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Notes & News


Note: Find earlier bulletins in our Archives. Also, click on the links in the left margin to find information that has been sorted into our four main categories—“Benefits for Animals,” " Benefits for the Environment,” "Benefits for Farmers,” and “Benefits for Your Health.”

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:

Elizabeth Warren: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2019/03/27/2020-election-iowa-caucuses-elizabeth-warren-agribusiness-family-farmers-rural-issues/3277185002/)

Bernie Sanders: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2019/05/05/iowa-agriculture-policy-bernie-sanders-radical-ag-speech-farms-osage-elizabeth-warren/1107955001/).

AgHelp website addresses nationwide agricultural labor shortage

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.

Facebook: @agriculturehelp
twitter: @agriculturehelp
Linkedin: AgHelp Corp.

"AgHelp where ag employers go to fill their jobs"

roast turkeyLet's Talk Turkey – Holiday Turkey Buying Guide

Check out the Organic Consumers Association printable pdf version of their Holiday Turking Buying Guide for information about where to look for healthier turkeys for your holiday table.

The Guide is available here: https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/holiday_turkey_buying_guide.pdf

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.

You can learn more about glyphosphate at The Healthy Butcher's blog: https://thehealthybutcher.com/blog/glyphosate/?utm_source=The+Healthy+Butcher+Digest&utm_campaign=5f7e84372b-EMAIL-Glyphosates-2018-08-18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8c18c86122-5f7e84372b-133473473&mc_cid=5f7e84372b&mc_eid=72936b819c

Long-lived cows reduce global warming

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.

Garnsworthy, 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.)

Follow this link http://wwwars.usda.gov/is/AR/2011/may11/cows0511.htm to read more about the ARS study of dairy cows and the environment.

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 truly fresh?

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.

Read more about these top 50 activists at http://www.culinarynutrition.com/top-50-food-activists/

man-eating-hamburgerHow safe is your ground beef?

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."

Read the whole story online at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/how-safe-is-your-ground-beef.

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.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more at http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2015/03/22/Antibiotics-in-meat-on-the-rise-worldwide-especially-bacon/1141427062677/#ixzz3VB8G4J2W

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?

The folks at The Sustainable Table website have taken the time to figure it out and compile the information in a comprehensive, downloadable, easy-to read glossary of meat labels. Find a copy here: www.eatwild.com/GlossaryofMeatProductionMethods.pdf.

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.

Sweet-tasting grasses speed the growth of cattle and sheep and lowers greenhouse gasses

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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 1932

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 error.

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 vitamin D

Eggs from hens raised outdoors on pasture have from three to six times more chickensvitamin 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.

Better yet, purchase them directly from your local farmer. Click on the following link, then scroll down to the yellow map of the United States. Click on your state. Find eggs from pastured hens on eatwild.com

Got Pollution?


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.

Humane slaughter

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 slaughter facilities.

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 aging process.

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 lives.

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.

Extra-Values Meal

This is not your everyday fried eggs and potatoes. The orange-yolked eggs were laid by pastured hens and cost $5.00 per dozen. The eggspotatoes 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.

Nearly half of US meat and poultry likely contaminated with Staph

Almost 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 Infectious Diseases.

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 report.

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.”

"Antibiotics 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.

Eatwild 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 five states.

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 & environment

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.

Summary of the study: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar11/soil0311.htm

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.”

Although 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.

These best practices are in harmony with our standards at Eatwild.
Read the Executive Summary Report: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/global-warming-and-beef-production-summary.pdf.
Read the Full Report: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/global-warming-and-beef-production-report.pdf

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 feedstuffs”

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 of candy.
  • 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 planet.

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.

Read more: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/rca/ib6text.html

Do you want ammonia with that?

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 salmonella.

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/

The entire New York Times investigation is worth reading. (Safety of Beef Processing Method is Questioned” by Michael Moss.) Find it online at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/31meat.html

Meadow Fescue recommended for intensive rotational grazing

A dairy farmer discovers new/old pasture grass, Meadow Fescue. The grass is 4–7 percent more digestible and favored by the cows. Read more: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/2011/mar11/grass0311.htm

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:

    1. Lower in total fat
    2. Higher in beta-carotene
    3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
    4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
    5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
    6. Higher in total omega-3s
    7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
    8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
    9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
    10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

S.K. Duckett et al, Journal of Animal Science, (published online) June 2009, “Effects of winter stocker growth rate and finishing system on: III. Tissue proximate, fatty acid, vitamin and cholesterol content.

Mobile slaughter facility offers solutions

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 producers.

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

wineEating 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.

Grass-fed beef 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 Science 66: 467-473.

The USDA proposes a “Naturally Raised” label

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 gasses

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 operations.

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:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol than commercial eggs
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 7 times more beta carotene

Full results of the tests are available in the October/November 2007 issue of Mother Earth News, or on their website at http://www.MotherEarthNews.com/eggs. Check Eatwild's Pastured Products Directory to find free-range eggs near you.

Hold the heat. Get more calcium.

You absorb more calcium when you eat raw milk yogurt, according to a study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition.

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 candy instead

The growing use of corn for fuel has doubled the price of corn for animal feedcandy. 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 human consumption.

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 medicine.

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, 2007.

Link between hormone implants in cattle and breast cancer?

ZuzanaA 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 have “hormone-sensitive” 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.

Argentine beef graph

“Influence of pasture or grain-based diets …on antioxidant/oxidative balance of Argentine beef,” Meat Science 70 (2005) 35-44.

Three times more CLA in a grass-fed hamburger

eating hamburger

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 now underway.

“A literature 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): 191-202.

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

On 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.

Read the report in its entirety...

FDA bans use of antibiotic Baytril in poultry

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 bacteria.

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.

More information is available online at http://ars.usda.gov/is/pr.

More news...

  1. It's no yolk, tests show free-range eggs more nutritious
  2. Mother Earth News leading the way
  3. First native-born case of BSE in US reported
  4. Meat protein does not compromise bone density
  5. Plea to limit antibiotic use in animal feed
  6. Be wary of spring chickens
  7. GMO Salmon — Coming to your market soon?
  8. Grass-fed beef can qualify as a "good source" of omega-3
  9. Women lose more weight on a diet high in red meat
  10. Grazing better for the soil than growing grain
  11. Rogue proteins and mad cow disease
  12. One hundred percent grass-fed ice cream
  13. Cows on pasture produce healthier, bigger calves
  14. Consumer watch
  15. Prions found in sheep muscle
  16. It's not the meat—it's the heat!
  17. How much garbage is being fed to our livestock?
  18. Grazed pasture is the best land use for storing carbon
  19. Growing corn and soy causes six times more soil erosion than pasture
  20. Ready for the transgenic cow?
  21. Alpine milk may be the healthiest of all
  22. Pasture reduces topsoil erosion by 93 percent
  23. Scientists are trying to clone cows that are resistant to mad cow disease
  24. USDA gives consumers a false sense of security about U.S. beef
  25. Grass-fed beef goes mainstream
  26. A confirmed case of "mad scientist disease"
  27. Grass-fed cows are not mad cows
  28. More good news about the health benefits of milk from grassfed cows

Read more in the News Archives












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