The Hidden Hidden (yes: two ‘Hidden’s – now three) Costs of Hamburgers

One month ago, the Center for Investigative Reporting released a video titled The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers.

If you think the cost of a hamburger is the price you pay in the store (and judging by the reactions I get when explain why I don’t eat meat, chances are you do), I would definitely recommend watching:

The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers is generally accessible, nicely-illustrated, and sticks to the narrative of hidden costs (as described in its title) of raising and slaughtering livestock for meat on a mass scale. In a relatively short time, the video manages to briefly address a myriad of environmental issues, including (spoiler alert!) the production of greenhouse gases (especially methane and nitrous oxide), inefficient land and energy use, rainforest destruction, pollution, fertilizer runoff and oceanic dead zones, water use, transportation pollution, unhealthy diets, and the risk of infection from E. coli.

Yet! – though this extensive list might give the impression that the video covers all the bases, the frightening thing is that it does not. You see, while the CFIR mentions the risk of infection from E. coli, weight gain, and other health risks posed by industrial agriculture, it fails to address the most serious one: antibiotic resistance.

I’ve written about this already twice – see Gonorrhea: It’s what’s for Dinner and Putting Lipstick on a Pig Flu – and it’s no surprise that the issue gets comparatively little mention in mainstream media sources. But I do think it noteworthy when an organization that calls itself the ‘Center for Investigative Reporting’ manages to overlook antibiotic resistance in the process of creating a video clearly designed to encourage viewers to eat less meat. Considering that this is the impact of industrial agriculture most likely to significantly and incontrovertibly affect nearly everyone’s life for the worse, I believe it deserved at least passing mention.

But don’t let that stop you from watching the video.

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