“We are people who don’t want to eat meat with poop in it; you are people that sell poopy meat. Why is it hard to understand the disconnect?”

Cornstarch Bags OK for Doggy Duty

I really enjoyed Mick Dumke’s article about banning plastic shopping bags in Chicago [“The Plastic Plague,” March 6].

I’m all for a ban on plastic shopping bags, but there are some bags that won’t be banned. Like garbage bags and dog waste bags. I think it’s important to recognize that while ALL production (of anything) creates some waste and pollutants, bags made of renewable resources, like corn, are a far superior alternative to plastic or bags that use polyethylene and claim to “biodegrade.” In the green-highlighted FAQ section, Dumke stated that “bags made out of cornstarch... cost more to manufacture, and require greenhouse emissions to produce. And why spend energy and resources creating something that will simply be thrown away after one use?”

While this is true of shopping bags, I do not believe giving bags made of corn a bad name is a helpful or “green” plan and doing so could cause some damage to the movement. As an alternative to garbage bags or dog waste bags, bags made of corn are the best thing on the market. Let’s face it, when you live in a city, you need to pick up after your dog. It’s required by law. I’d rather that people were using TRULY biodegradable bags that are made of renewable resources.

There are a number of bags that say they are biodegradable, but only break into pieces and leach toxins into the ground. It’s important to know the difference.

Amy J. Mork

The Leash We Can Do!


Where Will I Dispose of My Used Kleenex?

Plastic bags are the best thing I know for lining garbage cans to keep them sanitary. Also, I line several little waste cans around my apartment with the smaller plastic bags I get at Jewel to receive the Kleenex I must use abundantly with my chronic sinusitis. When I’m given plastic bags by other stores that don’t fit my hard containers, I recycle them. I would hate being without plastic bags, which most efficiently maximize household hygiene.

Barry Frauman

W. Melrose

Beef Consumption Is Down Because Poop Consumption Is Up

Last week’s Chicago Reader had an article about a meat industry commercial kitchen downtown that has the task of trying to get people to eat more beef [“The Meat Pushers” by Mike Sula, Omnivorous, February 28]. Americans used to eat 75 pounds per person per year; now it’s down to more like 65. I find it funny that they’re having trouble identifying the problem.

Under normal circumstances, humans do not eat feces. When things come to a point where humans are eating feces, some aspect of the context has become maladaptive, pathological—sick. Autistic children sometimes eat their feces, but we are easily able to understand what aspect of that situation is out of whack: autistic children suffer from an abnormal and limiting condition—they are sick.

The American beef industry routinely sells meat with poop in it, as Eric Schlosser explains in spectacularly fine detail in Fast Food Nation. I still eat beef sometimes, but it’s definitely a barrier to the sale when I consider that ordering the beef may result in eating poop. It’s also not just a matter of feeling that eating poop is nasty, it’s that eating infected meat can lead to contracting an infection that turns my internal organs into a mass of pus and slime while I die a slow and agonizing death by E. coli poisoning. There are very good reasons why, under normal circumstances, humans do not eat feces.

The fact that the beef industry struggles with understanding the situation is really kind of funny when you think about it that way. There’s no way you can hear that 143,000,000 pounds of meat were sold in a contaminated condition, and not consider that it was only a single incident, and one of the few that was caught (by an animal rights organization, not the government, and not the beef industry). If the beef industry wants to sell more beef, they might do better to take a close look at themselves rather than looking at the customers. We are people who don’t want to eat meat with poop in it; you are people that sell poopy meat. Why is it hard to understand the disconnect?

60 Minutes also recently ran a segment on milk produced through the use of growth hormone. Turns out that growth hormone causes the breast to become infected, greatly increasing the pus content of the milk you put in your coffee and on your cereal. Under normal circumstances, humans do not drink pus either.

The reason there is poop in the meat is that the meat industry has transferred most processing to colossal factories where there is huge pressure to work quickly and little or no oversight for the quality of the product. The correct standard for limiting the transfer of disease would be to have the animals processed one by one, after which the processing station would be cleaned thoroughly before another animal is brought in. This, however, requires well-trained butchers who are in a position to demand high rates of pay and good working conditions. As it is, your beef is likely to be produced by illegal immigrants who are at risk of not only being fired, but what’s more reported to the ICE and imprisoned, then deported, if they don’t move the meat through fast enough. I would bet they feel occasional pangs of guilt when they accidentally slice a lower bowel and get shit on the meat. But if the path to feeding your kids and staying out of prison was to let the shitty meat pass, you’d probably do the same.

The immediate solutions, for us on the ground, are to buy organic meat and milk and to decrease the amount of milk and meat in our diets. The reason that average meat consumption has decreased is that the quality of the product has diminished, so people are making rational decisions. Eating beef has become a pathological behavior, because only sick people eat poop. Normal people are eating less meat precisely because they are normal and healthy, and they are coming to understand that eating meat means eating poop. Why would the beef industry have so much trouble understanding that? Maybe they are a bit more similar to autistic children than anyone wants to admit.

Thomas Westgard