Issue Overview: 80% of antibiotics currently sold in the U.S. are used in meat production. This overuse of antibiotics is helping to breed dangerous, antibiotic-resistant superbugs that end up in our air and water, our food, and our bodies. In fall 2013, the Centers for Disease Control described most antibiotic use on industrial farms as “unnecessary and inappropriate,” linking sub-therapeutic antibiotic use in meat production to thousands of human deaths due to antibiotic resistance. An estimated 23,000 Americans now die each year due to dangerous antibiotic resistance; that’s more than AIDs. If we fail to take collective action on this issue, we may see a day where antibiotics are not effective, and diseases that were once benign could kill.
Why chefs: Chefs and culinary professionals have enormous buying power, and this power means that what you choose to buy for your restaurants and businesses can shift demand for products, open new markets, and influence consumers. Through your purchasing decisions, you have the power to help build a strong demand for a better food system, and shape the way that food is produced. Your menu is also a platform for change, one that can be used to reach your customers and continue to build demand for better meat.
LEARN: What chefs need to know about antibiotics misuse in meat production
This is a recording of our February 2015 Chef Power Hour focused on antibiotics misuse in meat production, featuring chef Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Peche), Tom Philpott (Mother Jones), Laura Rogers (Pew Charitable Trusts), Dan Rosenthal (Rosenthal Group), Linda Mallers (FarmLogix).
LEARN: Antibiotics primer from Food Fix
TAKE ACTION: Source meat raised without antibiotics overuse
When sourcing meat raised responsibly, Chef Power Hour presenters and participants shared that US food labels are a major challenge. While you can trust the USDA labels, it is important to also ask the farms you buy from – and any other suppliers – more questions about their protocols and operations. In the end, it’s all about relationships and trust. Chef Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Peche) commented that one of the biggest challenges is finding the time to do it right.
Guides to U.S. Food Labels
- Animal Welfare Approved’s “Food Labels Exposed: a Definitive Guide to Common Food Label Terms and Claims”
- Environmental Working Group’s “Decoding Meat and Dairy Labels”
- Slow Food USA’s “Learn the Labels”
- US Food Safety Inspection Service food labeling fact sheets
- USDA definitions as found on meat and poultry labels
Partners and Allies:
Additional Suggested Reading:
THE COMING CRISIS, Julian Cribb
A vivid picture of the impending planetary crisis—a global food shortage that threatens to hit within the next 40 years
REAL FOOD, Nina Planck
A thoroughly researched rebuttal to dietary fads and a clarion call for the return to old-fashioned foods
THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA, Michael Pollan
A wide ranging invitation to think through the moral ramifications of our eating habits
IN DEFENSE OF FOOD, Michael Pollan
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. How to make thoughtful food choices in a daunting dietary landscape
FOOD RULES, Michael Pollan
This indispensable handbook lays out a set of 64 straightforward rules for eating wisely
ON THE FUTURE OF FOOD, HRH The Prince of Wales
The transcript of Prince Charles’ speech to Future of Food Conference at Georgetown University on May 4, 2011. Available at rodalebooks.com.
THE ORGANIC MANIFESTO, Maria Rodale
How organic farming can heal our planet, feed the world and keep us safe, by Maria Rodale, the CEO and chairman of Rodale, Inc., the world’s leading multimedia company with a focus on healthy living and on a healthy planet.
FAST FOOD NATION, Eric Schlosser
One of the books that started it all. A stunning indictment of the industrialization of our food supply system.