake:
It would take 500 families raising 4000 chickens per year to equal the CAFO family’s production (based on the capacity of a small 20 acre pasture-based farm that does its own processing). The net profit for each of the pasture-based families would be $26,000. Sounds poor compared to the hundred grand or so of the CAFO family, right? Well, the pasture-based families need only a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of infrastructure to produce and process their 4000 chickens. No mortgage required. Plus the pasture-based families can easily stack enterprises, so the 26 grand is merely one of several income streams. Finally, here’s the real kicker. The 500 families earn 13 million dollars that is re-circulated into the local economy versus the $100,000 dollars of the one CAFO family (a large portion of which goes to a bank somewhere)!
April 2nd, 2010
***POSTED BY RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM ****
This chart published by the USDA shows how the American diet conflicts with Federal dietary guidelines (http://www.grist.org/article/2010-04-02-a-view-into-the-u.s.-diet/). According to the chart, Americans are eating too much grain and too much meat and not enough fruits and vegetables. Some observations:
1.) Why would/should we believe the people who have ruined American health by pushing improperly processed grain (by-)products of every imaginable form, harmful vegetable oils and trans fats, untested genetically engineered crops and denatured and de-fatted meat and dairy products?
2.) Isn’t it interesting that we commonly hear the call for eating less meat, but rarely, if ever, hear criticism (from government and media) regarding the over consumption of grain products?
3.) “Meat” is a gross oversimplification. First, the vast majority of the meat being eaten is from the CAFO/Feed lot. It is made with cheap fractionated grain products, antibiotics and, in the case of dairy, with genetically recombinant hormones. This is not your great grandparents’ meat. Second, there is a protein component and fat component to meat (the part with the vast majority of nutrients.) The fat has been mostly excised from the American diet by the federal fear mongers. Perhaps Americans eat more meat protein than they strictly need — but if so, might it be a desperate attempt to stem the state of starvation for *real* fats?
4) The base of the “food pyramid” as I recall is grains/legumes. They’ve been pushing that for a long time now and have been quite successful (apparently, too successful if we believe their chart). Interesting that the foods most subsidized by our government are also the ones deemed most healthy by them and their partners in industry. Do you think we’ll hear anything from the USDA, urging people to cut consumption of grains? What about eating only properly processed, whole grains without the pesticides, enzyme inhibitors and phyto-toxins? Don’t hold your breath!
February 15th, 2010
**THIS POST COURTESY OF THE RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM**
RC is reminded of something Ronald Reagan used to say: “Well, there you go again.” Well, USDA and Big Ag are at it again! This week we heard the news that an official industry-proposed label for the term “natural” is under consideration by USDA. Under the label, foods labeled as “natural” would need to consist of 95% non-synthetic products. To see just how much of a scam this would be, go find some processed food package (something far from “natural”) and read the label. The first two or three ingredients are likely to be at least 95% of the product (usually water, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup or some other staple such as tomato paste, bleached flour etc.) The other eighty five, almost unintelligable, ingredients make up the remainder. Essentially, the industry will be able to slap a “natural” label on almost anything. So, the first edge of the double-edged sword is that the industry gets a chance to preserve its market share at the supermart by foisting “natural” on the majority of, shall we say, “less-discerning” consumers. Of course, a lot of people understand the sham for what it is. Therein lies the other edge. The credibility of anyone honestly marketing products using the term is automatically called into question by the more discerning clientele who are the bulk of their market. It’s the same game that USDA complicitly played with the organic Milk sector: Preserve the market share of the big guys and destroy the credibility and marketing leverage of everyone else. All of this leaves the Radical Chicken wondering whether you “free” Americans will ever run off these interlopers who interfere in your food choices?
January 18th, 2010
U.S. factory-produced chlorine-soaked chicken apparently isn’t good enough for the Russians. Putin has weighed in, saying Russian restrictions on imports of U.S. industrially produced chicken falls into the category of “security requirements.” Read the story here.
According to the story, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends the “use of hypochlorus solutions as an effective antimicrobial” with best practice recommendations of 20-50 ppm of free available chlorine in the immersion chilling systems commonly used by USDA inspected chicken packing plants. EPA regulations allow no more than 4 ppm in tap water. Reportedly, standard pool water test kits show levels of 3 ppm as being unsafe for swimming.
December 21st, 2009
*** This Post Courtesy of Radical Chicken Dot Com ***
The Radical Chicken briefly turns his attention to human health…. RC had to do a double-take when he saw a favorable article on soy and a disparaging one on the industrial toxin bisphenol-A nearly side-by-side recently in a local health food newsletter. The article on tofu/soy indicated that a new study published in JAMA reports a link between soy protein consumption and continued cancer remission in breast cancer survivors. Reportedly, the reason for this is the isoflavones in soy which, according to the article, “reduce estrogen in the body” which in turn hinders cancer. The article on bisphenol-A (BPA) indicates that it is an “almost ubiquitous, estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical.” One might never guess from the wording choices made in these articles that the isoflavones mentioned in the first as “reducing estrogen” are in fact ALSO estrogen mimicking substances (referred to as phytoestrogens). Actually, they do not reduce estrogen so much as interfere with normal estrogen function in the human body. So, we see how easy it becomes to tout as beneficial the estrogen mimicking substances sold for lunch by the health food industry while chemicals with similar effects become fodder for alarm (justifiably so in the latter case).
RC would like to note for the record that there are many generally conflicting studies related to the cancer benefits of soy and many others that continue to cause serious concerns about the safety of soy (see here and here.) Most grains, seeds and nuts need to be roasted, fermented, soaked or otherwise properly prepared to reduce or eliminate phytotoxins before consumption. Our ancestors understood this, but it is common to bypass these steps today. More on the reasons for that on another day…
October 26th, 2009
************THIS POST COURTESY OF THE RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM*****************
Nice work, especially if you liked and “got” The Matrix. While hyperbole is certainly to be expected in a cartoon format, there may be a few factual issues with the series. For instance, it is true that animal byproducts were (and maybe still are) fed to cows and sheep but it is more likely that mad cow disease was the result of the overapplication of topical anti-fly meds in the UK. Anything that is incorrect or just overblown in something like this makes it too easy for some to dismiss the whole issue. In fact, the real issues are often much more subtle than “mad cow,” MDR or feces getting on meat. Also, the drive for corporate profits is given prominence without considering the adverse effect of government (e.g. USDA) policy and the interplay between the two. Nonetheless, it IS a cartoon (!) and a good piece that should increase awareness.
Check it out:
The Meatrix 1
September 24th, 2009
******THIS POST COURTESY OF THE RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM*******
RC has been shocked recently to find another source of chicken (and in this case, pig) oppression. This time it comes not from the usual industrial-scale producers but from apparently well-meaning small and mid-sized producers. The first shock came as RC waddled through the Bloomington Saturday Farmers Market and squawked with a southern Indiana hog producer who seemed to be really fond of the fact that her pigs are fed an “all vegetarian” diet. RC was bemused even more to see that his fellow chickens were being similarly mistreated by a northern indiana “traditional amish” conglomerate.
There are several issues to sort through here, so stick with me. First, let’s be clear. Pigs and chickens are OMNIVORES. They naturally eat “everything.” Chickens and pigs alike love to feast on possum guts or the remains of other animals they may come across while scavenging. Chickens in their natural environment make a large part of their diet from insects including crickets, grasshoppers and even larvae (grubs and maggots). An “all vegetarian diet” is NOT NATURAL!! (nor healthy — but RC will get to that in another post).
Now, some large industrial producers have been found feeding ground up cow, pig and chicken offal (guts and scraps from the processing plant) to pigs, chickens and even cows (cows are herbivores!). So, if you don’t feed these, then it is fine to advertise that you don’t feed “animal byproducts.”. People probably appreciate knowing that their cow wasn’t fed other cows! However, to go one step further and eliminate all animal protein from the diet of omnivores like chickens and pigs is at best misguided and at worst cruel and harmful to both the animals and the people who will eat their meat.
Next, from an advertising perspective, it seems a bit disingenuous to talk about a “vegetarian diet” when that diet consists strictly of corn and soy. When you hear “all vegetarian” you’re likely to think of leafy greens and colorful vegetables, not an ALL GRAIN diet! It’s bad enough that we have a so called “health” establishment (dietitians, nutritionists, doctors, nurses, CDC, FDA, USDA, Big Pharma, etc.) that continually and wrongly attempt to push high-carb diets and guilt us out of eating healthy meat (especially fat) but now we have producers attempting to play on that guilt and false info to persuade us to eat inhumanely raised pork and chicken! Remember that in the case of chickens: “All vegetarian” = All GRAIN.
Finally, consider that no chicken raised on a pasture could ever be fed an “all vegetarian” diet. Too many insects. Remember, in the case of chickens: “All vegetarian” = NO GRASS. Now, do you really want to eat chicken with an “all vegetarian” diet?
August 23rd, 2009
***THIS POST COURTESY OF THE RADICAL CHICKEN @ RADICAL CHICKEN DOT COM***
The Radical Chicken has observed a string of letters to the editor in our local newspaper urging the adoption of a non-meat diet as a healthy approach to “saving the planet.” He’d like to take a few moments to address the environmental side of this nonsense. Intensively managed pasture is pasture upon which animals are herded tightly in small areas for short periods of time and moved frequently (known as high or ultra-high stock density grazing.) This simulates the natural behavior (bio-mimicry) of herd animals on range that pack together closely due to natural predator pressure. The effect is that animals eat less selectively (more competitively) virtually destroying the leaf and stem portion of all plants in that area by eating or trampling. The effect below the surface of the soil is referred to as “pulsing” the root system, a process by which a significant portion of the root mass dies back to compensate for the reduced plant mass above the surface (the stored root energy goes back into reconstruction of the surface structure, leaving the carbon content in the soil). This die-back makes a huge amount of carbon available as food to soil life (microbes and fungi.) Additionally, healthy pastures are providing continuous carbon injections into the soil through plant exudates (primarily sugars — long chains of carbon atoms) that the plant provides to soil microbes as food in exchange for nutrients in an amazing symbiotic dance. Conservative estimates are that intensively managed pastures increase in organic matter by one tenth of one percent per year (a few sources have given anecdotal evidence of particular pastures increasing in organic matter by as much as 2%.) On a per acre basis this increase in organic matter translates to 2,000 pounds of sequestered carbon or 7,200 pounds of carbon dioxide being taken into plants from the air (or 3.6 tons per acre) with a proportional release of oxygen back into the atmosphere. Now, a common argument against meat production is the methane produced from ruminant animals belching. General estimates for this are about .5 pounds of methane (CH4) per day. Assuming grazing for 300 days at two cows per acre (common stocking rate) results in 300 lbs per acre of methane or 180 pounds of carbon released to the atmosphere. That comes out to a net gain of 1820 pounds of sequestered carbon per acre (2000 – 180) or .91 tons of carbon (3.27 tons of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere per acre)! We could remove 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing healthy meat and improving just about every indicator of ecological health merely by intensively managing 500,000 acres of pasture. That is a mere one tenth of one percent of the USDA’s estimated available pasture and rangeland. Keep in mind too, that with this system we are getting our carbon fuel from the air rather than from the barrel (because we are not using diesel to till crops to provide corn for feed). The numbers above don’t even consider that saving or the corresponding savings of getting our nitrogen from the air instead of the barrel (synthetic nitrogen for fertilizer manufactured using fossil fuels). The Radical Chicken thinks some of these “naturalists” who write to the local paper should take some time to learn something about the way nature actually works.