Chemicals vs Nutrition
Some of us can remember how a burger used to taste when we were kids. The meat was dense and juicy. Back then, you didn’t need to eat more than one burger to be full and satisfied. Today, the beef you get from the grocery store is lighter and puffier. It’s not dense and flavorful at all. It also has fewer nutrients because commercial beef producers use hormones to “grow” your beef.
Our concern is two-fold. First is the reduction in the quality meat we mentioned above. The second is the unnatural and potentially harmful effects of high levels of steroids and hormones.
One steroid they use is called trenbolone acetate. Trenbolone is what we call an anabolic steroidor a tissue-building drug. As soon as a calf turns 45 days old, they can pop the implant in the little calf’s ear. Combined with other hormones like estrogen, the calf’s daily weight gain will increase by up to 20 percent.
Also, instead of absorbing nutrients slowly and steadily over time from their natural diet of grass, the calves munch on grain feed mixed with antibiotics. They start to grow quickly and unnaturally. This makes for cows with muscles surrounded by fat with fewer nutrients, and inflated by androgens. And that leads to the puffy, nutrient-poor beef I mentioned.
What is worse is the issue of the trenbolone itself. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration all say “proper” use of trenbolone is safe. The problem is that it’s not always used properly.
The implants are pellets that are supposed to be inserted near the back of the cow’s ear because the ears are removed before processing. But the implantation doesn’t always go as planned. They have accidents like abscesses, expelled implants, cartilage embedment, crushed pellets, missing pellets and bunched pellets. Where are the missing pellets and embedded implants ending up?
And with androgens, we have plenty of evidence of their side effects in people. Some of them are:
- Prostate enlargement
- Male baldness
- Female body hair growth
- Liver problems
- Aggressive behavior
- Testicular atrophy
- Low thyroid activity
- Impaired kidney function
None of those problems are worth eating hamburgers made from commercial beef. Your body is too important to let it be subjected against your will to hormones engineered for animals. It doesn’t have to be this way. Take charge of your own food choices. If you want to make sure the beef you’re getting is really grass-fed, you can ask the butcher at your local store. But the surest way to get grass-fed products is through a private farm or ranch. The best listing of local grass fed, pasture based farms we have found is at Eatwild.
(The following is basic pasture fed information courtesy of Eatwild, J. Robinson)
Back to Pasture. Since the late 1990s, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements. Instead, they are keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. These new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs.
More Nutritious. A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.
The Art and Science of Grass farming. Raising animals on pasture requires more knowledge and skill than sending them to a feedlot. For example, in order for grass-fed beef to be succulent and tender, the cattle need to forage on high-quality grasses and legumes, especially in the months prior to slaughter. Providing this nutritious and natural diet requires healthy soil and careful pasture management so that the plants are maintained at an optimal stage of growth. Because high-quality pasture is the key to high-quality animal products, many pasture-based ranchers refer to themselves as “grass farmers” rather than “ranchers.” They raise great grass; the animals do all the rest.
Factory Farming. Raising animals on pasture is dramatically different from the status quo. Virtually all the meat, eggs, and dairy products that you find in the supermarket come from animals raised in confinement in large facilities called CAFOs or “Confined Animal Feeding Operations.” These highly mechanized operations provide a year-round supply of food at a reasonable price. Although the food is cheap and convenient, there is growing recognition that factory farming creates a host of problems, including:
• Animal stress and abuse
• Air, land, and water pollution
• The unnecessary use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs
• Low-paid, stressful farm work
• The loss of small family farms
• Food with less nutritional value.
Unnatural Diets. Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their productivity and lower costs. The main ingredients are genetically modified grain and soy that are kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies. To further cut costs, the feed may also contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and candy. Until 1997, U.S. cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying cause of BSE or “mad cow disease.”
Animal Stress. A high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants—cud-chewing animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs—not starchy, low-fiber grain. When they are switched from pasture to grain, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, the animals are given chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots, bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with these new, disease-resistant bacteria, there are fewer medications available to treat them.
Caged Pigs, Chickens, Ducks and Geese. Most of the nation’s chickens, turkeys, and pigs are also being raised in confinement. Typically, they suffer an even worse fate than the grazing animals. Tightly packed into cages, sheds, or pens, they cannot practice their normal behaviors, such as rooting, grazing, and roosting. Laying hens are crowded into cages that are so small that there is not enough room for all of the birds to sit down at one time. An added insult is that they cannot escape the stench of their own manure. Meat and eggs from these animals are lower in a number of key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Environmental Degradation. When animals are raised in feedlots or cages, they deposit large amounts of manure in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected and transported away from the area, an expensive proposition. To cut costs, it is dumped as close to the feedlot as possible. As a result, the surrounding soil is overloaded with nutrients, which can cause ground and water pollution. When animals are raised outdoors on pasture, their manure is spread over a wide area of land, making it a welcome source of organic fertilizer, not a “waste management problem.”
The Healthiest Choice. When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of the animals, helping to put an end to environmental degradation, helping small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from the land, helping to sustain rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.