Two Presidential Candidates Release Their Agriculture Policies
Presidential candidates Senators Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have released proposals that outline their plans for promoting America’s small family farmers while curtailing Big Agribusiness.
You don’t have to support—or even like—the two candidates to check out what they are saying and use what you learn to help push the candidates you do support to adopt strategies to promote small family farms, e.g., redistributing federal farm subsidies to target small- and mid-sized family farms, rather than that the largest farm operations.
Follow the links below for reviews of the two candidates' ag policies in the Des Moines Register:
AgHelp is a new startup that launched in October 2018. Their mission is to address the agricultural labor shortage in the industry through a website where ag-workers can search for jobs and find local health, social, and educational services. Employers can also post jobs to source labor nationally or locally and workers will be able to receive information on crops, housing, and much more.
The founders' 10-plus years of experience working as farmworkers and in the public sector for the State of Michigan were used to develop this innovative resources for agricultural employers across the U.S. This service will be free for all workers and agencies.
Go to aghelpusa.com to read up on their approach to helping Growers across the country and to sign up to be notified of the launch.
Jury tags Monsanto's Roundup for contributing to groundskeeper's cancer
On August 10, 2018, a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to 46-year-old Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper dying of cancer, saying the company's popular Roundup weed killer contributed to his disease. The chemical glyphosphate in Roundup is considered the culprit.
Bossy has a short lifespan when she is raised
in a confinement dairy, which is the way most cows are raised today.
She provides a very high volume of milk, partly due to hormone
injections and a high-grain diet, but she lasts for only 2-3 years.
Then infertility, disease, physical problems, or inflammation end
her milking career, and she is sold at auction for hamburger.
Cows raised on grass are healthier and more
fertile, making them good milk producers for up to twelve years.
These long-lived and more contented cows may reduce greenhouse
gas production (methane) between 10 and 11 percent according to
a British Study.
P.C., The environmental impact of fertility in dairy cows: a modeling
approach to predict methane and ammonia emissions, Animal Feed
Science & Technology, 2004. 112: 211-223.
Great Milk! And a healthier world
Raise dairy cows outside on pasture—the time-honored way—and the
world benefits. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by
the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
Compared with dairy cows raised
in factory farms, letting Bossie graze in the fresh air lowered the amount
of ammonia released into the atmosphere by about 30 percent. It also cut emissions
of other greenhouse gasses, including methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, the carbon footprint of the pasture-based dairy was 6 percent
smaller than that of a high-production dairy herd kept indoors. The milk of
grass-fed cows is much healthier for you as well. (Read Jo Robinson’s
article Super Natural Milk.)
Take a cube of butter from your refrigerator,
slice it with a knife, and spread it on a slice of bread. Did it
coat the bread evenly or did it remain in hard lumps? Researchers
have determined that the easier butter spreads, the better it is
for your health.
Why is this? The firmness of butter depends
on its ratio of saturated and unsaturated fat. At refrigerator
temperatures, saturated fat is hard and unsaturated fat is soft,
or even liquid. Therefore, butter that is relatively easy to spread
has less saturated, artery-clogging fat and more (healthier) unsaturated
In addition, a 2006 study shows that the softer
the butter, the more fresh pasture in the cow’s diet. Cows
that get all their nutrients from grass have the softest butterfat
of all. Butter from grass-fed cows also has more cancer-fighting
CLA, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids than butter
from cows raised in factory farms or that have limited access to
“The Linear Relationship between the
Proportion of Fresh Grass in the Cow Diet, Milk Fatty Acid Composition,
and Butter Properties.” Journal of Dairy Science,
2006. 89:1956–1969. [Note: this study is available free of
charge at the Journal
of Dairy Science website.]
Are those eggs really farm fresh?
It seems that all the eggs on the market are
guaranteed to be “farm fresh,” whether you’ve
paid a dollar a dozen at a discount grocers or five times that
much at a farmer’s market. How can you tell if an egg is
The quickest test is to crack an egg into a
pan of slowly simmering water. The egg is fresh if the white is
thick and clings to the yolk. The egg is old if the white is thin
and spreads out into the water. A poached fresh egg presents a
very tidy package.
Boiling an egg gives you more clues. Fresh
eggs lay flat on the bottom of the pan. Older eggs tend to tilt
upward. That’s because air has had time to infiltrate the
shell and form an internal bubble. The bubble levitates one end
of the egg. The older the egg, the steeper the incline.
Once your boiled eggs are done, peel one of
them. The egg is very fresh if it’s difficult to peel and
some of the cooked white pulls away with the shell. An older egg
peels like a breeze. Fresh eggs make raggedy looking deviled eggs.
Farmer retires at 86 to take on new job
Long-time Eatwild producer Martha Holdridge of West Wind Farm in West Virginia retired from
farming and marketing at age 86. Instead of taking it easy, she is tackling even tougher jobs: educating people on a broad range of environmental and climate benefits of raising animals on pasture:
Organic grassfed beef production creates far fewer GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions than conventional/feedlot beef production.
Skilled management of cattle on grass can draw CO2 (carbon dioxide) down from the atmosphere and deposit it in pastures as (SOC) soil organic carbon.
For her new website, Martha has chosen the term "grasspower" to emphasize that a very common plant, if well managed, can produce important benefits for Earth's climate. Visit her new website at (www.grasspower.org/) for a wealth of information, including a descriptive power point entitled, "Grass Power and Climate Change."
Eatwild founder named one of Top 50 Food Activists
May 2016 – Eatwild founder Jo Robinson was honored this week by The Academy of Culinary Nutrition which selected her as one of their Top 50 Food Activists. "Thank you," said the Academy, "for helping us to make informed decisions about what we eat and empowering us to do better....We're extremely grateful for the work that you do and we're lucky to have people like you in this world."
The Academy of Culinary Nutrition, was founded by nutritionist and author Meghan Telpner. Their Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert program trains students to become the health leaders in their respective communities. They currently have over 700 graduates, covering six continents and more than 32 countries.
A landmark, October 2015 study by Consumer Reports is the largest study to date showing that choosing grass-fed meat over conventional meat will reduce your risk of food poisoning and result in fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
They tested 300 samples of beef purchased at stores across the United States and determined that beef from conventionally raised cows was three times as likely as grass-fed beef to contain bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, posing a food poisoning threat.
"One of the most significant findings of our research," declared Consumer Reports, "is that beef from conventionally raised cows was more likely to have bacteria overall, as well as bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, than beef from sustainably raised cows."
Antibiotics in meat on the rise worldwide, especially bacon
About 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock. A study published in 2015 by researchers at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, Princeton University, the International Livestock Research Institute and the Université Libre de Bruxelles predicts that antibiotic use in livestock will likely rise 67 percent by 2030 if livestock conditions don't improve. The researchers found pig farmers producing pork and bacon use four times as many antibiotics as cattle farmers.
One of the major reasons farmers are using more antibiotics is that demand for meat is going up, and animals are being confined in smaller and smaller living quarters, which can increase the spread of disease. Antibiotic resistance not only applies to the animals, but it can affect the humans eating the meat.
Jo Robinson, Eatwild founder, featured in The New York Times
From the moment that our hunter-gatherer ancestors started domesticating livestock and choosing particilar fruits and vegetables to plant in their gardens, they began making selections that reduced the overall nutritional content of our diets. The good news is that today's technology now gives us the power to measure the nutritional qualities of our food in very precise detail, and can point us to those specific varieties that will provide us with the most health benefits.
Jo Robinson, founder of Eatwild, has written a new book that outlines the many choices we can make in our supermarkets to begin reclaiming many lost nutrients. Eating on the Wild Side will be available beginning on June 4, 2013. In the meantime, read her article Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food in the May 26th issue of The New York Times.
Making sense out of meat labels
Ever wonder what all those meat labels really
mean? For example, what is meant by non-confined? natural? source
verified? cage free?
Candy recommended as a substitute cattle feed during a drought
Joseph Watson, the owner of the United Livestock Commodities group, recommends feeding stale candy to cattle when corn is scarce or expensive. There are nutritional advantages to this scheme, according to Watson, because candy is higher in fat and sugar, helping to fuel the growth of the animals. In practice, the candy is fed in its wrappers. (It’s expensive to unwrap all that candy.) That’s okay, too, because paper is a bulk filler.
Watson told a reporter for Kentucky TV station WPSD. “We’ve already seen the results of it so we’re pretty proud of it.” He added that the stale candy was a problem for candy manufacturers, and the companies are “proud to have a place to go with it.” So far, no one has bothered to measure the nutritional content of meat from candy-fed beef cattle.
grasses speed the growth of cattle and sheep and lowers
British Agricultural Minister Jim Paice announced the results
of a new study showing that raising cattle and sheep on high-sugar
grasses can lower their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.
benefits from the sweeter feed. The ruminants like the taste of
the grass and eat more of it. The sugars allow them to make more
efficient use of the proteins in the grass. As a result,
the animals reach market size weeks earlier, producing less methane
Paice said: “It is very exciting this new research has discovered
that simply changing the way we feed farm animals we have the potential
to make a big difference to the environment.”
study was carried out by Reading University and the Institute of
Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. High-sugar pasture
grasses are now available for sale.
Grass-fed meats improve fat levels
Eating moderate amounts of grass-fed meat for
only 4 weeks will give you healthier levels of essential fats,
according to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.
The British research showed that healthy volunteers
who ate grass-fed meat increased their blood levels of omega-3
fatty acids and decreased their level of pro-inflammatory omega-6
fatty acids. These changes are linked with a lower risk of a host
of disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression,
and inflammatory disease.
Interestingly, volunteers who consumed conventional,
grain-fed meat ended up with lower levels of omega-3s and higher levels
of omega-6s than they had at the beginning of the study, suggesting
that eating conventional meat had been detrimental to their health.
British Journal of Nutrition (2011)
Red meat from animals offered a grass diet increases plasma and
platelet N-3 PUFA in healthy consumers. Volume 105, pages 80-89.
Family Farmer Blues
Thank you to Eatwild producer Big Oaks Ranch for sending along the link to this video of Family Farmer Blues...
Healthy Eggs: What we knew in
In the 1930s, scientists and food producers
were creating the first plans to take poultry off family farms
and raise them in confinement. To enact their plans, they needed
to create “feed rations” that would keep the birds
alive and productive even though they were denied their natural
diet of greens, seeds, and insects. It was a time of trial and
In a 1932 experiment conducted by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, breeding hens were taken off pasture
and fed a wide variety of feed ingredients. When the birds were
fed a diet that was exclusively soy or corn or wheat or cottonseed
meal, the chickens didn’t lay eggs or the chicks that developed
from the eggs had a high rate of mortality and disease.
But when birds were fed these same inadequate
diets and put back on pasture, their eggs were perfectly normal.
The pasture grasses and the bugs made up for whatever was missing
in each of the highly restrictive diets.
“The effect of diet on egg composition.” Journal
of Nutrition 6(3) 225-242. 1933.
Eggs from pastured hens are far richer in
Eggs from hens raised outdoors
on pasture have from three to six times more vitamin
D than eggs from hens raised in confinement. Pastured hens
are exposed to direct sunlight, which their bodies convert to vitamin
D and then pass on to the eggs.
Vitamin D is best known for its role
in building strong bones. New research shows that it can also enhance
the immune system, improve mood, reduce blood pressure, combat
cancer, and reduce the risk of some autoimmune disorders.
This latest good news about eggs comes from
a study released by Mother
Earth News, a magazine that plays a leading role in promoting
health-enhancing, natural foods. The editors found that eating
just two eggs will give you from 63-126% of the recommended daily
intake of vitamin D.
Note that this benefit comes only from hens
that are free to graze fresh greens, eat bugs, and bask in the
sun. Most of the eggs sold in the supermarket do not meet this
criterion. Even though the label says that the eggs are “certified
organic” or come from “uncaged” or “free-range” hens
or from hens fed an “all-vegetarian” diet, this is
no guarantee that the hens had access to the outdoors or pasture.
Look for eggs from “pastured” hens.
You are most likely to find these superior eggs at farmer’s
markets or natural food stores.
According to a July 2011 study conducted by the USDA’s
Agricultural Research Service, a 10,000 cow confinement dairy in Idaho produces
staggering amounts of greenhouse gases. Every day, 37,075 pounds of pollution
spew into the air. This breaks down into 33,092 pounds of methane, 3,575 pounds
of ammonia, and 409 pounds of nitrous oxide. Most of the emissions come from
the bare dirt lots where the cows spend their time between milkings. The 25-acre
manure holding pond is the next biggest source.
Ranchers who raise their cattle on grass from
birth to market do not send their animals to large slaughter houses
such as the Hallmark Meat Packing Company where extreme cases of
abuse were recently documented. (See post directly above.) Instead,
they slaughter the animals on the farm or take them to small, independent
Ranchers who drive their grass-fed cattle to
an abattoir go to great lengths to keep the animals calm. Some
bring along cattle that are not earmarked for slaughter to give
the animals the comfort of being with their herd mates. Many ranchers
watch the entire slaughter process to ensure that their animals
are being treated humanely every step of the way.
Some ranchers practice “field slaughter.” In
this case, they approach the animal out on the pasture, making
sure not to trigger alarm. Then they kill it with a bullet to the
head. The animal dies instantly and has no opportunity to experience
pain. Other ranchers contract with a specially designed mobile
slaughter facility that comes to the farm and manages the entire
process from killing the animals to preparing the carcass for the
Typically, a grass-based ranch has fewer than
150 animals, and the owners can identify each animal by sight.
Their goal is to make sure all the animals are well fed and cared
for and do not experience unnecessary stress at any time of their
To find a pasture-based rancher in your area, click
here. Ask the farmers about their slaughtering protocol.
New Forage for Rangeland Cattle in Western U.S. Provides Higher Yield, More Protein & Protects Against Wildfires
Cattle that graze on rangelands in the western United States may soon have a new forage option, thanks to work by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist.
Research by geneticist Blair Waldron, in Logan, Utah, suggests that the forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) can provide more nutritious winter forage than traditional rangeland vegetation. In a series of studies, the USDA found that kochia, a shrubby Asian native plant that sometimes survives wildfires and other environmental challenges more successfully than North American native plants, can be established on damaged rangelands, and that it can compete with cheatgrass successfully.
Waldron and his research partners also investigated fall/winter rangeland forage yields, rangeland carrying capacities, nutritive values, and the livestock performance of cattle that spent the fall and winter grazing on either kochia-dominated rangelands or grass-dominated rangelands. Forage yield on rangelands seeded with kochia was 2,309 pounds per acre, which was six times greater than the forage yield on traditional grazinglands. This difference meant that the rangelands with kochia could support 1.38 animals per acre, while the traditional rangelands could support only 0.24 animal per acre.
In addition, the experimental forage had a crude protein content of 11.7 percent, well above the recommended minimum, while the stockpiled grasses had a crude protein content of only 3.1 percent, which was below the recommended minimum.
Click here for links to more information about this study.
is not your everyday fried eggs and potatoes. The orange-yolked eggs were laid
by pastured hens and cost $5.00 per dozen. The potatoes are organic French
fingerling potatoes—a creamy red-skinned potato that costs twice as much
as Russet potatoes. The salt is a French sea salt celebrated for its flavor.
The black pepper is freshly ground. The potatoes and eggs were fried in two
tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. The fresh garlic chives and thyme were
snipped from the garden. The total cost of this heavenly breakfast is about
$2.00. The breakfast Egg and Cheese Bagel from McDonald’s costs $2.10.
The meal pictured on the right has some hidden values
as well. The chickens that laid the eggs are healthy hens free to forage for
bugs, greens and seeds and lie down and spread their wings in the sun. The
French fingerling potatoes give you three times more antioxidants than the
common Russet, and they’re
pesticide free. And how does it taste? Try it and see.
half of US meat and poultry likely contaminated with Staph
half the meat and poultry sold in the US is likely to be contaminated
by highly dangerous bacteria, according to research published
this month (April 2011) in the scientific journal, Clinical
The study estimates that 47 percent of the
meat and poultry on US supermarket shelves contains the bacteria staphylococcus
aureus ("Staph"). It is not, however, among
the four bacteria—Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus—routinely
tested in meat by the US government.
The researchers tested 136 samples from 80
brands of beef, pork, chicken and turkey, purchased from 26
grocery stores in five major US cities. DNA tests from staph-infected
samples suggest that the farm animals
themselves were the major source of contamination. "Densely-stocked
industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses
of antibiotics... [are] ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant
bacteria that move from animals to humans," according to the
The bacteria is not only linked to a number
of human diseases, but is also resistant to at least three classes
of antibiotics. Lance B. Price, Ph. D., senior author
of the study, stated that “The fact
that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came
from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention
to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today.”
are the most important drugs that we have to treat Staph infections;
but when Staph are resistant to three, four, five or even nine
different antibiotics -- like we saw in this study -- that leaves
physicians few options," Price said.
Producer Georgia's Small Business Person of the Year
Congratulations to Eatwild producer Will Harris
for being selected Georgia’s Small Business Person of the
Year. Harris is the owner and president of the 1,000-acre White
Oak Pastures, one of the largest pasture-based farms in the
country. The operation employs 40 people and sells its organic,
grass-fed beef to Whole Food Markets and Publix Supermarkets in
SBA Georgia District Director Terri Denison
said that “Will Harris and White Oak Pastures serve as a
prime example of how innovation coupled with opportunity can transform
a business or entire industry.” One of Harris’ many
achievements is the construction of the largest solar barn in the
Southeast. The barn generates 50,000 watts of electricity which
is used to run the on-site beef processing plant. Harris is now
installing a USDA-inspected poultry plant to process his pastured
chickens and turkeys that will employ an additional 25 people.
USDA weighs in: Grazing good for soil &
Bring on the cattle! says a study
conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA). For twelve years, soil scientists at the Agricultural
Research Service branch of the USDA have been studying the impact
that grazing animals have on the land. Compared with grassland
that has been undisturbed, areas that have been moderately grazed
have more carbon stored in the soil. Stored carbon increases
the fertility of the soil and slows global warming.
Published in Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2010.
Volume 74, pages 2131-2141.
U.S. Scientists: “Grass-Fed Cattle
Benefit the Environment”
Which is better for the environment—raising
beef cattle on pasture or in the feedlots? On pasture, says a
February 2011 report from The Union for Concerned Scientists
(UCS) titled “Raising the Steaks – Global Warming
and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the United States.”
all cattle produce greenhouse gasses, the UCS has determined
that a well-maintained pasture and careful management of the
grazing animals can draw greenhouse gasses out of the air and
store them in the soil where they fuel plant growth. The overall
impact is positive. Feedlots have no living plants – just
bare dirt and manure; instead of absorbing greenhouse gasses,
they emit them.
We applaud the UCS for going one step farther and researching
ways to make raising cattle on pasture even more beneficial to
the planet. Here are some of their primary recommendations:
Improve the nutritional quality of the pasture by adding
legumes such as red clover.
Manage the cattle so that they do
not overgraze the pasture. “Rotational
grazing” is the best method.
Manage the cattle so that they deposit
their manure more evenly over the pasture.
Find ways to increase grass production throughout the year,
not just in the spring and early summer.
Apply appropriate amounts of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer
at the right time.
So said French researcher Gerard
Ailhaud, commenting on the results of a 2010 study showing that mice
fed the amount of omega-6 fatty acids present in the modern western
diet grow fatter and fatter with each succeeding generation. In
the picture shown, the mouse on the left was raised on the high
levels of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3 fatty acids
typical of the American diet. In addition to being grossly overweight,
it has the warning signs of diabetes. The healthy mouse on the
right was raised on standard mouse chow. The two mice got equal
amounts of exercise. The mice are the fourth generation to be raised
on the two types of diet.
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for health,
but the amount consumed by most Americans increases the risk of
obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Omega-6s
are most abundant in vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower
oil, and cottonseed oils. (Olive oil is low in omega- 6 fatty acids.)
Few people realize that grain-fed animals are also a major source
of omega-6s. Meat and dairy products from animals fed a high-grain
diet, which is the typical feedlot diet, have up to ten times more
omega-6s than products from animals raised on their natural diet
This study suggests that if we switch to food
with a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, we will
be leaner and healthier, and so will our children, grandchildren,
and great grandchildren.
Massiera, F; Barbry, P; Guesnet, P;
Joly, A; Luquet, S; Brest,, CM; Mohsen-Kanson, T; Amri, E and G.
Ailhaud. A Western-like fat diet is sufficient to induce a gradual
enhancement in fat mass over generations. Journal of Lipid Research. August
2010. Volume 51, pages 2352-2361.
Take care of your heart! Eat whole milk
dairy products from grass-fed cows
For decades, we’ve been told that eating
full-fat dairy products increases the risk of heart attack. Now,
a study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that
the more full-fat dairy products people consume, the lower
their risk of heart attack—provided the cows were grass-fed.
The reason grass-fed milk is protective is
that it has up to five times more conjugated linoleic acid or CLA.
CLA is a healthy fat found in the meat and milk of grazing animals.
People who eat grass-fed dairy products absorb the CLA and store
it in their tissues. In this study of over 3,500 people, those
with the highest levels of CLA in their tissues had a fifty
percent lower risk of heart attack than those with the lowest
levels. Keeping Bossy on grass could prevent more heart attacks
than putting people on expensive pharmaceutical drugs with all
their troubling side effects.
Smit, Liesbeth A, Ana Baylin, and Hannia Campos.
2010. Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial
infarction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published
ahead of print, May 12, 2010.
New term you need to know: “by-product
Fresh pasture and dried grasses are the natural
diet of all ruminant animals. In factory farms, animals are switched
to an unnatural diet based on corn and soy. But corn and soy are
not the only ingredients in their “balanced rations.” Many
large-scale dairy farmers and feedlot operators save money by feeding
the cows “by-product feedstuffs” as well. In general,
this means waste products from the manufacture of human food. In
particular, it can mean sterilized city garbage, candy, bubble
gum, floor sweepings from plants that manufacture animal food,
bakery, potato wastes or a scientific blend of pasta and candy.
Here are some of the “by-product feedstuffs
commonly used in dairy cattle diets in the Upper Midwest.”*
Candy. Candy products are available
through a number of distributors and sometimes directly from
smaller plants… They are sometimes fed in their wrappers….
Candies, such as cull gummy bears, lemon drops or gum drops
are high in sugar content.
Bakery Wastes. Stale bread and other
pastry products from stores or bakeries can be fed to dairy cattle
in limited amounts. These products are sometimes fed as received
without drying or even removal of the wrappers.
Potato Waste is available in potato
processing areas, and includes cull potatoes, French fries and
potato chips. Cull fresh potatoes that are not frozen, rotten,
or sprouted can be fed to cows either whole or chopped. Potato
waste straight from a processing plant may contain varying amounts
of inedible or rotten potatoes. French fries and chips contain
fats or oils from frying operations.
Starch. Unheated starch is available
from some candy manufacturers and sometimes may contain pieces
Pasta is available from pasta plants
and some ingredient distributors as straight pasta or in blends
with other ingredients, such as candy.
*This list is excerpted from “By-Product
Feedstuffs in Dairy Cattle Diets in the Upper Midwest,” published
by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the
University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Eat less feedlot meat
A growing number of people believe that eating
less meat is good for the environment. This is true when it comes
to eating meat from animals raised in feedlots. But eating meat
from well-managed grazing animals is a net benefit to the
A paper released by the Natural Resources
Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture
makes the following points:
Grazing animals eat plants that cannot be digested by humans.
Meat from grass-fed animals requires only one calorie of fossil
fuel to produce two calories of food. Many grain and vegetable
crops require from 5 to 10 calories of fossil-fuel for every
calorie of food or fiber produced.
Well-managed pasture absorbs far more rain water than most
other land uses.
Grazed lands help slow global warming by removing carbon dioxide
from the air. Grazing land in the Great Plains contain over 40
tons of carbon per acre. Cultivated soils contain about 26 tons.
Well-managed grazing lands provide much-needed habit for wildlife,
reduce water runoff, and provide cleaner, more abundant water
for wildlife and human use.
Grazing lands are among our most picturesque landscapes.
Ring in the new decade with yet another disturbing
story about commercial hamburger. A New York Times expose,
published on December 30, 2009, revealed that Beef Products, Inc
(BPI), a South Dakota meat processor, has been injecting ammonia
into “fatty slaughterhouse trimmings” to kill bacteria
and render it safe for human consumption.
The USDA has approved this novel process.
Indeed, studies conducted by BPI showed the product to be so effective
that the government agency exempted BPI products from routine testing.
In another bow to the company, the USDA agreed with BPI that the
word “ammonia” need not appear on ingredient labels.
Instead, it can be described as a generic “processing agent.”
Why does this matter to you? If you eat commercial
hamburger, the chances are very good that you’ve eaten ammoniated
beef. BPI claims that its processed scraps are used in a majority
of the hamburger sold in the United States. Even our kids have
been treated to the meat. According to the Times, “The
federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds
of the processed beef last year alone,” saving an estimated
$1 million a year.
There are a number of problems using ammonia
to sanitize beef, beginning with the obvious “ugh, yuck” factor;
the very idea of sterilizing meat with ammonia is revolting to
many. Then there’s the odor. Even though the BPI meat is
mixed with untreated meat which dilutes the smell, some consumers
have still complained of a gaseous odor. The Times reports
that meat buyers for Georgia State prisons rejected 7,000 pounds
of the stuff because it had “a very strong odor of ammonia.”
This “odor problem” could explain why some batches
of BPI meat have been treated with lesser amounts of ammonia—significantly,
not enough to kill the harmful bacteria! Consumers get a product
that has a more acceptable odor and flavor, but it’s not
safe to eat! Last year, more than 53,000 pounds of BPI meat designated
for school lunch programs tested positive for either E. coli or
Several USDA microbiologists, including Gerald
Zirnstein, have been critical of the USDA’s approval of ammoniated
beef. In a 2002 email message obtained by the Times, Zirnstein
described the BPI beef product as “pink slime” and
said, “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and
I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent
labeling.” We at Eatwild concur and suggest that you buy
your next pound of hamburger from a local, pasture-based rancher. http://www.eatwild.com/products/
Sweet-tasting grasses speed the growth of cattle
and sheep and lowers greenhouse gasses
British Agricultural Minister Jim Paice
announced the results of a study showing that raising cattle and sheep
on high-sugar grasses can lower their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.Minister Paice said: “It is very exciting this
new research has discovered that simply changing the way we feed farm animals
we have the potential to make a big difference to the environment.”
Everyone benefits from the sweeter feed. The ruminants
like the taste of the grass and eat more of it. The sugars allow them to
make more efficient use of the proteins in the grass. As a result,
the animals reach market size weeks earlier, producing less methane overall.
The study was carried out by Reading University and the
Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. High-sugar pasture
grasses are now available for sale.
Score ten for grass-fed beef
Grass-fed beef is better for human health than
grain-fed beef in ten different ways, according to the most comprehensive
analysis to date. The 2009 study was a joint effort between the
USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. Compared
with grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef was:
Lower in total fat
Higher in beta-carotene
Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium,
Higher in total omega-3s
A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3
fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential
Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed
Lower in the saturated fats linked with
On June 3, 2009, the Alaska Meat Company/Sitkinak
Cattle Ranch, a grass-fed beef operation on Kodiak
Island, announced the opening of their mobile abattoir, a 4-trailer
solution to many of the logistical problems that bedevil grass-based
The trailers travel separately. On site, they
are configured into an “L shape” and perform all the
operations needed to get meat to market. Live animals enter the
first trailer where they are humanely slaughtered and inspected
by the USDA. The carcasses go into the second trailer, where they
are divided into individual cuts or ground into sausage. In the
third trailer, the hamburger is seasoned, smoked, and stuffed into
sausage casings. The sausages are vacuum sealed and then pressure-cooked
to kill all bacteria. The meat is then “shelf-stable” and
can be kept without refrigeration. Live animals enter the first
trailer and sausage comes out the third.
The abattoir will be fully functional in October,
2009. Father and son team Nathan and Bob Mudd, owners of the Alaska
Meat Company, plan to extend their operation to process bison and
reindeer—hey! It’s Alaska.
Be a “meat and spinach” or
a “meat and red wine” kind of a guy
red meat—but not white meat or fish—is linked with
a moderately increased risk of colon cancer. Why is that? Some
experts believe that the amount of iron in the food, specifically,
a type of iron called “heme” iron, is part of the problem.
Red meat has considerably more heme iron than its paler counterparts.
Iron is essential for survival, but heme iron can irritate the
lining of the colon and set up the preconditions for cancer. Another
possible link with red meat and cancer is the amount of oxidized
fat in the meat. You create oxidized fat when you grill meat, sear
it, or cook it above medium rare.
Do you have to cut back on grilled sirloin
steak and lamb chops to lower your risk of colon cancer? Perhaps
not. Eating foods high in antioxidants along with the meat
could do the trick. Research shows that antioxidants have the potential
to neutralize the ill effects of both the iron and the oxidized
fat. For example, a 2005 study showed that eating spinach along
with red meat eliminated all irritation of the colon. Now a 2008
study reveals that drinking a glass of red wine with your meal
could do the same thing. It is likely that other foods high
in antioxidants will offer similar protection.
Does eating grass-fed meat also reduce your
risk of colon cancer? Meat from pastured animals has more
antioxidants than feedlot meat, so it is a distinct possibility.
To date, no one has studied this hypothesis.
Gorelik, S., M. Ligumsky, et al. (2008). "The
Stomach as a ‘Bioreactor’: When Red Meat Meets Red
Wine." J Agric Food Chem.
De Vogel, J.,
Denise Jonker-Termont et al. (2005). “Green vegetables,
red meat and colon cancer: chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic
and hyperproliferative effects of haem in rat colon.” Carcinogenesis.
clearly superior, says German and Canadian study
Yet another study shows that grass-fed meat
is nutritionally superior to feedlot meat. This study examined
the differences in fat content between four breeds of cattle that
were either 1) raised on pasture or 2) given grain and other feedstuff
in a feedlot.
As in previous research, the results showed
that meat from cattle raised on pasture had much healthier fats.
The researchers concluded that grass-fed meat is “clearly
superior” and “remarkably beneficial.” They
stated that grass-fed meat “should be promoted as an important
part of a healthy balanced diet.” Read
the study summary.
(Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry,
June 2008, 56:4775-4782.)
The Grass-Fed Paradox
Grazing animals that eat their native diet
of grass have more polyunsaturated fat in their meat than animals
fed grain and other types of foodstuff. This is one of the reasons
that grass-fed meat is better for your health. But polyunsaturated
fats are prone to oxidation and oxidized meat can have a rancid
or “off” flavor, and the meat spoils more quickly.
It was long thought that grass-fed meat would suffer this fate.
Studies show that grass-fed meat is less
likely to oxidize than ordinary feedlot meat. Why? The answer
is that there are more antioxidants in grass than grain, and
these protective substances keep the polyunsaturated fat from
oxidizing. When you eat meat from a grass-fed cow, you are consuming
more polyunsaturated fat, more antioxidants, and the meat is
less likely to spoil.
Mercier, Y., P. Gatellier, M. Renerre
(2004). "Lipid and protein oxidation in vitro, and antioxidant
potential in meat from Charolais cows finished on pasture or mixed
diet." Meat Science66: 467-473.
The USDA proposes a “Naturally
On November 28, 2007 the USDA published a new
standard for the label, “Naturally Raised.” According
to the proposed standard, meat, eggs and dairy products are “naturally
raised” if they come from an animal that: 1) was not treated
with antibiotics, hormones or other growth promoters; and 2) was
not fed by-products from mammals or poultry. According to USDA
research, many consumers object to these practices, which are commonplace
throughout the United States.
We find the proposed label misleading. A package
of “Naturally Raised” steak as defined by the USDA
could come from a cow that was confined in a feedlot for six months;
fattened on GMO corn, candy and stale pastry; and was forced to
stand knee-deep in its own manure.
We prefer a more wordy but accurate label: “Raised
without Antibiotics, Hormones, or By-Products from Mammals or Poultry.” Such
a label would help consumers avoid unwanted chemicals and practices
but not imply that the animal was raised under natural conditions.
You can comment on the proposed label until
January 28, 2008. To read more about the label or register
your comments follow this link.
Keep ‘em moving to reduce greenhouse
All ruminants—including cattle, sheep,
bison, and goats—belch up a significant amount of methane
gas as they digest their grass-based diet. Methane gas is a potent
contributor to global warming, so reducing methane production is
an important step in protecting the environment.
Animal scientists have discovered that dividing
pasture land into separate areas or “paddocks” and
carefully managing the movement of cattle through those paddocks
produces the highest quality grasses. Cattle that graze on this
succulent grass produce as much as 20 percent less methane. This
style of ranching is called “Management Intensive Grazing” or
MiG, and it’s practiced by most of the ranchers on eatwild.com.
DeRamus, H. A., T. C. Clement, D. D.
Giampola, and P. C. Dickison. "Methane Emissions of Beef Cattle
on Forages: Efficiency of Grazing Management Systems." J
Environ Qual 32, no. 1 (2003): 269-77.
Free-range eggs nutritionally superior
As it turns out, all those choices of eggs
at your supermarket aren't providing you much of a choice at all.
Recent tests conducted by Mother Earth News magazine
have shown once again that eggs from chickens that range freely
on pasture provide clear nutritional benefits over eggs from confinement
Mother Earth News collected samples
from 14 pastured flocks across the country and had them tested
at an accredited laboratory. The results were compared to official
US Department of Agriculture data for commercial eggs. Results
showed the pastured eggs contained an amazing:
You absorb more calcium when you eat raw milk
yogurt, according to a study in the Journal of American College
Forty adult volunteers alternated between eating
raw and pasteurized yogurt. The researchers reported that “circulating
calcium markedly increased one hour after the fresh yogurt intake,
while no changes were detected after the pasteurized [yogurt.]” This
was true for people who had no difficulty digesting milk and those
who were lactose intolerant.
Journal of the American
College of Nutrition, Vol. 26, No.3, 288-294. 2007
Corn prices too high? Feed the animals
The growing use of corn for fuel has doubled
the price of corn for animal feed.
Typically, corn comprises about 70 percent of the diet of animals
raised in confinement. To offset the spiking cost of corn, many
feedlot managers are replacing some of the corn with candy and
other “junk food” that has been declared unfit for
According to an article in The Wall Street
Journal, this sugary, fatty fare includes banana chips, yogurt-covered
raisin, cookies, licorice, cheese curls, frosted wheat cereal,
Tater Tots, Kit Kat bars, uncooked French fries, pretzels and
chocolate bars. One feedlot operator from Idaho confesses that
he feeds his cattle a 100 percent “by-product” meal.
Grass, the native diet of grazing animals,
is a rich source of protein, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Has anyone measured the nutritional value of meat from junk-food-fed
cows? Candy may be cheap, but it’s cheating consumers out
of meat’s natural nutrition. Consider grass-fed, instead.
“With Corn Prices Rising, Pigs
Switch to Fatty Snacks” Lauren Etter, Wall Street Journal,
May 21, 2007.
Farm milk linked with lower rate of
asthma and allergies
A large European study of nearly 15,000 children
revealed that drinking farm milk rather than commercial milk is
linked with a lower risk of asthma and allergies.
Children who drank farm milk at any time of
their lives had a 26% lower risk of asthma, 33% lower risk of pollen
sensitivity, and a remarkable 57% lower risk of food allergies.
This was true for children who lived on a farm and those who lived
in the city and drank farm milk.
It was not clear from the study whether the
reduction in risk was due to the fact that the milk was unpasteurized
or the fact that the farm milk came from grazing cows. Milk from
cows raised on pasture has more omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants,
and other nutrients that may reduce the risk of allergies.
Clinical and Experimental
Allergy.Volume 37, pages 661-670. 2006
Federal ruling to allow
meatpackers to test for Mad Cow Disease
A federal judge ruled on March
29, 2007 that the government must allow meatpackers to test their
meat for Mad Cow Disease.
The ruling came in a case brought
to the courts by Creekstone Farms, which raises cattle in Kentucky
and has a processing plant in Kansas. Creekstone wanted to test
all of its animals for the disease in order to open up sales in
Japan and other strict markets, but was threatened with prosecution
by the Agricultural Department if they did so.
The Agriculture Department currently
regulates the tests, which it administers to about 1% of all slaughtered
cows. Many large meat processors opposed the increase in testing
because they feared that market pressure would force them to test
all their cows as well.
The federal district court judge
put the order on hold until June 1st when the ruling will take
affect unless the government appeals.
Antibiotic growth promoters lose money for chicken industry
Many large-scale chicken producers feed antibiotics
to their birds to speed their growth. This unnecessary use of antibiotics
increases the likelihood that bacteria will become resistant to the drugs,
making the antibiotics ineffective for veterinary and human
Now we know that this much-criticized practice is
also costing the industry money. Researchers from John Hopkins examined
financial records from a study involving 7 million chickens. Their analysis
showed that the antibiotics did indeed speed the growth of the poultry,
but the drug use cost the producers more than they gained from the sale
of the bigger birds.
Raising chickens without antibiotic growth promoters
is better for the birds, consumers, and—surprise, surprise—the
poultry industry itself.
Jay P. Graham, et al,
Public Health Reports, “Growth Promoting Antibiotics
in Food Animal Production: An Economic Analysis.” 122:1,
Link between hormone implants in cattle and breast
A study published in
the Archives of Internal Medicine shows a strong link between
breast cancer and red meat consumption. Women who ate 1 ½ or
more servings of red meat a day were almost twice as likely to
breast cancer as women eating 3 or fewer servings a week. Eating
red meat had no link with “hormone-negative” breast cancer.
The exact cause is unknown, but the investigators
suggest that the wide spread use of hormone implants in cattle
could play a role. An earlier test-tube study showed that adding
an FDA-approved hormone implant called “Zeranol” to
human breast cancer cells caused a rapid spurt in growth. This
was true even when the levels of Zeranol were three hundred times
lower than the amount the FDA considers safe.
Hormone implants are banned in the European
Union. If you want beef free of added hormones in the United States,
look for 100 percent grass-fed beef, organic beef, or beef labeled
“raised without added hormones.” If you are buying
directly from a farmer, ask about hormone use.
Arch Intern Med. 2006; I 66:2253-2259.
Grass-fed beef higher in total antioxidants
Researchers in Argentina compared key antioxidants
in meat from pasture-fed and grain-fed cattle. The grass-fed meat was
higher in vitamin C, and vitamin E, as you can see by the chart below.
It was also 10 times higher in beta-carotene.
As a result of this antioxidant bonus, meat from
pasture-fed animals is slower to “oxidize” or spoil. It also
provides more antioxidants for consumers.
“Influence of pasture or grain-based diets …on
antioxidant/oxidative balance of Argentine beef,” Meat Science 70
Three times more CLA in a grass-fed
A lean hamburger from grass-fed cattle has two and a half times more
conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than an equally lean hamburger
from cattle raised in a feedlot. CLA (conjugated
linoleic acid) is a healthy fat that has been shown to fight
obesity, cancer, and diabetes in lab animals. Human studies are
Review of the Value-Added Nutrients Found in Grass-Fed Beef Products.” Nutrition
Journal, June 2006 (In Press.)
Milk from Grass-Fed Cows Higher in Vitamin E
Cows that get all their nutrients from grazed grass—their
natural diet—produce milk with 86 percent more vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
than cows fed a standard dairy diet, according to a study.
The standard dairy diet consists of large amounts
of “concentrate,” which is typically a dry mixture of corn
and soy. Some organic dairies raise their cows on pasture and supplement
them with organic concentrate; others keep their cows indoors and feed
them organic concentrate and stored grasses. The more freshly grazed
grass in a cow’s diet, the more vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids,
and CLA. Organic Valley is a nation-wide organic
dairy that emphasizes grazing.
Leiber, F., M. Kreuzer, et al. (2005). Lipids 40(2):
Eggs from Pastured Hens Better for Your Eyes
A report reveals that eggs from hens raised on
pasture are higher in lutein and zeaxanthin than eggs from chickens raised
in confinement. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are natural substances similar
to beta-carotene that protect your eyes from cataracts and a common cause
of blindness called "macular degeneration." They may also protect against
cancer and cardiovascular disease. Read more...
Union of Concerned Scientists extol benefits
of grass-fed beef and dairy
March 8, 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit
alliance of more than 100,000 U.S. scientists, released an 80-page
report on grass-fed beef and dairy products. Summarizing the report,
author Dr. Kate Clancy said "When you eat grass-fed meat,
you're getting beef with benefits. There are no losers in producing
cattle entirely on pasture. Farmers win, consumers win, the environment
wins, and even the cattle win."
Visitors to eatwild.com are well-acquainted with
these themes. The significance of the UCS report is that it gives
pasture-based farming the seal of approval of a highly regarded group
of scientists who are devoted to promoting the health of Americans
and the environment. The report committee surveyed dozens of published
studies before arriving at their conclusions. The bottom line, according
to their investigation, is that raising animals on pasture:
Decreases soil erosion and increases soil fertility
Improves water quality
Improves human health due to reduced antibiotic use
Improves farmer and farm worker health
Improves animal health and welfare
Results in more profit per animal for producer
The report also validates the fact that products from
pasture-raised animals are lower in total fat, and higher
in omega-3 fatty acids, CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), vitamin
E, and beta-carotene.
The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use
of the poultry antibiotic Baytril, made by Bayer. Many farmers treat
their whole flocks with the antibiotic in order to treat or prevent respiratory
disease in the birds.
The use of Baytril, claims the FDA, makes it difficult
for doctors to treat human patients with food poisoning. When bacteria
are repeatedly exposed to antibiotics, they become resistant. When humans
eat or handle contaminated meat, they may pick up the drug-resistant
Baytril is a member of the class of drugs called
fluoroquiolones. This class of drugs, which includes the drug Cipro,
is considered valuable for treating serious infections in people. The
FDA first proposed the ban against Baytril five years ago.
Mother Nature knows better once again
The concentration of carbon dioxide in our air is
rapidly rising, a condition that contributes to the greenhouse effect
and potential global warming. The more of the carbon that can be contained
in the soil, however, the less that escapes into the air. A report released
by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service finds that soil stores 2
to 3 times more carbon when the grass was grazed than when it was harvested
for hay or not harvested at all.
Another benefit of grazing, the researchers noted,
was that grazing also reduces costs by lowering needs for herbicides
and producing income from the livestock. They estimated that even putting
as little as 10 percent of existing cropland into rotation with grazing
would produce significant cost reductions.