Feb 032011
Authors: Robyn Scherer

On Tuesday, Oprah aired what I consider to be a very interesting show, and by no means am I an Oprah fan. However, I do applaud her for helping consumers to be more conscientious about where their food comes from.

She invited veganist Kathy Freston, journalist and food expert Michael Pollan, and showed live footage from a Cargill beef processing facility from fellow journalist, Lisa Ling.

Pollan said, “We are so unconscious about the way we eat.”

I completely agree with him. People are, for the most part, unaware of where their food comes from.
I am always amazed by how many people do not know that milk comes from a dairy cow, who has to give birth to have milk. They also do not know that wool comes from sheep, and their leather shoes were made from the hide of a cow.

The best part of the episode for me was the video of Cargill’s Fort Morgan beef processing plant, which is managed by Nicole Johnson-Hoffman.

In reference to how they process, Johnson-Hoffman said, “I would say that we are committed to doing it right. I believe that when animals are handled with dignity, and harvested carefully, that that’s the natural order of things.”

I agree with her statement 100 percent. Producers want to treat animals humanely because it is the right thing to do, not just because it is profitable. Yes, I’m sure some of you have seen videos of animals being abused, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

While Freston disagreed with eating animal products, Pollan thought the process was very important for people to see, and he thinks that giving up animal products and going vegan would be nearly impossible for most people.

“We are big meat eaters in this country. We always have been. So to say that you shouldn’t eat meat is a moral challenge, it’s an ethical challenge, and it’s a challenge to tradition,” Pollan said.

This is true.

However, he also said, “One of the concerns I have with going all the way vegan is first, these great farmers we have in this country, who are doing really good work. They need to be supported.”

One of the issues with going vegan which was not talked about in this episode was the cost. I’m not sure how many of you have been in Whole Foods, but products there are much more expensive. With food costs on the rise, this is a real issue for many people.

One of the problems Pollan addressed was the health care problems the American diet is creating.

“We eat way too many calories, too much processed foods, and tons of refined carbohydrates (white flour and sugar),” he said. “I also worry about if you get off meat entirely you get on a lot of processed foods.”

So what is the bottom line? I believe that, for once, Oprah had it right:

“We want you to be more conscious about where your food comes from. You have to decide what’s right for you and for your family,” she said.

I encourage you to find out where your food comes from. Keep in mind, however, that while you sat inside warm this week, farmers and ranchers across the country braved the extreme weather to put food on your table.
Robyn Scherer is a graduate student studying integrated resource management. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com._

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