You can feel it in the air, it’s softer, warmer and lovingly embraces you instead of taking your breath away and knocking you senseless with gusty frigid winds; spring is upon us and with it comes leisurely afternoons spent playing outside, working in flowerbeds and grilling out with friends. Grilling hamburgers and enjoying a nice cold beer go hand-in-hand with warmer weather, however, ingesting life threatening bacteria is probably not what you had in mind for dessert.
Last week the FDA confirmed that 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. go to animal agriculture. Yes folk’s, that’s right, the majority of our bacteria-fighting drugs are going to help beef up our livestock so the animals can keep up with feeding our ever-growing hunger in America. Factory farmers consistently feed their chickens, cattle and pigs antibiotics – sometimes to cure illness but mostly to fatten them up, which in turn helps fatten us; Obesity epidemic anyone? Here, I thought the majority of antibiotics were being given in my household during the yucky month that is February for ear infections but come to find out we are just ingesting them on a regular basis, as we Lashley’s are quite carnivorous. To think that my family may very well be consuming super bacteria resistant to antibiotics for supper truly depresses me, how can we get a hold on this problem?
We all have come across the free range, antibiotic-free meat and eggs in the store. Our local Kroger and Wal-Mart and surely Martin’s have them at our disposal. You may not have much of a variety but it’s there and quite expensive. So, now, not only do you have to worry about everyday matters, which in my house includes the ever-growing grocery bill, but you have to worry about which bacteria you will be serving for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do you go with Super Bacteria number one or do you spend the extra $50 on antibiotic-free meat and eggs? At this time in our society, money is tight for many people and the fact that you have to choose whether or not to feed your children three square meals a day and risk a bacterial infection or spend the extra money and be able to give them one solid bacteria-free meal a day is insane, what do you do?
It’s so easy to say just buy the hormone-free, cage-free, antibiotic-free all-natural meat. Some of us are able to do that but not everyone can afford to and when did meat become something other than natural? Why do we even have to make these decisions? The FDA needs to have more control over what is going into our foods – last time I checked, that was their sole purpose. I understand and appreciate keeping the livestock free from illness but there seems to be a dramatic overuse (an understatement at 80 percent) of the antibiotics used and they work in animals just as they do in humans. Many of us older folk can’t even use the super drug Amoxicillin anymore due to overuse when we were children. This is the reason pediatricians tend to alternate medications so that our children will not have this problem of being drug-resistant. The livestock are becoming resistant, bacteria is mutating at a devastating rate and we are eating it. We are opening our mouths and saying, “Hey come on in and stay awhile.” It’s truly scary; over 90,000 Americans have died from bacterial infections that have developed a resistance to antibiotics. It’s unfortunate that we depend on the grocery store to provide food for our families and the selection we are given is making us sick; it’s that simple and frightening.
Thankfully, a Congresswoman from N.Y. (Louise Slaughter) is introducing a bill to ban the use of antibiotics in livestock who aren’t ill, which she first submitted back in 2009. The FDA has acknowledged the danger in the overuse of antibiotics and hopefully will withdraw the use of these drugs for animals that are not sick. So, we can either start raising our own livestock in our backyards (you are out of luck if you have a homeowners association!), spend more time and money searching for and then purchasing antibiotic-free meat and eggs and/or demand that the FDA do a better job controlling what is in our food.
In the meantime, I suggest you become Vegan or pray a little longer each night before supper.