Historicity of Jesus

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are mythologized history telling of a controversial first century Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef who gathered a following that provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

For over 200 years, a wide ranging array of theologians and historians, most of them Christian, analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth. Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealot by Reza Aslan and How Jesus Became God by Bart Ehrman.

But other scholars believe that the gospel stories are actually “historicized mythology.” In this view, those ancient mythic templates are themselves the kernel. They got filled in with names, places and other real world details as early sects of Jesus worship attempted to understand and defend the devotional traditions they had received.

The notion that Jesus never existed is a minority position. For centuries all serious scholars of Christianity were Christians themselves, and modern secular scholars lean heavily on the groundwork that they laid in collecting, preserving, and analyzing ancient texts. Even today most secular scholars come out of a religious background, and many operate by default under historical presumptions of their former faith.

Academic arguments in support of the Jesus Myth theory can be found in the writings of Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Carrier, who has a Ph.D. in ancient history uses the tools of his trade to show, among other things, how Christianity might have gotten off the ground without a miracle. Price, by contrast, writes from the perspective of a theologian whose biblical scholarship ultimately formed the basis for his skepticism.

The arguments on both sides of this question, mythologized history or historicized mythology, fill volumes, and if anything the debate seems to be heating up rather than resolving. A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists, that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed, here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive:

1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef. In the words of Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references, nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death, even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era, there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time, the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.”

2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.Paul seems unaware of any virgin birth, for example. No wise men, no star in the east, no miracles. Historians have long puzzled over the “Silence of Paul” on the most basic biographical facts and teachings of Jesus. Paul fails to cite Jesus’ authority precisely when it would make his case. What’s more, he never calls the twelve apostles Jesus’ disciples; in fact, he never says Jesus HAD disciples, or a ministry, or did miracles, or gave teachings. He virtually refuses to disclose any other biographical detail, and the few cryptic hints he offers aren’t just vague, but contradict the gospels. The leaders of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem like Peter and James are supposedly Jesus’ own followers and family; but Paul dismisses them as nobodies and repeatedly opposes them for not being true Christians.

Liberal theologian Marcus Borg suggests that people read the books of the New Testament in chronological order to see how early Christianity unfolded. “Placing the Gospels after Paul makes it clear that as written documents they are not the source of early Christianity but its product. The Gospels are the products of early Christian communities several decades after Jesus’ historical life and tell us how those communities saw his significance in their historical context.”

3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts. We now know that the four gospels were assigned the names of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not written by them. To make matters sketchier, the name designations happened sometime in second century, around 100 years or more after Christianity supposedly began. For a variety of reasons, the practice of pseudonymous writing was common at the time and many contemporary documents are “signed” by famous figures. The same is true of the New Testament epistles except for a handful of letters from Paul (6 out of 13) which are broadly thought to be genuine. But even the gospel stories don’t actually say, “I was there.” Rather, they claim the existence of other witnesses, a phenomenon familiar to anyone who has heard the phrase, my aunt knew someone who . . . .

4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other. If you think you know the Jesus story pretty well, I suggest that you pause at this point to test yourself with the 20 question quiz at ExChristian.net.

The gospel of Mark is thought to be the earliest existing “life of Jesus,” and linguistic analysis suggests that Luke and Matthew both simply reworked Mark and added their own corrections and new material. But they contradict each other and, to an even greater degree contradict the much later gospel of John, because they were written with different objectives for different audiences. The incompatible Easter stories offer one example of how much the stories disagree.

5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons. They include a cynic philosopher, charismatic Hasid, liberal Pharisee, conservative rabbi, Zealot revolutionary, nonviolent pacifist to borrow from a much longer list assembled by Price. In his words, “The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.” John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar grumbles that “the stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment.”

These issues and more lead to a conclusion that seems inescapable:

Jesus appears to be an effect, not a cause, of Christianity. Paul and the rest of the first generation of Christians searched the Septuagint translation of Hebrew scriptures to create a Mystery Faith for the Jews, complete with pagan rituals like a Lord’s Supper, Gnostic terms in his letters, and a personal savior god to rival those in their neighbors’ longstanding Egyptian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman traditions.

In a soon-to-be-released book, entitled Jesus: Mything in Action, the author argues that the many competing versions proposed by secular scholars are just as problematic as any “Jesus of Faith.” Even if one accepts that there was a real Jesus of Nazareth, the question has little practical meaning. Regardless of whether or not a first century rabbi called Yeshua ben Yosef lived, the “historical Jesus” figures so patiently excavated and re-assembled by secular scholars are themselves fictions.

Sumerian Story of Creation

Sumer, or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and writing, architecture and arts, astronomy and mathematics. Their religious system was a complex one comprised of hundreds of gods, rites and cosmology. According to the ancient texts, each Sumerian city was guarded by its own god; and while humans and gods used to live together, the humans were servants to the gods.

The Sumerian creation myth can be found on a tablet in Nippur, an ancient Mesopotamian city founded in approximately 5000 BC.

The creation of Earth (Enuma Elish) according to the Sumerian tablets begins like this:

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being…

It is interesting here to note that no one god is responsible for creation, as even gods are themselves part of the creation.

Sumerian mythology claims that, in the beginning, human-like beings of extra-terrestrial origin ruled over Earth. Those beings, or gods, could travel through the sky in either round or rocket shaped vehicles. These beings toiled Earth’s soil, digging to make it habitable and mining its minerals.

The texts mention that at some point the gods mutinied against their labor.

When the gods like men

Bore the work and suffered the toll

The toil of the gods was great,

The work was heavy, the distress was much.

Anu, the god of gods, agreed that their labor was too great. His son Enki, or Ea, proposed to create man to bear the labor, and so, with the help of his half-sister Ninki, he did. A god was put to death, and his body and blood was mixed with clay. From that material the first human being was created, in likeness to the gods.

You have slaughtered a god together

With his personality

I have removed your heavy work

I have imposed your toil on man.

…
In the clay god and Man

Shall be bound,

To a unity brought together;

So that to the end of days

The Flesh and the Soul

Which in a god have ripened
That soul in a blood-kinship be bound.

It is interesting here to note that the spirit is connected to the body, as is the case in many other religions and myths.

This first man was created in Eden, a Sumerian word which means ‘flat terrain’. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Eden is mentioned as the garden of the gods and is located somewhere in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Initially human beings were unable to reproduce on their own, but were later modified with the help of Enki and Ninki. Thus Adapa is created as a fully functional and independent human being. This ‘modification’ was done without the approval of Enki’s brother, Enlil, and a conflict between the gods begins. Enlil becomes the adversary of man, and the Sumerian tablet mentions that men served gods and went through much hardship and suffering.

Although not the exact creation story involving two trees in Eden, Adapa, with the help of Enki, ascends to Anu where he fails to answer a question about ‘the bread and water of life’. Opinions vary on the similarities between these two creation stories, but one thing remains clear: immortality is meant for gods, not for men.

Oldest City In the Americas

ancient-site-of-Caral,-Peru

The Sacred City of Caral in Peru is a 5,000-year-old metropolis which represents the oldest known civilization in the Americas, known as the Norte Chico. When it was first discovered, archaeologists had no idea of the extent of this great city, nor its age. It took some 90 years before researchers discovered its immense significance.

While the inhabitants of Caral lacked ceramics and limited art, they built huge monuments, including pyramids, plazas, amphitheatres, temples, and residential areas, had extensive agriculture, ate a varied diet, developed the use of textiles, used a complex system for calculating and recording, built water supply, and developed an intricate irrigation system. They traded widely with neighbouring societies, reaching at least as far as the Amazon jungle, as evidenced by carvings of monkeys.

Interestingly, no evidence of warfare has ever been found in Caral. No defensive structures, no weapons, and no bodies with violent injuries.  Archaeologists believe the people of Caral were a peaceful culture who spent considerable time studying the heavens, practicing their religion and playing musical instruments.

flutes-found-at-Caral

One of the most surprising findings at Caral was the discovery of 32 flutes made of condor and pelican bones, and 37 cornets (musical instrument like a small trumpet) made of deer and llama bones. The musical instruments, which date to around 2,200 BC, were discovered in the exterior of a circular plaza of a pyramid complex, an area where hundreds of people could gather for community events.

The instruments are decorated with engraved figures, including monkeys, supernatural birds that combine features of some other creatures such as felines or monkeys, bird-faced snakes, a double head comprising a bird and a snake, and two anthropomorphic figures. They were played by blowing into the central hole and covering either the left or right hand holes.

In 2001, researchers held the Archaeo-Musicological Research Workshop for the Flutes of Caral, in a bid to reproduce the sound of each one of them, just as the ancient dwellers might have heard them millennia ago. 

Another rare discovery that shed light on the civilization found at Caral and in the Supe Valley was a segment of knotted strings known as a quipu.  Quipus, sometimes called ‘talking knots’, were recording devices that consisted of colored, spun, and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca hair, or made of cotton cords. It is known that by the time of the Inca, the system aided in collecting data and keeping records, ranging from monitoring tax obligations, properly collecting census records, calendrical information, and military organization. The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots in a base ten positional system. Together, the type of wool, the colors, the knots and the joins held both statistical and narrative information that was once readable by several South American societies. In some villages, quipus were important items for the local community, and took on ritual rather than recording use.

quipu-inca-peru-1

Until the discovery of the quipu in Caral, no other examples had been found that dated back earlier than 650 AD. So the significance of this finding was that it was now apparent that inhabitants of Andean South America were using this complex recording system thousands of years earlier than they initially thought.

Across from the main staircase of one of the pyramids (platform mounds) in Caral is a solitary monolith known as ‘Huanca’ (the standing stone), which stands at 2.15 meters in height. Archaeologists believe that this monolith was used for astronomical and ceremonial purposes, and for determining the time of day. Measurements of the Huanca’s position in relation to the pyramids found that it sits exactly due north of one of the pyramids, known as ‘Huanca pyramid’. The angle of the stone to the top of the pyramid marks the of the summer and winter solstices.

The-monolith-Huanca-in-Caral

Very little is known about the religious beliefs and practices of the Norte Chico civilization which inhabited Caral. There is abundant evidence of drug use normally associated with Shamanism, which may provide some clues, but there is hardly any art in Caral, one of the key sources that archaeologists use to learn about the daily life and beliefs of ancient civilizations. Some scholars claim that the very few human remains found at Caral are sacrificial victims. However, in reality there is nothing to indicate that the individuals had been sacrificed as opposed to normal death.  

There is one artifact that may serve to shed light on the beliefs of the Norte Chicos.  Etched onto the side of a gourd (a hard seed pod used for carrying water), which dates to 2280-2180 BC, is a depiction of a sharp-toothed, hat-wearing figure who holds a long stick or rod in each hand, which has been named the Staff God.

Staff-God-Gateway-of-the-Sun

Interestingly, the same image of the Staff God appears on pottery urns of the Wari and Tiwanaku cultures dating from 1,000 BC, all the way through to 1,000 AD, and the deity is figured prominently on the Gateway of the Sun at Tiwanaku near Lake Titicaca. Could beliefs in a Staff God have begun with the Norte Chico civilization in Caral nearly 5,000 years ago and dispersed outwards to influence later Mesoamerican civilizations?

For an unknown reason, Caral was abandoned rapidly after a period of only 500 years.  It is believed that climate changes forced the inhabitants to find a new location for their city, although where exactly they went is uncertain.  However, the fact that the Staff God, and the use of the quipu is found some 2,000 years later in other locations throughout South America, suggests that the Norte Chicos took with them their rich culture, religion, technology, and practices, and came to influence some of the greatest civilizations of Mesoamerica that followed over the next 4,000 years. 

Disturbing News About Tea

Tea is supposed to be a relaxing, refreshing, and healthy, but it could be one of the riskiest things people ingest. At least, that’s according to a new study released by Greenpeace earlier this month that found a number of popular tea brands contain high doses of pesticide residues. Some teas even tested positive for the long-banned DDT.

Greenpeace published two reports looking at tea in China and in India. In both accounts, the levels of pesticide residues found in tea samples were disturbingly above the safe limits set by the World Health Organization.

China and India are the first and second largest producers of tea, respectively, and a good deal of their tea is exported internationally. The United States imports almost all of its tea, and tea companies are required to produce documentation that proves their compliance before being approved by the FDA and customs. However, Greenpeace’s studies focused on China and India, which are the largest producers, as well as the largest consumers, of tea. Their food safety regulations differ wildly from those of the United States.

In 49 Indian tea samples tested, nearly 60 percent contained at least one pesticide above the safety limits set by the European Union. In 18 samples, the quantity of pesticides were “50 percent more than the maximum level.” A whopping 33 samples contained DDT. In the report on China’s teas, nearly 67 percent of samples (18 total) contained pesticides that have been previously banned under the Stockholm Convention. “Richun’s Tieguanyin 803 tea [from China] showed up with 17 different kinds of pesticides!” reported Greenpeace. In total, 14 samples from China contained pesticides that are known to harm unborn children or cause genetic damage.

Brands tested were from 8 of the 11 top tea brands such as Twinings, Tata Tea, Tetley, Brooke Bond, Golden Tips, Goodricke and surprisingly, the No. 1 tea brand: Lipton. In Greenpeace’s studies, three of four Lipton samples, “contained pesticides that are banned for use on tea plants and are highly toxic. Altogether 17 different kinds of pesticides were found on the four samples.”

“As the world’s best-selling tea brand, Lipton is taking advantage of China’s loose pesticide control measures at the expense of its Chinese customers,” Wang Jing, Greenpeace food and agriculture campaigner, told Greenpeace East Asia.

Pesticides found through the test included a number of pesticides that Greenpeace reports are a result of “complicated and confusing” regulations. For instance:

“As of May 2014, a total 248 chemical pesticides have been registered under section 9(3) of the Insecticides Act (1968) for use in India, for all crops. However, the rationale for permitting these remains far from clear. For example, the list contains Endosulfan, which has been subject to a separate comprehensive ban by decision of the High Court as of 2011.”

Pesticides found included methomyl, an insecticide known for harming the nervous system; dicofol, a chemical related to DDT; and endosulfan among many others.

To the news of the findings, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), one of the largest companies reported in the study, said it complies with the law. “We have internal HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) processes for all our factories,” HUL told DNA India. “Samples of raw materials and finished products are regularly sent to third-party testing laboratories. Our data does not show the presence of any unapproved chemicals and we fully comply with the Indian foods regulations as stipulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).”

HUL added it was looking to phase out pesticides with its suppliers by 2020.

Reasons Not Buy Bottled Water

It’s Probably Just Tap Water Anyway
According to both government and industry estimates, approximately 40 percent of bottled water comes from city and municipal water reserves. Sometimes it’s additionally treated, but sometimes it’s not. 

There’s No One Assessing it for Quality
60 to 70 percent of percent of bottled water sold in the U.S. is exempt from the FDA’s rigorous water standards because the FDA says its rules do not apply to water packaged and sold in the same state. 

It Could Contain E. Coli
While it’s not in companies’ best interests to sell water full of E. coli to consumers, there’s no law saying they can’t. Federal law states that city tap water can contain no E. coli or fecal coliform bacteria, yet no such law exists for bottled water. 

Cities are Required to Tell You What’s in Your Water
Federal law mandates that cities must release annual “right to know” reports about the contents of drinking water; bottlers are under no such obligation. 

Making Bottles Wastes Water
It takes three times as much water to make one plastic bottle as it does to fill it. 

We’re Filling The Oceans With Plastic
The Ocean Conservatory has found that every square mile of the ocean has 46,000 pieces of floating plastic in it. Plastic bottles and plastic bags are the two most prevalent forms of plastic waste. 

You Probably Can’t Recycle it
Only bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate can be recycled, which means four out of five water bottles are sent to landfills or tossed into the ocean. 

Your Bottle Is Going To Outlive Your Great-Great-Grandchildren
Each convenient little bottle of water takes 1,000 years to biodegrade, and they produce toxic fumes if they’re incinerated. 

It’s A Rip-Off
Bottled water costs roughly 1,000 times the price of a glass of tap water, and that’s counting the cost of a home water filter. 

You Probably Can’t Taste the Difference Anyway
Last May, Good Morning America gave their audience a blind taste test using New York City tap water, Poland Spring, O-2 Oxygenated Water, and Evian. The clear winner was New York City tap water with 45 percent of the vote. 

What’s Being Done To Meat and What It Does To Us

The average American eats between two and five times more protein than they actually need. In the last 50 years worldwide meat consumption per capita has doubled, primarily because of corporate advertising. McDonald’s alone spends about $1.4 billion a year trying to convince us to buy from their heavily meat-centered menu. The rest of the meat and dairy industries also spend vast sums of money in television and magazine advertising every year to convince Americans to beef, pork, cheese, milk, eggs, chicken and other assorted animal products.

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, can be synthesized by the body or ingested from food. There are 20 different amino acids in the food we eat, but our body can only make 11 of them. The nine essential amino acids which can’t be produced by the body must be obtained from the diet. A variety of grains, legumes and vegetables can provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require. No one needs to eat meat to obtain protein. Furthermore, plant-based proteins also don’t contain saturated fat, and are usually lower in calories.

When people eat too much protein, excess nitrogen is digested and metabolized. This can strain the kidneys, which expel the waste through urine. Over time, individuals who consume large amounts of animal protein, risk at least some loss of kidney function. The problem is, mild loss of kidney function is usually silent, affecting 20 million Americans, and they likely are unaware of the increased risk.

Certain proteins present in meat, fish, and poultry, cooked at high temperatures, especially grilled or fried, produce compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These substances have been linked to various cancers including those of the colon and breast.

The average American meat eater puts 100 pounds of animal fats into his or her arteries every year. That can lead to development of atherosclerotic vascular disease, like heart attacks and strokes, and also plays a role in the development of cancer. In order to absorb fat, the liver makes bile, which it stores in the gallbladder. After a meal, the gallbladder sends bile acids into the intestine, where they chemically modify the fats eaten so they can be absorbed. Unfortunately, bacteria in the intestine turn these bile acids into cancer-promoting substances called secondary bile acids.

Red meat is bad for your health in any amount. A long-range study from the Harvard School of Public Health of 110,000 adults over 20 years found that adding just one three-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat to their daily diet increased participants’ risk of dying during the study by 13 percent. Adding a hot dog or two slices of bacon increased their risk by 20 percent. On the other hand, replacing beef or pork with nuts lowers your risk by 19 percent, and replacing them with poultry or grain lowers your risk by 14 percent.

Red meat, is also linked to breast, kidney, pancreatic, prostate and colorectal cancer, and to diabetes. Vegetarians have about half the normal cancer risk.

Meat, especially beef, has much higher levels of pesticides and industrial chemicals than any plant food. Not only are the chemicals given to commercially raised livestock a toxic stew, but the overwhelming majority of the grains fed to livestock are GMOs, meaning they are soaked in pesticides. The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences considers beef the most dangerous food in herbicide contamination and ranks it third in insecticide contamination. The NRC estimates that beef pesticide contamination represents about 11 percent of the total cancer risk from pesticides of all foods on the market today.

The most common agricultural pesticide in use today is glyphosate (Roundup). Glyphosate residues cannot be removed by washing and they are not broken down by cooking. Glyphosate residues can remain stable in food for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen, dried or processed. The EPA recently raised the allowable limit for glyphosate residue in human food and animal feed to a level 200 times higher, from .1 milligrams per kilogram to 20 milligrams per kilogram, with no scientific justification or data to defend such a change. That’s a level that even Monsanto considered extreme as recently as 1999.

A January 2014 study published by a German research team found glyphosate was significantly higher in the urine of chronically ill people compared to healthy people. German researchers leading the University of Leipzig study concluded, “the presence of glyphosate residues in both humans and animals could haul the entire population towards numerous health hazards.” 

Even “grass-fed” beef are now eating GMO containing foods, meaning more pesticides in the beef itself. Animal feed that contains animal parts or animal waste, as is often the case only compounds the problem.

For reasons similar to those for meat, the fat in dairy products poses a high risk for contamination by pesticides. Growth hormones and antibiotics are also invariably found in commercial milk, cheese and butter.

Dioxins are perhaps the most deadly group of compounds in our environment after radioactive isotopes. Dioxins are found throughout the world and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals where their half-life is between seven and 11 years. Ninety-three percent of the average American’s exposure to dioxins comes through animal fat, meat and dairy consumption.

Virtually all feedlot-raised cattle are given growth hormones and antibiotics. In fact, about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock. The antibiotics are used not only for bacterial protection given the putrid conditions livestock are kept in, but also to fatten them up.

This has potential implications for the worldwide obesity epidemic. No one seems to have studied whether the residual low doses of antibiotics in livestock meat are enough to make you gain weight, but there is evidence that those doses are sufficient to disrupt the normal composition of your gut bacteria, increasing your susceptibility to infections.

Here’s more unappetizing food for thought. Toxins of all sorts are now being fed to livestock. Especially cattle are now being used as toxic waste dumps. An Associated Press article revealed numerous hideous examples:

In Gore, Okla., a uranium-processing plant gets rid of low-level radioactive waste by licensing it as a liquid fertilizer and spraying it over 9,000 acres of grazing land.

At Camas, Wash., lead-laced waste from a pulp mill is hauled to farms and spread over crops destined for livestock feed.

In Moxee City, Wash., dark powder from two Oregon steel mills is poured from rail cars into silos at Bay Zinc Co. under a federal hazardous waste storage permit. Then it is emptied from the silos for use as fertilizer. The newspaper called the powder a toxic byproduct of steel-making but did not identify it.

“When it goes into our silo, it’s a hazardous waste,” said Bay Zinc’s president, Dick Camp. “When it comes out of the silo, it’s no longer regulated. The exact same material.”

Federal and state governments encourage this “recycling,” which saves money for industry and conserves space in hazardous-waste landfills. The substances found in recycled fertilizers include cadmium, lead, arsenic, radioactive materials and dioxins. The wastes come from incineration of medical and municipal wastes, and from heavy industries including mining, smelting, cement kilns and wood products.

Nutrition and Health has reported that some ranchers are feeding their steers cement dust to “get their weight up” for sale. The FDA was asked to halt the practice, but after investigation, responded that since there has been no indication of harm to humans the practice can continue until such time as harm is proven. FDA officials also say that it isn’t uncommon for feedlot operators to mix industrial sewage and oils into the feed to reduce costs and fatten animals more quickly.

Scientists are developing plastic feed, small pellets containing 80 to 90 percent ethylene and 10 to 20 percent propylene, as an artificial form of cheap roughage to feed cattle. Researchers point to the extra savings of using the new plastic feed at slaughter time when upward of 20 pounds of the stuff from each cow’s digestive tracts can be recovered, melted down and recycled into new pellets. The new pellets are much cheaper than hay and can provide roughage requirements at a significant savings.

Once a cow has been killed, the next stage of “doctoring up” the carcass begins. Immediately after the meat becomes exposed to air, oxidation begins, gradually turning the red color of the meat to a more unappetizing brown or gray color within just a few days. But meat in the grocery store never looks like that.

Meat on store shelves can be subject to temperatures too high to prevent bacterial growth from spoiling, so the industry invented “modified atmosphere packaging” or “MAP.” This means that the meat is packaged in carbon monoxide (CO). As much as 70 percent of meat sold in stores is displayed in CO packaging. The oxygen in the package is sucked out and replaced by CO, much like vacuum packaging with an impermeable membrane. The CO reacts with the myoglobin in the blood giving the meat a bright red. CO can keep a piece of meat or fish looking artificially red and fresh for up to a full year, and of course how a piece of meat looks is the primary consideration of a consumer.

CO packaging disguises the physical evidence of spoilage, almost no matter how old it really is. And that’s the danger of using CO packaging. This practice is not allowed in many countries, like European Union member-states, but in another capitulation to the Big Ag Empire, the FDA has approved this practice.

Chickens are routinely fed roxarsone, a form of arsenic, found in their feed. More than half of the store-bought and fast-food chicken contains elevated levels of arsenic. Roughly 2.2 million pounds of it are being used every year to produce 43 billion pounds of poultry.

Chickens are also fed an elixir of drugs that includes caffeine, banned antibiotics, Benadryl, Tylenol and even Prozac. Prozac was added to feed because stressed out chickens produce tough meat and brutal conditions often mean a constantly nervous bird.

There is a solution to combating the destruction, deception and the health consequences of the meat industry. Stop eating it. You don’t need it. Your waistline, your arteries and your kidneys will thank you for it. And we just might preserve enough arable land and a livable climate to allow us to grow some real food.

Arby’s Meat Mountain

In an effort to show customers that they served more than roast beef, Arby’s has been displaying a visual representation of all the meats you can order. It was produced as a marketing tool, not a real sandwich. But because this is America, people completely missed the point and started trying to order “The Meat Mountain.” And since there were so many requests, Arby’s complied by making it a secret menu item, which you can purchase for $10. It’s not the menu, but can ordered if you ask for it.

meat mountain

The ingredients, stacked on a bun, are as follows:

2 chicken tenders

1.5 oz. of roast turkey

1.5 oz. of ham

1 slice of Swiss cheese

1.5 oz. of corned beef

1.5 oz. brisket

1.5 oz. of Angus steak

1 slice of cheddar cheese

1.5 oz. roast beef

3 half-strips of bacon

So buckle your chinstrap and charge up that pacemaker fellow Americans. Arby’s has a hidden menu that needs to be conquered.