This post has nothing and everything to do with the 22 fish in my apartment.
There is a lot of controversy out there about documentaries like Food, Inc., that paint an incredibly negative picture of America’s corporately run food industry. I am currently taking agriculture classes at MTSU, where both sides of these debates are heavily represented. There are two sides to every argument, and I’m trying my darndest to listen to both of them with the blank canvas of an open mind.
But lets be honest, it’s infinitely more entertaining listening to the easy-going, tattooed, vegan hippies, who are mostly taking Vegetable Gardening 101 so they can learn to grow their own pot behind their dream cabin in the woods one day*.
Do I agree with everything they say? No. Do I believe that tilapia are friends, not food? That answer would take us on a long tangent to a land that does not need to be visited in this blog post. However, I have yet to hear a professor or fellow student, involved in cattle raising/production, state his or her thoughts in a humble and friendly manner that invites healthy conversation about these topics… but they’re on the defensive team… and that’s not a fun place to be.
*Please know that I don’t just throw around the word “hippies” as a derogatory term. These folks are my friends, and they own that word like a Girl Scout with a vest full of stapled on merit badges. Thanks mom 😉
I don’t know if Food, Inc. tells a completely fair story… but this is what I know to be true:
I have a friend. Thousands of families, including his, were forced to leave their home country solely because of their ethnicity. A few years ago they moved to the United States and my friend was given a job in a large meat processing and packaging plant.
At this plant:
– He was paid barely enough to provide for his family.
– He did not receive any benefits (unless you call large hunks of meat at Christmas a benefit package…)
– His job required him to be heavily exposed to a great deal of ammonia that is used during processing to sterilize the meat (yummy…). This caused him to lose his senses of smell and taste.
-Due to insufficient training for new employees, along with dangerous machinery, more than one of his fellow workers (and friends) was injured. One friend lost his finger last February.
– When health inspectors came to visit the plant, there were certain “meats” (that were not only NOT beef, they didn’t even come from a cow… ^guess we know where that finger went?) that he was forced to hide, and threatened with job loss if he told anyone about their existence.
This meat processing and packaging company provides beef, steak, and pork to many popular restaurants, theme parks, schools, grocery stores, airlines, and the military.
Thankfully, my friend is no longer working for this company. However, too many people are still stuck working there, because they have no other options.
I’m sharing this story for a number of reasons:
1.) Because a missionary once told me that a job like the one described above is great for people like my friend. That is a lie.
My friend was so thankful for what he had, but deserved more. Everyone does. No one should be trapped in a system that forces him or her to dwell and work in a city landfill like this: http://vimeo.com/14121449. Some people would say that a job processing meat at that plant would be a big step up from the Dump. I don’t accept that.
2.) I care about what you put into your body. And I need you to care about what I put into mine… because too often I get an outrageous craving for a Steak-N-Shake double steakburger w/ cheese (and have to stop myself from asking them to triple it). Lets do our research. Knowing where our food comes from and how the hands that prepared it are treated is important.
3.) This friend of mine, his family, and his friends are incredible people with an incredible story. They have changed my family’s lives. And I hope to be half as gracious, kind, and giving to them as they have been to my family and me.
4.) If you own a business or know someone who does, you can BE an option.
(I’ve left out names for the safety of friends. If you’d like more specifics about a certain company, shoot me a FB message.)