Please welcome Kelly the Kitchen Kop today, whose peppy self I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in real life. She dishes out on the truth of nourishing foods and busts “politically correct” nutrition, and today she’s our feature in the Spring Cleaning: Get the Junk Out! Carnival. See all the topics here.
The reasoning behind avoiding meat from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or “Factory Farms” began for me when I learned that the meat from animals out on pasture and treated well is not only safer, but more nutritious, too. It was only after watching Food, Inc., the Meatrix and other sad YouTube videos, that it also bothered me how CAFO animals are often treated. However, for the sake of this post we’ll focus on why you want to know where your meat comes from and how this relates to food safety and increased nutrition.
What’s a “CAFO”?
CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
This means that animals are raised in conditions that are often downright inhumane. They may be kept in areas where they’re unable to move around freely, or where there’s no access to the outside for sunshine or fresh air, let alone to eat the natural grass their ruminant stomachs were made to eat. They’re often sick due to these conditions and then receive extra antibiotics, which are ingested by those who eat that meat. (No wonder many of us are resistant to antibiotics when we might really need them.)
“Low Cost Production” is the name of the game, growth hormones are common (or even the norm?), so they get fatter faster. (And our society becomes more estrogen dominant, causing more health issues.) This is all very unnatural, so again, they’re often sick, and get more antibiotics. (Wikipedia says that in the European Union, growth hormones are banned on the basis that there is no way of determining a safe level.)
More from Wikipedia:
“The number of people involved in farming dropped as the process became more automated. In the 1930s, 24 percent of the American population worked in agriculture compared to 1.5 percent in 2002; in 1940, each farm worker supplied 11 consumers, whereas in 2002, each worker supplied 90 consumers.
The number of farms has also decreased, and their ownership is more concentrated. In the U.S., four companies produce 81 percent of cows, 73 percent of sheep, 57 percent of pigs and 50 percent of chickens. In 1967, there were one million pig farms in America; as of 2002, there were 114,000, with 80 million pigs (out of 95 million) killed each year on factory farms as of 2002, according to the U.S. National Pork Producers Council. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world’s poultry, 43 percent of beef, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way.
Europe has become increasingly skeptical of factory farming, after a series of diseases such as Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, “mad cow”) and foot and mouth disease affected its agricultural industries, yet despite these outbreaks there are indications that the industrialized production of farm animals is set to increase globally.”
Obviously, the fewer farms there are, the more meat that will be contaminated in each incident.
In contrast to all that, I keep thinking of the video I took recently (for my upcoming Rookie Class) at the farm where we buy our meat. When my farmer friend stepped outside and yelled, “Sheeeeeep! Sheeeeep!” they all stopped chewing the grass and came running over to him from the other side of the pasture. There’s something so sweet about that! (I was able to get a great shot, too.) And I know that he knows what is the natural diet for his sheep (or cows or chicken or pigs), and that when they are fed that natural diet and raised in such a way that they’re content, not only is it the right thing to do, it makes for nutrient-dense “salad bar” meat (as Joel Salatin calls it).
How are pastured meats more nutritious?
1. “Extra Omega-3s. Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called “good fats” because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly.”
- Other omega-3 benefits:
- lowered risk of high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat
- 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack
- Brain food: lowered risk of depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer’s disease
- reduced incidence of cancer
“Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.
When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.”
2. “The CLA Bonus. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called “conjugated linoleic acid” or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.(A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA ,as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.)
CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer…Researcher Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grassfed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection. “
3. Vitamin E. Meat from grassfed animals is also higher in vitamin E.
By the way, EatWild.com also mentioned that grass-fed meat is lower in fat and calories, but I didn’t use those quotes because I don’t buy into the fact that saturated animal fats are a fat to be avoided.
To Be Continued…
Do you have posts or comments to share about the issue of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations? Would you like to know more about better alternatives? Head over to my Kitchen Kop blog where I’ll add a little more scoop and I’m including a couple videos that give me chills every time I watch. I’ve also got Mr. Linky ready to roll so you can add your posts to the mix or just stop over to read what everyone else has to say. I’ve even included links to other points of view. I’ll see you there, thanks Katie!
Thanks to you, too, Kelly! This week’s Monday Mission is my entry, as I’m still sifting through the evidence on good meat vs. bad meat vs. who knows what the research shows?
Join us again next week when Laura of Heavenly Homemakers shares her organic gardening skills in “Get the Pesticides Out!” My brown thumb and I will be talking about produce that you can buy, like the New 2010 Dirty Dozen Produce recommendations. See all the topics here.
WIN a copy of Kelly’s Real Food Ingredient Guide!
From fats to organic foods to scary ingredients labels, Kelly’s eBook will help you determine where to find real food, how to prioritize what you buy, and even “compromise” foods that won’t kill you too fast! She breaks down every category an eater could want and gives a simple sound byte of information to help you fill your pantry and fridge with wholesome, nourishing foods without stressing out over it (too much).
Read more about the Real Food Ingredient Guide, and then comment here for a chance to WIN one for yourself! ($5 value)
HOW TO ENTER: Just leave a comment telling me your current meat purchasing situation and any questions you have. (If you receive KS via email, you will need to click over to the site to leave a comment.) If you’d like more chances, obtain 5 extra entries by doing any of the following. Please leave each entry in a separate comment.
- Subscribe in a reader or via email to Kitchen Stewardship (or tell me if you already do).
- Visit Kelly and leave a comment there, or enter the carnival.
- Follow me on Twitter AND Tweet about the giveaway (just click the button at the top of this post).
- Stumble or Digg this post (you can use the “Share This!” icon at the bottom of the post). (What is Stumble?)
- “Like” me via Facebook on my new Kitchen Stewardship page!
Be sure to tell me everything you did in separate comments. I still trust the honor system. Just be honest about what you’ve done – giveaways should be fun!
I will use random.org’s integer generator to choose the winner. The giveaway is open to the whole world. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 9th (Happy Mother’s Day!), and I’ll post the winners by the following day.
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.
Disclosure: Kelly is just so great at sharing – she gave me a guide to review and will give you one, too, but nobody is paying anybody, and she didn’t coerce me to say nice things. But she might, if I didn’t.