What Exactly Is Wrong With Commercial Beef?


Many of us are swayed by advertising. Commercials that show happy cows in a pasture, a package of beef that says “free-range” or “grass-fed”or “organically-raised:” it seems easy to make the right choices at the supermarket. We as consumers are convinced we know how to tell good food from bad food, best practices from worst practices, and healthy nutrition from the stuff that just mimics it. 

But is this true?

The meat industry today has gotten very good at masquerading as “local” farms. Even the USDA has standards that are easily sidestepped. For instance, when it comes to free-range eggs in the United States, the USDA’s only qualification is that the chickens have—at some point in their short lives—been allowed access to the outside. This usually means a door on the side of barn that’s opened for the last week or so of the chicken’s life. But by this point, the chicken has spent its entire life in a barn and is terrified to go through that door (source: Michael Pollan).

This is exactly what’s wrong with commercial beef: The industry today is allowed to say "organic" as long as they use pesticides that are organically-derived. They’re allowed to say free-range as long as their animals have been allowed access to the outside. They’re allowed to sell us meat that’s contaminated with hormones, “superbugs,” antibiotics, and steroids. 

It’s Still in There After Cooking

There’s a study that shows that at least one of five different types of scary bacteria are present in your meat even after cooking it at the proper temperature. Not to mention the hormones and antibiotics you’re ingesting as well. Your meat has been raised in an environment that’s unnatural—this means the animals are usually sick, so the quality of your meat will be inferior. 

Cows that are allowed to be cows—meaning they’re pasture born and raised, well taken care of, and allowed to mature naturally and eat their natural diet of grasses—produce healthy beef that contains less fat than commercial meat. It also has less calories, more essential fats that are healthier, and more vitamins and minerals.

In the demand for food, factory farms have attempted to raise cattle cheaply with growth hormones, therefore the cows are slaughtered at a young age. Their beef is fatty and contains little nutrients because the cattle were fed corn. Nearly 90% of all the corn in the United States is genetically modified. This means the seeds are unnatural, not to mention the fact that cows are not even grain eaters. Their digestive systems have trouble processing grains, therefore they usually get sick and produce methane gas. And people blame our damaged atmosphere on cars (which is partially true, but cars and factories are not solely responsible).

Inhumane Treatment

Any beef you pick up at the grocery store has most likely had a tortured life. The cattle are taken away from their mothers at young ages, force fed grains that are unnatural to them, and most of them are never outside. They aren’t allowed to eat their natural diet of grasses or even age naturally. Some of the cattle may be branded, their testicles are removed without anesthesia (men, I know you'd love it if someone tied a band around your testicles until they turned black and fell off without anesthesia), and they’re kept inside all the time.

When animals aren’t able to move much and fed diets that are unnatural to them, not only do they get sick, but they also produce an inferior quality of meat. Their meat has gotten so innutritious that it provides little in the way of nutrients and can lead to heart disease, cancer, and a range of other illnesses and diseases.

When you buy beef at the supermarket, not only are you supporting inhumane factory farms, but you’re also consuming meat that’s hardly even meat anymore on account of the fact that it’s been unethically and inorganically-raised. I don't know about you, but I don't really want my kids eating growth hormones or antibiotics from dead animals.

What Can You Do?

Well, you can stop buying beef at the supermarket for one. In fact, you should probably stop buying meat at McDonald’s, or a gas station food section, or even a restaurant. The only way to ensure you’re getting healthy, humanely-raised and treated beef is by buying local. 

Finding local farms in your area and visiting them can ensure that the cattle are pastorally raised and allowed to do their thing as cows. The farmers should treat their cows with respect, they should get plenty of grass and sunshine, and the cows should have access to humane care should they need it, such as if they get an injury or in the rare event that they get sick.

A meat-free diet or a diet low in meat can have many health benefits: Packing in the veggies and healthy fats can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. 

We are what we eat—this statement has never been more true than it is today. 

1/6/2016 8:00:00 AM
Jenn Ryan
Written by Jenn Ryan
Jenn Ryan is a health and wellness extraordinaire who's fascinated by secret truths. She was last photographed at a tea shop in Washington DC wearing way too much glitter.
View Full Profile Website: http://www.thegreenwritingdesk.com/

History has proven these ding bats wrong. We live longer today than ever before. OH it,s the ones that actually ate the food and drank the water that are doing the record breaking.
Posted by John
This article is spot on in many cases. Grass fed/raised beef is so different from commercially raised beef. Anyone that's eaten it knows this. It's taste is different from commercial beef (which most of us are accustomed to). I know that the commercial farm not far from here is often shipped in Semi truck loads of the 'misfires' from Mars Candy co.. the mistakes.. wrappers and all, they are chopped and ground and fed to the cattle for quick fattening up. Also, the remains of cheese doritos and the cheese powder from Frito Lay. Nice, natural cow feed. This is commercial farming, not ranching.
Posted by Laura S
You are all brainwashed. There is no such thing as humane killing, or beneficial beef. Of course anyone who claims to make a living raising and killing animals will claim their way is and blame government. Your full of it. Every last one of you, author included. Watch Cowspiracy, food ink, Forks over knives. Learn something. And yes I'm Vegan and an animal lover.
Posted by Jackie
What a bunch of lies. I have been ranching all my life as well have been agriculture educator for ten years and have found out first hand how easily misinformation can be spread. The author of the article is correct about the castration and feeding of corn. However they are wrong about the cattle being kept indoors and the mistreatment of the cattle. As a previous poster said why would I mistreat cattle that provide my living. I have no problem with portions of the cattle industry that raise hormone and antibiotic free beef. However I do disagree on folks influencing public opion by spreading information with out of all the facts. American agriculture is the safest and cheapest source of our food supply. Please be informed before making remarks that can hurt anybody ability to provide for their familys well being and the worlds food supply.
Posted by Okstockman
This article is nothing more than a bunch of lies. It is not only giving I'll advise, they have no idea what they're talking about. First, they say the beef you buy in the meat department is from cows. If the author doesn't even know that the beef you buy is not from cow but steers how can you possibly believe anything else they wrote? Cattle are allowed to free range. If cattle were treated as this author talks about, they could not live. Cattle can not be force fed.
I am 4th generation cattle rancher in California. My father said it best when false accusations were thrown at the ranchers. He would say"Why in the hell would I mistreat anything that makes my living?" I think that says it all.
Posted by Linda Wrght-maness
Far back as 1972 sitting at the dinner table eating breakfast they said that bacon causes cancer. Being raised on a farm where we slaughtered, butcher, smoked our own meat. Our diet mainly consisted of red meat.
It seems every year someone has to post or talk about media wise about what is killing us. But, not once do they ever mention that it is the government who is regulating and causes all the problems and are actually killed us.
Posted by keith
I retired from a large well known poultry company and know that growth hormones are given to the chickens. When they come in to the slaughter plant, they were still "peeping " like a young chick. The average age ok those "full grown" chickens you see on the trucks are only 8 to 10 weeks old.
Posted by Lisa
Yeah, and this lady is probably a vegetarian also. Everyone knows that strict vegetarians aren't as healthy as someone who eats meat once a week or so.
Posted by Vinny Amatucci
This information is extremely helpful. I never believed those stickers that says "organic, free range, grass fed etc". We have no way of knowing. Unfortunately we all cannot afford to shop at a local market. Especially those of us who receive food stamps. But the information is much appreciated.
Posted by Seabreeze

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