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24 January 2013

Every time we shop, we vote with our money

Like many Australians, I watched Food Inc. the other night when it aired on TV here. I'd already seen the DVD of it a couple of years ago but it did me good to see it again. If nothing else, as our ex-prime minister Gough Whitlam asked of us, it helped me to "maintain the rage". And watching it again certainly helped me do that. If you haven't seen this documentary and you're in Australia, it's on SBS On Demand for another four days.  For those who haven't seen it, it's an account of the unsustainable and unhealthy practices in parts of the food industry in the USA; but the conditions discussed are happening in many Western countries, not just the USA. It features Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin and Eric Schlosser.


The program examines unhygienic conditions in feed lots, the large increase in the number of E.coli and other bacterial food contaminants, appalling factory conditions worked by illegal immigrants - with a blind eye from the authorities, how the cheap price of food does not reflect its real price, how the meat processing business has moved from having many participating and often local players to now being in the hands of four huge corporations, how Monsanto sues farmers for saving their own corn and soybean seeds, how food labelling laws are set to deceive rather than inform, and much, much more. When you see it for the first time it's shocking and very confronting. When I saw it again I was just plain mad.

It took me a while to work out how to discuss this in a sane and rational way. The subject is so emotive and the program is difficult to watch because it shows animal cruelty and the unbearable conditions cattle and chickens are routinely kept in. We keep our own animals and chickens in good conditions,  but I felt real shame that we've (all of us) allowed the conditions some farm animals are kept in to build over the years and not done anything about it. Many would argue that not much can be done, that these corporations are so powerful that nothing will stop them but I don't believe that. Our dollars will stop them.


Every time we shop, we vote with our money. Every single time. All potential customers with money to spend have the power to keep a product going or to bring it down. Buying isn't just about the product we choose, it's also about those we don't choose. By not choosing local products, slowly, the local businesses die off. That has already happened in Australia, and probably many other countries too.

The main decision I made when watching Food Inc is to support my local businesses as much as I can and to cut down on buying meat. Now I'm buying free range and organic meat only and to make up for the cost of that, I'm buying the cheaper cuts and we're eating less of it. It's the only way we can do it. I know it will be difficult at times but doing nothing is no longer an option for me. I don't approve of the way that animals and chickens are treated; I want food labelling to change; I don't think that higher profit margins justify cruelty; I think we have to get used to the fact that there is no such thing as never-ending economic growth. Not buying cheap meat and foreign foods will send that message.

I should have done it sooner.


We need to think about the environment more. We know the climate is changing but many people think it's up the "the government" or "them" to do something about it. When I saw those huge feedlots and thought about all the methane going up into the air, it almost made me weep. The faecal waste of piggeries and chicken farms floating down what were once clean waterways made me feel sick. We all have to make our own changes - we have personal responsibility in this. The buck stops with all of us.

I'm not going to harp on and on about this except to say out loud: every time you shop, you vote with your money. Please think about that. I'd rather hand my money over to farmers who treat their animals well, who harvest organic or local foods and who are more interested in producing fresh, heathy food than in what a faceless stockholder will think. We may not always eat in the way we used here in my home but I can no longer be part of the shopping majority who keep these conditions going.

78 comments:

  1. Well written rhonda thanks for the shock treatment back to reality in our busy lives we are all in such a hurry that we don't stop and think about what we are buying and how much animals may have suffered to put food on our tables.

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  2. I saw the ads for that show, and they were enough to turn my stomach. I'm not brave enough nor strong enough to watch a show like that. But that doesn't mean I have my head burried in the sand either.

    Slowly in our house, changes are happening, we are slowly eating less meat. I always buy free range now, and I buy what I can locally in terms of fruit and veg, and that's a BIG change from even 12 months ago.

    This is an important topic, and your message is loud and clear. We can all shop for change.

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  3. Here, here! *****Applause****

    We haven't bought meat from the store for several years (since watching Food Inc a few years back). We did some research and found local private producers who are working HARD to make a go of the sustainable, pastured HUMANE production of poultry, beef and pork. I also believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY that we ARE voting with our dollar each and every time we spend money on food. Each transaction that we can take out of the conventional Ag system and divert into ethical, sustainable food production is an investment in our health, our economy and the environment. It does take significant effort to make such a change, but it is SO worth it on SO many levels.

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  4. We saw Food Inc for the first time, so very glad I watched it. The power of the consumer was highlighted when they showed Wallmart (I think) execs talking to an organic farmer and including organics in their range. Our dollars send a clear message! :)sarah

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  5. Well said, Rhonda!

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  6. Agreed. I was particularly shocked about Monsanto suing farmers because they found their seed on non-Monsanto farms.

    But this doesn't stop at our food either; the production of clothing is incredibly damaging to the environment also. I see so many people just buying cheap crap and then throwing it away the next year or next season.

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  7. Yes Rhonda,wholeheartedly agree.
    We may be more intellectually gifted than animals but that means we have a responsibility to treat them with kindness ,respect and awe.
    The everyday consumer is not educated as to where their meat and eggs really come from and the suffering involved by both animals and often,lowly-paid workers.
    In our home we made some changes.Our daughter is vegetarian only because she doesn't TRUST the treatment of animals before and during slaughter.She would eat meat if she knew without a doubt kindness and a quick end were the norm.
    Hubby and I try to source meat from ethical farmers but there is still some doubt in my mind as to how humane the slaughter process has been.
    We now keep just 3 chickens for eggs and grow some veges and try to buy local Australian produce.

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  8. My husband and I enjoyed it when we watched it. Two books I recommend about this subject are:
    Diet For a New America -- this one is older and focuses on the meat industry in the US. It's sad stuff but a very interesting read. It talks about the treatment and processing of factory meat products.
    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle -- this one chronicles a family's journey to eat only foods raised within a certain distance from their home. It talks about their garden development and season, raising animals, and buying local those good that they cannot produce. It's based in the US also, but it is someone anyone could implement. It's written from a journal/story telling perspective and includes recipes also. It's a very good, inspirational read.

    This subject is a very important one. As a family, I want to work toward better health and being a better steward in the world by sending our voting dollars to small business and local artisans that share our values and are improving the world.

    -- Beulah

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  9. Thank you Rhonda. I have not yet watched Food Inc but I will do so today. Yes our purchasing power is political power- just look at Coles and their Coles brand eggs which are no longer from caged birds. I personally believe things like meat are supposed to be expensive, like you see with organic free range meat, because we're not supposed to eat huge serves of them every single day. Farmers markets are my preferred way to shop as you get to speak to the actual person who raised the meat or grew the fruit/vegetables. We need to be more connected to our food.

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  10. I agree with your sentiments whole heartedly , Rhonda. We have the Food Inc dvd and have watched the dvd as a family...yes it is confonting but it has changed the way we view our food even though we are farmers....the kids just don't look at some of our fast food chains in the same way and feel wise to see through the 'cover up'. We shop with our feet too - you only have to look at the way Coles is marketing some of their meat products to know that other people are shopping with their feet too. Shopping local is a great place to start.
    I have thought of putting the Food Inc DVD in the farm stay rooms along with our other dvds but I am worried our farm stay families may find it too confronting. What do other readers think?

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    1. you could offer the book instead and keep the DVD on hand in case someone wants to watch it.

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    2. I actually found Food Inc as a whole to be more uplifting than other similar documentaries (such as "Fresh," for example). I also feel that unless people are fully aware of the cruelty and other problems with the industrialized food system, that it's too easy to turn a blind eye and go back to convenience. It is shocking at first, especially to those who really have never heard of these problems, but it's the reality we're dealing with. And I feel people do need to in some way or another confront their own choices, which is what these types of films (hopefully) inspire. -Jaime

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  11. Rhonda, we've watched that show too, but it was a while ago and it's impact has faded. Thanks for the reminder, you've fired me up again!

    Keeping my own chickens and seeing their distinct personalities and inquisitiveness cemented for me the need to buy free range chooks. The idea of my ladies being raised in a battery disgusts and horrifies me. Just because the chook meat I purchase comes from elsewhere, from non-pet chooks, and battery is not in my backyard but instead out of sight, does not excuse my economic support of that way of chook-life when I shop.

    Likewise, I heard that mother pig-sows sing to their young when they nurse, they are also very inquisitive, and like to sleep in a big family pig-pile, similar to my dogs. Pork sausages, ham and a Sunday pork roast are firm favourites in our house, but not at the expense of the pig's natural lifestyle. Free range and local all the way!

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  12. Great post. My thoughts on the matter echo yours.I just cannot allow my money to support anything I deem as unethical, puts people or animals in misery or spoils the environment.

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  13. A great post and thanks for including the link to the viewing of what is quite a shocking documentary - I will pass on to friends who haven't seen it.

    I decided, too, to support the locals where I could and buy organic or free-range, guaranteed chemical free food, taking a stand against standard factory farming and corporate agriculture - and animal cruelty.

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  14. Another movie to see is Fork over Knife- it's not gory. It's a movie that talks about eating more like our ancestors did in "the day" and also about how to cut down on meat eating. Did you see the chickens that couldn't stand up because they were crammed into a pen and they'd been given growth hormones to make them grow faster and they couldn't support their own weight? Awful!
    I agree completely with you Rhonda. I'd rather pay more money for less meat and know that it was raised humanely and isn't full of medicines and growth hormones.

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  15. The warm fireplaceJanuary 24, 2013 6:52 am

    Great post, i agree we have to vote with our feet/money.
    sue

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  16. Yes! Food Inc is something everyone needs to see. For our family, keeping chickens and steering clear of the big supermarkets has meant a huge shift in how we think and how we live and hopefully our children will become adults who already "get it."

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  17. I've seen and shared this documentary several times, and think it's wonderfully informative and well-done. This was a big driving force for us to raise our own meat, as truly local, humanely-raised meat is hard to come by here. I'm not sure about other countries, but even the terms "organic" and "free-range" are no longer reliable indicators of humanely raised meat. For example, NestFresh eggs (semi-local here) is labelled free-range, but this only means the hens aren't confined to cages - yet, they are still jam packed into a big warehouse with only one small opening out to a concrete slab! No grass, no sunshine. The Cornocopia Institute does independent research of organic, etc. companies and rates them. I've realized that buying pasture-raised meat is really the only way to feel confident that the animals were treated well.
    -Jaime

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  18. Thanks Rhonda, beautifully written.

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  19. Hello Rhonda,

    Not seen this, but doesn't surprise me. I've been buying local meat for a long time now. The free range chickens that I have to order, are a lot dearer, but also much more dense. We just eat less of it.

    love to you & Hanno,

    Angela (south England) UK

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  20. I agree with your philosophy of eating free range, organic, and cheaper cuts/less of it. That's pretty much what we've been doing for some time.

    I try to have about half the evening meals no meat dishes. Last night we had ricotta ravioli, and the night before a lentil pate (loaf) with cauliflower and salad.
    Mince tonight.

    I like to watch River Cottage and Hugh often talks about the cheaper cuts being the ones with the most flavour and great to use for slow cooking type meals.

    cheers
    Fi

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  21. Good morning Rhonda,

    This material makes me angry too; but what makes me sad and angry is the blank looks on the faces of some people when we talk about this subject. So many of us seem to want to keep our heads firmly stuck in the sand and ignore what is so blatantly going on. All we can do, is keep doing what we are doing as individuals and my blind hope is that there will be a groundswell of change.

    Kind regards,
    Barb

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  22. When we "met" the other day Lynn and I discussed the "real cost" of food. If it's cheap then the cost has been paid by someone/something other than at the point of sale: the labourers, the environment, the animals. All food has a real cost and somewhere it must be paid.

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  23. such a great way of putting it, makes us think twice before spending doesn't it!

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  24. Hi - newish reader here :)

    My husband and I have just moved to the U.S and I watched Food Inc. in the first few weeks we were here - it was terrifying! We are in Seattle - which is not as "typical America" as most places - there are still a lot of local options. We have a veggie box coming in every week and love shopping at the local markets. However - I still get mad if I buy something and then realise at home it does indeed have high fructose corn syrup in it! I am making my own lime cordial as I can not seem to find a brand without it!
    You also go to buy milk and see signs for the brands that are proudly telling you that their milk is hormone free - it is truly a different environment!

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    1. A lot of US milk is taken from cows that are kept in feedlot conditions and fed on corn, not free range grass eating cows !

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  25. I watched Food Inc a couple months ago on Amazon.com and could hardly believe what I was seeing. I have started buying organic chicken since watching it and can barely stand to look at the other stuff when I am shopping. Shortly after watching Food Inc, I treated myself to a chicken sandwich at a famous restaurant chain here. While eating my sandwich, a huge truck carrying live chickens, packed tightly inside crates, made a stop at a stoplight in front of where I was eating. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach!! Needless to say, I could not finish that chicken sandwich. :(( It's a reality that so many people don't know about!

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  26. Such an important post and a subject dear to my heart. I sincerely hope you can make some fresh converts. It is so important.

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  27. Well said Rhonda...we have been eating free range/organic meat and eggs now for 7 years and won't support feed lots. We still buy the good cuts but have a couple of vegetarian meals a week...risotto...quinoa....pasta and then we have fish from a local fisherman once a week so I am happy with all this.

    Oh how I love to eat out but we do try and do that every couple of months or so when we can get some respite care for our Daughter and help support our local restaurants as well. We do this for time out for ourselves and also as I did a Hospitality Cooking course I love to see what the Chefs make....try new recipes and help support Apprentices/staff as well that work there.

    Support local I say!

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  28. Hi Rhonda, I have seen this documentary a few times and I agree with you that it does "maintain the rage". I feel everyone needs to see this to show what is happening with our food.
    We buy meat and milk off my neighbour and I try to buy at Farmers markets if I can't grow something. There is a lot more I could do though and watching this again makes me want to try even harder.
    I love what Joel Salatin in doing in the U.S! He is the ultimate role model for how our food is produced. Also is you want a really really good book to read I can highly recommend 'The Dirty Life' by Kristin Kimball. They have a farm called Essex Farm and provide a full diet CSA for their members. It's fantastic.
    Glad you posted on this topic today Rhonda as it's a very important one.

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  29. I haven't seen the movie but have just finished reading the book which is very informative. I had already read the omnivore's dillema and in defence of food by Michael Pollan both highly recommended if you are interested in where your food comes from and what/how to do things different. Totally agree with the eating the better meat and then less of it as we need only a palm size portion anyway. great post Rhonda.

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  30. Hi Rhonda,
    I have to reply to this post simply because I feel I have a little more insight than most on this topic. And I have replied when you have talked about meat here before because my life is based around the meat industry. I didn’t see the show on sbs the other night but I have seen the conditions that animals are raised in in America, awful to say the least.
    My Husband is an engineer and has worked at an abattoir for the last six years. During that time I worked for a few months cleaning the abattoir at night, my kids were young and it became a little too much. I have seen the inside of these places and have seen the conditions that the animals are in before they die. This is one of the biggest abattoirs in the country and the family that own them own many around our country, including Wallangarra and Tamworth, this company does kill for Woolworths. I would also like to say that I was a vegetarian before I met my Husband because of my concern about how the animals were treated.

    I do have issues with these big companies in some ways but I believe that here in Australia cattle and livestock are treated with dignity and are well kept.
    I believe that anyone in this country can simply go for a country drive and you will see the animals that you are eating. The local farmers where I live (in between the Adelaide hills region and the Murray regions) do sell their cattle and livestock to these big companies. The animals are left to roam free until herded up. My biggest problem with this is that the big companies are able to out buy smaller ones and often smaller ones dont get a chance. They know that the bigger companies can bid as high as they like for stock because they have big bucks and so often the smaller people won’t even bid if the larger companies are interested in stock. It also worries me that the farmers may not be getting a reasonable price for there stock.

    My second concern is for the amount of animals that Australians are eating. The amount of animals being killed is a lot. We can all simply have a few vegetarian meals a week. This is a simple way to stop that problem.

    My third is very similar to yours Rhonda and that is that I would love to see better labelling on meat products, this meat is being grown here in Australia why cant they give us more information. The meat industry here has very strict guidelines. They are ruled over by AQUIS and many other things like every animal must be killed in a very particular way- why are we not holding them to some level of our own guidelines as a consumer and insisting that the products at least be labelled with exactly where they came from and where they were killed.

    These companies are spending millions of dollars every year to make the process more environmentally friendly. My husband is working on projects everyday that are all about treating water safely , using better forms of energy and believe me they let no part of the animal go to waste.

    Yes there are issues with the meat industry here in Australia but in my opinion it is not how the animals are grown. I believe the farmers here in Australia do a very respectable job and treat our animals well.

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  31. I watched it for the first time and was horrified.....my husband now understands why I so diligently saved seeds this year from my vegie patch and realised just how much we do in our family , that is 'good'....I have kept it recorded for my children to watch...I have told them small bits about it and the question arose again, but mum what can we do about that, what can you do...? I said the same thing.....every time I shop , I can make the decision for our family....in one way it makes a mothers job that little bit more important. I said to my neighbour as well when our families were eating together on the weekend, you and I, are responsible for what we and these other 8 people here are eating, we are the ones who choose the food, read the labels, and put that food through the checkout....The consumers have the power, I totally agree...we spoke of sharing a side of beef from a local grower, and ordering some Kangaroo Island lamb....we talked about our vegetable gardens, our chooks etc....and I know my kids were listening....this is what we can do...........my children are growing up knowing that there are small steps that we can take that ultimately may one day change the way food is produced and viewed....or at least make them understand how terribly important this is NOW.

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    1. I think that's wonderful - what a positive way to influence your children by sharing the importance of the choices you make for your family :)

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  32. Well said! I haven't watched Food Inc and it sounds like I will have to wait until I'm in a "good" place to be able to cope with the contents.
    Voting with our money works - look at permeate now not in milk, Coles brand eggs no longer 'cage eggs'. However free range means it could be 1,000+ chicken to a hectare, whatever the producer decides. I notice that the eggs I bought last week at least specified that they have 150 chooks to the hectare (1 chook per 6m+ square). Normally source eggs from friends at work.
    I am concerned the real cost of things e.g. some of the cheap clothes that the department stores are selling from overseas as they can only be that cheap if using low paid workers likely working long hours in poor conditions. Also make oat milk now instead of buying soy milk due to the amount of packaging, wanting to know exactly what is in the drink as well as the hidden costs of transport etc.. Small changes locally.
    Thanks once again Rhonda for reminding us that while "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" we all can achieve something good by the lifestyle / choices we make.

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  33. I agree entirely, and think you described the dilemna beautifully. It was a combination of Food Inc and Forks Over Knives that convinced us not to eat animal products at all. All the problems with Australian live export animals would not have happened if people didn't eat meat. Many huge environmental problems would be averted if we didn't raise animals for meat, milk and eggs. And, as the rest of the world follows our Western diet choices, they too will have the pain and the cost of Western lifestyle diseases, which I believe are mostly preventable by simply eating more plants and less or no animals. I fully respect other peoples' choices and compromises...I compromised for years...but informed choices are the best ones, and I often wish I was better informed sooner. Thank you for contributing to the spread of information...we need more of that. All the best with your journey.

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  34. When 'Food Inc' aired on SBS we had no signal (there's no analogue TV here anymore, only digital, and the signal is SO BAD that I can't even stand to watch it half the time as the sound cuts out, or there's no signal at all) so I didn't get to see it. Probably a good thing, though, as the sight of animal cruelty probably would have put me in a severe depressive state for days. Or made me vomit. Or both. There's a good reason I'm vegetarian.

    I think the major problem with modern society is that we've become lazy: We need everything done for us and everything must be convenient. Also, we've been too selfish, always out to get something for nothing, demanding everything be cheaper. We only have ourselves to blame for the way things are today, but life has become too easy and convenient for most and they simply do not want to change. Anyone who makes an effort towards creating a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle deserves a gold star. Obviously, some people have greater means than others (and often climate is a determining factor), but something is always better than nothing at all, imho.

    ~S.

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  35. Great post! Knowledge is indeed power! I would also encourage people to look further into where their dairy products come from. Just because a dairy is a small local dairy doesn't mean that they have ethical policies when it comes to their bobby calves. It is beyond sad what happens to these little fellows.
    Also, while free range organic eggs are certainly a better alternative to cage eggs, 50% of the chickens born are considered wastage - again, because they are male. Even free range organic male chickens are an unwanted by-product and it is truly disturbing how they are disposed of.

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  36. OMG...that is the first time I have watched it. I knew it was happening but watching it really did bring it home. Those poor animals..the suffering! Those companies get bigger and bigger and the poor farmers get poorer and poorer...it is so wrong. No wonder there is so much Cancer and illness in this world with all those machines and preservatives. I have certainly backed off on a lot of the pre made meals and packet mixes etc. but I will certainly be more aware of it when I buy now. It was a great post Rhonda, thanks for bringing the subject up.

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  37. I saw”food inc” scary!!! I've tried to get my client in pass to watch it...But most of them think everyone else is stupid...Some do care what they put in there bodies but there few of them and far part.
    Coffee is on.

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  38. Right on Rhonda! I have been a huge fan of Joel Salatin since we saw Food Inc years ago. His ideas on how to run a farm are right on the mark, but damn if the government does not give him the hardest time. I may not agree with everything he says, but I appreciate his passion for food and how to raise it.
    It saddens me how many people choose to be so detached about where their food comes from and how it is processed. With all the food recalls of late in the US, how come more people do not get outraged?? We should demand better and safer and for God's sake, we do not need the amount that is produced. So much is wasted!! There is a great book on that topic called American Wasteland:How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)
    In my house we love Michael Pollan's credo: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
    Voting with our dollars is the best way to get ourselves heard. I applaud you for getting us all stirred up in a good way! :)

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  39. Thankyou so very much for this post, Rhonda. It is something that I am very passionate about, and since watching Food Inc I have only been buying local, freerange, grassfed, organic meat. However, lately I have been slipping in this area, and buying 'normal' meat from the butcher, mostly because of the cost. However, I have been feeling quite uncomfortable with this decision, and this post has reminded me that it truly is THAT important. We, too, will eat even less meat and cheaper cuts. Thankyou for the reminder.

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  40. Great post Rhonda. I saw Food, Inc. a few years ago. It made me cry and then I got angry. From then on my family has eaten differently. We buy most of our food from the farmers market,grow some of our own fruit and veggies and buy our eggs from a man that we know who lets his chickens run free. We eat very little meat that we buy from a reputable farmer at the farmers market. It does cost more money to eat this way, but it is worth it. We cut back in other areas so that we can afford to eat this way. Thank You for your blog Rhonda. You are inspiring me and helping me on my journey to living the simple life that I am longing to live.

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  41. I watched Food Inc. on Netflix a couple of year ago (I think it's still on there too). Like you I was appalled at the footage shown.
    I change what I can, when I can afford it. But (for me) I can only buy what I can afford and more often than not, that is the cheap cut meats and non-organic foods.
    But I do what I can, try to be as healthy as possible, all while trying to fill my families tummies.
    Great post (as usual), Rhonda. :)
    - Kristin

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  42. We got a chance to vote on a bill here last November to put on our food labels if the foods are generically engineered foods. So we would know if the food we ate had GMOs in them. It looked like it would pass for sure. Then Monsanto and Dupont etc put up millions of dollars in ads constantly shown on tv with supposed doctors and farmers etc saying it was wrong to do so and would cost the average consumer hundreds of dollars more in their food bills to put it on the labels etc. Lies. The bill did not pass and who knows if one will ever be presented again for a vote. When we discuss GMOs and other health concerns in our food people we talk to haven't a clue what we are talking about We need to educate people. They need to know what is happening to animals and their food in the process on the way to their store shelfs. I am not a fear monger either just a person like you who says this has to stop. Sarah

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  43. hello Phonda, I've recently been buying meat direct from farmers who are passionate about their animals welfare the quality of the meat. These farms are located within a 50 km radius of my home so I know I'm supporting local producers and the price.......sooooo much cheaper than supermarkets!!

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  44. Thank you for this great post. I haven´t watched the film you talk about, but I have read the books by Pollan and other autors and watched some films about this subject. I have to admit that I had to close my eyes sometimes during the films because I simply could not beat to see the way especially chickens and turkeys are treated. I am lucky to have a butcher who sales only meat from locally and traditionally raised pigs and cattle, and I can buy free range chicken and eggs as well as local vegetables at the farmers market. This food is not necessarily organic, but "produced" in a healthy and humane way. Unfortunately I have no possibility to get good dairy products without driving 80 km one way, so I try to buy the best I can get at our supermarkets.
    I think the biggest problem is that a lot of people are not ready to put their money where their mouth is. Everybody wants good quality food, but lots of people are not ready to pay a little bit more. here in Germany, people spend 10% for food, which really is not so much. And when I look into the shopping carts of those whe complain most loudly about the raising prices of food, I always see lots of ready meals, sweets and junk. I volunteered in a food bank for a while, and very often I saw people wanting TV dinners, frozen meals, things I didn´t even know existed like pre-scrambled eggs for the microwave. For those who looked for real food, there always was a good selection of potatoes, raw vegetables, flour, legumes and seasonal food, because these things would be left over by the other clients.
    Greeting from snowy Germany
    Hilde

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  45. I'm passionate about Australian bacon. Made in Australia does not necessarily mean from Australian pigs. It needs to say 'product of Australia' and not many bacons in the supermarkets have that label. I've found that the 'no frills' or generic brands tend to be the Australian produce. Go and have a look for yourelf, it's amazing how much pork we import, and from where, and what condition do the pigs live in? Thanks.Jen.

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  46. So true! In a consumer economy we consumers are (meant to be) the ones with the power. We just need to vote for what we want with every dollar - and if a critical mass does this the message is clear!

    You might be interested to know that Joel Salatin will be in Australia soon. He is doing some public workshops with Milkwood Permaculture and also a public forum (realfoodforum.com.au) at Sydney Town Hall. I'm not involved in any way, but I just bought a ticket to the sydney event!!

    Jennifer

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  47. Excellent post Rhonda. We do our best to buy free range meat, always free range egs and mostly organic vegetables. We are fortunate in our region that Farmer's Markets operate once a month, selling the most wonderful vegetables, fruits, jams, meat, chicken, coffee etc. You are right, we can all vote with our hard earned dollar. Personally, I can't bear to watch those programs. The last I watched was the Four Corners episode, which upset me terribly, but I agree, these shows need to be seen so the consumer can act. I love reading your posts, I always feel I learn something. Ann, Victoria

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  48. OMG, I'd never heard of this documentary until your post today..... we watched it this afternoon & it certainly is an eye opener. We will continue to do all we can to live more responsibly & ethically, within our means & skills whilst making a conscious effort to seeks ways of improving what we do. I also believe it's equally as important to gently encourage & teach those around us to do the same. Our world needs to start changing on many, many levels & it can only do so with ongoing positive changes by each of us. Thanks Rhonda for reminding us all.

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  49. Shocking to say the least. I felt sick watching it. How I shop is going to change!

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  50. What a wonderful post. You put into words exactly what I try to tell my friends, but they don't seem to get it. This past year in Canada we have had numberous e-coli recalls for meat and e-coli in vegetables. In reality this is somewhat scary. It's hard to imagine our meat coming from a meat processor over 3000 miles away from where I live when there are farmers in my own backyard. I try very hard to purchase my meat from a local butcher, who in turn gets his meat supply from a local farmer. I also purchase as much vegetables from our local produce supplier, who also purchases from local farmers. I freeze 2-3 different vegetables for winter use. I don't buy much, if any pre-made packaged food, (usually spices) Also, when our products say "Product of Canada" on them it doesn't necessarily mean it is from Canada, regulations state that at least 50% of the cost of the product must come from Canada, which means the food can be processed in China, or Thialand and the 50% cost is the label and cans, not the actual food inside. Think about the conditions in which your food could be processed, you may think you are eating healthy, but in all reality your not. This summer I am striving to freeze more vegetables than I do and learn to can the ones I don't like frozen. That way I will be in more control of what I eat.
    Canada has lost a lot of local business as well as department stores. There are a lot of department stores who boast lower prices, etc, but you really are not purchasing quality of any kind mostly junk from China, which doesn't last. It is making for a disposible society. Cheaper is not always better, most bang for the buck is. If our society doesn't make wise choices with food, we will soon have dictated to us what we will be eating, and quality control won't even be an option.
    Sorry for the rambling, this is one topic I am really pationate about, you have just explained it it the easiest way possible "We Vote With Our Money" Thanks Rhonda
    Canadian Country Gal

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  51. My sister mentioned the documentary to me and now you, it is time I find it and take a look. You are absolutely right in your thinking about making a statement when we spend or choose not to spend our money on a product. I have started to buy local as much as I can, as well as seasonally. As you said, it start with us.

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  52. Watching Food Inc. several years ago changed the way I looked at food in a way that no other documentary had ever done. I too was sickened and upset. I thought about what I could do, and came to the same conclusion as you have. It starts at home. Choices we make in what we eat and where we obtain our food and how our food is grown and treated. The more I search out local options the more connected I become to the community I am in and the more we strengthen our local farmers and economy. We establish a line of communication directly with the grower, rancher, and provider of our foods when we work closely with local food providers. We know where our food comes from, how it is treated, and stop spending money on foods that are grown or raised under a veil of mystery. As we share the information we have learned with our friends and family it will grow outward from there and together our buying power does speak volumes!

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  53. I am so pleased to have found your blog, l share so many of your thoughts and find your blog so inspiring. I know of noone round me who is interested in a simpler life and a lower consumption. Everyone appears to want more of e everything. I find it frustrating as both my husband and l were brought up in a different way - a simpler life. Excited to follow! Pam in Norway

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  54. I've seen the movie and heard Joel Salatin speak in person several times. This past September I got to meet him and shake his hand at the Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania. "Folks, This Ain't Natural" should be read by everyone!

    Mary Ellen

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    Replies
    1. I've just finished reading it, Mary Ellen. It's a very good book. Joel is in Australia now. I'd love to see him but the last time he was in my neighbourhood it cost $150 to walk through the door. I'll have to be content with the books.

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  55. I watched it again and also found it just as disturbing this time around as I did the first time. Maintain the rage indeed. Rene.

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  56. It is a disturbing and confronting film. It's not nice to watch but it's one of the most important films I've watched (along with An Inconvenient Truth and Power of Community) and it has dramatically changed the way we live our lives. We are planning to harvest our own chickens for meat (we can't keep roosters anyway) and my freezer is now almost exclusively organic free-range and farmer direct purchased meat. Our next step is to be able to source dairy products that are from cows (or goats) raised the same way. I was able to even inspire my husband to all of this (he will be the harvester) from watching Food Inc. I find it so sad that we have become so removed from our food that we expect bloodless meat on polystyrene trays, tomatoes all year round and tropical fruits in temperate climes (and vice versa) whereas not so very long ago we all ate seasonally, locally and even processed our own meat in many cases (my mum helped her parents prepare the roast chicken from feathers to gravy). I know this isn't for everyone and isn't even possible for everyone (full respect) but buying ethical meat, if we vote with our wallets will become the only choice I hope.

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  57. I will probaby raise the ire of some of you with my comments, but as a former farmer ( now a small holder), I feel that I have to add some comments.
    In Aus if you buy ham with bone in it is Australian, ham without bones are imported, as they don'e allow imports of meat on the bone, for reasons of disease and other health issues, ( I don't thi nk that these laws have changed.
    Twenty odd years ago, when we were still farming (we have been out of farming for 15 years) a certain Prime Minister decided to import pork and literally opened up the floodgates. These days in Aust there a hundreds fewer pork producers because of this, farmers are still getting in todays markets the same prices we were getting 20 years ago, but pork and bacon products in the shops are a lot dearer.

    When I was growing up there was next door to my Grandfather's farm a small abbatoir run by a local butcher, who sourced
    his animals locally, killed them with compassion, used all parts, and sold them in his butchery shop. He retired when I was about 10 ish. Then there was a large abbatoir about 30 klms away, which over the years of big droughts in the 80's struggled then was purchased by an Asian business and eventually mothballed, this abbatoir as not operated for approx 20 years plus.
    When we sold our pigs, which were sold directly to the buyer, they than had to be transported about and hour and half away, which is far too long for them to travel, but we had no choice. Our pigs were reared humanely, we mixed our own feed ( execpt for the huge drought in the 80's)They were never given antibiotics randomly all in one go, sick pigs were treated individually as needed. I will say this that our pigs had a better diet than a lot of people I knew than and certainly than a lot of people I know now.

    We also had sheep, cattle and crops. Our sheep mainly were merino sheep bred for wool growing, though we did breed some fat lambs.
    We grew meat chickens and chooks for eggs, and these were all feed pig feed. I maight add that breeding sows, lactating sows, piglets, weaners and growers all had different mixes of feed formulated for their ages. We killed and ate our own pork, had our bacon and hams cured, ate our own lambs, beef and chickens and they were of far better quality than anything that I could buy in our local town, except for one butcher who bought his pork from us.
    With our merino sheep production, after as few years we sued to sell the wether (desexed males) portion off the farm, some were bought be small godds manufacturers, some were bought be abbatoirs who proceesed them and exported them, BUT I have question for you what happens to a mountain of wethers , which I might add Australians won't eat, as the meat is a lot older than lamb, where are they sent? Who pays the farmer for the animal is they are dispoed of humanly here? Who does the disposing? Where are they dispoed at? buried burn't?
    Would it no be better if we worked hard at educating the importers of these animals to treat them more humanely? After all they are a good food source and should not be wasted.Maybe the answer is to have more abbatoirs weho practice the Islamic Hal Hal method of killing and than export the fresh and frozen.
    There is a lot more that I could mention but I think this is enough, I will say that all our animals were and are treated with the utmost care and compassion then and now, but for most farmers that unfortunately ends when the animals are out of their care at the saleyards etc. Another thing with this is the huge distances within Aust for farmers to have their animals trucked to saleyardsand abbattoirs. Aust laws also forbid any farmer selling his farm killed meat off farm, so to sell their meat themselves they still have to have it processed at abbatoirs.
    I hope that this helps with a different view, I certainly do not condone the sort of inhumane animal treatment that we see in this video, and on the news, but the greater majority of farmers are not what is shown .
    Cheers

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  58. Hi Everyone,
    I'd also suggest watching "Earthlings". It is very upsetting and not easy to watch; but at least you can become an informed consumer.
    Thanks for your book and blog Rhonda, you have really changed the way I choose to live.
    Happy Gardening

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  59. i do hope you are all aware that these practices do not occur everywhere in australia...in fact the majority of lamb produced in our country comes from free-ranging animals...we just don't have the labelling facility to promote that fact...it always makes me angry when i see people buying grain fed meat thinking that this makes it better when in actual fact, grain fed means feed lot...the reason meat is cheap is because of the supermarkets....lamb might be expensive in coles, but the farmers are certainly not seeing any of that profit margin...we are loosing sheep farmers every day because they cannot sustain a living....where will those cheap cuts of meat come from then? as a farmer in the wimmera region of victoria, we grow sheep for wool, cattle cause we like them and their fun to have around and cropping of everyday staples like wheat, oats and barley...we certainly are not a big corporation, we are a family who choose farming for its lifestyle - the ability to be outside everyday, for our children to be outside and at work with us and for the honesty of working in with mother nature....i no longer say we are farmers because people like to abuse us and tell us how awful we are as people, mainly because they think we all farm like america...it couldn't be further from the truth for us, and our indutry...of course i don't know about pigs, so i can only speak about our broadacre farming...we rotate crops, we only use what falls from the sky, we only feed people because they choose not too...its a bigger picture than just supporting those small producers with a niche market...without some label to assure me, i am comfortable with the farm ethics we practise...a practise that has been occuring here for generations..with quiet respect, we will continue, we hope, well into the future, and our childrens future...

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  60. Yes, we are aware of that, and we know the standards here are higher than those shown on Food Inc. Your type of farming is exactly the type that many commenters here say they support. If we could bypass the supermarkets and buy at the farm gate, or from local butchers who have a relationship with you, the producer, I would be very happy with that.

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  61. I think it all comes down to education which then gives people the knowledge they need to make more ethical decisions. Lets face it, for many many hurried families the roasted chickens sitting in the warmers at big supermarkets are an easy dinner ready with no effort. How those chickens were raised, kept, "prepared" does not come into question. It should, but it doesn't.

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  62. Hello from your newest follower. I am from the U.S. and it is terrifying how oblivious people are to where their food comes from. I live on a small farm, and raise a lot of what my family eats (if budgets allowed, it would be 100% home raised--someday I hope). Your blog looks like it's right in line with my thoughts.

    Take a look at my blog, if you wish: http://ramblinggallivantinggirl.blogspot.com

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  63. Thanks for posting the link Rhonda - I would have missed seeing it otherwise. It is so sad to see how we treat animals, and really all to save a bit of money. Hopefully the treatment of animals for meat production will go the same way, step by step, as caged eggs. It did make me grateful that at least in Aus we have mainly grass fed cattle. Although I have noticed that some of the grocery stores are now selling 'premium grain fed beef'. What a joke.

    Like many others, I am trying to reduce the meat we eat to about twice a week. I am on the hunt for tasty lentil dishes!

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  64. My family would really like to support local farmers who are trying to care for their animals well and produce organic dairy and meat.Our vegetarian daughter said she would eat some meat if she knew the animal had had a happy life and the end was swift.
    By reading some of the entries above I think a lot of us would like to support such farmers.
    Does anyone know of such farmers near Redland Bay Qld?Please let me know their details if you do.
    Thanks.

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  65. Animals Australia (animalsaustralia.org) do a wonderful job trying to educate the Australian public about where their meat and eggs come from and how they are treated. I became vegetarian after their tv programme in 2011 about the live cattle export industry. Last year they ran their "Make it Possible" campaign about the treatment of chickens, both battery and "barn" and pigs, particularly the use of sow stalls. Not everyone is able or want to keep backyard chickens like I do so people do need educating. Whether they will actually care is another matter. Excellent post. Joy

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  66. This is the reason I became vegan. Not just for the fact that I abhor the way factory farmed animals are treated, but also because the effect that this kind of farming has on the environment and my health. The only way I could truly feel that I was making a difference was to not buy meat at all. By doing this I take away my support of these big corporations and their dodgy practices. As far as supporting local farmers, the animals may be treated better while they are alive but they are still sent to abbattoirs where they are treated like all the factory farmed animals are...cruelly and inhumanely and I can not for the life of me support this. I feel I really do vote with my money.

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  67. I am so glad I read your article Rhonda. Today I was in Marks & Spenser which is a pretty upmarket foodstore in the UK. Chickens had been reduced to less than half price, and it seemed very tempting to buy. But, I thought, are they free range? I couldn't see anything on the packaging so I asked the lady at the till. The lady said no they weren't free range. With that I left them. It has really pricked my conscience and I haven't even watched Food Inc (I'd find it too upsetting I know). It's worth paying a bit more to know the animal has been looked after, and we really need to support these farmers who do care, to prevent them going out of business. Thanks!, Georgina

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  68. I've seen Food Inc. twice. I always recommend it to friends who mention going to organics or such. Here in USA the food labels are deceiving and that can be a problem too. Organics definately cost more but I've found a food co-op called Azure. So for the past 4 months we've ordered from them & it is more affordable in the long run.

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  69. Food Inc practically changed my life. It caused my husband and I to have long discussions about the food system and how we want to feed our family. We already raise our own layer chickens and grow a small garden, but that documentary really lit the fire within us. Now, this spring, we will be buying chickens to raise for meat, and maybe getting a few goats for dairy. Self-sufficiency is a fantastic thing in so many ways, it benefits everyone! From the battery chickens that I will no longer be supporting to the balance in my bank account, everyone's happier when you simply do it yourself!

    Proof that you vote with your dollar is at Walmart. There was such support for organic yogurt, that they decided to start stocking Stonyfield Farm products. All because that's what the customers wanted.

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  70. Hi Rhonda

    I encourage you to sign up to this butcher's Monday email. FABULOUS tips on eating sustainably and happily reared animals. Good luck on your mission.

    http://www.featherandbone.com.au/aboutus.html

    Cheers, Caroline

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  71. While I agree with all you said - we currently have no way of livinig it. First would be because we just went a year without employment thanks to our Monarch here in the states. Second because we are currently staying in an area that is very poor and limited. While there are a few organic products to be had, they are so much more expensive that it would take food off the table to purchase them. I still have to make 7 meals a week. There are farmers markets here but you have to drive 30 miles to get to them. The soil is very poor in the immediate area (mountains/rock) so growing your own will be a great expense to get started (but we would do so if we were settling here).

    I know we will be moving on to an area where we don't have these problem in a few months. But for all these little communities that call this place home, its Walmart. That's it unless you have the gas money to go into "town". Its very sad to me to see -- especiallly since we have lived so many places with the products available and affordable. Since most of these families are on assistance or are barely scraping by, I can't see a way out for this area. When your dollars are in the form of food stamps...well, they aren't much of a vote. And it just keeps getting worse here. Very very sad.

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  72. Just found your blog today. Very interesting reading. We are almost 60 & hubby just had 2 more stents installed in his heart last Monday! His family started our grocery store in 1943 but now that we've bought it, we're having to switch from groceries to expanding on our seed & organic fertilizers business & quilting business. Can't make a living selling groceries in a small neighborhood store. People are lazy. They'll spend $36 foodstamps on sandwiches, chips & pop before buying the ingredients to go home and make their own! Thank goodness we grow our own organic veggies & we've re-committed to eating well after hubby's last stay in the hospital. I'll keep reading to absorb your encouragement! Hope you get rain. Hope WE get rain! (Oklahoma)

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