www.whyville.net Apr 26, 2009 Weekly Issue

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Fast-Food, Not So Great: Part 2

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Editor's Note: Portions of this article contain graphic imagery of animal maltreatment. If you are sensitive to this subject, please reconsider before reading. Also, if you are under the age of 13, please discuss with a parent/guardian prior to reading.

Have you ever given consideration to where the beef in fast-food hamburgers comes from? What about what they feed the animals to get that beef? Or, have you ever thought about how they treat those animals? You'll be surprised at the information you will learn. You may get second thoughts right before you bite into that big, "delicious", hamburger at your local fast-food restaurant.

First of all, I'd like to point out that normal chickens are raised on a farm, and have the right to run carefree around the yard. That isn't true for chickens raised, then bought, by slaughterhouses. Most fast-food chickens are raised in a chicken farm that is run by a leading company that manages chicken. From Eric Schlosser's book, "Chew On This", I learned that the chickens raised to be slaughtered are raised on a farm, but against their will. The chicken feed at those types of farms often consists of scraps and leftovers. Sometimes, the "leftover meat, fat, blood, and bones from chicken slaughterhouses" is included in the feed. Also, there can be leftover waste from cattle slaughterhouses. Basically, the farmers are trying to fatten up the chickens as fast as they can, without much of a cost. Most of these chickens only live 37 days before their death. "These chickens will never see grass," says a chicken farmer.

Greeley, Colorado, is a town that literally makes you turn your nose. "The smell is hard to forget but not easy to describe, a combination of live animals, manure, and dead animals being turned into dog food. Think of rotten eggs mixed with burning hair and stinky toilet, and you get the idea," says "Chew On This". Disgusting, right? The smell makes people nauseous, gives them sleeping problems, and causes headaches. "Greeley is a modern-day factory town where cattle are the main units of production, where workers and machines turn big animals into small vacuum-sealed packages of meat." Chances are, the packaged meat you ate for dinner last night probably came from Greeley. Because of the demand of meat now-a-days, the meatpacking companies cut the costs by cutting the worker's wages. "They have turned one of the nation's best paying factory jobs into one of the lowest-paying. They have recruited a workforce of poor immigrants who have little power and suffer terrible injuries on the job."

While reading this book, I was curious on how the poor animals are killed. Who wouldn't be? As I kept reading, I was kicking myself for wondering that. It's a horrible, cruel death. First, the chicken cages arrive at the slaughterhouse and get tipped over, sending the chickens down a ramp. Then, once at the bottom, workers secure the chickens' legs to an overhead chain. The chain carries them upside down to a huge tank of water that is charged with electricity. This is called the stun bath. It's unusual for a chicken to remain conscious after this part, and if they do, they'll regret it. The stun bath makes it so they don't feel what happens next.

After the bath, the moving chain carries the chickens to a sharp rotating blade that slits their throats. (I'm sorry if you feel nauseous; I did too when I first discovered that part.) If any birds are still alive after the stun bath and the possibility of dodging blades, they are surely killed after the scald tank. "Called the scald tank, it helps remove their feathers. It looks like a witch's brew of bubbling, bloody liquid."

An animal rights activist shot a video inside a slaughterhouse in 2004. The video displayed workers throwing chickens against the wall when they didn't have time to attach their legs to the overhead chain. Most birds were dead by that point, but some weren't. "The video shows frustrated workers jumping up and down on the birds or picking them up and throwing them against the wall again." "I like to hear the popping sound they make," says one slaughterhouse worker. That shows how cruel and merciless some of the workers are. I, myself, could never have the heart to work at a place such as that.

Ever heard of E. coli 0157:H7? I hadn't until I read about it in "Chew On This". By dictionary definition, E. coli 0157:H7 is a "bacterium commonly found in the intestines of humans and other animals." It normally causes food poisoning. There was one major incident with E. coli 0157:H7 that affected everybody who ate burger at certain restaurants. One child who became ill had eaten a fast-food hamburger at a local fast-food restaurant that was infected with E. coli 0157:H7. She was admitted to a hospital on Christmas Eve, experienced severe pain, and had three heart attacks. She died in her mother's arms three days later. She was only six years old.

"We can fine circuses for mistreating elephants, but we can't fine companies that violate food-safety standards," admits the head of the USDA. Apparently, meatpacking companies have "strongly opposed government efforts to pass tough food-safety laws." That means that if their meat contains E. coli 0157:H7, they can't get fined. They can't even fine companies that sell bad meat to their knowledge. How sick is that?

You probably already know what fat is, but do you know what trans fat is? Trans fat, according to "Chew On This", is an "artificial, manmade fat that's found in many processed and fast foods. Trans fats are cheap, and they extend the length of time that a product can sit on the shelf without spoiling." Trans fats are absolutely horrible for you and your body. Most of the common fast foods, such as chicken nuggets, fries, sodas, and most junk foods, like doughnuts or cookies, contain high amounts of trans fats."When investigators at the National Academy of Scientists tried to determine how much trans fat a person should eat a day, they came up with a surprising conclusion: none." Before you or your family buys that package of cookies, look at the label and see how much trans fat it has. If it has any, I recommend you put it back on the shelves. This goes for buying food in the vending machines, too.

That's enough unpleasant talk for today. Now that you know more about what you're eating, do you have any second thoughts like I said earlier? In other words, do you regret eating that chicken burger last weekend at a fast-food restaurant with your friends at a fast-food restaurant? Like I said in the previous article, I'm not trying to brainwash you and force you to stop eating these foods. I'm just trying to make you think a little before you put those ingredients in your bodies. You don't even have to stop eating these foods, you can just cut down on your intake or reduce the size of the meals. What you put in your bodies is your own business, but again, you are what you eat.

Author's Note: The next article will go deeper into the topic of how the employees at these restaurants are treated. The above information was found in Eric Schlosser's book, "Chew On This". It's an incredible book that I want everybody to read.


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