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June 02, 2008 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-02

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Monday, June 2, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

5

Feeding a bad habit

n April, the Pew Commission
on Industrial Animal Produc-
tion released a comprehensive
report analyz-
ing the impact of
current animal
farming practic-
es in the United
States. on public .
health, the envi-
ronment, ani-
mal welfare and KATE
rural communi- TRUESDELL
ties. The report
examined each area in depth and
concluded, "While increasing the
speed of production, the intensive
confinement production system cre-
ates a number of problems."
Shocked editorials abounded as
publications nationwide rushed to
support the report.
Not wanting to feel left out, this
editor would also like to respond to
conclusions of the report: Um, duh?,
The response to this study sur-
prised me because it essentially
says what environmentalists have
been saying for years. In the past
decade alone, popular media aimed
at making the exact same points the
report does have proliferated. Books
like "Skinny Bitch" and "Fast Food
Nation," including the latter's film
counterpart, have worked hard to
get the general public to reexamine
how it gets its food and have suc-
cessfully left a lasting impression on
at least some citizens. (I, for one, can
never look at Wilmer Valderrama in
the same way ever again.)
Perhaps I'mbeingtoo critical; any
attempt to reinforce the problems
with the United States's "intensive
confinement production system"
should be applauded. And to be fair,

the Pew report does more than just
identify the problem; it also outlines
a six-point plan to find started on a
solution, including reducing anti-
microbial use, improving disease
monitoring, increased regulation,
eliminating intensive confinement,
stimulatingcompetition in the live-
stock market and dedicating more
researchto the nation's animalrais-
ing practices. And the plan is being
taken seriously - the Federal Drug
Administration has even entered
the report into its records.
Calling for more regulation and
overhauling legislation regarding
farming is well and good, but the
Pew report is missing a pivotal sev-
enth bullet point: reducing reliance
on this industry.
Personal effort
needed to help
fix U.S. farms.
It's pretty basic, really. Let's all
eat less meat.
Before I'm accused of being a
patchouli-wearing,incense-burning
hippie for making what I'm sure will
be perceived as a radical suggestion,
let me qualify: I am not a vegan.
Hell, I'm not even a vegetarian. I
enjoy a nice turkey club as much as
the next girl.
The United States's problem with
meat and animal-derived foods
is the same as its problem with
everything else: excess. In 2005,

the United States Department of
Agriculture reported the average
annual meat consumption of Ameri-
cans to be 200 pounds. 200 pounds.
That means that a large population
Americans were eating more than
their body weight in meat. The
USDA also reported that this figure
represented a 20-percent increase
from 1970, indicating that our buy-
ing habits have only been exacerbat-
ing the problem.
When fixing problems, the Pew
report is right in targeting legisla-
tures to help motivate change, and
it's a citizen's duty to support that
effort. But citizens also bear an
individual responsibility to do their
part. And we can, by making small
sacrifices. So enjoy a glass of milk a
few times a week or the occasional
hamburger, but do so instead of
choosing meat and animal byprod-
ucts every meal or every day.
The good news is there's no real
downside. Downsizing this part of
your diet can mean good things for
your health. And by eating smaller
quantities, you can put the money
you save into buying pricier prod-
ucts that don't supportfactory farm-
ing, like free-range products.
The Pew report makes a lot of
valid points that should be taken
seriously. But the best approach
to fixing this problem is a multi-
pronged approach that combines
both top-down and bottom-up
strategies. The personal sacrifice
required is reasonable. Besides,
as my dad always told me, life's all
about moderation.
Kate Truesdell is the summer
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at ketrue@umich.edu.

Reflections
H illary Clinton. This
spring, her name alone
has been enough to
throw many

a progressive
Democrat into
fits. In a year ,
when Presi-
dent George
W. Bush's
utter incom-
petence final- HARUN
ly received BULJINA
the wider
recognition
it always deserved, Clinton has
become the most polarizing figure
in U.S. politics. And yet, only a few
years ago she entered the U.S. Sen-
ate as an energizing icon in an oth-
erwise lethargic Democratic party.
So what happened?
My own disappointment with
the former first lady has moved
at the same pace as the rest of the
country, if not a few steps ahead.
As a child of the '90s, I always had a
moreorless positiveviewofher.The
Clinton presidency - marked by
unparalleled economic growth and
post-Cold War optimism - lends
itself easily to nostalgia, and Hill-
arywas one of its mostrecognizable
faces. Even back then, her presiden-
tial ambitions were far from secret,
and the prospect of a female presi-
dent was as good a reason as any to
be excited. So, when the speculation
finally became serious in the dark
days of color-coded terror alert sys-
tems, I welcomed the idea.
But after nearly half a year of
an exhausting primary campaign,
Hillary has well out-worn her wel-
come. Today, I wish that she'd final-
ly face up to the obvious and drop
out of the race. I'm tired of caucus-
es, super delegates, and watching a
fightthat's alreadybeenwon.Tired,
but not angry - ultimately I can't
criticize Clinton for simply staying
in the race. What I can criticize,
however, is the disappointing cam-
paign she's run in that race and the
ridiculous backing it has received
from the mainstreammedia.
For some seemingly arbitrary rea-
son, the media decided that Indiana
and North Carolina marked the end
of Clinton's campaign. I can't say why
they did this considering nothing
had really changed since February.
Barack Obama's victory did not sud-
denly become mathematically inevi-
table followingthe primaries in these
two states; rather, it has been a public
secret since he tore Clinton apart
three monthsago.Clinton would have
needed to dominate the campaign in
the past few months to beat her oppo-
nent, but she never came close. In the

on Hillary
bigger electoral equation, her occa-
sionalvictories ultimately contributed
nothing.
At some point, you would think
the majornewsnetworks couldhave
reported this glaring truth: Since
her underwhelming performance
in the Mar. 4 primaries, Clinton's
chances of fairly winningthe White
House were slim to none. But they
virtually never did.
They seemingly flat out refused
to bring up the utter improbability
of Clinton regaining the candidacy,
building her up into some would-
be comeback kid. Even after the
West Virginia primary, I remem-
ber hearing a news anchor explain
that she had "come back from the
brink of defeat before!" This is the
same West Virginia where Clinton
waved to nonexistent supporters for
the cameras, her campaign having
degenerated into a sad masquerade.
Butthe rootofmynewly acquired
distaste for Hillary isn't simply the
media's giddy beating of a long-dead
horse. It is, just as critically, Hill-
ary's nauseating sense of privilege
and the downright dirty tactics it
has led her to take.
A protracted campaign doesn't
have to be a bad thing, and even
this mind-numbing ordeal and the
attention that came with it might
have done some good for the Demo-
crats. Clinton's excessive attacks on
the party's presumptive presidential
nominee, however, probably didn't.
Clinton lost
months ago.
Like so many voters, I'm looking
for a president who will take the
country firmly out of the Bush era
and its climate of prejudiced fear-
mongering. What message does
Hillary send, then, when she relies
on Islamophobia and race-baiting to
bring Obama down?
Clinton has recently stated that
she's prepared to take the fight to
the floor ofthe Democratic National
Convention in August. No matter
how much farther she carries her
wounded campaign, though, her
chances of attaining the presiden-
cy are essentially dead. And with
plenty to dislike about her actions in
the past few months, time will tell
whether her reputation is, too.
Harun Buijina is the
summer associate editorial
page editor. He can be reached
at buljinah@umich.edu.

JASON MAHAKIAN
E-MAIL MAHAKIAN AT MAHAKIAJ@UMICH.EDU
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