Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Barry's Back!

I'm glad Barry Estabrook is back. Estabrook wrote the "Politics of the Plate" column for Gourmet magazine - before the magazine closed last month. He's back now with his own blog: Politics of the Plate.

His latest entry talks about sludge.

San Francisco's Public Utility Commission is offering free compost to anyone who wants it - "high-quality, nutrient-rich, organic biosolids compost." Good stuff. But Barry writes:
"What the Public Utilities Commission fails to disclose, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) says, is that the popular soil amendment is made out of sewage sludge composted with wood chips or paper by-products.

According to a report released this year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sludge has been found to contain heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, PCBs, flame retardants, and endocrine disruptors -- pretty much anything that humans living and working in a large metropolitan area flush down their toilets or pour down their drains. The CFS claims that San Francisco’s compost contains “toxic chemicals and hazardous materials."
So hazardous that...
"A federal judge ruled in favor of farmers who sued the USDA when their cows became ill and died after eating silage grown on land upon which sludge had been applied."
- Barry Estabrook's Politics of the Plate, Sludge Fest: Center For Food Safety Vs. San Francisco. It’s A Battle That May Be Coming Soon To A City Near You

If human waste disposal isn't enough of a problem, Foer writes that the amount of excrement generated on industrial livestock farms is about to surpass that produced by the entire human population. And...
"There is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals -- no toilets, obviously, but also no sewage pipes, no one is hauling it away for treatment, and [there are] almost no federal guidelines regulating what happens to it."
What does, say, America's leading pork producer, Smithfield, do with all that excrement?
"When the football field-sized cesspools are approaching overflowing, Smithfield, like others in the industry spray the liquefied manure onto fields. Or sometimes they simply spray it straight up into the air, a geyser of shit wafting fine fecal mists that create swirling gases capable of causing severe neurological damage."
- Jonathan Safran Foer, "Eating Animals"
Photo of manure spraying from Sustainable Table's Flickr Photostream.


Perovskia said...

I'm so glad he's back! Since you got me onto his blog earlier, there were no entries from him and I'm like.. what the heck? Did he just.. disappear?


Ronald said...

You can't make up this ....!

Bix said...

"they simply spray it straight up into the air, a geyser of shit wafting fine fecal mists"


Dr. Mel said...

I'm also thrilled that he's back, with a blog. What a stupid idea to discontinue Gourmet when they're continuing publication of much less interesting mags like Bon Appetit.

Thornbe said...

Smithfield sausage would cost double if they had to clean up that shit.

virginia said...

oh god, i did not need to read this just before preparing dinner.

i also checked your banner quote to see if it had changed!

Perovskia said...

Hey.. don't 'dis Bon Appetit. It's not a bad magazine...

Bix said...

I hear you, Virginia. It's a shame how we produce food anymore. Enjoying a meal requires an act of forced forgetfulness.