Sunday, June 24, 2012

You've Got to be Kidding!

In The Field:  Or in this case, In The Doctor's Office.  So as I was waiting for the doctor to come into the room to give Baby Girl her 1 year check-up, (Yes, She's a Year already??? Can you imagine???) I was scoping out the June issue of Redbook magazine.  Now, it is not something I typically read.  I got a free copy a while back to try to entice me to subscribe, but I just didn't find it worthy of the $20/year.  However, it was the ONLY thing to read while Baby Girl played with the blocks, so I thumbed through it.

And what should catch my eye?  An article entitled "Antibiotics are NOT Candy." Now, I happen to be a believer that you shouldn't take antibiotics for just anything.  I do however, give myself and my daughter antibiotics when it is justified - why suffer - and make her suffer - if we are sick?  So I started reading the article.  Great stuff at first - stories of people who had SUPERBUGS - bugs that no antibiotic can kill.  Wow.  Scary, right?  The author gives a low-down on how Americans tend to overuse or misuse antibiotics.  You've never not finished a dose because you're feeling better, right????  They give a great little chart on when you should or shouldn't use antibiotics.  Very interesting article so far.

Then, suddenly, they start bashing the farming industry....WHAT???  Where did that come from???  (You can check out the article here:  The farmer-bashing begins on the last paragraph of the first page of the online article.)  They say that a major contributing factor in the Superbug Crisis is the overuse of antibiotics in the farming industry.  They state it is common practice to feed low doses of antibiotics to animals to make them grow and keep them from getting sick in crowded conditions.  Really?  First of all, I've never heard of ANYONE or ANYTHING taking an antibiotic to grow - steroids for Major League Baseball players, yes, but not Antibiotics...Secondly, we raise livestock and we only give our animals antibiotics when they're SICK!  Livestock have huge input costs - and doping them up on needless medications isn't something any farmer wants to shell out money for.  Now, imagine you live in a high-rise in NYC (or a college dorm for that matter).  The person across the hall from you is sick - and the person next door...and your you run the risk of getting sick or do you take precautions?  You take precautions, of course!  Now, I'm a big believer in Airborne, but as far as I know it, they don't make that stuff for animals! 

But, oh, it gets even better - the author starts stretching the truth as far as they possibly can - then further...The adjoining article is entitled "The Other Major Antibiotic Issue: Farm Animals."  They do a 2-page article on this topic specifically - with a cute computer graph to show just how HORRIBLE farming is...

You've Got to be Kidding?
Cute graphics, huh?  I particularly like the hunk of a farmer in his overalls and what looks to me like red flannel long-handle underwear (my hubby doesn't wear that stuff - does any farmer since 1900?)   And I have to say, I've NEVER seen smoke and bugs coming out of the top of a barn like that!!!   It states that farmers carry the bacteria away and exhaust blows it into the air...Wow.  So that means that farmers in general should be SO MUCH SICKER than anyone living in the city, right?  I live 200 feet from all the "bugs flying out of the top of my barn," so I should have some super-resistant bacteria in my body, right?  Ha!  When Baby Girl had some tummy troubles, we went to the doctor.  They were amazed that she had only been sick 1 TIME in her entire first year of life!  I have read that most babies are sick up to 8 TIMES in their first year...The doctor then commented on how "the clean farm air is growing a healthy baby."  Hmmm, so which will I believe?  The author who is, line-by-line, showing her ignorance, or the doctor that spent years healing people???

The graphic opposite the hunk-of-a-farmer states that bacteria from the animals guts gets onto the meat during slaughtering and processing.  Now, this might be true.  But how many of you eat your meat raw????  I particularly enjoy raw pork, don't you?  So if you cook your meat properly, all those nasty germs will die - and become harmless to you.  And as far as I can see, it's no farmers fault if you can't cook!!!

And that poor, poor person in the hospital bed...apparently they ate raw meat and contaminated produce, and breathed in some really nasty air (probably live in a city, is my guess), and then are in the hospital about to die...But according to my "research" - aka "common sense" - there is no "nasty air coming out of barns" and it's not the farmers fault if this person ate undercooked meat.  Looks like I just killed her pretty graphic...

The last page of the original article urges us to "Join The Fight Against Superbugs".
Ok, well, how do I do that?  First, we are to use prescribed antibiotics correctly (gotta agree with them there).  The next 4 THINGS we are supposed to do are farm-related.  (Hmm, is it just me, or did this article deviate from it's original intent - using antibiotics correctly - then quickly diverted to it's MAIN PURPOSE of bashing farming - Note: thank you 3rd grade teacher who taught me how to pick out the main point of a story.)  Was this author paid by the Humane Society????

Now, #2 states to buy meat labeled "raised without antibiotics" or "organic".  This is totally hilarious to this animal I am about to eat was raised without antibiotics...great, so when it got sick, it died and now it's on my plate?????  "Organic" is even better.  On the prior page, they gave a major reason people get sick is from manure-based fertilizer that taints crops (see the farmer graphic)...Um, quick, exactly do you "organically" fertilize a crop?  MANURE!  LOL!  So essentially they are telling us to EAT the produce that on the page before they were telling us would kill us!  And they're telling us to write to our schools to serve only organic food to our kids...Did anyone with any sense read this article before they published it?  I'm guessing not.

However, #4 makes a great point.  We are to spread the message...but not the message they're sending.  The article states "Awareness is key: Most people have no idea which illnesses require antibiotics, nor do they know how much the drugs are used in food animals. 'Unless you grew up on a farm, why would you know that?' says (Gail) Hansen" a public health advocate with the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.  She makes a valid point for all of us who are would the rest of the world know?? Awareness IS Key!  So let's get the message out there!  Let's tell the world how farming works and how it does and DOES NOT affect them!

And I think a boycott of Redbook magazine might be something to consider as well...



  1. Why do so many "respected" publications publish unsubstantiated articles? It's sad because so many readers believe it as absolute truth. I agree with you wholeheartedly - consumers need education from farmers because they are the only ones who truly understand why and how they farm. I don't subscribe to Redbook and never will.

    1. Kathy - started following your blog! Also, have you tell you I really love the VA Ag in the Classroom website!

  2. I was an avid Redbook reader 30 years ago. Loved it. Then it turned to smut articles, so I quit them about 20 years ago. GLAD I DID! Except for the Hunky Farmer graphic, I would have been fuming over this article too Kendra. I believe the Medical profession is completely to blame for the antibiotics problem. Little Jimmy has a runny nose. Shoot him with antibiotics, who cares if it is just allergies to the pecan trees. Little Janie is sneezing. Shoot her with antibiotics and get her nervous mother out of here! So what if she doesn't have an infection, but is allergic to Fluffy the cat. These folks don't want to take on the pharmaceutical and medical industries. So take on agriculture! We have been quietly going about our business of feeding the world for far too long. We have to get loud and get our own hunky farmer graphics out there! Great blog Kendra!

  3. Suzie - you are right - they won't take on the medical industry - and I wonder why? Maybe because every magazine I've ever read has at least 1 two-or-three page ad promoting a "new" medicine...Money can't have anything to do with this, right???