Meat: Grass-fed vs. Conventional

Would you want to eat meat coming from this CAFO?

While we were up visiting my parents for Christmas, my mom shared with me that she had happened upon an online video that detailed the conditions of conventional meat factories. I call them factories because they certainly can't be considered farms. She was so horrified by what she saw that, days later she was still grimacing and wishing she could get the images out of her head. It really is abominable what happens to our food before we eat it. I won't share a link to the video, but I will share the truth about the meats we are putting daily into our bodies.
The Reality of CAFO Meat
Have you ever heard of a CAFO? A CAFO is a concentrated animal feeding operation. The conventional meat you buy at your local grocery store most likely comes from or was finished at a CAFO. These factory farms produce food at a high volume in order to maximize profits. Unfortunately, there is no grass or vegetation in the areas where these animals are confined. Which means they cannot eat their natural diet: grass. Instead they are subjected to eating corn, soy, and sometimes even gum and candy (source). Yep, candy. This industrial diet makes the cows very sick. Additionally, because the animals are packed into these small spaces and standing in their own manure, they are pumped full of antibiotics to keep them "healthy." And don't forget those hormones, which make them grow faster and bigger than is natural. The combination of close confinement and an unnatural diet produces nutritively poor and even harmful meat - which we, then, eat. The nutrition the animal gets, is the nutrition we get when we eat their meat, plus any antibiotics and hormones to which they have been exposed. Might make you think twice the next time you reach for those steaks at your local grocery store, eh? 
CAFO meat is virtually devoid of omega-3 fatty acids, and even though the animals receive vitamin E supplementation, the meat they produce contains much less vitamin E than meat from pastured animals. And pathogenic bacteria? CAFO meat is crawling with it at 6 million cells of E. coli per gram of meat. Most of this is due to the diet we feed those animals. The corn and soy create a very acidic environment, perfect for the proliferation of bacteria. It has been shown, however, that switching a cow from a CAFO diet to hay can reduce the presence of pathogenic bacteria by 70%! A change like this, however, is considered impractical by CAFO operators.
There are other problems which arise from CAFOs besides the quality of meat. The high volume of animals naturally creates a high volume of waste. The CAFO operators then have to figure out how to get rid of this waste, and so they build a liquid manure handling system. Mmm... doesn't that sound delicious! These systems are man-made lagoons which can leach the manure into our groundwater. Oftentimes, the manure is sprayed onto crops (even better), but too much so, and the manure runs off into waterways. Additionally, those who are employed at these feedlot operations are subjected to incredibly unsanitary conditions. These workers suffer from a range of respiratory problems like asthma and chronic bronchitis. Various studies found these workers to have higher rates of depression, anger, fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, and the list goes on. These side affects were not limited to only the workers, but also to those in the neighborhoods near the feedlots. (source)
Remember all those warnings about eating a diet high in red meat? These studies concluded that red meat could cause heart disease, cancer, obesity, allergies, insulin resistance, and even depression. In fact, they were correct! BUT...did you ever think to consider where they are getting the red meat for these studies? From CAFOs. A diet high in red meat coming from cows on pasture, eating a grass diet, getting plenty of exercise, and grazing happily under the sun will not lead to chronic disease, and here's why:

Benefits of Grass-Fed Meat

Remember this post on Dr. Weston A. Price? His studies showed that in traditional cultures the animal held an important place. Meat was a large portion of the diet in many of these cultures. The whole animal was used: the bones for stock, the lard, suet, or tallow for cooking or preserving foods, and the organ meats were prized above all, set aside for children, pregnant women, and those trying to conceive. These meats, of course, came from animals on pasture, who fed on lush grasses, consumed the occasional insect, and grazed under the sun with plenty of room to roam. 
These conditions create optimal levels of vitamins and minerals in the animal. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a nutrient found in abundance in pastured meats. It protects us against cancer, reduces body fat, unclogs clogged arteries, and delays the onset of diabetes (source). Grass-fed animals produce meat that contains a much better balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than conventional meat. We learned about the side effects of an unbalanced omega ratio in our last post. Meat from CAFOs has a ratio around 21:1, whereas grass fed meat is usually 3:1, and can be closer to 1:1! Remember the vitamin E supplementation that occurs in CAFO meats? Well, grass-fed cows produce meats that contain 3 to 4 times the amount of vitamin E without the need for supplementation (source)
So, what are you waiting for? Make the switch over to grass-fed meats today. Follow the guide below to buying the best meats for your family.

Check out my resource page for ideas on where to find local and non-local grass-fed meats.

No comments:

Post a Comment