Friday, November 25, 2011

Grass fed beef vs regular beef

Ok, so I have to admit. 
I never knew there was a certain way to feed a cow.  
Really, I didn't. 
Never thought about it.  
Never heard of grass fed beef.
But then....I was..

on what grain does to a cow's digestive system.


Here are some facts you might not have known either.  
It will change the way you look at beef.
You most likely will never be able to buy "regular" beef again.

A little history first.....

The evolution of a corn-fed cattle industry

Several decades ago, the cattle industry began feeding cattle a diet based on grain, particularly corn. During World War II, farmers were producing more grain than the American population could consume, so they started feeding the surplus to cattle. They found that a grain-fed diet allowed them to fatten up cows faster for slaughter. Seventy-five years ago, it took a cow 4 or 5 years to reach a weight of 1,200 pounds. Today, says John Robbins, author of author ofThe Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World,cattle can be slaughtered at just 14-16 months of age, thanks to massive amounts of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics, and growth hormones,

Unhealthy cows mean unhealthy meat

Switching cows from grass to grain puts more money in the beef industry’s pockets and cheaper meat on the supermarket shelves. But at what price? The stomachs of cows are naturally pH neutral. A corn-based diet, however, creates an acidic environment that contributes to a host of health problems. Corn-fed cattle are prone to serious health conditions such as bloat, diarrhea, ulcers, liver disease, and a weakened immune system. To combat these health problems, cattle are continually fed antibiotics, which leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that increasingly render modern medicine ineffective.

1.  The diets of factory-raised animals are hard on the animals. 

Ruminants (i.e., cud-chewing animals such as cattle) are built to eat and digest cellulose-based products such as grasses, plants and shrubs. When you feed them corn, it can cause serious intestinal disorders, such as “feedlot bloat” (a condition that causes trapped gas to accumulate in the rumen, causing the rumen to press against the lungs (if left untreated, the animal can actually suffocate); and “subacute acidosis” (a condition similar to heartburn, which causes animals to pant and salivate, kick at their bellies and eat dirt). If left untreated it can lead to diarrhea, ulcers, liver abscesses and even death.

Take home message....God did not design cows to eat ANYTHING other than grass.

2.  Do you know what factory-fed animals are eating?

 As the industry continually seeks less to lower feed costs, truly astonishing materials are finding their way into our food chain. According to Sapkota, et al, (2007) “In 2003, the U.S. rendering industry produced > 8 million metric tons of rendered animal products, including meat and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, blood meal and feather meal. Most of these products were incorporated into animal feed.” Since the advent of “mad cow” disease, the U.S. has banned the feeding of protein sources from ruminants to other ruminants. 

However, under current law, pigs, chickens, and turkeys that have been fed rendered cattle can be rendered and fed back to cattle—a loophole that may allow mad cow agents to infect healthy cattle. Other legally permitted ingredients include rendered road kill, dead horse, euthanized dogs and cats, animal waste, antibiotics, byproducts of drug manufacture, arsenicals, copper compounds, urea, ammonium chloride and ammonium sulfate, enzymes, preservatives, nutraceuticals, and plastics.

Take home message....they are fed 
dead animals?  


And this is legal?


3.  Factory-raised animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones. 

In an effort to manage the effects of grain-based feeds in ruminants and to protect against the potential spread of disease, CAFO operators tend to administer antibiotics – including penicillin, erythromycin, and streptomycin — routinely. Robinson reports that 

“an estimated 70 percent of all the antibiotics used in the U.S. are now being given to healthy animals to improve their growth and performance.”? Moreover, cattle CAFO operators use growth hormones or steroids to help the animals gain the maximum amount of weight on the least amount of time; in fact, nine out of 10 U.S. calves are given growth hormones, including estrogens, progesterone, testosterone and others.

Take home message.....these antibiotics and hormones are going right into your body when you eat this meat.  (Antibiotics are made of what? case you forgot.)

4.  Grain-fed animals may be promoting food-borne diseases. 

A study by Cornell University determined that
 grain-fed animals have approximately 300 times
 more E. coli than grass-fed animals. This
 proliferation may be due to the fact that when cattle 
are grain fed, their digestive tracts become acidic, 
which promotes E. coli growth. 

E. coli 0157:H7, a strain first isolated in the 1980s, is now found in the intestines of most U. S. feedlot cattle. In the U.S., this bacteria is estimated to cause infection in more than 70,000 people a year. In October of 2007, it sparked the second largest food recall in the history of the U.S., when nearly 22 million pounds of frozen beef patties were recalled due to E. coli concerns. Other bacteria are also causing alarm. In a 2003 study of food-borne pathogens, Australian researchers found that campylobacter – a bacteria that can cause nausea, vomiting fever, headache, muscle pain and potentially serious long-term effects — is carried by 58 percent of cattle raised in feed lots versus only 2 percent of cattle raised and finished in pastures.

Take home message.....grain fed cows get sick. This is passed along to you, the consumer.

5.  Corn is a grain.
Grain feed cows eat lots of corn. It makes them nice and fat.  It's cheap. 

However.... Corn has been universally contaminated with a fungus that can not be killed.
For more information about corn and mycotoxins read this article:
Corn and Mycotoxins
Take home regular corn....put fungus and mycotoxins in your body. 
That simple.  

6.  The label must say "100% Grass fed beef".  

Many cattle companies will feed their cows grass up until a certain point.  Then they will grain feed them to "finish" them off and fatten them up for sale.  

Take home message....the label must say 100% grass 
fed beef.  
You can find it at Trader Joe's, Whole  Foods, and Earth Fare.  

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