In the distant past, families grew and prepared much of their food from scratch. Today, however, almost all the foods we eat are commercially grown and prepared. Further, the food industry is understandably concerned about its profit margin. Whenever profit is a major concern, quality may be sacrificed.
Therefore, let the buyer beware. Sometimes unhealthy food products are placed on the market because suppliers take shortcuts to save money. The results can be tragic, even catastrophic.
The mad-cow-disease epidemic in Britain is one such example. The disease apparently originated when suppliers began adding ground-up animal parts to cattle feed to add bulk, lower costs and increase profits. The cows were transformed from the herbivores God had designed them to be to unwitting carnivores—and somewhere along the way a new, always-fatal disease was born.
The disease eventually affected cattle in at least a dozen countries. This fatal malady can spread to human beings who eat infected beef; it did so in Britain and resulted in some deaths, though the number was relatively low.
The American beef industry has its problems too. Most animals are restricted to large feedlots in preparation for market. Says Don Colbert, M.D.: "The lives of those destined for slaughter are very simple: stand and eat day after day after day. Many animals have anabolic steroids planted in their ears to help them gain weight. Some are given a bovine growth hormone to make them larger. Antibiotics are usually included in the cattle feed so that the animals will not become infected ... In 1991, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a startling statistic—approximately half of the fifteen million pounds of antibiotics produced annually in America are used to treat livestock and poultry" (What Would Jesus Eat?, 2002, pp. 52-53).
Consuming meat from animals contained in tight quarters increases your risk of contracting disease. "Fecal contamination of red meat and poultry is all too common ... The worst bacterial infection is the potentially deadly bacteria E. coli ... The bacteria develops when chunks of manure and dirt fall from the animal's hide onto the meat as the hide is removed ... Scientists believe this particular deadly strain of E. coli mutated because of the overuse of antibiotics in today's cattle" (ibid., pp. 53-54). In a typical year, thousands of people are stricken with the E. coli bacteria, resulting in fatalities to some.
Rex Russell, M.D., observes that "antibiotics administered to animals for more rapid growth can increase the resistant bacteria humans are exposed to as well as the number of allergic reactions we may exhibit to drugs" (What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, 1999, p. 75).
In contrast to animals fattened for market in such conditions, free-range cattle are healthier; their meat contains less fat because they exercise through walking. They also are not pumped full of pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. Free-range beef can be purchased through some grocery stores and sometimes directly from private producers. GN