10 May 2011

The Capitol at Sacramento and the UC Davis Meat Lab

The highlight of the day was the visit to the state Capitol of California which is just across the road from where we stay, Hyatt, Sacramento. We were taken to the Assembly (lower house) and the Senate (upper house) and then had discussion with the Consusltant for the Senate Committee on Agriculture. A lot of important issues were raised. The budget cut in recent years, the conflicting interests withing agriculture - for instance, citrus groweres do not want bees near them while growing seedless varieties whereas almong growers and bee-keepers would prefer them. The shortage of labour as there have been restrictions on cross-border migration from Southern America.

As the budget is to be decided there were many lobby groups that we saw today. Most important were the teachers who have been reeling under cuts for the last three fours. In fact, last year many teachers lost their jobs and as a result the quality of teaching has been impacting.

The other isues of concern are hunger and homelessness. Almost one in six/seven Americans are facing hunger. And this situation has worsened in the last couple of years. Our discuss with small business and restaurants revaled that business has been poor in the last two years and the difficult part is that they do not see thing being revived in the forseeable future.

We began the day at the University of California Davis Meat Lab where we were told about different processes in slaughtering cattle, lamb, and hog (pig). The United States Departemnt of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors are to be present before an animal is butchered to ensure 'ethical' treatment before being butchered. Well, these are meant to ensure food safety standards. They use some 'foodgrade' chemicals to keep the environment fly free, they keep the digestive tract empty by not feeding tthe animal the previous night to reuduce possibilities of bacteria. After being butchered they are cleaned properly and stored in below 45 degree farhenite to ensure bacteria free environment. An animal can be slaughted under state inspector but that can be used only for personal consumption and cannot be sold in the market.

Meat are graded and those with more fat content and of poor quality are priced the cheapest. These are the ones you will find in fast food and those frequented by the poor leading to greater ill health.  One observed a  homeless man in a bicycle came and put his head into dustbins looking for food. We are in telling times.

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