Meat Map: How to Dodge Antibiotics in Your Food

A new crowd-sourced map from the director of 'Food, Inc.' helps consumers find responsibily raised animal products.

Megan is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

If you've watched Robert Kenner's Food, Inc., you've likely given some thought to your food supply. Kenner's film revealed the shockingly industrialized and highly unsavory practices that bring food to our plates, from migrant worker abuse to rampant monopolization of agriculture to the overuse of antiobiotics in animals. It's that last practice that's particularly close to Kenner's heart. 

Kenner's nonprofit, Fix Food, has set its sights on reducing the use of antibiotics in farm animals, and has launched a helpful tool designed to lead consumers to antibiotic-free meat products. 

The meat map is a simple interactive map of the U.S. that shows consumers where they can find antibiotic-free meat in the area based on their zip codes. Born out of Kenner's belief that consumers must create the change that the Feds won't, the map relies on consumer input to put locations on the map. Fix Food partnered with Real Times Farms to create the map with information on retailers and eateries, and they've invited consumers to add info about farmers' markets and farms that they know of.

MORE: Farm Animal Antibiotics: Prescription Only?

"Antibiotics are critical, life-saving drugs," Fix Food's website explains. "Yet, 80 percent of the antbiotics sold in the U.S. go to factory farms, primarily for animals to grow faster and endure crowded, unsanitary conditions."

Fix Food goes on to explain that abuse of antibiotics--that is, using them for reasons other than to treat sickness--has led to the development of "superbugs" on factory farms. Superbugs are antiobiotic-resistant bacteria. "Now, life-saving drugs maybe not be effective when we most need them," Food Fix warns.

This year, some federal progress has been made to reign in antiobiotics. In March, U.S. District Court judge Theodore Katz called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prove that feeding antibiotics to livestock does not negatively effect human health; if such proof wasn't possible, he said, the practice would have to stop entirely. In April, the FDA broke ground by announcing new regulations to require that farmers obtain prescriptions from veteranarians for animal antibiotics. But the progress is slow.

To up the ante at a grassroots level, Kenner is also calling on Trader Joe's to commit to exclusively sourcing meat without antibiotics. The chain has already pledged to source only sustainable seafood by 2012, so there is some hope Kenner's idea could become reality.

Want to help? Already 500,000+ people have signed a petition to put pressure on Trader Joe's. Sign the petition now on meatwithoutdrugs.org.

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