I’m sure you guys have heard this oft-quoted, catchy Hippocrates saying: “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”.
It seems that sometime before Google search, an animal agriculture executive must have sat down at the end of a hard day, had a few drinks and tried to recite this saying to his colleagues.
“I think it’s…let thy medicine be in thy food!” he likely exclaimed.
This folly would be more acceptable than the reality which is that there is now a TON of medicine deliberately dumped into our grub- about 70% of the antibiotics in the U.S. are pumped into our farm animals each year. This practice has increased 16% from 2009 to 2012.
With 99.9% of chickens sold in the U.S raised on factory farms, many of us are unknowingly consuming large amounts of antibiotics through the meat we eat. In order for big animal agriculture to change their junkie habits, wholesale buyers of these products must demand better quality meat.
Luckily, one wholesale market- fast food – is catching the winds of change.
The 5th largest fast food chain in the U.S., Wendy’s, whose patrons gobble up 250 million pounds of chicken annually, has decided to make their spicy chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets more sustainable by vowing to not purchase from suppliers that use antibiotics in their feed.
Right now about half of the chicken they purchase is antibiotic-free, and by 2017, they claim all antibiotic-laden chicken will be removed from their inventory.
This is such a huge issue because the more antibiotics we use, be it to treat our sinus infection or to dump in to animal feed, the more likely we are to see so-called “superbugs” in the near future. A NIH news brief that calls for us to reduce our dependence on antibiotics defines superbugs as “strains of bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics”.
A family member once came down with MRSA, a superbug, and these infections are no joke. The CDC estimates 37,000 people could die due to superbug infections in the next 5 years.
According to Tufts University, antibiotic use in livestock is largely responsible for this spurt in pain-in-the-butt superbug infections.
Another major health issue surrounding the use of antibiotics in animal feed involves our waistlines. These drugs are known to plump , fatten , bulk , and otherwise bolster fat stores in the animals that ingest them. This is good for food suppliers who want more meat for thier money.
Yet, if these drugs help fatten our chickens and pigs, what are they doing to us when we nosh on their tainted meat?
Thankfully, the FDA has put forth regulations that will go in effect in December 2016 to hopefully help phase out some of the drugs used in animal feed, but this won’t solve the problem completely as they can still be used if a veterinarian oversees their use.
So Wendy’s stepping up and saying “No thanks!” is FANTASTIC news. So far Chipotle, Panera, and about 20% of the chicken purchased from Chick Fil-a is antibiotic-free. Check out this link for restaurants ranked according to their purchasing behaviors surrounding this issue.
I hope the rest of the chains will follow suit due to the FDA regulations and public opinion. We, the public, have a voice, and the industry is listening!
Next order of business: can Wendy’s and McDonald’s go antibiotic and hormone-free with their beef and pork? Chipotle has been doing it for years. Why can’t they?
Let’s let our local restaurants know that we demand healthier food and a healthier world!
Thanks for reading today.