Organic Consumers Association

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Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Good For Your Health

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page, All About Organics page, Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

In the grand scheme of all that is wrong with modern agriculture, the unnatural transition that turned cattle (which naturally eat grass) into grain-eating ruminants is at the top of the list.

In the twisted realm of agribusiness, raising grass-fed cows, especially in the heart of 'corn country' (the Midwest) is now regarded as a specialty industry "for the crazies," as the New York Times recently reported.

"Where the great cattle herds once roamed, grass finishing - an intricate and lengthy ballet involving the balance of protein and energy derived from the stalk, with the flavor rendered by earth, plants and even stress - is a nearly lost art.

said Fred Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University  'The attitude out there is that grass-fed is for the crazies.'"

Yet, far from being 'crazy,' grass-fed beef represents a sought-after solution to unsustainable agricultural practices - one that could not only drastically reduce pollution but also produce a nutritionally superior meat.

While far from the norm at this point, a new appreciation for grass-fed meat, and all that it stands for, is steadily growing and these so-called 'unconventional' ranchers are now becoming mainstays in the industry.

Change to the Cattle Industry Must Come 'From Educated People From the Outside'

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), in which the majority of US beef (and pork, chicken and eggs) is raised, contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - in fact, more than the entire global transportation industry.

They also contribute to climate disruption by their impact on deforestation and draining of wetlands, and because of the nitrous oxide emissions from huge amounts of pesticides used to grow the genetically engineered corn and soy fed to animals raised in CAFOs.

The cows are fattened for slaughter on giant feed lots as quickly as possible (on average between 14 and 18 months) with the help of grains, as CAFOs represent a corporate-controlled system characterized by large-scale, centralized, low profit-margin production, processing and distribution systems.        

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