Seventy percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are administered to healthy livestock—most of it through feed—to help our factory-farmed cattle, chickens and pigs grow faster and stay "healthy." The price? Super bacteria immune to the range of antibiotics that have served us so well for decades.
Kremer's name surfaced again this week when I read about yesterday's Congressional briefing that focused on the successes and importance of antibiotic-free meat. The session was hosted by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), legislation to ensure we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease.
Panelists included Steve Ells, CEO of Chipotle; Stephen McDonnell, CEO of Applegate Farms; and Paul Willis, President of Niman Ranch, all champions of antibiotic-free meats.
Kremer was also there and told his story for the umpteenth time. It warrants repeating. From a press release put out by Slaughter's office:
"Russ Kremer, Co-founder and President of Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative, told his story about being gored by a boar and getting an antibiotic-resistant infection while operating his family farm, which had been convinced by industry to begin using antibiotics as growth promoters in their animal feed. As his health deteriorated and none of the antibiotics doctors were using were working, Kremer realized he had contracted the same infection as the pigs he was raising, which had been shown to be resistant to seven out of eight antibiotics commonly used to treat infections in humans. The incident shed light on the dangers associated with the regular dosing of antibiotics to healthy animals.Do you know what you are eating?
“'Since 1989, after all those years, my hogs have been drug free,' said Kremer. 'I did it, not because I knew about Whole Foods or Chipotle or Niman Ranch – I didn't even know what natural organic meant. I did it because I was so remorseful that I had been doing something wrong to society, that I quit. It was the right thing to do. It was extremely sustainable for me, I didn't have to pay those $16,000 a year drug bills. And it’s become one of the most satisfying lifestyles you can imagine, now dealing with healthy happy pigs.'”