What ever happened to the good old days, when July 4 was just Independence Day and the worst things we had to fear were traffic jams and wayward fireworks? Recent developments suggest that the occasion should be renamed National Food Poisoning Survival Day.
Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman invited the media to a "safe grilling" demonstration to help consumers survive the July 4 barbecue ritual. Last week Costco Wholesale Corp. recalled 170,000 pounds of ground beef tainted with E. coli from stores in 24 states. Even major newspapers that depend on meat advertising are touting veggie burgers, soy dogs and vegetables on July 4 grilling fare.
A report titled "On July 4, U.S. Leads World Meat Stampede" issued by the prestigious Worldwatch Institute, helps place our obsession with meat in perspective. Americans lead the world in per capita consumption with 270 pounds. That's three times as much as Japan, 70 percent more than the rest of the industrialized world, and nearly twice as much as we ate in the '50s.
The meat and dairy industries ensure that this trend continues by manipulating our diet. They distribute slick propaganda to our nation's schools and run multi-million dollar promotional campaigns funded in part by the public treasury.
Our diet exacts a heavy price on our public health and environmental resources. Each year, 1.3 million Americans are killed prematurely by heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic killer diseases linked conclusively with consumption of meat and other animal products. The Worldwatch report warns that rising consumption of these products "is spurring a global epidemic of lifestyle diseases ... as well as creating new pressures on land and water resources, contributing to water pollution, and exacerbating global warming."...
Arthur Caylor, Augusta