I purchased the August 2006 edition of Food & Wine magazine primarily for the article called "Lessons from a Green Kitchen." I hoped to learn more about making my kitchen more green. I learned a little bit more than I thought I would from food detective Michael Pollan. I should forewarn you that this subject is best contemplated when you are feeling stout of heart and stomach. So, if you aren't ready for this type of information...save it for another day.
I knew the food industry has some horrible methods of treating animals in their daily conditions, but I didn't realize exactly what they were now feeding our beef and chickens. The idea that they would feed herbivores manure, desiccated members of their own kind and blood was shocking. Was this really true? After Googling the phrase, "feeding cows chicken manure," I was shocked to discover this is true. This isn't right. You can't turn herbivores into carnivores and cannibals without there being biological consequences. Thoughts of "Jurassic Park" and the chaos theory come to mind.
Additionally, feeding cows the manure from chickens raises other heath concerns. There are poultry producers who feed their chickens arsenic to help them bulk up faster. Just follow the food chain to see the additional concern. Not only are we getting arsenic from the chickens we eat, but the cows are getting arsenic from the chicken excrement which then comes back to us when we eat the cows. So everybody in this circle is now poisoned with arsenic and the resulting health issues that come from this particular poison. For more read this article at Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenic_poisoning#Symptoms.
The cows are not alone in their mistreatment by the food industry. They also extend their unique methods to chickens and pigs. After being crammed in small cages unable to satisfy their basic biological needs to forage and wander the pigs and chickens have developed unique anti-species behaviors. So the food industry strikes back with detailing pigs so they can't bite off another pig's tail and debeaking chickens so they can't cannibalize each other.
Finally, since roosters don't produce enough meat to make it financially worth while to raise them, they are disposed of in a horrific way after hatching and sexing. For more about the egg hatchery read this article from Farm Sanctuary, http://www.farmsanctuary.org/newsletter/behind_the_scenes.htm.
For more on cows, start with the Organic Consumers Association article on "Grass Fed Beef" at http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/grassfed111505.cfm.
I agree with Michael Pollan, you can choose what to do 3 times a day. Join us in choosing to vote with your fork for as many meals as you can.