Best of the Blogs: June 2013

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From PorkNetwork: Glass walls project gives online tour of a pork plant

PorkNetwork new associate editor Wyatt Bechtel writes about the “Glass Walls” project, which provides an online tour of a pork processing plant, narrated by Temple Grandin.

Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State and is a recognized leader in animal welfare, specifically in the beef industry.

Here are highlights from Wyatt’s article: This new video is similar to the beef processing plant video tour that was released last year and is a part of the American Meat Institute’s “Glass Walls Project.” The only major difference between the two videos is the pork video starts at the farm, to show pigs being loaded onto a semi-trailer. Viewers of the video can observe processes like stunning, bleeding, internal audits, scalding and singeing. “I feel very strongly that we’ve got to treat animals right. We’ve got to do things right, that is just essential,” says Grandin.

Read the entire article.

 

From PorkNetwork: When changing perceptions, make it personal

Darrell Anderson, former CEO of the National Swine Registry and industry leader, is a new blog contributor to PorkNetwork. In his first post, he talks about how important it is to connect with people on a personal level if we want to them to understand the industry:

I had an eye-opening experience speaking to a group of ladies from our church on the subject of, “Selecting the Right Cut of Meat for Dinner.” After the first 30 minutes, I detected one common thread: They knew little about selecting the right cut of meat for their families.

However, they were very aware of, and concerned about, the various industry issues that affect the safety and perception of our product in the marketplace.

Most of these women did not realize that selecting highly marbled pork chops with minimal external fat would yield a better eating experience. However, they had heard about the perceived, (but inaccurate) excessive use of antibiotics, and asked a lot of questions about animal welfare issues.

Since they all knew me, I believe they received my message well, and I was able to change their perceptions about our industry. The responsibility to tell the “true story” about pork production falls on each of us. It might be one-on-one conversations with acquaintances, or it might be in a meeting with a bunch of “church ladies.”

Read the entire blog.

 

Dan Murphy Commentary: Voice of reason

Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, would reasonably be expected to pile onto the generally negative media coverage of stories surrounding new research implicating meat-eating as a risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Only for new and different reasons.

His recent Huffington Post column began exactly as you would expect: “As you have likely heard, assuming you weren’t grazing on another planet the past couple of weeks, there may be a new reason to eat less meat: A compound called trimethylamine-Noxide (TMAO), which seems to induce atherosclerosis in mice; in humans, blood levels of TMAO correlate with rates of cardiovascular disease.

”But to his credit, Dr. Katz quickly amended that statement by adding, “Although that does not prove causality.” You didn’t find such a qualifier until deep into most mainstream media stories about this “shocking” new finding, so I give the good doctor props for at least attempting to clarify that an association between two factors—no matter how closely they appear linked—does not mean that the former causes the latter.

He noted two complications. First, TMAO cannot be formed in the intestinal tract unless there are some very specific bacteria present. To be sure, it seems that people who enjoy regular servings of red meat in their diets are more likely to have those bacteria in their systems, but it’s not a given. Vegans seem to have fewer of the intestinal bacteria capable of converting carnitine into TMAO, but it’s not known if that’s because the bacteria simply aren’t present or because the vegans’ diet suppresses the bacteria living in the intestines.

Second, carnitine precursors aren’t found in only meat. Grains, dairy foods and some vegetables contain carnitine. As Katz stated, “It’s not practical to pretend we could eliminate carnitine from the diet.”

Indeed, there are “excellent arguments” in favor of veganism, as there are excellent arguments in favor of celibacy—if you’re prepared to sacrifice what’s normal and natural to pursue such a pathway for whatever personal reasons you find plausible. Vegan lifestyles follow pretty much the same template: Fine for those who practice it—just not the preferred lifestyle for the rest of us.

Read the full commentary here.

 

New Contributor: Iowa State Student Allison Zabel

Allison ZabelAllison Zabel Allison Zabel is a senior at Iowa State University, majoring in Agricultural Studies with a minor in Animal Science. She left on May 14 for a study abroad trip, and will be visiting Poland, Germany and the Ukraine.

She explains, “The trip is designed to provide an overview of the European Union’s sustainable agriculture. While I am in Poland, I will be participating in a group project on animal welfare, specifically in the pork industry. I plan to make comparisons between the pork industries in the United States and the EU.”

Read more about Allison here.


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