Thursday night, I was frightened. Not the same type of horror as watching a Zombie movie, but the fear I felt while watching Resistance was a real one for the health of our world and our community. This film, sponsored by the Doylestown Food Market and dedicated community sponsors (listed below), told the story of what I would call “bad bacteria” and how we in the United States have squandered the effectiveness of the antibiotic tools we have against them. Bacteria continuously evolve to be resistant to the antibiotics that modern medicine relies on, and it seems we are helping them to do it. Through unnecessary prescription of antibiotics (which are only effective against bacteria, not viruses), overuse of antibacterial products (like hand sanitizer and a long list of products that contain hidden anti-bacterial properties) and use of antibiotics in raising “factory farmed” meats, we have rendered these miracle drugs nearly useless on a growing number of bacterial strains.
The fear I felt was because, in the end, it didn’t seem we as a society were making much progress to manage and protect these precious drugs. Fortunately, the panel discussion afterward gave me some hope. Dr. Deborah Bernstein encouraged us to fight back by building strong immune systems and increasing the ratio of “good bacteria” in our bodies… doing simple things like avoiding indiscriminate use of antibacterial soaps, eating fermented and “clean” foods, and even getting down in the dirt with our hands occasionally. And Joanna Michini of Purely Farms Pastured Meats explained clearly to us the “whole different kind of animal” produced on her farm. Only once in 11 years of working with these animals have they needed to administer antibiotics, and that animal’s meat was kept for family consumption. When an animal is raised in a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation or “factory farmed”) the animals are raised so close together that they need to be fed antibiotics prophylactically to keep disease down. These drugs are passed on to consumers who are eating the meat, adding more unnecessary antibiotics to the system. Of course, it costs more to raise animals on pasture than in a CAFO but the meat is so much healthier in part because there are no antibiotics on board, as well as many other factors such as quality of the feed, no growth hormones etc.
For me, one big takeaway was that in order to protect our public health in this country we must continue to vote daily with our pocketbooks; buying only those meats produced without antibiotics, not buying the products that contain low doses for no reason (such as hand soaps, dishwashing liquids etc). Another takeaway was that we should not “press” our doctors to give us something when we are sick. instantly heal us. Sometimes Usually, a virus needs to just be left to take it’s course (apparently, many doctors will prescribe anitbiotics “just in case”, because they don’t always know if it’s a viral or a bacterial situation).
For those who are interested in delving further into this matter of Resistance, the film kit provided a number of critical facts and a guide with opportunities for engagement. Those who are interested may download the guide here. Some of the critical facts are bulleted below. Michael Graziano produced and directed Resistance. He and Ernie Park, who also helped produce Resistance, founded Uji Films in 2007.
- Antibiotic resistance in the United States costs an estimated $55 billion a year in excess health care and other societal costs. Center for Disease Control Prevention, April 2011
- Americans spend more than 8 million extra days in the hospital because of antibiotic resistance.
- The total weight of the microbes that live in and on your body is about 3 pounds, the same weight as your brain.
- Antibiotic-resistant infections kill at least 23,000 Americans every year.
- Antibiotic resistance is the single biggest threat to health security in the 21st century.
- 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US are used on conventional animal farms.
- Before antibiotics: 1 in 9 skin infections were fatal; Pneumonia had only a 70% survival rate; 1 in 200 mothers died giving birth
- The estimated 30 trillion human cells that comprise your body are dwarfed by the 1000 trillion microbes that live on your skin, in your gut, and in every opening of your body
You can help build the groundswell of public support needed to demand federal action to protect our life-saving antibiotics.
#1: Take action to ban antibiotics abuse here http://fwwat.ch/AntibioticsAction or text “Antibiotics” to 69866.
#2: Start a local effort to ban the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms by passing a local resolution through your city council in support of federal action. To get started, contact Katy Kiefer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for resources and support.
#3: Have you or a family member been personally affected by antibiotic resistance? Share your story here: https://stori.es/share/antibiotics-personal-stories
We are enormously grateful to our 2017 Film Series Sponsors