The Return of Pasture-Raised Beef

The Return of Pasture-Raised Beef

Farms have been a stable of world culture for thousands of years, and people have often taken great pride in the health of their crops and animals, and the reputation they had for treating the animals, earth, and plants as family.  These days, these values are depreciating as the modern factory farm is taking over… and the results might make you question your eating habits!

Old-time, high value farming in action.

Old-time, high value farming in action.

           Unless we grew up in a major metropolitan area with no farmland within 100 miles, most of us probably knew a farmer or two growing up…

            I know I did… and I know other friends who did.

            I remember the stories of them waking up just before dawn to feed the chickens, milk the cows, to drive the mechanized tiller out to the field… and these were just small family farms.

            By small… I mean around a 49-cow dairy and beef farm… more than most people could handle.

            But then, things changed…

            Sometime in the mid-90s, I remember the friend we had who had smaller farms suddenly, and often abruptly, stopped talking about their farming life.

            The reason?

            Pretty simple… the need for smaller farms was diminishing; more and more farms were getting bought up by large factory farms that could deliver more food, and they could do it cheaper since they were moving (lower quality goods) in bulk. 

            If you know anything about business and wholesaling, if you can get people to buy more, you can charge less… so these factory farms began to take over. 

            Sure… prices kept falling… but so did something else that was critical…


           Yes, as factories took over, they began locking animals into racks… the animals did not move much.

           In many instances, even with people aware and paying a lot of attention to it, they are still adhering to this practice.

The Risks with Factory Farming

            Most of us know, just from the image of a Chinese sweatshop factory, that the idea of factory farming is not ideal in any capacity.

            That being said, there are several good reasons to consider a local butcher and farmer over anything that is factory farmed…  the first being…

           YOU are what YOU eat.

            We have all heard this phrase before, “you are what you eat”… the same way we have heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”…

            If you are what you eat, then so is the steer that has provided a wonderful steak for you… so it the steer was eating junk, then you are eating junk.

            Make sense?

            Think about it… factory farms keep costs down by feeding their animals what is often considered the lowest quality feed available.  Examples of this include:

·       Literal garbage

·       Chicken feathers and chicken waste

·       Stale bread and cookies

·       By-products deemed unfit to feed humans or family pets

           Think about it… do you want to eat an animal that has subsisted on chicken waste and garbage, is this something that you really want to put into your body?

           Stressed animals create poor-quality food.

           When a body, any living, organic, breathing animal undergoes stress, the result is the production of stress hormones.  If this is done long enough, it actually blocks different pathways in the body.

           In humans this is experienced by becoming sick, injured, or facing a nervous breakdown. 

           In the case of the steer, chicken, duck, pig, or other animal, what this does is it blocks pathways that transmit vital nutrients to the muscles.

           Muscles atrophy, they get tough, and they are lower in nutrients.

           In short, a stressed animal does not taste as good and it does not offer the same nutrition.

           I don’t know about you, but if something is going to be not nutritious, I want to AT THE VERY LEAST taste good (looking at you, Coca-Cola and Hostess Cupcakes).

           But what causes this stress? 

           Animals are built to MOVE, and when you lock them into a position where they cannot move, and they can do nothing but eat and drink (and are forced to sleep standing) they do experience stress.  This stress depreciates the quality of your food, it ruins the taste, and it also makes the poor animal experience a truly miserable life.

There are plenty of other reasons…

           The are numerous reasons why factor farm meat is not as good for you as you would hope – we have just touched upon two of the important ones here.  There is SO much information online about the dangers of factory-farmed meat…

           And what is sad is, when we go to the supermarket, it is probably what most of us end up buying.

What can you do about it?

            Well, there are a number of things that are being done behind the scenes. 

            There are regulations and laws in place that relate to food and meat labelling, helping the savvy and aware consumers be more cognizant of their food’s origin. 

            There are also laws and regulations that surround the overall treatment of animals.  While factory farming is legal, new regulations are in place where the animals must be kept in these conditions for limited amounts of time, they must be given medical attention, and they must be slaughtered in a manner that is determined to be humane.

            There are other options… the easiest for you to control being that …

You can also buy pasture-raised meat!

            Pasture raised meat is just better all around… not only do you get to feel better about the animal because it lived a legitimately happy and “free” life, but you also get the benefits of the meat itself.

            It tastes better, and it has more of the nutrients that you would expect to get out of your meat. 

            In fact, there are a number of reasons that you might want to consider pasture raised meat when you purchase food (all examples taken from Paicines Ranch website):

·       It is leaner - about 1/3 the fat

·       It is higher in conjugated linoleic acid - 3-5 times as much

·       It is higher in omega-3 fatty acids - 2-6 times as much

·       It is higher in vitamin E - 2-4 times as much

·       It is higher in beta-carotene

That is all for now!

            Alright, so we got going on the disadvantages of factory farms rather than focusing on the idea of the benefits of the pasture-raised animals.  Next week, we can revisit this topic and talk about pasture-raised animals again, with just a little more focus.

            Hopefully, though, you understand why the factory farmed animal is probably not in your best interest to eat.  Most of the time they are lacking in nutrition and taste, and this can create a poor eating experience for you, and that is after the animal has a truly miserable life.

            Until next time, eat well, live well, and be well!