Girl vs. food: Cage-free for the holidaysWritten by Monica Mikolajczyk | | email@example.com
One afternoon, while walking into the locally owned Vermont Créperie in which I worked, something caught my eye. Being a born-and-raised suburban Ohio girl, this was quite the unusual sight and I do believe I stopped to stare. A farmer was delivering pork, straight from his own farm about 30 miles away, to the front door of our restaurant. I was in awe.
At the time, I think I was more enthralled by the fact that the farmer had such a close business relationship with the owner of my place of employment. It wasn’t until I ventured back to the Ohio flatlands that I realized just how significant this delivery/business relationship was — to my health.
I had completely taken for granted the fact that the majority of the produce, meat and dairy that I purchased in Vermont (lucky for me, there was an amazing co-op a block from my apartment) came straight from locally owned, organic farms. This meant that I was getting fresh food, with no preservatives, and the meat that I was consuming (since I have been back in Ohio I have resorted to a vegetarian lifestyle — simply because I don’t see a farmer dropping off his free-range cattle meat to the local T.G.I. Friday’s, to say the least) was hormone free. Oh, those sneaky hormones, maneuvering their way into our food. As if we don’t have enough of our own already.
So, what do we do?
There are several meats that advertise “free-range” and “pasture-fed” and eggs that are marked as “cage-free.” These words should be treated as Scripture. Let’s put it this way, most animals on conventional farms are fed grain, usually consisting of genetically modified-soy. This soy contains pesticides and herbicides that are stored in the animals’ fat as toxins. This, and the fact that they are kept in confined spaces (making exercise & movement, both of which are key to good health, impossible) causes them to become ill.
As the illness spreads quickly from animal to animal, antibiotics (more toxins!) are used to treat them. On top of all of this, cows are given growth hormones, a few of which are not naturally occurring, but synthetic (man-made chemicals).
So, the animals are fed a diet lacking in vital nutrients, have limited movement, are treated with antibiotics, and pumped up full of hormones. What, that McDonald’s Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese just isn’t getting the salivary glands going like it used to? I’m not sure a bun-covered-mystery-meat, sunny-side-up eggs with yolks running with who-knows-what, or a tall glass of ice-cold hormone-infused milk actually do my body good.
Translation: by eating this meat, dairy and eggs you are essentially ingesting all of the hormones and the wide array of other mystery business that the animals were fed. All of these hormones, pesticides and other chemicals affect our own digestion and health. They speed up the aging process,and this has been reported to be the main culprit behind the earlier onset of puberty in children. The whole idea of this just does not sound natural — kind of like the peculiar hormones (zeronol and trenbolone acetate) that are being pumped into our oh-so-important dietary staples: meat and dairy.
Just ask any child you see what a cow should be eating, and they will tell you: grass.
Elementary, my dear, elementary.
In contrast, purchasing these foods from local farmers and local stores with those holy words on their packaging (“free range”) means you are in the clear. So hit up the local farmers market (Downtown Toledo’s is located at the Erie Street Market, and is year-round) for some cage-free eggs from a local farm to use in this holiday season’s baking.
If we create awareness about such an important topic, maybe here in the Glass City it won’t be a strange occurrence to see a farmer delivering fresh eggs and pork right to the front door of our locally owned eateries.
Monica Mikolajczyk is a yoga instructor, firm believer in always choosing local, and a holistic health advocate who believes we all have the potential to grow and change if we simply allow ourselves the space to do so. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.