|we all have reason to worry|
[Note: since this post first came out there have been lots of interesting comments from readers, including a dialogue with Jude Capper, Phd., who defends the mainstream meat processing and feedlot industry with her research. Worth reading if you want to get to the heart of the questions surrounding the meat we eat.]
So what do E. coli outbreaks, Saskatchewan's plans to sell off the former PFRA pastures, and the recent letters to the editor of the federal minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, all have in common? No, it's not that they will all make you sick in the stomach.
These three things are all signs that the Big Lies of our centralized and industrial approach to meat production are starting to wear thin. The lies? Here are some: 1. That the beef industry is serving the interests of small, local cattle producers who are doing so darn well they can afford all kinds of things, including a market price for the former community pastures. 2. That the current system, under which virtually all of Canada's cattle are slaughtered in massive facilities owned by an duopoly of the Nillson Bros. (they own XL Foods, producers of the recent E. coli) and Cargill, is working for both producers and consumers. 3. That it is possible to produce healthy beef products by taking animals fed for half a year in massive feedlots and then processing them in plants that handle as many as 4,500 head per day.
XL Foods and the Nillson Bros. have packing plants in the United States as well as feedlots, auction markets and cattle on feed. They are all about getting control of the entire supply chain from pasture to plate. No one should be surprised if we learn some day that they are the hidden backers behind an offer to purchase one or more of the pastures.
|Ag Minister Ritz ponders his next assault on the truth|
Meanwhile, Federal Minister Gerry Ritz, one of the main purveyors of official fiction about big agriculture in Canada, has nothing better to do than criticize Saskatchewan newspaper columnists who have the audacity to question agricultural policy. In his letter in today's Leader-Post, Ritz says that "because farmers expect us to work smarter with their tax dollars, we are winding down programs like community pastures and shelterbelts that have met their goals." Yep, I imagine he gets letters every day from farmers thanking him for cutting those programs.
But it is fun reading Ritz's letters to the editor, so here is another one worth a laugh or two. And a third where he takes a shot at Paul Hanley, Star-Phoenix columnist.