Melissa Graham of Chicago had a great corporate life — and then she re-evaluated, became a chef and caterer, and began organizing in Chicago for sustainable local food, farmers' markets, and a family-friendly food system. She blogs at the food and food-policy blog The Local Beet. And she's written a reaction to SUPERBUG that not only completely gets the book, but is emotional and thoughtful and moving besides.
She says, in part:
Before reading Superbug, the question of confinement raised animals was an ethical one for me – whether the misery inflicted upon animals and, for that matter, the humans working in those facilities by the putrid conditions outweighed the need to eat cheap meat. Even the environmental degradation resulting from the inevitable careless management of CAFOs seemed a distant and intangible casualty. For me, Superbug has changed the argument from one of ethics to a moral imperative. In every hamburger of unknown origin, I see Tony Love’s face or even worse that of Carlos Don IV.To give the post the traffic it deserves, please go here.
Carlos was another healthy kid who left on a school trip to the mountain and returned with a 104°F fever. The first doctor diagnosed Carlos with walking pneumonia so his mother kept him home bundled and hydrated until she realized that he was beginning to hallucinate. She rushed Carlos to the hospital and the doctor’s ultimately diagnosed his condition as MRSA. A long slow death march ensued during which Carlos’s lungs dissolved and clotting choked off the blood to his lower intestines, legs and arms. In two weeks, he was dead.
After reading Carlos’s story late in the evening, I woke a bewildered little locavore from a dead sleep to scrub his hands clean. I hugged him as tightly as I could.
...[recently] I had the pleasure to hear Ruth Reichl speak and she implored the audience to stop eating confinement raised animals. As she put it, if everyone stopped buying them and eating them, the practice would be history. Knowing what I now know, I think it’s our moral duty.
As a person who has suffered from MRSA, and spent a better part of last year being carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey (4 separate ops), there was a time I thought my 4 & 7 yr. old kids would soon be without their father. It was a terrifying experience, but eventually my immune system came back online, and I pulled through.
Reading Melissa Graham's article further reinforces my belief that supporting local, ecological, humane animal production is indeed a moral imperative. The CAFO model, which involves the repeated mass-dosing of a a farm's entire (livestock) population, is a nightmare. Stronger regulation of antibiotics is a must, and I pray that your recent observation of policy awareness "ramping up" on this issue turns out to be correct.
Thanks, Maryn, for the increased attention you've brought to this issue through SUPERBUG.
JRA - Santa Cruz, CA.
I haven't read your book, but thanks to your articles on this blog about antibiotic resistance and livestock, I've stopped eating meat that's not labeled "raised without antibiotics," which in practice meant cutting out 90% of the meat in my diet. People think it's weird if I explain that it's not because the meat itself will make you sick, but I do see it as a moral choice. Maybe not an imperative, but one of the most important things we can do for our (microscopic) environment.
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