October 29th, 2020

Time to support switch to healthy food


By Letter to the Editor on May 8, 2020.

Massive slaughterhouse closures are driving U.S. consumers to plant-based meat products, as sick workers pay the price.

Tyson Foods, JBS USA and Smithfield Foods, the largest meat processors, have closed 17 plants, devastating rural communities and threatening the nation’s meat supply. Production is already down by 25 per cent.

In reaction, U.S. sales of plant-based meats surged by 265 per cent, according to consumer data group Nielsen. Shares of Beyond Meat, a prominent plant-based meat brand, rallied by 60 per cent.

A Washington Post investigation found that coronavirus outbreaks in more than 48 U.S. meat-packing plants have sickened at least 3,300 workers and killed 17. The companies failed to provide adequate protective gear to the workers and forced some with COVID symptoms to keep working. USA Today reports that more than 150 of U.S.’s largest plants operate in counties with the highest rate of coronavirus infection.

In addition to the generally accepted consumer health argument for avoiding animal food products, the pandemic has now added the worker health element. Production of plant-based meats requires much less labour and allows for ample physical distancing.

We can all support the switch to healthy food on our next visit to our supermarket.

Loren Hadden

Lethbridge

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Southern Albertan

Agreed…isn’t it something how a pandemic virus can being the out-of-control ‘Bigs’ to its knees? The word ‘karma’ comes to mind. Perhaps Mother Nature is more powerful than what is thought.

IMO

As the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how insecure our food system is, how will switching from confined animal food production models and large scale corporate meat processing to corporate plant based protein sourced faux meat contribute to the health and safety of production employees, the health of the eater and the well-being of the planet?

In his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, author Michael Pollan traces the ethical, social and environmental impacts of how and what we choose to eat. His book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, succinctly summarizes the best approach to sound nutrition:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Ruling out animal protein is absent from this nutritional manifesto as is a reliance on highly processed plant protein.

Rather, whole grains and pulses make perfect protein partners in a meat free diet. No need for faux meat here:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/pulse-power-easy-ways-to-make-plant-based-proteins-a-regular-part-of-your-diet

Meat eaters, however, might strongly consider sourcing animal protein from local producers who do not employ confined animal production models or rely on large corporate meat processors. In this regard, ample choices exist for sourcing poultry, beef, lamb, pork, bison and yak. Meat eaters may also want to revisit Michael Pollan’s sage advice above.

But in all of this discussion, is it really the production of animal protein that is the problem here? Could it not be a food system reliant on large corporate production and processing models and the resultant support of consumers who give little thought to where their food comes from and how it is produced?

https://michaelpollan.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/in_defense_excerpt.pdf

biff

thank you writer, and so.ab and imo.
ranchers would do well to cut out the fetid feedlot operators, and also the mass killers like cargill, and arrange for more local culling and distribution to local stores. would be healthier, more humane, more environmentally sound, and more money for ranchers.
we have learned to cut back meat consumption, and have non-meat days as well. gone are the days of the giant steak. most of the beef we consume is grass fed, not mass slaughtered, and does not cost that much more than the over-priced horror beef that is needled to death afterward because it is so stressed, and filthy. we have learned to eat smaller portions of all meat to keep things affordable, and, lo and behold, i can still replenish muscle following workouts at the gym. not that i am the biggest slab at the gym (do not understand what that show is all about) but i am able to mitigate to some degree the effects of aging nonetheless (biff almost buff)…until the covid overreaction shut down gyms, anyway.
it is also disturbing that the ranchers, the ones least cruel in raising cattle, were the ones that got the least from the govt giveaway of public money, following bse, to the whining feedlots and slaughterhouses. feedlots did a lot to promote the bse, feeding their jailed wares cattle ruminant and all. and they sure got rewarded handsomely (just as the too big to fail thieves got rewarded for their crimes in 2008/9). almost a hundred million dollars just to one local fetid feedlot operator. (sure, donates a 100k here and there, always sure to make it public and all, but just disgusting all the same).
so.ab is correct – bigger is not always better, especially when it boils down to legalised monopolies.

baxter

Well considering meat is healthy I will gladly eat more meat.

I am grateful that places like Cargill were willing to stay open to ensure that people could get the much needed food during this time. I will make sure to continue to support them and the healthy products they do a great job of producing.

biff

it is difficult to believe how stuck many people remain, and how without a decent level of compassion they choose to be, as well.