Unfortunately, there's a lot of wrong information and bad advice about nutrition, health and food safety relayed by people of authority. Culprits include doctors dispensing Lipitor as a remedy for high cholesterol (the issue of cholesterol is a million times more complex than a meaningless, solitary number) and dietitians recommending low-fat anything to help clients lose weight.
I received a large serving of misinformation the other day from the manager of the butcher department at one of the food markets where I shop. I was asking about the availability of turkeys for Christmas and the manager wasn't sure if he would be carrying organic turkeys. There definitely would be "regular" turkeys (read: raised on Big Food's factory farms) and also ones from Murray's, a company known for its chickens raised without the use of antibiotics.
"If we don't have the organic," he said, "your best bet is the Murray's."
"Yup," I said, "no antibiotics, but I was hoping for something better."
He shot me a quizzical look.
"Murray's have no antibiotics and no hormones," he said. "They are pretty much raised organically; they get 100 percent vegetarian feed."
Holy dissemination of misguided information, Batman!
Hopefully the butcher will remember my ensuing explanation about hormones, organic standards and 100 percent vegetarian feed and won't offer the same spiel again.
I told him that federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry (and pork), so the "free of hormones" labeling on chicken, turkey and pork is a marketing ploy. (Click here to read a post I wrote about this last year.)
I further explained that the "100 percent vegetarian feed" isn't necessarily a good thing, since we want our turkeys and chickens also to be eating protein (worms, insects, grubs, etc.). Furthermore, there's a 99.9 percent chance that this vegetarian feed violates several tenets of the USDA's organic regulations.
I'd bet the factory farm that the feed contains genetically engineered corn and soy (over 90 percent of the corn and soy grown in the United States is from genetically engineered seed) sprayed with dangerous chemical pesticides. Any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and unapproved non-organic pesticides are strictly forbidden in any organic food, whether it be meat, fruits, vegetables, bread or packaged food.
My holiday wish? May our children and grandchildren live in a world where a Christmas turkey (or a random Wednesday chicken thigh) doesn't require 400 words to explain what's gone into it.