Eating animals — and the origin of disease in humans

A few weeks ago, we were hearing about the cucumbers in Germany that were linked to an outbreak of E. coli infections. Now, we’re hearing a lot about salmonella and sprouts — again in Europe. (See NYTarticle below my signature.) Lots of news these days about E. coli, salmonella and other diseases — but rare is the mention of the root cause. A quick internet search yielded over 14 million articles about E. coli and over 3 million for salmonella.

J. Morris Hicks, trying my best to help you and your family take charge of your health

Here’s what the USDA had to say about salmonella on their web site:

Any raw food of animal origin, such as meat, poultry, milk and dairy products, eggs, seafood, and some fruits and vegetables may carry Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria can survive to cause illness if meat, poultry, and egg products are not cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer and fruits and vegetables are not thoroughly washed. The bacteria can also contaminate other foods that come in contact with raw meat and poultry.

Of course, none of that information about the animal origin was mentioned in the New York Times article referenced below. So, the average reader is naturally going to be concerned about eating the products mentioned in that article. Here’s how that article entitled, “Sprouts, Poster Plant of Health Food, Can Pack Risks” led off:

Sprouts are a fixture of salad bars and the epitome of health food to many people. But the reality can be very different. As a horrified Europe learned over the past month, sprouts are a high-risk food for carrying harmful bacteria like salmonella or the toxic forms of E. coli, according to public health experts.

This year, at least two American growers have recalled sprouts contaminated with salmonella, and outbreaks of illness from tainted sprouts have occurred so often in the United States that health investigators have a special name for them: sproutbreaks.

After doing a little research for an earlier blog about E. coli (What they don’t ever tell you about E. coli infections), I determined the following root cause information from the CDC — pointing out that it vast majority of all of our problems goes back to the manure from farm animals that eventually pollutes our lakes, streams, rivers and soils.

The CDC has estimated that 85 percent of E. coli O157:H7 infections are foodborne in origin (Mead, et al., 1999).  In fact, consumption of any food or beverage that becomes contaminated by animal (especially cattle) manure can result in contracting the disease.  Foods that have been identified as sources of contamination include ground beef, venison, sausages, dried (non-cooked) salami, unpasteurized milk and cheese, unpasteurized apple juice and cider (Cody, et al., 1999), orange juice, alfalfa and radish sprouts (Breuer, et al., 2001), lettuce, spinach, and water (Friedman, et al., 1999).  Pizza and cookie dough have also been identified as sources of  E. coli outbreaks.

How about that? It begins with manure from our ten billion animals that we raise every year in the U.S. for our dinner tables. It all goes back to our deadly habit of consuming meat and dairy three meals a day — a habit that generates 87,000 pounds of solid manure per second – generating a staggering annual total of 1.37 billion tons of manure — in JUST the USA.

Meanwhile, the poor sprout-growers of the world are struggling to minimize the disastrous PR that they are suffering. From the NYT article,

Bob Sanderson, president of Jonathan Sprouts in Massachusetts and the head of the International Sprout Growers Association, said that it would be wrong to draw conclusions about the safety of American sprouts based on the German outbreak, since growers there may use different methods than their counterparts here. “Fresh food is the most nutritious food and inherently prone to these problems,” Mr. Sanderson said of sprouts and other vegetables. “That’s what makes it fresh. It’s not sterile.”

J. Morris Hicks...running a little late this year, went for my first sail on Moonglow, my 19 foot Cape Dory Typhoon yesterday.

Here’s the way I see it. There are many theories about the origins of all human diseases and the role that our domestication of animals has played in them. No one knows for sure how many millions of people have died throughout history from diseases that were related to our close relationship with animals.

My hunch, based on my limited research, is that our choice to start eating domesticated animals thousands of years ago has contributed greatly to most, if not all, of our diseases throughout the ages. We do know that it has been very significant and we do know that the healthiest diet for humans includes no animal products whatsoever.

To me, there is not a single legitimate reason for us to be eating animals. In addition to promoting all kinds of diseases, it has become a disaster for the environment. Comparing meat calories to plant calories — on a per calorie basis — it takes 20 times more energy, 20 times more land and far more than 20 times more water to produce the meat and dairy calories.

Then, when you throw in the global warming, the water pollution, the biodiversity issues and the suffering of 60 billion animals per year — it’s like a blinding flash of the obvious  — We are eating the wrong food! So why are we in love with our meat-based diet? Because we like the taste of cooked animal flesh — not a sufficiently legitimate reason for so much damage in my opinion.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

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Sprouts, Poster Plant of Health Food, Can Pack Risks –

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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1 Response to Eating animals — and the origin of disease in humans

  1. Marleen Govaert - Nauts says:

    I couldn’t agree more!

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