Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Picturesque Dream of Grass Fed Cows No Longer Exists

John explains how today most farms are factory farm animals are fed corn, growth hormones, antibiotics, protein supplements, where the animal is slaughtered after 14-16 months instead of after 4-5 years like how it was done. The reason why the cows are given anti-biotics, is so they do not die from eating all of the corn, what they naturally are not supposed to be eating. The factory farm owners want more money, so they feed the cows much corn over a short period of time, to quickly fatten them up. Since these cows are fed much grain, a higher occurrence of E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria exists, and this E-coli has the ability to possibly kill humans, because the acidity of the cows is similar to humans. Also, these grain fed cows have more fat, saturated fat, and 15-50 percent less omega 3’s than grass fed cows. To look on the environmental side, grain-fed animals produce much waste that can pollute rivers and the atmosphere. According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, to grow all of the corn to feed the cows, many fertilizers are necessary, meaning a great deal of oil is needed. Now from a humanitarian view, the animals do not need to live in close confinement, where cows are standing knee deep in their own excretement or are forced to stand in tight pens. Although surprising, grass fed is not the best option either, because cows that are raised on a pasture create more methane than grain fed, and the U.S. has too high of a demand for meat for grass fed farming to be economically feasible. Yet, it does need to be understood that although grass fed meat is more expensive, grass fed meat does not mean that it is organic, and same for the other way around. Also, grazing can take up much space, such as how in the Mid-west, where any land that can be grazed by cattle is, and wildlife is being threatened. The best option would probably just be for someone to reduce their consumption of meat.

No difficult concepts.

This article was interesting in that it discussed how cows that are corn fed are not as healthy as everyone thinks, and that actually grass fed cows are. Although the author John is not too biased, in that he also lists the negative side to grass-fed cows, not just that all cows should be grass-fed. He actually at the end of the article explains how you are better off just eating less meat, and that you should only buy grass fed beef if you are to buy meat. I already knew about how factory cows have less omega 3 acids, but I am curious as to currently (this article is 8 years old) how much less omega 3 acids factory farm cows have. I am asking this because the only reason why cows eat omega 3 acids is, after fish die in rivers they end up on the shore where the grass is, where they then decompose into the soil. But what is the average population of fish in rivers now? I suppose one of the reasons why people like to eat much meat, is that grain fed cows have more fat than grass fed, and humans are naturally attracted to fatty foods, so maybe that is the reason why it is hard for people to eat less meat.

Overall, this article could be a real eye opener to beef eaters who think that the benefit of the protein they consume outweighs the negative effects of the fat. It also discusses the humanitarian perspective, but mainly focuses on the environmental and health perspective. Even for those who do not care about the environment, maybe them seeing how meat is really not as healthy for them to eat as they think will cause them to eat less meat. I am doing my part by not eating any meat, but unfortunately one person who does not eat meat will not do a whole lot to combat this issue, so it probably has to be the controllers of the media who need to unveil this issue.

Robbins, John. “What About Grass Fed Beef?” The Food Revolution : How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World. Conari Press. Berkeley, CA. January, 2001.
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