Ethical Consumption: More at stake than steak

bacteriaGreen living incorporates the idea of respect for even the smallest of creatures. Ethical consumption plays a role in combating antibiotic resistance. There are two major ways in which your choices can play a role.

Eat organic

Yet another reason to consider organic food into your green living routine. Choose organic, preferably free-range when it comes to livestock, poultry, eggs and dairy. Antibiotics are administered to livestock as part of therapy for an animal exhibiting clinical signs of disease but they are also administered as part of control or prevention. Adding antibiotics to the feed ensures that animals do not succumb to disease because most factory farmed animals are over crowded. They are also added to enhance growth. Antibiotic resistance can very quickly percolate through the food chain ultimately affecting humans and leading to the rise of superbugs.

The recent Salmonella outbreak that resulted in egg recall is a classic example of the misuse of antibiotics. None of the eggs recalled were from organic farms. The real cost of cheap food runs in billions to prevent an outbreak like this one. The USDA has approved the use of the term 'No Antibiotics Used' for the label of any meat product that is antibiotic-free. Look for these labels when you are buying animal products from the super-market.

Applegate Farms and Pentaluma Poultry are two farms that do not use antibiotics in their products. Grass-fed beef is also another great option. Another good way to ensure that your are buying antibiotic, hormone free animal products is to source it from a local farmer.

Stop using anti-bacterial products

Out of all the utterly pointless ways to use antibiotics, using them in soaps and kitchen products takes the cake. Do not buy anything that is labeled 'anti-bacterial' -- most of these contain low-grade antibiotics in minute quantities, usually Triclosan. Releasing low-grade antibiotics into the environment only worsens the situation as it gradually builds up antibiotic resistance. Studies have proven that this only temporarily kills bacteria on surfaces and within an hour old bacterial levels are present again. Soap and water still works!  As a side note, studies have also proven that being superfluously clean has increased the incidences of allergies in children - a little dirt never hurt anyone.

The best way to find green products in the detergent aisle is to read the label. Switch to a brand like Ecover that makes ecological soaps, laundry detergent and kitchen cleaners that is soft on the skin and kind to the environment. Other green products to consider include Seventh Generation, Ecos, Bioshield and Naturally Yours. Look for ingredients like grain alcohol, coconut or other plant oils, rosemary and sage.  Synthetic ingredients to avoid include butyl cellosolve, petroleum, triclosan and phosphates. You can also make your own soaps with a bit of research.

Environmental awareness is being able to understand that everything that we put out comes back to us. Just sixty years ago people died of very minor infections that can be cured today with antibiotics. Even today there are people in parts of the world with limited access to antibiotics to treat severe infections and there are some others who abuse it by adding it to hand-wash. Since the discovery of penicillin, bacteria have adapted to the onslaught of antibiotics and will only continue to do so. They are equipped with mechanisms of survival that we are only beginning to comprehend. It is the prudent use of existing, as well as any new antibiotics that might be discovered, that will ultimately alleviate the situation.

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