As the population increases, so does the demand placed on farmers and companies to mass produce food. As a way to meet demand, cattle and poultry raised for slaughter are injected with hormones in order to make them grow faster and dairy cows are injected with a genetically engineered hormone called rBGH to increase milk production. While these measures equate to higher profit margins for the beef, poultry, and dairy industry, what does it mean for the consumers? Even though the USDA and FDA make claims about the safety of these hormones, there is increasingly more concern that these hormones residues may actually be harmful to human health and the environment.
According to the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health, the use of six natural and artificial growth hormones in beef production poses a potential risk to human health. These six hormones include three which are naturally occurring—Oestradiol, Progesterone, and Testosterone—and three which are synthetic—Zeranol, Trenbolone, and Melengerestrol.
It has also been questioned whether the use of “growth enhanced” animals can affect the balance of human hormones. The added hormones may be causing developmental problems, interfering with the reproductive system, and even causing cancer of the breast, colon, and prostate. In particular, pregnant women, infants, and children may be most susceptible to the health concerns associated with these hormones. Young girls seem to be hitting puberty at a much earlier age and children seem to grow more rapidly. Coincidence?
What is most interesting, is that the European Union does not allow cattle to be injected with hormones, banning the importation of hormone-treated beef in the U.S. since 1988! Hmmm.
Does a body good right? Well, maybe. To meet increasing demands for milk, industrial farms use several methods to increase the cow’s milk supply; selective breeding, exposing cows to artificial light, feeding grain vs grass-fed diets, and injecting the rBGH hormone (recombinant bovine growth hormone-genetically engineered artificial growth hormone).
FDA approval for rBGH came in 1993, in spite of strong opposition from scientists, farmers and consumers. According to detractors, rBGH was never properly tested. The FDA relied solely on a study done by Monsanto in which rBGH was tested for 90 days on 30 rats. The study was never published, and the FDA stated the results showed no significant problems. But a review by the Canadian health agency on rBGH found the 90 day study showed a significant number of issues which shouldl have triggered a full review by the FDA.
Cows contaminated with rBGH or forced to over-produce milk are most susceptible to malnourishment because they are losing more nutrients in their milk than what is provided by their feed. This can lead to infection and disease, forcing farmers to give their cows antibiotics (contributing to the issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria).
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?
Choose meat and poultry that is antibiotic and hormone-free and use rBGH-free dairy products. Look for the USDA-certified organic label, as these products cannot contain any artificial hormones. If choosing local, be sure to inquire the farmers about how they raise their cattle or poultry.
While we buy ALL animal meats without added hormones and antibiotics, we only buy organic milk and yogurt because those are daily dairy staples.
NOW FOR THE FUN PART!
I will never be a vegetarian but I will also never eat meat every single day. I believe that is more than okay to eat small quanities of meat a couple times a week though I made a deliciously healthy meal last night. I highly recommend you put this on your meal plan! It was tasty! Vegetarian? I’m guessing tofu would substitute quite nicely.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL HAMBURGER HELPER
2 cups uncooked whole wheat egg noodles
1/2 lb Lean ground beef (antibiotic and hormone-free)
1/2 cup yellow or white onion, chopped
1 (8 oz) can organic tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can organic diced tomatoes
1 tsp turmeric
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
dash of garlic salt
1/4 cup 1% fat cottage cheese
1 Tbsp sour cream
2 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp green onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (organic)
Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Omit the salt.
In a medium skillet, add onions after spraying with cooking spray. Saute 2 minutes and add 1/2 lb ground beef. Brown. While browning, mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream in a small bowl. Set aside.
Remove skillet from heat and add sauce, diced tomatoes, green onions, green pepper, garlic turmeric, pepper. Mix.
In a 1.4 Quart baking dish, layer 1/2 noodles, meat mixture, all cheese, other 1/2 of noodles, meat mixture, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.