We are What We Eat, Aren't We?
The subject of grass fed vs. grain fed is in my thoughts a lot. Kevin and I have exclusively switched to drinking only grass-fed milk at home (we drink Natural By Nature whole milk and we love it), and grass fed beef as well. There are many reasons why, and I really wanted to share why. My next task is finding grass fed dairy products, which I think is a bit harder to locate, but just as important. I give a warning, this post is not pretty, but if you decide to stop reading it I hope someday you learn this information. We are all in charge of our own bodies and what we put in them is quite possibly the most important thing we decide daily. We are what we eat they say, right?
You should always be seeking out grass-fed/pasture raised poultry, meat and dairy products. Always! Cows are ruminants, their natural diet is grass, in fact what they are forced (list below) to eat causes major health problems which are addressed with high amounts of antibiotics (those of which end up in our systems and waterways through their waste runoff). Chickens naturally poke around on pasture for bugs to fill their stomachs; they don’t naturally eat what we feed to them.
In today’s industrialized factory farming industry cows, pigs and chickens are fed a range of things including; corn, soybeans, cattle manure, swine waste, poultry litter, feathers, skin, hooves, blood, plastic, sand, wood, dirt, intestines, rendered road kill, euthanized and rendered cats & dogs and finally rendered pigs and poultry can be not only be fed to cows but fed back to pigs and chickens (who are allowed themselves to eat rendered cattle, so in turn we are cannibalizing the cattle as well) I am not speaking of a select few underground factory farms doing this on the sly, this list is what is LEGAL in this country to feed farm animals. LEGAL! From my extensive reading on this subject, companies do this across the board, companies with names we all know. Why would they do this you ask? How can they sleep at night you ask, knowing they’ve fed their pigs their fellow pigs? MONEY. If that isn’t reason enough to switch to grass fed meat and poultry I will elaborate:
Here are some health reasons to switch:
Grass Fed/Pasture Raised Meat/Poultry/Pork contains much more omega 3’s, Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and other antioxidants. Grass fed beef fat and butter contains the powerful CLA (which is a hard to find nutrient), CLA is a powerful anti-cancer agent which aids in weight loss and builds lean muscle tissue. Grass fed animals contain more muscle and less fat because they are walking on pasture to eat instead of bending over eating from a trough of “food” (see above for reminder of their food). That translates to less fat for you and more essential nutrients.
Now, to the environmental benefits of grazing animals:
1. Grass is much more easily grown without the use of chemicals, as opposed to grain or soybeans which tend to need more care, leading most farmers to use pesticides and chemical fertilizers
2. When grazing, farmers move their herd around from patch of grass to patch of grass, thus allowing for regrowth and natural activity in the soil
3. When animals are outside there is much more room for them, leading to much lower rates of infection and disease.
Here’s a quote from ‘Real Food’ by Nina Planck that helps sum up the environmental benefits, “The constant cutting and regrowth of grazing stimulates dense root growth, improving soil fertility and preventing erosion, and because cows walk around manure is spread evenly, reducing nitrogen runoff."
Thank you for sticking through this post, I know it’s disgusting and I don’t want to gross you out, but telling you this in this way is the only way I know how to share the truth, and the only way I can imagine telling you, there’s no need to sugar coat this as the industry has, this is what we eat for gods sake and we are what we eat aren’t we? And if that’s true, what does that mean we are now?
Here are some choices you have when you shop:
For a range of dairy products:
A great quick overview with lots of information on this subject:
http://www.ucsusa.org/- great resource for information, for information related on this article click the Food tab or go to the following link: http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_environment/
Image: Painting by Lowell Herrero