Written by CORO Fellow Jon Harmatz on February 7, 2010.

Do cows eat grass? Is it important to have “fresh” foods in one’s diet? Why has our food become processed?

Yesterday at Franktuary we watched the movie Fresh. Fresh provided answers to those three questions above. Many Americans don’t seem to care about what is in their food or how their food is raised. All they seem to care about is both how quick and easy it is and how cheap it is. The movie discussed how even though we are looking for cheap, quick, and easy food to consume we actually do get what we pay for. Foods that are as cheap as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s do not have as much nutritional value as when you buy organic, free-range, hormone-free food.

For example, cows are not carnivores, and are not created to eat dead matter like vultures do. Yet many feedlots feed their cows dead cow parts mixed with sugar and molasses. Cows are supposed to be able to graze the land. When I was five years old, in kindergarten, I was taught that cows say “moo” and eat grass; they eat grass because they have four stomachs that are made to digest grass. However, we now feed them dead cow parts and corn-based sweeteners. I guess my kindergarten teacher was only partially correct: cows do say “moo” but now they are cannibals, or at least human beings are turning them into cannibals.

Humans are now feeding chickens dead chicken scraps, the leftovers of industrial chicken processing. The very reason chickens have beaks and claws is because their appendages are made to scratch bugs from the grass and eat insect larva from cow manure, thereby cleansing the pasture of harmful bacteria. Chickens are not meant to eat leftover chicken parts; they are designed to be “nature’s clean up crew”, and they perform their job remarkably well on farms where healthy practices are in effect.

Humans also pump our food with too many antibiotics. Every time I go to the doctor and receive antibiotics (I get chronic ear infections) I am told to complete all of the antibiotics because if I don’t the bacteria will create a resistance to the antibiotic and it will not work for me anymore in the future. I am worried that we will make antibiotics become obsolete within society because we put antibiotics in our food. If we keep eating antibiotic pumped foods we will prevent our bodies from using those antibiotics to fight off our own infections.

We are not smart enough to outsmart nature but we are smart enough to work with nature and change the way food is currently produced. Some individuals already are doing this within their own communities. Fresh takes a tour of Growing Power Farm, free of antibiotics and pesticides in inner city Milwaukee, which is helping to feed and educate the community.

Right now America’s mainstream farming practices do not treat animals and the earth with respect. It is important that we let animals eat their natural diets with plenty of outdoor living space and not overuse antibiotics; otherwise, Mother Nature will take care of the situation for us, and we won’t like that.