Feed on

“Seeing feces and feed in the same sentence can have a potentially unhealthy effect on public perceptions.” That was the understated conclusion in a feature article in the current issue of Miami New Times. The article, “Meat You Might Not Want to Eat,” explored the practice of feeding waste from chicken farms to cows.

Egg farmers looking for a way to get rid of tons of feces, feathers and poultry litter have teamed-up with beef farmers searching for tons of cheap “food” to fatten-up cows at feedlots. Agribusiness considers it recycling, but the practice may not be good for human health. Antibiotics fed to chickens ends up in their feces, and in turn may be passed on to cows who eat the feces and to humans who eat the cows.

The New Times article is the result of a one-man crusade by Miami-Dade physician Robert Ben Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell has created a website– http://fecesfarming.com — to raise awareness of the issue, and he is lobbying for a ban on the practice of feeding manure to animals.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services representative George Hayslip is quoted in the article: “As far as the department goes, we don’t condone it. But at the same time, we don’t prohibit it. It’s something that’s gone on for a long time, and as much as you can run into problems with parasites and things like that, I guess the science isn’t really there to say that if the litter is processed correctly, it’s going to cause that many problems.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement . . . .

Our hope is that readers who find the idea of eating a cow who has been fed chicken poop distasteful will consider a switch to a vegetarian diet.

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