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Health Benefits: Sustainably Raised
 

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Purchasing Considerations when buying grass-fed beef

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Many people are still in the dark about the vast differences between Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and organically-raised, grass-fed beef, both in terms of contamination and nutrient content.

It's important to understand that when you raise animals in a CAFO -- away from their natural environments and diets – you dramatically increase the risk of pathogenic contamination that can make you ill.

Most CAFO cows are fed grains (oftentimes genetically modified grains, which make matters even worse), when their natural diet is plain grass. Grain diets create a much higher level of acidity in the animal's stomach, which E. coli bacteria need to survive.

Meanwhile, E. coli contamination is actually quite rare in organic beef for this reason—the cows just aren't susceptible to those kinds of disease-causing bacteria and viruses when they eat what they were designed to eat.

You'd think that since the meat is being raised in ways that are known to encourage disease-causing organisms, there'd be stringent requirements on testing. Unfortunately, that's not the case. For example, there is no federal requirement for meat grinders to test their ingredients for E.coli prior to selling them. And most retailers do not test either. In August 2008, the USDA issued a guideline urging meat processors to test their ingredients before grinding. But the guideline is only optional and has been met with criticism and resistance from the meat industry.

Modern mass production of food has created a wide array of safety problems. And the methods employed to make food "safer" typically deepens rather than solves them. In fact, once you delve into the world of the food industry, it becomes clear that eating much of it is like playing a game of Russian roulette with your health.

One problem in particular, which relates to the issue of meat, is the issue of contamination with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. As much as 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are for animals, primarily to serve as growth enhancers. The excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture is the primary reason for the rampant increase in antibiotic-resistant disease in humans.

As for pesticides, most people do not realize that conventionally-raised meat is actually one of the primary sources of pesticide exposure—not fruits and vegetables!

How's that?

Again, it goes back to the fact that CAFO animals are raised on a diet consisting primarily of grains, which are of course sprayed with pesticides.

Genetically modified (GM) grains are another growing problem. Not only are they sprayed with MORE pesticides than conventional crops, but we also do not know exactly what the health effects on humans might be when you eat meat raised on GM grains.

However, in an open letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, warns that a never-before-seen plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn appears to be responsible for high rates of infertility and miscarriages in cattle.

In the letter, posted on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance website, Dr. Huber states:

"This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare.

... Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.

The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%."

Whether or not this could affect humans who consume these grains or meats raised on them is yet unknown, but don't be the least surprised if that's exactly what we'll eventually find.

A safer option, as many consumers are now beginning to appreciate, is to choose locally grown and raised foods over those that have been mass produced, despite label claims of being "natural" or "organic."

When selecting beef, grass-fed beef that has NOT been "finished off on corn" is definitely your healthiest option as it is:

  • A natural source of healthy omega-3 fats – Omega-3s in cattle that feed on grass is 7 percent of the total fat content, compared to just 1 percent in grain-only fed beef. It also has the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats (3:1)
  • High in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid); a fat that reduces your risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders
  • High in beta carotene
  • Loaded with over 400 percent more of vitamins A and E
  • Virtually devoid of risk of Mad Cow Disease

Why would things be any different for a cow?

When you think of a cow in its natural environment, doing what it naturally does, you likely will picture it grazing. Is it grazing on stalks of corn? Of course not! It's grazing on green grass. (Animals given a choice will also avoid genetically modified grains, which really should tell us something...)

When cows eat grains, their body composition changes in detrimental ways, just like your body and health changes for the worse when you eat lots of junk and fast food. Most importantly for you, these changes include an alteration in the balance of fatty acids in their bodies, which leads to an imbalance in YOUR intake of omega-3 and omega-6s as well.

Grain diets create a much higher level of acidity in the animal's stomach, which is exactly what the E.coli bacteria need to survive and thrive.

Additionally, grass-finished animals live in clean grass pastures—as opposed to dirty, crowded pens—where higher levels of sanitation greatly reduce the risk of contamination as well.

If you want to eat beef in a truly healthful way, while at the same time avoiding getting fooled by glued piece-meats passed off as prime steak, follow these guidelines:

  • The beef should be organic and grass-fed
  • It should ideally come from a local farmer who can verify that the products are raised on pasture without antibiotics and pesticides, and who can tell you which cuts you're actually getting
  • The animals should be allowed to live in their natural habitats, eating their natural diets
  • The farmer should be aware of the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat -- and how to use these relationships to create synergistic, self-supporting ecosystems

1.  Dr. Mercola; mercola.com "The Meat You Should Never, Ever Eat." May 4 2011
 

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1061 Sugar Run Road
Avella, Pennsylvania 15312

phone: 724.587.3763

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Revised: January 02, 2017
grassfed.weatherburyfarm.com has been on-line since June 27,2007