For decades, popular food franchises and the American food industry have fought tooth and nail while the majority of the public just sits around and watches — or eats.

Many consumers, including myself, have developed an ignorance of what exactly is in the meat they are eating when they pick up a package at the grocery store or order a burger from a fast-food chain. Although some documentaries highlight the horrors of mass meat production, it seemingly isn’t enough to dissuade people from buying these products. This is because our food industry has not offered a better solution to feeding the growing population.

In August 2013, well-known hamburger chef Jamie Oliver won a small victory with McDonald’s. He revealed its hamburger meat, which is really just the fatty remnants of a cow, was washed in ammonium hydroxide to make these nasty remnants fit for human consumption.

These hamburgers are hardly fit to feed your pets, and millions of humans are ingesting them daily. Oliver also revealed how chicken nuggets are made. After the best parts of the chicken are chosen, the remaining fat, skin and internal organs are processed for the nuggets. So yes, McDonald’s, I guess you could technically say your nuggets are 100-percent real chicken. As far as we know, this only applies to the McDonald’s locations in the U.S., as franchise managers in Latin America, Ireland and the U.K. have stated they use meat from local suppliers instead. The American McDonald’s has since promised to change its recipe. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Last week, Nestle recalled certain Hot Pockets because 8.7 million pounds of meat that was — and has been — used in its Philly cheesesteak-flavored sandwiches had been from “diseased and unsound animals” without full inspection.

How in the world did this meat get so far as to make it into someone’s freezer? How poor must the inspection process be at these slaughterhouses?

In a world where our food industry seem impenetrable and set in its ways, Perdue and Tyson, two major chicken companies, have come out with new antibiotic-free chicken products. This trend has also started hitting Chick-fil-A, which announced it would phase out the use of antibiotic-treated chickens within the next five years. The problem with the antibiotics in our food is it leads to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals. These bacteria then infect the people who eat them.

Chipotle Mexican Grill went antibiotic-free more than 10 years ago and requires its suppliers to meet “humane housing standards” for chickens.

Unfortunately, not all other food sources are jumping on the humane train, but we should take a win when we see one.

All is not lost. Consumers can control more than they think. Most grocery stores nowadays have multiple food purchasing options. Unfortunately, most humane, organic, antibiotic-free options are more expensive, but you are paying for a better outcome for yourself.

Eggs and chicken can be purchased cage-free and organically at your local Publix or Trader Joe’s. Buy beef and pork that was raised and slaughtered organically and hygienically. Most times, you are only spending an extra few bucks to get better quality food. It’s time we, as consumers, take a stand against these mass processing industries and tell them what we want to spend our money on.

There is an ease of mindlessness when it comes to what you’re putting in your stomach, but food ignorance is not health bliss.

Rachel Kalisher is a UF anthropology and classics junior. Her columns appear on Tuesdays. Food ignorance is not healthy bliss

For decades, popular food franchises and the American food industry have fought tooth and nail while the majority of the public just sits around and watches — or eats.

Many consumers, including myself, have developed an ignorance of what exactly is in the meat they are eating when they pick up a package at the grocery store or order a burger from a fast-food chain. Although some documentaries highlight the horrors of mass meat production, it seemingly isn’t enough to dissuade people from buying these products. This is because our food industry has not offered a better solution to feeding the growing population.

In August 2013, well-known hamburger chef Jamie Oliver won a small victory with McDonald’s. He revealed its hamburger meat, which is really just the fatty remnants of a cow, was washed in ammonium hydroxide to make these nasty remnants fit for human consumption.

These hamburgers are hardly fit to feed your pets, and millions of humans are ingesting them daily. Oliver also revealed how chicken nuggets are made. After the best parts of the chicken are chosen, the remaining fat, skin and internal organs are processed for the nuggets. So yes, McDonald’s, I guess you could technically say your nuggets are 100-percent real chicken. As far as we know, this only applies to the McDonald’s locations in the U.S., as franchise managers in Latin America, Ireland and the U.K. have stated they use meat from local suppliers instead. The American McDonald’s has since promised to change its recipe. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Last week, Nestle recalled certain Hot Pockets because 8.7 million pounds of meat that was — and has been — used in its Philly cheesesteak-flavored sandwiches had been from “diseased and unsound animals” without full inspection.

How in the world did this meat get so far as to make it into someone’s freezer? How poor must the inspection process be at these slaughterhouses?

In a world where our food industry seem impenetrable and set in its ways, Perdue and Tyson, two major chicken companies, have come out with new antibiotic-free chicken products. This trend has also started hitting Chick-fil-A, which announced it would phase out the use of antibiotic-treated chickens within the next five years. The problem with the antibiotics in our food is it leads to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals. These bacteria then infect the people who eat them.

Chipotle Mexican Grill went antibiotic-free more than 10 years ago and requires its suppliers to meet “humane housing standards” for chickens.

Unfortunately, not all other food sources are jumping on the humane train, but we should take a win when we see one.

All is not lost. Consumers can control more than they think. Most grocery stores nowadays have multiple food purchasing options. Unfortunately, most humane, organic, antibiotic-free options are more expensive, but you are paying for a better outcome for yourself.

Eggs and chicken can be purchased cage-free and organically at your local Publix or Trader Joe’s. Buy beef and pork that was raised and slaughtered organically and hygienically. Most times, you are only spending an extra few bucks to get better quality food. It’s time we, as consumers, take a stand against these mass processing industries and tell them what we want to spend our money on.

There is an ease of mindlessness when it comes to what you’re putting in your stomach, but food ignorance is not health bliss.

[Rachel Kalisher is a UF anthropology and classics junior. Her columns appear on Tuesdays. A version of this column ran on page 6 on 2/25/2014 under the headline “Food ignorance is not healthy bliss"]

(2) comments

Carlos the Plumber

You write like it was better before. Remember milk killed lots of babies before canned milk was developed by Gail Borden in the 1850s. The FDA has only been around since the 1900s. Pork had to be cooked to kill intestinal parasites until the Clinton Administration cleaned up the pork industry in the 1990s. Previously you still ate the parasites but they had stopped squirming at least. We struggle with food regulation/deregulation/funding for inspectors/letting the industry police themselves with every change in administration but clearly we are making ground. Certainly less people are dying from food. We still lose a few so our work is not over but our work is getting us there. I think it's wonderful young people these days worry more about what's going into our stomachs than what's going on in our bedrooms.

formergator

Why do you think you pay more for non-anti-biotic chicken? Do you think it is some corporate conspiracy? No it is because more of the chickens die before they are marketable.

I always find it bizarre that college kids are so worried about their food yet take whatever drugs are offered them off the street and don't care what the chain of custody was of those materials.

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