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Guest Column: The politics of cheap food
By Vicky Grizzoffi
I am still so amazed at the apathy of so many who feel that they have no control or say over the mega-dairy issue. If people took just a few moments out of their busy lives, they would see how critical this is. Let’s remember, folks, that yes, farms are not the cute places where animals run free, and nothing bad ever happens. They do have smells, and depending on where you are at, hard well water is different from the chlorinated tap water from big cities. And we all do like to eat, but at what cost? I see every week a coupon in some paper for a 99-cent gallon of milk. The regular price is still around $3. If people saw cows that spend their whole lives standing in a pen of wet manure and urine, they wouldn’t buy that cheap gallon of milk. They don’t know the amount of hormones and antibiotics these animals must receive. They don’t see the piles of manure standing up to three stories high. They don’t see how a hill of manure is made so that the cows can attempt to lie down in a dry area and get some respite from hoof diseases from spending their whole lives in wet manure and urine. They don’t see how an area is sprayed and spread with manure way past its capacity to hold any more and to the point where weeds won’t even grow there. Isn’t that appetizing? Too many people do not understand and realize how today’s diseases, infections and their antibiotic resistance are connected to this type of factory farming.
The speaker at last Tuesday night’s HOMES [Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards] informational meeting stated how cows are in such bad condition that a worker could crush a cow’s pelvis bone in his hand. I believe it! When I was a child, we used to go to the butcher and get marrow bones for our dog. A couple of years ago, I went to a local store for the same thing. I had to take it away and throw the rest away because my dog was chomping and eating them like they were rawhides. I thought that was strange at the time, but never knew why.
People who support or are indifferent to the mega-dairy say that golf courses and other farms pollute just the same. They say how decades ago what farming was. Does that make it right? Don’t forget that chemicals that were used for decades are now banned today. Why? Am I the only one who read Silent Spring?
Those who support the mega-dairy say how this will revitalize the area. Once again, there has not been one area that a mega-dairy has gone into that has done what they promised to do. The way the laws are, it is cheaper to violate and pay fines than it is to do the right thing. And that’s only when they get caught. Those of you who are naive enough to believe that this will bring down the cost of your feed are in for a shocker.
How many people must become ill or die before the general public says, “Gee, this isn’t good. This shouldn’t happen. Why did our government allow this?” Do people have to read about violations such as cows having their infected teat slit open with a razor so it can be sent down the line to be milked anyway? Or how a bulldozer that was used to move dead cows turned around and moved feed without being washed and sanitized? Both of these violations and so many more are available to be seen on the Internet. These violations come from mega-dairies in Washington and Oregon that our buddy Bos “says” he is not connected to. Do people have to be shocked when they turn on their faucet and get brown water and a stench? How about the connections between contaminated air and water to miscarriages, childhood diseases, learning disabilities, cancers, developmental issues, asthma, etc.? It’s all there.
The Yakima Valley in Washington used to be a huge tourist area just like Galena. These mega-farms are generally new, and I don’t like being the guinea pig at someone else’s profit. As far as the price of milk goes, less expensive isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t know anyone who is in the right mind who wants cheap milk.
People cry at how Chicagoans move out here and don’t want their playground destroyed. Duh! Would you rather play in a manure pit? I did pay cash for my existing home that was developed by one of the big family names out here. I do have my life’s savings that I have earned from the big, bad city, sitting here in local banks. I don’t have small children, so there is no added stress on the schools. I pay my taxes in full on time. I have used local business and tradesmen to improve my property. I have real health insurance and do not receive any public aid whatsoever. Where is Bos from? Does he plan on moving here and living at his site? I am from Illinois, I live here, I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to stay, and I have a right to a healthy life!
Vicky Grizzoffi is a resident of Galena, Ill.
From the Mar. 10-16, 2010 issue