Mo’ Bad Beef Blues

by Denis Faye - The Nutrition Nerd | January 14, 2011

This week, my fellow Fitness Nerd Steve Edwards made me happier than a pencil-fingered man in a nose-picking contest that I haven’t eaten beef in 14 years with his post about the latest creepy cow illness, Johne’s Disease.

Basically, it’s the bovine version of Crohn’s Disease. And, as this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education indicates, the popular medical notion that eating Johne’s-infected meat can’t lead to Crohn’s is flawed. “Crohn’s disease shows all the hallmarks of a spreading zoonotic (animal-to-human) infection. Its incidence has sky-rocketed, closely paralleling the increase in factory farming and the frequency of Johne’s disease in domestic livestock.”

And even if this isn’t the case, here’s the paragraph that kills me.

This is itself an extraordinary fact, worth repeating and emphasizing: Cattle suffering from a severe bacterial infection related to tuberculosis and leprosy, characterized by pussy, intestinal ulcers and overall body wasting, and which may be literally identical to a pathogen that causes a devastating illness in genetically susceptible people, are – right now, as you read this – routinely being slaughtered, and their infected meat introduced into the food stream.

Yikes! And here’s Steve’s take on it:

Wait! What?! No wonder he felt the need to write it twice. I don’t think you need to be a PETA activist to show a little animal compassion in this case. And regardless of the poor animals, I’m sure the cast of Jackass would enthusiastically choose a vomit omelet over a Whopper made from Johne’s-riddled livestock.

The issue here isn’t the ethics of eating meat. I concede that as omnivores, we’re set up for it. I may not eat meat, but I can’t fault anyone else for it. I can fault, however, a greedy corporate structure that’s perfectly happy to feed the public diseased, possibly disease-inducing foods. If Johne’s Disease was infecting vegetables – say, rutabagas – I’d be just as judgmental.

And before you farmers out there read this and get your overalls in a bunch, do you really think the entire farming industry is a bastion of moral perfection? I’ve been a journalist off-and-on all my adult life. I’m emotionally invested in the profession, but I’m the first to admit it’s filled with lies, ineptitude, and bad haircuts. You may be the most straight-shootin’ cattle farmer ever, the Mother Theresa of the open range, but your industry is broken. So get over your sacred cows. Let’s go all Joel Salatin on the situation and fix it.

, , ,

3 thoughts on “Mo’ Bad Beef Blues

  1. Anonymous

    This post is quite popular (and controversial_ over on The Straight Dope! I’ll repeat my comment to Steve’s blog post here:

    Reading this, I am even less surprised (not that I was all that surprised in the first place) that a raw, low-fat, vegan diet cures Crohn’s. See Dr. David Klein’s “Self-Healing Colitis and Crohn’s” as well as his website http://www.colitis-crohns.com.


  2. Anonymous

    I wonder how many people would change their minds about ordering a hamburger from McDonalds if that picture was hanging on the drive-thru menu.

  3. Anonymous

    “I wonder how many people would change their minds about ordering a hamburger from McDonalds if that picture was hanging on the drive-thru menu.”

    I suspect not many at all. Many people just don’t care. If it’s cheap and “tasty” (GAG), then who cares where it comes from.

    Just heard on the local news that the new nutrition/calorie info required on restaurant menus is not changing customer food choices. Sad.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *