Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 91

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE nutrients in fruits and vegetables have decreased over the last fifty years.24 Even as levels of nutrients in fruits and vegetables have decreased, their cost has increased, while at the same time the cost of fast food and soda has decreased.25 In the same way humans rely on the produce they eat to provide them with the vitamins and minerals absorbed from the soil as the plants grow, so too humankind relies on the meat they consume to provide them with the benefits of what the livestock has eaten. Simply put, grass is more nutritious than corn, but humans cannot digest grass, so historically we have eaten the animals that eat grass (i.e., beef, buffalo, sheep). While we still eat these once-grass-fed cattle, these animals now eat a diet developed by scientists, designed to use up the nation’s excess supply of corn and soybeans. The goal is to fatten the animals as quickly as possible, and keep them disease-free as they are packed shoulder to shoulder and kept inside until they’re ready to go to the slaughter house.26 Thus, the red meat found in supermarkets is, as with the produce sold there, less nutritious than the red meat that once occasionally graced our tables. There is growing evidence that the rise in heart disease is not a result of higher consumption of red meat but of red meat that consumed corn.27 In addition to impacting the land it is grown on and the people who eat it, the practices of industrial agriculture and CAFOs are affecting the entire world. On modern large-scale farming operations today, farmers over-fertilize in hopes of securing a bumper crop, but the excess fertilizer seeps into the ground and into the water table poisoning the groundwater.28 What, in smaller populations of grass-fed and non-medicated cattle would become nutrient-rich fertilizer, at CAFOs is instead toxic waste.29 This system of CAFOs and large-scale, monoculture-oriented farming also relies heavily on 24. “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?” Scientific American, April 27, 2011, accessed April 6, 2015, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/. 25. Tim Ryan, “Does Fast Food Really Cost Less?” Mindful, April 2015, 43. 26. Regardless of the type of livestock or poultry, these sorts of dietary and living situations are true for any animal on a CAFO. See Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 75–78. 27. Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 75. 28. Ibid, 308–309. 29. JoAnn Burkholder et al., “Impacts of Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations On Water Quality,” Environmental Health Perspectives 115, no. 2 (2007): 309–310. 88