Monday, May 16, 2011

The difference that grass-fed organic beef makes

Quite simply, it makes a difference in our family because Kat will eat it.

Over the past five years, Kat has been a vegan and a vegetarian and although she now occasionally eats chicken, she hasn’t eaten beef in a very long time.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday Kat and I visited Bill the Butcher, where the meat contains no herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or steroids, where there is no genetically modified feed, and where local cattle are pasture raised and harvested as humanely as possible.  What a difference that makes – no only philosophically, but to the taste of the meat as well!

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It was a bit of a field trip – of the fun, educational variety.

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The butchers were wonderful women (both also ex-vegetarians) who were extremely knowledgeable and helpful – and funny.  (They promised that if A-1 or barbeque sauce was put on this beef, sensors would activate and cause it to explode…)

Since we’d gotten a new Weber grill the previous evening, we wanted something that we could just grill.  The butcher (I forgot to ask her name, dang it) suggested this top sirloin…

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Simplicity was the key.  We wanted the full “more earthy” flavor to be revealed.

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And it was!

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Kat was even the first one to finish her steak, enjoying and savoring every bite.

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Perhaps she can add her own perspective in the comments (she was going to guest blog this entry, but had to head back to school before there was time) regarding why she feels that buying meat from butchers like Bill the Butcher is actually a more effective, impactful way than vegetarianism to support environmental and economic sustainability around beef farming.  It makes a lot of sense!

Here’s Kat’s comment, which I left in the comment section, but also want to include as an addendum within the post:

Where do I start? I decided to be a vegetarian first and foremost out of my love for all animals. Doing some research myself, I heard how much they suffer in industrialized mass-production CAFO's (confined animal feed operations). I could not bring myself to continue to support that through my food choices. So I cut them all out, naively thinking this would make some sort of a small, minute difference (if only I could convince EVERYONE to go vegetarian!) Through researching government-funded corn subsidies, my values toward the American food system shifted.

Here it is in a nutshell: The government pays corn farmers to over-produce (ps, this comes from our tax dollars). Counter-intuitive, yes, but this makes corn CHEAP and we like cheap stuff in America. So now we have a surplus of corn... what should we do with it? Let's make cheap sweetener (high fructose corn syrup...hello, obesity) and let's feed it to the cows and chickens (who are supposed to eat grass and grain) and see how they do. They don't do so well. So what do we do? Instead of fixing the problem by allowing them to feed naturally, we fix the problem through science and technology (again, the American way... we don't like the simple solutions, we like to make things complicated).

So, now we're making our confined cattle eat corn, which gives them a nasty disease called Acidosis (not to mention they stand in their poop all day instead of a pasture... hello E.coli!). To treat the Acidosis and keep the cattle alive who can get so many diseases by standing in each other's poop, we pump them full of antibiotics to keep them alive until slaughter and hormones to make them grow fast so we can slaughter them sooner. Yum! Sometimes though, the cattle get so sick from the Acidosis that it kills them. Farmers hope that the sick cattle can stay just alive enough until slaughter. Yum.. sick beef...
What does it all boil down to? Corn subsidies.

 
I realize that if I really want to be a part of the conversation surrounding American production of food, it needs to start with supporting the small-scale, local, natural farmers that are being squeezed out by the big, profit-driven companies.
Here is an amazing article I suggest. It depicts the shift in conscience I experienced surrounding my food choices: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation

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6 comments:

Maria said...

I look forward to Kat's perspective. I know why I think sustainably produced local meat is better, but I'd love to find out her take on the situation. :)

Lorrene said...

This has been my biggest rant for years. Meat has been ruined for years with the growth hormones and etc.

Lynn said...

Sadly, it's quite expensive to get beef that's been raised healthily and humanely. Same is true of organic eggs from cage free chickens.

That Girl Kat said...

Where do I start? I decided to be a vegetarian first and foremost out of my love for all animals. Doing some research myself, I heard how much they suffer in industrialized mass-production CAFO's (confined animal feed operations). I could not bring myself to continue to support that through my food choices. So I cut them all out, naively thinking this would make some sort of a small, minute difference (if only I could convince EVERYONE to go vegetarian!) Through researching government-funded corn subsidies, my values toward the American food system shifted. Here it is in a nutshell: The government pays corn farmers to over-produce (ps, this comes from our tax dollars). Counter-intuitive, yes, but this makes corn CHEAP and we like cheap stuff in America. So now we have a surplus of corn... what should we do with it? Let's make cheap sweetener (high fructose corn syrup...hello, obesity) and let's feed it to the cows and chickens (who are supposed to eat grass and grain) and see how they do. They don't do so well. So what do we do? Instead of fixing the problem by allowing them to feed naturally, we fix the problem through science and technology (again, the American way... we don't like the simple solutions, we like to make things complicated). So, now we're making our confined cattle eat corn, which gives them a nasty disease called Acidosis (not to mention they stand in their poop all day instead of a pasture... hello E.coli!). To treat the Acidosis and keep the cattle alive who can get so many diseases by standing in each other's poop, we pump them full of antibiotics to keep them alive until slaughter and hormones to make them grow fast so we can slaughter them sooner. Yum! Sometimes though, the cattle get so sick from the Acidosis that it kills them. Farmers hope that the sick cattle can stay just alive enough until slaughter. Yum.. sick beef...

What does it all boil down to? Corn subsidies.

I realize that if I really want to be a part of the conversation surrounding American production of food, it needs to start with supporting the small-scale, local, natural farmers that are being squeezed out by the big, profit-driven companies.

Here is an amazing article I suggest. It depicts the shift in conscience I experienced surrounding my food choices: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation

Carol said...

Kat's comment is so important (and SO much more informed and better expressed than my own words) that I've decided to include it as part of the post! (I'll leave it here as well, for continuity.) Thanks Kat!! (Next time you gotta be a real guest blogger, OK?!)

Goofball said...

the meat looks delicious

Kat's observations that there's something fundamentally wrong with our food production is much true. I'm convinced of that but I guess I've been too lazy so far to make a change in my own life

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