Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eating for a New Enviroment

Last year because of  hoof and mouth disease 300,000 cattle and pigs were buried alive.  A professor writing in the Catholic Times reflects on the present threat of infectious diseases among animals raised in Korea and how this threat can be minimized.

Many opinions have been expressed but generally all agree that the problem has a great deal to do with how the animals are fed. In the past, the amount of meat consumed was little but with the economic improvement of the country this has changed. Protein from animals is considered important for our health, but too much can be harmful. The so-called cultural diseases can be attributed to the overeating of meat. From the year 2002, the raising of cattle, pigs and chickens has doubled.

What we used to eat only on our holidays, he reminds us, is now part of our daily fare. This big change in our eating habits is difficult for the body to accept. At one time, our bodies were accustomed to a minimum of nutriments and calories; today, there is often a surfeit that is said to contribute to our  many diseases. He reminds us of an old Korean proverb: "It is only a person who eats meat that knows the taste of meat." Eating too much meat is not a way of achieving happiness but a cause of worry. That is why those who are concerned with living healthfully often eat vegetables, boiled rice and other grains.

Korea is a small country and to keep up with the demand for meat requires raising our animals factory-style, making it necessary to use many antibiotics, which enter our bodies when we eat the meat. Decreasing the amount of meat will ultimately force the food industry to change the way they raise animals.

This will also improve our environment: today one kilogram of meat requires 2000 to 5000 liters of water. For one kg of beef, we use 24,000 liters of water. The raising of 10,000 head of cattle and the waste that is produced, he says, can be compared to the waste produced by a city of 111,000 inhabitants. The professor urges us to reflect on the damage that is being done not only to our environment but to our health by our current eating habits.  We have come to a point where we can decide what and how much we want to eat. However, he warns us, that unless we practice moderation and more skillful eating habits, our bodies and the environment will suffer.

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