April 2011

Let’s chat for a second about the fact that Taco Bell had to do a recent media blitz and advertising campaign to deal with the exposure from a lawsuit against the company, alleging that their “ground beef mixture” was less than 36% actual beef. Just the thought of that makes me nauseous.

Yet Taco Bell, with the might of any fast-food joint that wants to keep its customers in the (faux) beef, responded with taco shells blazing:

“In response to the lawsuit, Taco Bell took out full-page ads in at least nine major newspapers, aired television spots and launched a YouTube campaign to proclaim its taco filling is 88 percent beef.”

As reported today, and in the CBS news article I quoted above, the Taco Bell lawsuit–originally filed by an Alabama law firm–has been withdrawn. Since the lawsuit happened, Taco Bell responded with the disclosure about its 88% beef. Also, Taco Bell states that it has made no changes in its recipes/ beef products.

Some may say “kudos!” to the law firm that prompted Taco Bell’s recent disclosure about what is in its beef mixture (beef nestled alongside fillers and binders. delicious!). Others may not care what they are eating, as long as it is cheap and tastes good. Yet at the heart of it is the simplicity of believing that meat is actually, well, meat. Consumers are not always aware that a simple order in a fast food restaurant isn’t simple–we don’t plan to order a ground beef taco laced with fillers, chemicals, preservatives, and binders. We expect ground beef to be just that: beef.

I’ll pass on the taco filling for now, thanks.

To read more about the dropped lawsuit, and the amazing amount of money Taco Bell spent to advertise after the “bad beef press,” click the link:



Let’s talk about a reality that we all know is true: industrial farming leads to abused, neglected, filthy, inhumanely-treated animals. There is no way around that knowledge, no matter how much factory-farmed food we eat, or how many news articles we purposely avoid in order not to confront this truth. The $7.00 for two strip steaks (USDA choice!) at my local market may seem easy on my wallet–I can instead put the savings to one drip of gasoline for my car–but I know, as so many others do, that the price is much higher. The pollution, the animal welfare, the antibiotics, the health hazards–so much goes into that $7.00 package of meat.

But what really is striking is what The New York Times published this week about states attempting to ban people from publishing photographs or video footage conveying the horrid conditions inside of factory farms.

Journalist A. G. Sulzberger, author of the article “States Look to Ban Efforts to Reveal Farm Abuse” writes:

“A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility. It would also criminalize lying on an application to work at an agriculture facility “with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.

Similar legislation is being considered in Florida and Minnesota, part of a broader effort by large agricultural companies to pre-emptively block the kind of investigations that have left their operations uncomfortably — and unpredictably — open to scrutiny.”

It’s not hard to imagine why “large agricultural companies” would spearhead a campaign to keep their hideous practices from being captured on film and published for the populace. What is disturbing is how easily they dismiss what has been published as “inaccurate” or “misrepresentations” of what is going on in a factory farm. Yet I can’t imagine why any consumer would–rather than exert our power of choice–knowingly purchase any animal products (meat, eggs, milk, etc.) from a business that would support such a Bill. I’m wondering–what is more criminal? The empl0yee who photographs heinous animal cruelty and publishes it, or the company that knowingly allows animal abuse to continue?

Personally, I am disgusted to think that states in this country are more interested in protecting the rights of agribusiness than they are concerned with human and animal welfare. Clearly, experts have proven the detrimental effects of industrial farming–the impact that it has in polluting our environment, decaying our civility and humanity (is it really “funny” to toss live chickens into bins and joke about how their legs “fall off in the process?”), and harming our health is staggering.

So here we are, America. Let’s consider the statement by John P. Kibbie, Democrat of Emmetsburg and president of the Iowa State Senate (also taken from the same article):

“Agriculture is what Iowa is all about,” Mr. Kibbie said. “Our economy would be in the tank, big time, if it wasn’t for agriculture.”

I’ll tell you what is in the tank, Mr. Kibbie. Dead, dying, and injured animals. More animal fecal matter and its methane than can ever be productive. People eating meat that is polluted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A respect for nature. A respect for animal welfare.

Perhaps if the government weren’t so entwined with agribusiness, we would have nothing to hide in our factory farms, or our slaughterhouses. In the meantime, Bills like this –which are designed ONLY to perpetuate bad business practices, and keep the money flowing to the agribusiness elite–reveal to consumers that there is something to hide.  And what is behind the factory farm curtain, photographed or not, is still a reality.

You can read the New York Times article HERE: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/us/14video.html?_r=2&ref=us