Would You Like some E.coli on that Burger? Part II
“Meat is meat.”
I just stared at him. I couldn’t believe it. After having him read the recent New York Times article, “E.Coli Path Shows Flaws in Ground Beef Inspection” and explaining to him the health and environmental implications of industrial meat for the past half hour, that was all he could say.
“But aren’t you weirded out by the thought that one hamburger patty could have meat from four or five different cows?” I ask.
“Why would I be weirded out? Nothing bad has happened to me yet. I have no reason to stop. Most, if not all, of the food that I eat is chemically modified or processed in some way.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Janie, my point is…meat may be stuffed with antibiotics and hormones, but ecologically it’s all connected…the vegetables that you eat may also contain nasty chemicals because farmers use livestock manure to fertilize their crops. Why be afraid of all those additives in meat when it’s in everything? Some E.coli may slip through the cracks, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. It’s like driving your car–there is always an inherent risk involved, but we continue to drive our cars without worrying about the what ifs.”
“Well, food just has its risks that we have to deal with. Honestly, I think our biggest concern is treating livestock with antibiotics. We inject our cows full of antibiotics but then the bacteria evolve and eventually become even stronger. The development of resistant bacteria reduces the effectiveness of human medicine…now that’s what we should be worried about.”
I couldn’t agree with him, but I couldn’t disagree either. I’m no perfect eco-eater.
It’s funny, when it came to reduce, reuse, and recycle, it was easy to convince Austin to do those things. How come food was so difficult? Was it because it came with a monetary cost or because it was less convenient?
Guilt trips, scare tactics, informational articles didn’t seem to make a difference. He’s seen the feedlots in Garden City, KS and visited the Lawrence Farmers Market. He’s tried everything from organic and grass-fed, to vegetarian and vegan. What would it take to change his eating habits?
Sensing my frustration, he gently added, “I would shop at the Merc for every ounce of my food if I had the money and I’m sure there are people out there who do. But as a college student, sometimes I can’t have access to the healthier alternatives…so I make due.
It’s good to know where your food comes from but in all reality there is little we can do to control whether it’s safe or not. We as the consumer just have to be conscious about expiration dates and cooking/washing our food thoroughly. I can’t travel down to Garden City and demand that my steak be perfectly safe. I just have to put up with the fact that it may contain residue of bacteria, and trust that it most likely is ok to eat.”