The Dangers of Mass Produced Meat

In an effort for meat companies to reduce overhead and increase profits, they have developed large-scale animal farm factories that now make most of the meat that is sold in the U.S. today. These concentrated animal feeding operations have resulted in repercussions such as an increase in antibiotic-resistant diseases and a significant negative impact on the local water supply near these establishments due to the waste water runoff from the animals. These significant global issues cause concern with water quality and bacterial diseases that are resistant to antibiotics.

What’s more, aside from the environmental issues that these farms create, the companies are also destroying the businesses of American farmers, driving them into financial debt as the larger corporations continue to see growing profits.

Confined Animals

While animals on farms used to be able to roam free, they are now trapped in confinement operations to help boost productivity. Small farmers were once optimistic about new production methods to help improve their sustainable agriculture and protect their animals, however, once this practice has been opened up on a larger scale, it has not produced the results that benefit small family farms.

While family farmers once used their own special additives to feed their animals and improve production, such as all natural cinnamon and honey, once the use of government-approved growth hormones and antibiotics were introduced, this changed the animals and created a host of problems that were not present before.

With animals packed in tight quarters and fed dangerous diets, diseases began to spread quickly and easily. The use of low-dose antibiotics slowed infectious disease and encouraged animals to grow at an increased rate, which did lead to an increase of profits for the farmers, but also an increase of health risks for the consumer.

The antibiotics that are used on these farms kill the majority of the bacteria in the animal, however, they leave enough bacteria in the animal that are resistant to the drugs and are therefore able to multiply. This unsafe meat ends up being sold in stores.

Once large producers began to take over the meat industry, it forced family farmers to become “contract growers,” meaning they provided labor to the farms without actually owning the animals. This allowed some farmers to keep their family farm without having to absorb the fluctuating prices of the meat market.

While this helped to keep farmers insulated from changing prices, it still caused them to face new challenges, such as an increase in production losses and corruption of the larger, sponsoring companies.

While family farmers may find a contract from a large corporation to be a promising business move, it requires these farmers to run a 365-day business without taking a break or having a consistent income per pig, which has driven some of these farmers out of business.

Without actually owning the animals, farmers are making less money but continue to have high overhead costs. Some farmers have had to put themselves into debt using loans to build confinement facilities for their animals while only bringing in between $20,000 and $60,000 every year. While farmers used to raise the corn to feed their pigs and sell them locally, now the animals might be owned by someone in one state, raised in another, slaughtered in yet another, and shipped to another country.

Confinement of animals and their stressed immune systems also increase the opportunity for viruses to spread quickly. This then hurts the supply of meat, which leads to price increases and lowers consumer demand. Throughout the fluctuation of the pork market, contract farmers still get paid the same amount of money for each pig that is delivered to market, yet their overhead costs continue to rise.

This results in pig farmers dealing with declining profits and the potential of farm loss, however, large companies that own the contracts of the family farmers are continuing to make profits.


The export of meat to China has dramatically declined, along with its prices. This is partly because China, like other countries, bans the use of Ractopamine, a growth stimulant that U.S. producers give to their animals to increase their weight before slaughter. This drug helps to increase the development of protein and reduces the amount of fat on the animal. This drug is banned in almost 160 countries due to health concerns but is still legal in the United States. Research has linked Ractopamine to reproductive problems, birth defects, the development of mastitis in dairy animals, and an increased rate of death.

The Growth of Large Meat Companies

Companies such as Smithfield are advancing their global impact on the meat market by using popular branding and collaborating with well-known sports teams to get the attention of consumers.

Smithfield foods is also trying to expand by acquiring more meat processing plants worldwide to grow their meat empire around the world. Smithfield has proposed to purchase 100% of the company shares of three separate meat processing plants, which will increase the ability of Smithfield to create and process their product.

This potential growth forces smaller contract farmers and consumers to be at the mercy of one meat provider. The powerful meat business has connections throughout the government that have even proven to include bribes from politicians and inspectors to approve meat export certificates for products that have never been inspected. This criminal activity puts consumers at risk for contracting diseases.

Sustainable Farming

The importance of fighting antibiotic-resistant diseases in meat continues to grow stronger. You can help protect your health by choosing your foods wisely and responsibly using antibiotics for your own health. Purchase only antibiotic-free meat that has been raised by organic, grass fed, and regenerative farmers. Also, research organizations that can help you locate healthy farm-fresh foods.

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The Benefits of Growing Kale at Home

Kale is a popular superfood due to its richness in healthy fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is low in calories and free from unhealthy fat, so it is a great source of healthy nutrition for the body. Studies have even suggested that kale can help lower your LDL cholesterol while raising your HDLs, which decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease. With all of its health benefits, it is no wonder why people are always looking for new ways to use kale.

But did you know that kale can easily be grown at home? Conventionally-grown kale is often contaminated with pesticides, which makes it important to always buy organic. However, growing as few as three or four plants in your own yard can supply you with enough greens each week to feed a family of four. Many people love to grow kale because of its decorative value as well.

Toxic Risks

Like other leafy greens, kale can absorb toxins that are present in the soil. Thallium toxicity has been a concern with kale and has even been reported in organically-grown plants. “Kale poisoning” refers to the possibility of ingesting dangerous levels of heavy metals kale leaves.

Some studies have shown that thallium levels in vegetable samples have led to people suffering from fatigue, nausea, and brain fogginess, which are all signs of low-level heavy metal poisoning. However, there is no proof that these symptoms are directly caused by the consumption of kale or other cruciferous vegetables.

While it is important to recognize the correlation between nutrient and contaminant uptake, and soil quality is important, this does not necessarily mean that there is an issue with the kale plant. If you are able to grow your vegetables in clean and healthy soil, you will avoid having a problem with heavy metals in your produce.

Kale Breeding Programs

There are a lot of different types of kale, all of which have different colors, tastes, and textures. New kale cultivars are even being produced on the basis of consumer preferences in kale. New cultivars will change consumer expectations for kale by introducing a range of new colors, textures, and leaf shapes.

Kale breeding programs gather feedback from every angle of the kale industry, including seed producers, kale growers, grocery store managers, and consumers. Consumer trials are being performed to gather data to establish a trait hierarchy so breeders know what people want in their kale.

Popular Varieties of Kale

So, what are people looking for in their kale? The oldest and possibly most wellknown variety of kale is curly kale. Its ruffled leaves and deep-green color provide a bitter and pungent flavor. Recently, other varieties of kale have surfaced, such as ornamental kale, Redbor kale, Red Russian kale and dinosaur kale.

Ornamental kale, which is often planted for decorative purposes, comes in shades of green, white, and purple. Its mellow flavor and tender texture vary greatly from the larger-leaved varieties that people also enjoy.

Kale Planting Practices

Kale thrives the most when it is grown in cooler temperatures. Kale that is grown in warm weather tends to be woody and bitter, which people do not prefer. Because of this, it is best to harvest your kale before it becomes too hot in the summer.

Plant your seeds indoors about six weeks prior to your last frost date. If you are looking for a healthy fall crop, plant your seeds about eight weeks prior to your first frost date. Because kale is tolerant of cold temperatures, you can even harvest kale after a light snowfall. Most varieties of kale can thrive in temperatures as low as 15 degrees F, which allows you to develop a winter crop.

If you are planting in the early spring or fall, be sure to plant your kale in full sun. However, during the summer months, plant them in partial shade. Remember that kale will not typically thrive in the summer, and will taste more bitter than a crop that is grown in a cooler climate.

Plant your seeds about one-half inch under fertile soil. Kale prefers soil that is slightly acidic and high in nitrogen. It is important to keep the soil moist, but avoid watering it too much because it may cause the seed to rot. You can use straw or mulch to preserve the soil’s moisture and to help prevent the roots from being exposed to excess heat.

The plant will typically develop in about 10 days. Once your inside seedlings are about 9 inches tall and you are able to see at least four developed leaves, you can transplant them into your garden.

Diseases and Pests

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, which makes it prone to rot diseases such as black rot, wirestem, and club rot. Kale is much more resistant to diseases than other vegetables, but common pests like aphids, slugs, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, cabbageworms, cutworms, cabbage root fly, and cabbage whitefly can post a threat.

One of the most efficient ways to protect kale from pests is to use a light row cover. After removing your row covers, check your kale for signs of pest damage and disease.

Harvesting and Storing Kale

Your kale can be harvested once the leaves are about five inches long. Harvest your kale by cutting the outer leaves off from the stem, leaving the center leaves on the stem to ensure continued growth.

Try to eat your kale within a few days of harvesting it so it is able to maintain its crispy texture. People love to use kale in their salads or soups and some people even bake it to make kale chips to have as a snack.

Kale is such a versatile and healthy plant to grow at home and it is easy to do with just a little bit of knowledge. Try using these kale growing tips to create your own supply of kale so you can incorporate this superfood into your daily diet.

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How to Warm Up Your Joints to Prevent Injury

Your shoulders are made up of complicated and intricate joints that can easily be damaged while you are working out. Because shoulder injuries are so difficult to heal and certainly painful, you will want to warm up your shoulder joints before working out so you can avoid injuring them.

Shoulder injuries are very common due to the fact that there is so much opportunity for your shoulders to get hurt. However, many of these injuries can be prevented with a short warmup that helps to make the health of your shoulders a priority. Because they are both versatile and delicate, it is important to take the time to take care of your shoulders.

If you can take five to ten minutes of time before working out to concentrate on your shoulders, the payoff will be worth it. This will set you up to be able to lift heavier weights, lift with proper form, and lift without experiencing pain.

All you need for a quick warm up is a light resistance band. This can help you to strengthen and prepare your rotator cuff muscles, which are vital to your workouts. These muscles help to properly stabilize your shoulders while you are lifting weights and also help to maintain proper positioning.

However, it is important to remember that you are warming up during this process, not working out. So do not reach for the biggest resistance bands, thinking that you can warm up and add in some workout at the same time. This will now allow you the time that you need to activate your rotator cuff muscles because your muscles will end up doing all of the work for you.

To warm up your shoulder, set up your resistance band around a pole and tuck your outside elbow in at your hip. Position your forearm parallel to the ground and turn your forearm and shoulder away from the pole. Do this stretch as far as you are able to so you are training your rotator cuff muscles to rotate externally.

If you do not train properly, your rotator cuff muscles will not rotate externally, especially if you are one of the many people who spend a lot of time at a computer with your shoulders leaning in, your stabilizing back muscles stretched out, and your chest muscles shortened. Living in this position can actually cause the tendons in your shoulder joints to become pinched. It is very important for the health of your shoulders to restore and maintain the external rotation position when you are training.

After doing this exercise, turn around and pin your elbow into your hip. Rotate your forearm in toward your abdomen.

Then, tighten and activate your lower lats and rhomboids that are often being overstretched throughout the day. These muscles are very important to maintaining proper posture and form when you train. They also help keep your shoulders in a proper position during your workout by opening the joints so your ligaments and tendons are not left to grind against the bones near your front shoulder area.

To warm up these muscles, do 30 lower lat pulls followed by 30 band pull-aparts. This will help to strengthen your rhomboids and create some depth in your middle back, which will make your back appear to be larger.

Archer rows are another effective warm up for your shoulders. You can do these by grasping one end of your resistance band and extending it out like you are shooting a bow and arrow. Keep your free hand bent, using your shoulders to do the rowing motion. This will help get your external rotators activated, and create a strong mind-muscle connection.

Do at least one of these warmups before you engage in any upper body workout to help protect the health of your shoulders. These warm ups can also be done on off days as a standalone workout to keep your shoulders limber.

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Muscle Soreness: Is It a Good Sign or a Bad Sign?

We have all experienced sore muscles after a workout, but is this something that should be considered pain or pleasure? While you may feel like having sore muscles is a sign that you completed a hard workout, you may find sore muscles to just literally be a pain. So, which is correct?

There are actually two types of muscle soreness, delayed-onset muscle soreness and acute soreness. Delayed-onset muscle soreness is the medical term for the pain and stiffness that you feel in your muscles several hours or days after doing strenuous exercise that your body is not used to.

DOMS is felt most strongly between 24 and 72 hours following the exercise. This type of soreness is believed to be the result of doing lengthening exercises, which lead to very small tears in the muscle fibers. Once the muscles tear, they must repair themselves by sending white blood cells, fluid, and other nutrients to the muscle which leads to swelling and inflammation. After these exercises, the muscle quickly adapts to prevent muscle damage, which leads to muscle soreness.

Alternatively, acute muscle soreness appears during and immediately after strenuous exercise. Acute muscle soreness presents itself within a minute of activating the muscle and goes away within a few minutes or several hours after relaxing the muscle. This type of muscle soreness can be caused by the accumulation of chemicals in muscle cells, the movement of blood plasma in the muscle tissue, and muscle fatigue.

It is possible for your muscles to get too sore. If you have over-extended your muscles, you are likely to feel pain in the tendons and ligaments surrounding the muscles that you worked out. If you experience constant soreness and high levels of pain, this may be a warning sign that something is wrong and you are suffering from something beyond normal muscle soreness. This could include exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle following extreme physical exertion. This rare condition can do damage to your body such as stress your kidneys.

Research has shown that there is a way to measure your level of muscle soreness. Thermal imaging can be used to look for changes in the temperature of the skin just above muscles that have recently been exercised.

While some people enjoy the feeling of being sore, it should not be your goal to become sore following exercise. While soreness can happen, if you exercise regularly and are taking care of your body properly through stretching, nutrition, and sleep, you should not experience this type of pain.

However, if you find that you are experiencing muscle soreness that is so bad that you are unable to get a full night’s sleep, you have likely pushed your muscles too far. Additionally, if you are sore after every workout, it may be a sign that something is not right. You should consider rethinking how hard you?re working out and the steps you are taking during recovery. This includes your stretching regimen, what you?re eating, and the amount of sleep that you are getting.

Try to avoid muscle soreness by increasing the intensity of your workouts slowly and making sure that you do a proper warmup and cool down. It is also important to eat well and hydrate your body before and after you exercise so you are giving your muscles the proper fuel that they need. Don?t forget to stretch out your muscles before and after working out so they are primed and ready to go.

It is not a big deal if you experience sore muscles every now and then. However, if you think your muscle soreness is excessive, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor if you are unable to help the soreness go away on your own.

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