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Feb 19, 2009

What’s My Beef?

Okay, I have a rant. I normally don’t write rants, but I simply couldn’t let this one go!

Hubby and I, for the past few years, have really been focused on how and what we eat.  The last few years have also been challenging for me, health wise, and it all boils down to hormones in my diet- and not by my own doing. Not to mention any pesticides I’ve inadvertently ingested over the years. A recent brush with borderline pre-cancer has caused us to dig a little deeper. It’s not just about pesticides anymore. What our cattle is eating is scary! This is something we’ve known for quite a while, but what to do about it is the question. If you want a very informative book about the industrialization of our cattle ranches read Read Food What to Eat and Why, by Nina Planck. I urge you all to read it, but don’t say I didn’t warn will give you more than you probably want to know.

Recently, we have been on a search for some quality meat. My mother, who lives not far from Salem has been searching the area. She has found some ranches, but they are grass-finished. I told her that we don’t want that- that is just their way of tacking on the label ‘grass-fed’ (only grass-finished) so they can profit. These farms feed their cattle grass the last month or two of their lives. They still spend their lives in feedlots. We don’t want grain fed. You wouldn’t believe what grain does to the cows- and then problems get passed to us...again, read the book.

Here is an interesting article in the Oregonian, written by Leslie Cole about the truth of the labels. I encourage you to read it, and also the book, because Leslie does not go into the details of what feeding grain to cattle actually does to the cattle. The article starts out talking about a taste test conducted by the OSU and was a done using elementary school aged children. Grass-fed hamburgers  vs grain-fed hamburgers. The children liked both about the same! I don’t know about you, but I’ve tasted good meat...there is a big difference in how it smells coming out of the package, when cooked, and how it tastes. Was the test fair- No! They didn’t use grass-fed, but grain-fed grass-finished. Why use grain? To fatten them’s all about money and the cost to us is high.

I could go into detail, but lets just ask this- Is anybody surprised about mad-cow disease given the fact that we feed our cattle...meat, bones, blood, feathers, and anything else that is not edible for us (I believe that is not in practice any more, by the way, but you get the point). Shouldn’t there be a bit of backfire when forcing an animal to eat meat, turning them into carnivores. Why are we feeding them grain when they don’t normally eat it? Is there something wrong with doing it the way they did it before heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and numerous other diseases? Oh, yeah, I’s all about profit, silly me. Yes, it takes more land. Yes, it will be more expensive to the consumer (not if everyone were doing it correctly, however). Will I pay the higher cost? I will one way or another! It’s a pay me now, or pay me later kind-of thing. I have a choice, pay the extra cost for better meat now, or pay more medical bills later.

Am I going to be accused, yet again, of being a tree hugging, owl loving, fire-fighter sacrificing for the sake of fish, hairy armpit person? Probably. One difference, however, human life over that of animal- but responsible care of the animals of this earth...especially ones we eat! I need to do some more research on this, but one thing is for sure, I can't continue to eat awful meat. It is terrible going shopping now! Ignorance was bliss- I suppose.

Okay, enough. What do you think?

Happy Gardening!



  • Randy Emmitt


    Good rant and a reason to rant. Personally Meg and I eat beef maybe 2-3 times a year. We have know for a long time it's not good for you, the whole process of raising and butchering cattle is pretty scary to me. We eat lots of chicken, turkey and pork. I'm proud to be a tree hugger too, there is more to it than hugging trees you know.

  • Anonymous

    Love your floodlight idea. I'm an obsessed gardener. Actually I do have floodlights but they're all burned out and the bulbs are not cheap. Anyway...

    My daughter became a vegetarian because of the things she learned from PETA and other organizations. She loves animals and is looking in to veterinary medicine and can't stand the idea of eating an animal.

    The best way to deal with tainted food products is to be filthy rich and have a multitude of resources at your disposal. Not a plausible option for most of us.

    I have no scientific proof to back this up but I wonder if it's not so much the quality of the food (although this is an issue) but the quantity. Obesity is the precursor for many illnesses. If people really want to be healthy they've got to change their lifestyle. But I don't disagree with you about the cattle INDUSTRY and how we the consumers are paying the price. Good post.

  • Aunt Debbi/kurts mom

    It is scary. We got lucky and have a local organic farm where we can buy grass feed beef and free range chicken and eggs from those chickens. My goodness it is so much better, but much more expensive. The trick, eat less meat. Make it the smallest part of our diet instead of the largest. When we get out of town, I am raising my own chickens and possibly a goat or two.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Randy- Thanks for stopping by again. We eat meat more than that, but small portions. Chicken is one of my favorites! A Trader Joe's just opened up right around the corner from us! I love this store!

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Grace- Not a plausible option here either! I know a few people that have turned vegetarian and I don't blame them. It is all really scary. In the book by Planck she tells her story of growing up on a farm, then turning vegetarian, and then eating the right meat and how she felt, health wise, with each. She found her health to be poor eating vegetarian compared to the good meat diet. She goes into getting caught in the low-fat fad and how awful she felt then too. About obesity, in my research, I have found that a the whole reason for over eating, as well as other bad habits, could very well be because of hormones- over eating is a just a symptom, and now we're back to the issues of the quality of food. I agree with a need for changing lifestyle, but getting to the cause is essential to the success of that :) Before the industrialization of our farms, obesity was not nearly the issue it is today, along with numerous other disorders. I can't help but think what we're eating has everything to do with it. Read the book, I think you'll find it interesting.

    Thanks so much for stopping by again! Happy gardening.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Aunt Debi- That's what we're looking for! A nice local farm with correctly fed animals! We go organic with our dairy and eggs; it is more expensive, and I grow what I can, of course. I noticed a difference with even the shell of an organic egg! And the milk? Oh, so good! I can't drink regular milk and have been unable to do so for quite a few years, it would give me a stomach ache. Not organic milk! Hmmm...I wonder why? Planck talks about milk too in her book, it really is a good read!

    I've been wanting land for a while now- I hope we'll be able to move out of this big town to a nice small town with an acre or 2! God willing!

  • Cinj

    We all need a chance to rant once in a while, go for it! I read a similar book but it wasn't just about meat, but veggies and cleaners too. Scary, isn't it? Makes me wish I could have farm animals in my development. At least I can grow my future fruits and veggies organically!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, it was very helpful. Nice to meet you.

  • Mark

    We also eat very little red meat, so when we do I honestly don't worry about it. We do eat lots of chicken and turkey and have gone through the same thing there. I don't have a source to point you to, but Randy and some of the others here who eat lots of chicken should do a little research on what our poultry industry is using to fatten them up. It's no less scary than what we're feeding our cows.

  • Annie's Granny

    I'm feeling the same about the dairy products we consume. I bought a load of dairy compost last spring, and I'm still sifting the syringe caps out of my garden soil. In the long run, the cost of increased production might be greater than we, as consumers, wish to pay.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Cinj- Thanks for stopping by. Me too, I wish I had more room! Good luck with your blueberries and grapes.

    Mark- Yes, it's just as bad with the chicken. The keep them so crowded in pins that they peck at each other. Their solution? Well, lets just clip their beaks!

    Annie's Granny- Well, that must have been an enlightening experience! The dairy is a big issue too. They keep cows lactating by shooting them with hormones. The result is infections. Guess what we get? Yep, we call non-organic milk 'pus milk'! I know...more than anyone needed to know!

  • Kathleen

    I am another one of those that have turned semi vegetarian because of all the issues Tessa. I didn't say complete vegetarian because I eat some fish and occasionally chicken but there are issues with both of them too. It's very scary what we are putting in our mouths. I hope you can find a source for some good meat.

    Oh, I missed your post on the new 5 shelf stand you got! How great is that?!! You'll be growing all sorts of good things now. Congrats and have fun. It looks like a great set-up.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Hi, Kathleen. Glad you stopped by. I have thought about just going vegetarian myself- my problem is I like meat! Glad you like the shelf- I've been busy lately figuring out the best way to set it all up, and growing things already. Happy Gardening to you!

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