Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Tye won't be eating non-organic meat anytime soon

Researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute reported today that 47% of  supermarket meat from five cities (including Chicago) tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, and of that 47%, 52% of the strains were resistant to three different antibiotics.  Just think about that- when you go to the grocery store and pick up a package of meat, you have a 50/50 chance that it contains Staph, and a 1 in 4 chance that it contains an antibiotic resistant superbug.  

The researchers noted that these samples of meat were not contaminated due to handling but the meat itself contained the bacteria, and the Staph is resistant because of the antibiotics used in factory farmed feedlots.  According to the CDC,  about 11,000 Americans die every year from S. aureus, more than half of whom contracted the resistant form of S. aureus known as MRSA.  Those at highest risk are young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.  Guess who fits in that category?  Tye.  

I don't have an issue with Tye eating meat, but I have major issues surrounding exposing her to potentially lethal strains of bacteria.  That medium rare steak?  That chicken that's just barely done and dripping a little pink juice?  A 50/50 chance it contains Staph?  I'm just not willing to take that risk with my child, who is in the at-risk category because of her age.  

Re-read that statistic:  the same bacteria found in half the supermarket meat kills 11,000 people a year.  Is it worth the risk for yourself?  (If you do continue to eat factory farmed meat, please please please, practice safe food preparation to prevent cross-contamination and cook your meat thoroughly!)

We recently joined a farm share for meat, dairy, and eggs.  It's a local farm with organic grass-fed beef, raw dairy, and pastured chickens, eggs, lamb, turkey, and pork with a pickup location in Chicago.  These foods are available at a significantly reduced cost in comparison with similar goods at Whole Foods Market, and we know the exact farm where the meat was raised.  Because the animals are raised in pastures and fed natural diets (no corn for the cows, no soy for the chickens or pork, no same-species meat or mystery feed), the animals are naturally healthy and don't need copious amounts of antibiotics.  They also don't naturally contain dangerous S. aureus bacteria.  I feel comfortable with Tye eating meat from this local farm with healthy animals.  I even make our scrambled eggs a little runny and share with Tye my eggs over easy, with beautiful bright orange runny yolks because I trust they're from healthy hens.

I'm not, and never have been, against consuming animal products when they are raised humanely and truly healthfully.  Unfortunately, that can be really difficult to find in the US (and is why I was vegan for 3 years and am still mostly vegetarian).  Tye won't be vegetarian, but especially with terrifying statistics like these in my back pocket, she likely won't be eating non-organic meat anytime soon.  
Tye eating one of her favorite snacks, roasted seaweed (seriously!)


  1. we raise and butcher our own beef / pork / chickens but i still wont eat any meat that isnt 100% well done. (personal preference). good blog post!

  2. Hi Emily,
    I've enjoyed reading your posts so much! I'm expecting (at 22 weeks currently) and due around August 20th, and your blog has educated me about so many issues within pregnancy, labor, and parenting.

    With regard to this post, I couldn't agree more-- I was a vegetarian for a year before getting pregnant (for some reason while I had morning sickness for three months, the only thing my body wanted was meat! Even thinking of eating anything else made me sick!... I'm eating the "Mediterranean diet" now) and tried to only cook organic meat for my husband... I plan to continue that for our child. I really like the sound of the farm share you are apart of-- how can I find one like that?

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!!! I'm learning SO MUCH :-)

  3. If we ever move into a place with a yard (someday!), I want chickens- though mostly for the eggs :)

    Mariana, congrats on your pregnancy! Hope you're feeling well and enjoying it!

  4. I've read that often times when the animals get sick, they don't give them any antibiotics or treatment just so that the product can be marketed as "organic" to grocery stores. Lucky you found a good farmshare where you know exactly where and how the animals are being treated to avoid this!


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