The Truth About Meat – Grass Fed, Hormone Free, Clean
Animals fattened in feedlots, known as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), incur endless stress and abuse. They can become afflicted with a variety of disorders, including subacute acidosis, a painful condition that causes them to kick at their bellies, lose their appetite and eat dirt. In reaction, the animals are given chemical additives and antibiotics.
Also, animals raised in CAFOs are given diets designed to boost their productivity, featuring hormones, animal proteins, genetically modified grain and soy and can even be given feed that contains by-product foodstuffs including municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers and candy.
These animals also deposit large amounts of waste in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected, transported and dumped, causing ground and water pollution. Further pollution is caused by the gasoline- and diesel-powered equipment used to farm commercial grains.
The cost of factory farming convenience and slightly lower prices – both in your health, your weight, and also to the environment – can be easily summarized as follows:
- Animal stress
- Animal abuse
- Environmental pollutants
- Hormone, antibiotic and by-product foodstuffs additives passed on to the consumer
- Low-paid, difficult farm work
- Food with higher fat and less nutritional value
Grass-fed and grass-finished beef is from animals that have never eaten anything other than their mother’s milk and grass their entire lives. They are not given hormones or growth-promoted additives and are allowed to grow at a natural pace, living low-stress, healthy lives.
As a result, the meat you consume is far healthier than feedlot meat. Meat from grass-fed beef has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and calories. It is rich in omega-3 acids, which are linked to blood pressure reduction and healthy brain function. Grass-fed meat is higher in CLAs, one of our most potent defenses against cancer, and boasts more vitamin E and beta-carotene than feedlot beef.
Is it healthier for you? You bet. Grass-fed beef is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than grain-fed meats and higher in beta carotene (Vitamin A), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure and improve brain function. And you’ve heard of that nasty E. coli….in grass-fed beef, the risk of infection is virtually eliminated.
It’s not only better for you; it’s better for the cows, the environment and the farmer.
The Truth About Poultry
The mass-produced chicken you find in grocery stores are typically inhumanely raised in extremely cramped quarters where they can barely move. This creates stress in the chickens that can lead to disease and the need for antibiotics. Stressed growing conditions can also cause “stunted” meat devoid of taste and total health value, hence creating the need for chemicals to artificially moisten the meat.
In addition, even the EU poultry meat market has been closed to U.S. producers since 1997 when the EU began blocking imports of U.S. poultry products that had been processed with pathogen reduction treatments (PRTs).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ruled recently that poultry processed in China can be sold in the United States. Food-safety experts worry about the quality of chicken processed in a country notorious for avian influenza and food-borne illnesses. And they predict China will eventually seek to broaden the export rules to allow chickens born and raised there.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 317 people in 20 states had confirmed cases of Salmonella caused by chicken traced to a California processor. This should be (yet another) wake-up call that it’s time to make serious changes to the way U.S. chickens are housed, raised, and processed in the factory farming system. But there is an even deeper issue at the heart of this problem: The fact that chickens are deliberately bred for excessive growth.
Factory farm speed-breeding–the practice of selectively breeding “broiler” (meat) chickens to grow three times faster than 60 years ago–has created chickens which now struggle to simply move or stand. The University of Arkansas notes that if humans grew at a similar speed, a 6.6 lb newborn baby would weigh 660 lbs after two months.
“We have successfully bred most of the chicken out of the chicken,” Georgia farmer Will Harris told us recently. “A chicken in 1940, raised for 14 weeks to maturity, could fly. A chicken in 2010, raised for 6 weeks to maturity, struggles to walk.”
This rapid growth produces the huge white breast meat Americans are used to seeing at the supermarket, but what isn’t on the label is the terrible price these chickens paid. Excessive growth is causing massive suffering for nearly nine billion birds each year as well as potentially dangerous disease vulnerability for us. It’s more than enough to make you sick–and it just might.
Many of these chickens spend much of their lives practically immobilized in their own waste with open sores that can act as gateways to infection. Studies show that the stress of the excessive growth rate and accompanying poor living conditions contribute to lowered immunity, making the chickens even more susceptible to disease.
“Ninety-five percent of chickens are grown in such horrific conditions that they’re standing in poop and they end up infected with salmonella,” Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, pointed out to HealthDay News. “If one chicken gets it, they all get it.”
Rather than looking at ways to raise healthier chickens, much of the chicken industry relies on preventative antibiotics–giving the animals daily, low doses of many of the same drugs we use to treat human diseases. This practice has been shown to contribute to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that can infect us and are unyielding in the face of treatment, as evidenced in the Salmonella case and other recent outbreaks.
Organic free-range chickens, on the other hand, have plenty of room to roam and eat their entirely natural diets. Thriving in a stress-free environment, this makes all the difference in the world in terms of their health and taste value to you.
Another crucial reason this organic free-range chicken is an exceptional source of protein in your diet is because it is free of antibiotics. Over half of the antibiotics fed to mass-produced farm animals, including chickens, are identical to the ones administered to humans. As has been well publicized in the media, overuse of such antibiotics can lead to strains of bacteria resistant to the antibiotic, opening doors wider to the potential for human disease. Do your health and the environment a favor – only choose organic, free-range chicken.
GMOs… What Are They Anyway?
Excerpted from Mercola.com
Two Types of Genetic Engineering
Genetically engineered food comes from crops that have been altered by mixing and matching genes, usually from genetically modified organisms. They take genes from one species and force them into another species – even between species that have never mated in nature. There are two main types of GE foods:
- Herbicide-tolerant crops: Plants engineered to withstand heavy herbicide spraying without sustaining damage
- Pesticide-producing crops: Plants engineered to produce their own pesticides – so if a bug bites one, its stomach explodes and it dies
The process of genetic engineering is highly imprecise and riddled with unintended consequences. Viruses are typically used to genetically engineer the genes into a new species. Inserting the gene and then cloning it can triggers massive collateral damage – sometimes hundreds to thousands of genetic mutations down the line. The end result is a gene sequence that doesn’t exist anywhere in nature. What could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty can and does go wrong.
Your Immune System on Attack
Your immune system is a finely tuned system that has evolved over time to differentiate between “normal” and “foreign” matter. When your immune system sees a gene sequence that’s supposed to be “food,” but one it’s never seen before, it attacks as if it’s a foreign invader. Food essentially becomes a toxin. This initiates an inflammatory response, and chronic inflammation is the underlying reason for most chronic disease.
One key site where inflammation occurs is your gut. Gut inflammation is a precursor to all sorts of chronic problems, from heart disease to thyroid dysfunction to arthritis to autoimmune disease – you name it. Since the introduction of GE corn and soy into the American diet in 1996, numerous disorders related to gastrointestinal inflammation have been on the rise.
Engineering Washington Politics
In spite of America’s declining health, politicians and health, environmental, and agricultural officials seem to turn a blind eye to all of these concerns. A recent article in the GMO Journal7 addresses the profound influence of biotech lobbying on our political process. The article lists a number of facts showing how companies like Monsanto manipulate Washington to pass laws and regulations wholly in their favor. This includes preventing much-needed legislation to label genetically engineered foods. Thousands of ingredients must be listed on food labels, and yet genetically engineered ingredients, which have never been proven safe, do not need to be specified.
GMO Report Disproves FDA’s Safety Claims
There is a significant compilation of scientific evidence that casts serious doubt on the claims made by industry and government officials about the safety of GE foods. Consider a recent report by The Atlantic.8
The authors of the report “GMO Myths and Truths”9 took a science-based approach to evaluating the available research, arriving at the conclusion that most of the scientific evidence regarding safety and increased yield potential do not at all support the claims. In fact, the evidence demonstrates the claims for genetically engineered foods are not just wildly overblown – they simply aren’t true.
Not only are GE foods less nutritious than non-GE foods, they pose distinct health risks, are inadequately regulated, harm the environment and farmers, and are a poor solution to world hunger.
Tinkering with the Genetics of Your Food… What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Bt toxin, produced by Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt corn, is a great example of what can go wrong. Bt corn was introduced to the food supply in the mid-1990s.
One of the stated purposes of GE crops is to make it easier for farmers to control weeds and insects. Toward this end, genetic engineers capitalized on a type of soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt), whose toxin kills insects. They took the gene from the bacteria that produce the toxin and forced it into corn and cotton, so that the plants would do the killing. Every single cell in Bt corn, soy and cotton produces Bt toxin.
When Bt corn was approved, both Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assured everyone that the Bt toxin produced by these plants would hurt only insects.
They claimed Bt-toxin would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system, so it would not have any impact at all. However, such was not the case. Doctors at Quebec’s Sherbrooke University Hospital were shocked to find the toxin circulating in the blood of 93 percent of the pregnant women, 80 percent of their babies’ umbilical blood, and 67 percent of the non-pregnant women they tested.10 Clearly, Bt toxin is not destroyed in your GI tract.
Is Your Food Turning Your Gut Into a Pesticide Factory?
Many of the health problems now linked with Bt crops have risen exponentially since their introduction to the market. The fact that the toxin is flowing through your bloodstream and passing from pregnant women to their babies is a strong warning that Bt crops cannot be considered harmless.
Making Milk Toxic: rBGH
Bt corn is not the only GE food for which there is evidence of trouble. Consider what we’ve learned about bovine growth hormone, or rBGH.
GE bovine growth hormone (aka Posilac, rBGH, or rBST) is engineered by inserting cow genes into E. coli bacteria, in order to make the bacteria produce a hormone that revs up cows’ metabolism, thereby stimulating increased milk production. However, rBGH increases the cows’ IGF-1 levels (a hormone called insulin-like growth factor), which has been linked with cancer, and this hormone is passed on in the milk. Premenopausal women with high IGF-1 are seven times more likely to develop breast cancer, and men with increased IGF-1 have a higher risk for cancer of the prostate.
Could Glyphosate be Leading the Human Race Over a Cliff?
Genetically engineered foods appear to be causing problems that transfer up the food chain. Micronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc can be reduced by as much as 80 to 90 percent in GE plants. Animals and livestock given GE feed are becoming nutrient deficient, weak and sick. When we consume the nutrient-depleted plants and animals, we become weak and sick ourselves. Furthermore, there is evidence this problem may be working its way up the food chain – deficiencies that are well documented.
Not surprisingly, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup,which was introduced in 1972, is being found in high concentrations in the GI tracts of livestock, and in air, rain, and groundwater samples. Crops are being genetically engineered as “Roundup Ready” so they can withstand massive spraying with the toxic chemical chelator. Monsanto has long claimed Roundup is safe and environmentally friendly, but recent studies show it does not readily break down in the environment.
Glyphosate has been linked to more than 20 adverse health effects, including birth defects, infertility and cancer.
Children of workers on soybean farms sprayed with Roundup have shown a 70-fold increase in birth defects. Laboratory animals fed Roundup Ready soy develop serious reproductive disorders, including sperm damage, uterine damage, and testicular changes. In one study, half of the baby rats whose mothers were fed GE soy died within three weeks. The babies were also smaller and infertile. In a study yet to be published, rat testicles turned blue, and by the third generation, the rats were sterile. Some even had hair growing inside their mouths!
Yet the industry continues to sweep findings such as these under the rug.
Today’s high autism rates could be an unfortunate effect of GE foods. Changes seen in the GI tracts of autistic children are consistent with those seen in the GI tracts of animals given GE feed. Autism spectrum disorders have risen rapidly since GE foods were introduced. We can’t rule out the possibility that GE foods are contributing or even driving today’s autism epidemic.
The good news is that some of the damaging effects of GE foods appear to be reversible. Parents of autistic children report positive changes in their physical and mental symptoms after removing all GE foods from their diets. And farmers report livestock animals displaying health problems from GE feed quickly improve when their feed is switched to non-GE.
Clues for Avoiding GE Foods
In the meantime, there are some measures you can take to make sure the foods you select are not genetically engineered. There are nine primary GE food crops, but their derivatives are in over 70 percent of supermarket foods, particularly processed foods. GE ingredients can hide. For example, every can of soda containing high fructose corn syrup most likely contains GE corn. Make sure none of the following are on your grocery list, unless they are USDA certified organic:
|Canola Oil||Hawaiian papaya||Alfalfa|
|Sugar from sugar beets||Some varieties of zucchini||Crookneck squash|
Avoid any product containing aspartame, which is derived from a GE organism. And avoid any milk product that may have rBGH. I recommend consuming only raw, organic milk products you’ve obtained from a trustworthy local dairy farmer.
The Institute for Responsible Technology has put together a helpful Non-GMO Shopping Guide you can download and print. They even have an iPhone app.
By buying organic, you will dramatically reduce your exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, as those are used on nearly all GE crops. When shopping locally, know your local farmers. Many are too small to afford official certification, but many still adhere to organic, sustainable practices. The only way to determine how your food is raised is to check them out, meeting the farmer face to face if possible. Yes, it does take time but is worth it if you are really concerned about your family’s health.
Read Dr. Mercola’s full article here.