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Monday Mission: Got Meat? (Where does your meat come from?)

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to learn about where your meat comes from.

Get the Junk Out - a spring cleaning challenge hosted by Kitchen Stewardship

Perhaps you already know everything about your meat. Perhaps you’ve watched Food, Inc. and seek out local, grassfed or pastured, organic meats. Your job, then, is to find the balance. Keep on reading.

This week we’re talking about CAFOs, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations, aka “factory farms,” with Kelly the Kitchen Kop. I’m here, as usual, to provide a balanced perspective. When I posted on the moral ramifications to Food, Inc. in Just Food, a reader shared some links from the agricultural perspective. It’s important to remember that many factory farms are still owned by families. When do we divide “family farms” to leave out family farms that happen to be massive?

RELATED: Honest Butcher Box Review

Conventionally Raised Meat

If you’ve never seen Food, Inc., it’s definitely worth a watch. PBS just aired it a few weeks ago, but unfortunately it’s no longer available on their website. You can see the trailer and read a synopsis here. My down-and-dirty synopsis:

  • Big business runs the world of agriculture.
  • Factory farms raise unsafe meat and are ruled by big business companies.
  • The agricultural world runs on corn. Too many animals eat corn, which takes vast petroleum resources to grow. Cows shouldn’t eat corn, they should be pastured and eat grass.
  • America is trying to grow too much food, too fast, and we compromise quality and safety to do it.
  • The petroleum (gasoline) used to transport corn to feed the animals is unsustainable. The waste produced by factory farms is too hard to get rid of and is polluting the environment.
  • The meat we grow is motivated by the fast food chains, and when the goal is cheap meat, many other aspects suffer.
  • Easy access to fast food, i.e. cheap meat, has helped  fuel the obesity epidemic. Corn-fed beef is also higher in omega-6s and lower in omega-3s.
  • Factory cows stand around in their own manure, are unhealthy, and require vast amounts of antibiotics to avoid illness.
  • Factory chickens grow in unsafe conditions, both for the chicken and the environment. They are bred for large breasts and quick growth, unnaturally, and many of them die before they make it to slaughter.
  • Factory-farmed meat is a bad choice for an eater, both in nutrition and sustainability.

I think it’s key to remember that Food, Inc. is a documentary, and it is from one perspective. The directors say that they tried to talk to big companies and didn’t get cooperation. I can’t imagine they tried very hard to talk to big factory farmers who are 100% behind their work, because there are many, many who are willing and actively speaking out about their business and craft in the wake of the film.

Food, Inc. uses propaganda well, and I think it’s important for us to remember to separate the slant of the documentary from the facts.

A Perspective from Factory Farmers

Here’s the other side of the story. There are real people who own those factory farms in the midwest, and many of them aren’t as heartless as Food, Inc. would make you think.

  • You must listen to this 10-minute sound byte of an incredibly focused, fact-based, and striking interview with a big agriculture farmer about how things have changed for the better in the last 30 years, how he seeks sustainability on his feedlot in Wisconsin, and how his farming practices are much more kind to the environment than the perspective of Food, Inc. After listening, I thought:  “This guy is the answer. He’s the balance between Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms and small farms, and the massive factory farms profiled in Food, Inc. He has a massive farm, growing food sustainably. Pollan responded that “this was quite a story.”
  • Michele Payn-Knoper wrote a blog post called, “Dear Mr. Pollan, Farming is not a Story,” with links to the above interview and Pollan’s response. Her letter to Pollan is quite different than my letter to Pollan. Her blog is all about big agriculture and has many resources  to learn about that perspective. You can also meet two factory farmers in her “Faces of Food, Inc.
  • Safe Food Inc. (link no longer available) provides answers to these questions:
    1. Can we feed the world using Joel Salatin’s approach?
    2. How are broiler chickens raised? What kind of space and lighting is included in broiler houses?
    3. Are chickens today larger than they were in the past?
    4. I’ve heard that it is possible to convert the world’s agricultural system to the organic or “slow food model.” Is that true?
    5. “Food, Inc.’s” makers say that thirteen slaughterhouses produce most of the beef in the U.S.: Is that accurate?
    6. Is corn an unnatural diet for cattle? Is it only fed to cattle because it’s cheap?
    7. Did feedlots and modern beef production methods encourage the emergence of E. coli O157:H7 as a foodborne illness?
    8. Can E. coli O157:H7 be eliminated or reduced by feeding cattle grass instead of grain?
    9. Are pesticides safe? What would happen if we stopped using them?
    10. What kind of health care is provided to broiler chickens? Are antibiotics used?
    11. Is antibiotic use among livestock and poultry producers contributing to antibiotic resistance in humans?
    12. And LOTS more…
      **UPDATE:  I was appropriately called out in the comments with the point that I didn’t remind you that this site is also filled with propaganda. It is. Truly. And I definitely don’t believe everything they’ll try to get you to believe. I just feel it’s important to hear both sides, turn our brains on high power, and make our own decisions.
  • The National Corn Growers Association provides their own propaganda (remember, they’re growing corn!) as a rebuttal to Food, Inc. They nicely slice through the inconsistencies in the film – that’s the part you need to pay attention to – and then provide their own answers. That’s the part you need to read with a close eye, keeping in mind that they’re selling corn.
  • Another bit of propaganda from the opposing viewpoint is “What the Experts Say about Modern Food Production.”  I think this is what Food, Inc. should have allowed us to see to help us make our own decision.
  • You can see a counter documentary, done very fairly, called Food, Inc.: A Nebraska Perspective (link no longer available) from PBS. Click on the video link in the sidebar to watch. A 3,000 cow beef farmer, a large pig farmer, and a natural dairy farmer share their views on Food, Inc. They do a lot of talking without saying much other than, “We’re doing a better job than the video would make you believe,” although about 25 minutes in, they explain how they care for the environment, and that part really gives facts that are different than Food, Inc. would make us believe, about waste management particularly.
  • Here’s a piece from the Animal Agriculture Alliance, another group that has a vested interest in avoiding the demise of factory farms:
  • Of the two million farms in the United States, 98 percent are family-owned. The average size of a farm is 428 acres. Today, one farmer already provides enough food for 155 people- but the United Nations estimates that global food production will need to double by 2050 to meet the ever-increasing demand. Providing a plentiful, nutritious, and affordable food supply is critical- especially in these trying economic times. One in eight Americans turned to food banks in 2009.Fewer than 2 percent of Americans live and work on a farm. In many states, farmland is being converted for urban development at an increasing rate. The demand for food could simply not be met if farmers were forced to revert to 1950s production strategies. Click here (link no longer available) to learn more about the amazing efficiency of American farmers.The productivity of the farmers and ranchers that provide us with meat, milk and eggs is not the result of irresponsible or inhumane practices, but rather decades of hard work, scientific study, innovation in animal care, in depth examination of animal nutrition and thoughtful use of natural resources. Farmers’ and ranchers’ highest priority is to produce food in a manner that is responsible to the animals, the environment, their employees, and consumers.
  • I appreciate that perspective, and the rest of the document, titled “Get the Facts About Food, Inc.“, will explain the Big Agriculture point of view on the propaganda in Food, Inc.

RELATED: How to Stretch Your Meat.

What to Believe?

Ultimately, there is a middle ground. All factory farms aren’t evil enterprises. There has to be a way to produce large-scale production without the negative side effects. Let’s find and support the farmers who are trying to do this!

That said, you are all probably wondering what kind of meat my family buys. For about a year, we’ve been buying local, grassfed, organic beef and pastured chickens straight from the farm. This comes at a price premium that hurts every time I think about it. The ground beef has gone up from $3.45 to $4.00/lb. in that time. However, after doing my own research, I still feel that it’s the best choice for my family, at least for now. I ultimately use a lot less meat to compensate for the price.
I’m open to other perspectives. I understand that not all store meat is from terrible factory farms, but some comes from the cows I see grazing when I drive the Michigan freeways. I just don’t like not knowing for sure what’s on my plate.
Be sure to click on some of the links above to complete your Monday Mission this week and become a more balanced, educated consumer. You might also try to find a local farm that sells sustainably raised meat and consider making a switch (but that’s no “baby step” mission!).

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

37 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Got Meat? (Where does your meat come from?)”

  1. This is where I wish I had my own blog started up so I could write a whole article…

    The name factory farm is such a broad title – and covers everything from farms trying innovative ways to be responsible to farms just trying to make money. And family farm is rather a misnomer as well – while owners of private establishments are more likely to take care of their stock, badly or well cared for stock is good or bad no matter if owned by person or corporation. Both the statements that 98% of farms are family farms and that most of the meat sold are owned by four companies (as claimed on Food Inc) can be true. The majority of farmers dont market and sell their own meat as their own, but it gets sold to a second party and sold to the consumer under the banner of one of those four companies.

    I also found Lenettes article interesting. I can only compare it to my own experience. My parents have a very small farm raising cattle in Canada, where not much grows besides rocks and trees. They only have 12 permanent head, plus calves which they sell at the auction in the fall. The cows roam around 400 acres of forest and dont even have a barn for the winter. So far, they have never needed antibiotics or vaccines. They used to be able sell their meat locally. Now however, farm gate sales of beef are illegal and meat must be processed at a government inspected facility, the closest of which is a good 8-10 hr drive away. Such a law is frustrating, and completely disregards a consumers ability to judge for themselves whether to trust a farmer or not. My parents work incredibley hard, and its not for the (non-existent) income.

    Guestamations on how much food the world is going to need in how many years are rather worthless, I think. Design a different mathematical model, and youll end up with a different number. And such predictions cannot take into account where and how such food was produced. Some organizations are still propounding the overpopulation scare, but the whole developed world (which consumes the most) have declining populations, some of which is hidden by immigration. In countries like Japan, that are not especially open to immigration, the issue is seen more clearly. Japans population is expected to half in the next 50 years.

    enough of a book from me for now…

  2. There’s a lot that can be said on this subject… I have one comment with regard to the fact that the UN estimates that global food production will need to double by 2050… this has been contradicted in several different sources that I have seen or read. Most recently, I watched a documentary called “Demographic Winter” which said that the global population will actual start to fall around 2040. All the industrialized nations except for USA (IIRC) have negative birth rates and the USA is just *barely* above the replacement birth rate (which is just above 2 children per woman.) The only reason the population numbers still show an increase is because medical technology is keeping the elderly alive longer, but once the baby boomers start dying off, we will see the population numbers fall and most of Europe is struggling with how to deal with this situation. Japan has already to begun to feel the repurcussions of population decline because they did not have a baby boom like the USA and Europe.

    I would LOVE more transparency in meat! I am wondering about a local farm in my area that sells pastured chickens which live in open bottomed structures and are rotated on new pasture, yet are ready for harvest by 8-9 weeks! Isn’t that the same breed of chicken developed for the industrial market that grows 3 times as fast as a “regular” chicken? I’ve heard that they can’t even move by the time they are ready for harvest because their breasts are so big. Is putting this type of chicken on pasture “cheating” (as far as what you think of when you buy “farm raised/pastured/free range” chicken) or is it the best of both worlds? (I’m wondering if my stock would gel! LOL) Do they get enough sunshine? enough exercise? Is that important to the nutrient profile of a meat bird?

    Also in my quest to find an affordable source of grass-fed beef I am learning that the science behind raising cattle is complex and there are a lot of different opinions! I get a little lost reading publications directed at graziers! I just recently bought 1/8 of a grass fed cow and made sure to ask for the heart, kidneys, liver, tail and bones so that I really get my money’s worth!

    1. Sarah,
      Hmmm, it does seem like a cross-section of two strategies on those chickens. I don’t know what to think!

      re: population, that is fascinating. I read an editorial once that claimed we could solve the Social Security problem if we would just stop abortions and start allowing these babies to be born, because then there would be an appropriate number of workers paying into the system. Life is certainly complicated!

  3. I’m massively confused by something. I have a minor in journalism, and grown more skeptical as I’ve grown older, but I still can’t figure out “propaganda” from the “Food, Inc.” side. I’m sure it’s there – I just can’t wrap my brain around it. What is their propaganda? What do ‘they’ have to gain from our decreased consumption of factory farm yields?

    Unless, of course, this is all just some big conspiracy to propel Joel Salatin into the realm of celebrity. Because that’s definitely happening. He was here in town a couple of weeks ago, signing autographs like a rock star. While I guess I understand (given my personal interest in these subjects), I still thought it was completely bizarre….

    1. KatieC,
      Hmmm, it’s been a while since I actually studies the various forms of propaganda, but I just felt like only one side of the story was shown. What are those doggone propaganda techniques? I can only think of “bandwagon”, and that doesn’t really apply.
      ? Katie

    2. Unfortunately, the word “propaganda” has a bad rap, as GOOD propaganda is never called that, and the word is way over used to mean “anything that doesn’t agree with my point of view”.
      I believe the answer to your question is found in the definition of propaganda

      prop•a•gan•da noun /ˌpräpəˈgandə/ 
      Information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view

      Food Inc. is in fact information used to promote a particular view on a very politically charged topic that the movie maker does have a bias about. That does not make it bad, it does not make it good, it simply makes it information given to us by your average human with their own opinion that we must add to our own personal library and use to make our own choices.

  4. Carrie Oliver

    Thank you for this post!

    5 years or so back I went on a fruitless search for a store or butcher who could tell me what was on my plate. In the process of learning why no one could tell me anything beyond the grade of beef and “probably Angus,” I was both inspired and upset. I discovered that beef (any meat) is just like wine, flavor & texture will vary by the breed, growing region, specific diet, husbandry practices, aging time and technique, and talent. Unfortunately, in our quest for cheap, always available meat, all of this wonderful variety or potential variety walks up to the slaughterhouse door and comes out the other end as “Choice” or “organic” or “grass-fed.” This totally explained why this week’s steak wasn’t as good as the last one – it came from a totally different, random batch.

    You touch upon this above but please allow me to reinforce your call for transparency in meat. Not only does this allow us to make an informed choice based on husbandry practices but it also means we can choose based on other criteria, such as preferred flavor & texture or the fact that we like one producer’s story better than the other. We don’t buy wine or beer or even apples based only on how they were grown and processed, we know what farms, brands, or varieties we like and seek more of the same. Why not do the same with meat? Let’s break the commodity trap by celebrating that beef isn’t just beef and there’s no such thing as “Tastes Like Chicken.”
    .-= Carrie Oliver´s last blog ..Eaglehawk Farms Rating: Easy Going Beef =-.

    1. Carrie,
      LOVE this comment! Do you raise meat, too? I never thought about the nuances in meat like that…
      🙂 Katie

      1. Carrie Oliver

        Hi, Katie. Thanks! I do not raise meat but have spent the last few years learning a lot about beef and trying to support the folks out there raising and making it for us. My own blind tasting led me to host similar events for others. The way I see it the meat industry is where wine or coffee were in the 1970s, overly simple. If enough of us recognize and celebrate the nuances, and the fact that knowing what’s on your plate is about individual choice and community, too, we can step above the fray and create a larger market opportunity for those working outside of the commodity system.
        .-= Carrie Oliver´s last blog ..Eaglehawk Farms Rating: Easy Going Beef =-.

  5. While i commend you for presenting info presented by “big ag”, you still slant it to your perspective when you say things like “There are real people who own those factory farms in the midwest, and many of them aren’t as heartless as Food, Inc would make you think.”

    No farmer is as heartless as Food Inc wants you to think. Food Inc doesn’t want you to think at all. It wants you to drone into the real food lifestyle.

    1. Tonya,
      In case you haven’t noticed, the majority of the commenters here paid attention to the balanced perspective, and a few tore me up for going too far to the “big ag” side. If I’m going to convince anyone here that ‘big ag’ is viable, it won’t be by going overboard. I think I gave them quite a fair shake, considering I don’t even believe that cows should be kept indoors and treated as they are!

      How can anyone say that giving cows grass and allowing them to walk around, when they hardly need any medicine and rarely get sick, is a bad thing? I am seeking balance. I want the middle ground, a rather large farm that can be sustainable. However, I always support small businesses whenever possible, whether farms or camera stores.

      I am certainly no drone to the real food lifestyle. I’ve embraced it, more or less, because I see real, positive impacts in my family when we eat well (and disappear when we cheat too much). Let us agree that regardless of what Food, Inc. may want us to do, we can both think through the issues without pushing anyone around.

      For the record, the first clips I even viewed from Food, Inc. were in February of this year, and I still haven’t seen every bit of it.

  6. Erin aka Conscious Shopper

    Amen, Rachel! It’s always nice when I scroll down to the comments with so much to say and then discover that someone else has already said it better. Perfectly stated, and I have nothing else to add.
    .-= Erin aka Conscious Shopper´s last blog ..Challengicious Monday: Slay Your Vampires =-.

  7. I will never agree that big agriculture is a good thing, EVER!

    I have never seen Food Inc and I don’t need to.

    I pray that big ag is not here to stay.

    Small farmers who feed their animals what God intended is the way it should be.

  8. Enjoying this post and all the comments! Keep them coming. I love hearing what everyone has to say on this topic. Can anyone link to any studies on whether or not pastured chicken and grass fed beef is healthier? Beyond the treatment of the animals, I have heard it is better for your health, but are there studies out there? Organic produce is supposedly tested to be the same nutritionally as non organic…of course the pesticides…I want to avoid them. I just don’t know as much about meat and the more info the better. I am limiting my meat intake but also nursing a baby and need good protein sources. Organic free range chicken is roasting in the oven now 🙂 At the price we will eat every last bite and make stock as well.

    1. Angela,
      Just did the same thing with a chicken tonight! 😉 Kelly’s post for the carnival definitely will answer your question:

      And that broth will stretch your protein to make it count more! 😉 Katie

  9. To say “Food, Inc. uses propaganda well, and I think it’s important for us to remember to separate the slant of the documentary from the facts.” And then to say “Safe Food Inc. provides answers to these questions:…” without acknowledging any slant in the “Safe Food Inc” site is in effect to endorse what they are saying on that site as the “real” answers. I’m not sure that’s what you meant to do, but I can say, after visiting that site, that they are most definitely slanted. Their answer to “are pesticides safe?” is especially troubling considering the evidence that is out there showing how harmful these substances are. And while they say pesticide use has dropped… they indirectly tell you that this is due to GMO crops (without saying GMO). This article is heavily slanted & presents many “answers” that sidestep issues & twist facts. I also didn’t see any “inconsistencies” addressed in “a rebuttal to Food, Inc.”. What I did read is their own “take” on those issues (like saying the AMA says HFCS is not the reason for obesity- a very convenient quote that sidesteps the increasing evidence that HFCS contributes to obesity). I just had to take issue with some of this.

    1. Lisa,
      You got me! I’m totally busted. You’re right, I should have pointed out the propaganda at that site, too, and I have updated the post to reflect that. I’m glad your comment is here to help people unravel the untruths at the link. It’s a frustrating world out there! I guess I was just feeling a little cheeky and wanting to push the envelope a bit on this issue…but I’m still paying $4/lb for ground beef, so clearly I’m not on the factory farms’ side. 😉 Katie

  10. I will look forward to checking out all the links you put into this piece. Thanks for your work.

    In terms of your question – where does your meat come from? – Our family has been buying grass-fed meats as much as possible – from a variety of sources – direct at farms and via farmer’s markets and farm stands. Also at Whole Foods – the one closest to me sells pork from a local pastured-pork seller. I have discovered WF sells all pastured meat at my location & so I may go that route more often – since it it tiring sourcing directly at the farms & it just isn’t always possible. (Prices at WF seem to be as good as farm prices in many cases).

    Also, if I have not been able to buy pastured meat, I’ve been buying meat that is clearly labeled as coming from animals not treated with antibiotics.

  11. Thank you, Kelly! I truly do believe in real food and buying local food. Ideally, I would love to see the world nourish themselves from organic, locally grown food – by knowing the farmer. My parents are in the dairy industry and for many who fully support “Food, Inc.” would be considered a factory farm. I have a problem with that fact and don’t agree with the perspective. Anyhow, thank you for sharing both perspectives. Thank you for realizing some “factory farms” are also family farms.

  12. Newlywed & Unemployed

    My food co op just started carrying local, grass fed beef and I bought a pound Saturday! Of course, this is after months of weaning my husband -off- beef, so now he’s a little confused, but he trusts me. (But like you, the premium sure turns this beef into a rare occasion.)

    Thank you for sharing a balanced report. I read Omnivore’s Dilemma and determined that I want to set aside a portion of the grocery budget for fresh, organic food every week. I can’t yet buy everything locally and organically, so I’ll happily support what few facets of the local economy are available.
    .-= Newlywed & Unemployed´s last blog ..A Dietary Realization =-.

  13. Wow, Katie! Thank you so much for posting this. One of my favorite posts on KS by far, and it will take me quite awhile to get through all of the resources you linked. I think your moderate perspective on this is incredibly helpful in what can become such a polarizing debate. It’s encouraging to see the stories of some larger-scale farmers who try very hard to make their farming methods as sustainable as possible.

    We’re trying to be more conscientious of which kinds of meat we buy, and it helps to realize that there is some middle ground between scary supermarket beef and meeting the farmer who knew the name of the chicken I’m roasting for dinner!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..April 2010 Kitchen Goals =-.

  14. Rachel Ritter

    I realize that there is propaganda all over the place, and I really enjoy your blog. I love reading what you write and I appreciate how much effort goes into it…

    I realize you’re trying to give an unbiased critique, but I absolutely disagree. It seems in sharp contrast to your usual message.

    Families own many large farms, and I wouldn’t vilify them. I believe they generally make a good faith attempt to do the best job they can while remaining financially viable and competitive in the marketplace. Despite this, if you’re feeding your cattle organic grain on a feedlot, confining them, and doing your best to manage their waste, the cattle are still living unnaturally. This unnatural lifestyle is less healthy for them and for those of us who eat them. Also, for those of you who believe in such things, it’s not in keeping with God’s design.

    There are many who argue that a Joel Salatin-like farm could not feed all of us. Considering our current lifestyle, this is absolutely correct. People don’t like to hear that our lifestyle is not sustainable… even some of those who want to make changes won’t if it’s too inconvenient. Nothing can change the fact that we eat too much, especially when it comes to meat.

    There are too many arguments (for and against) to list here, but by diversifying the food chain and largely returning to local, seasonal, organic food, I believe we can make a huge difference in our health and that of the world around us. Not only that, but local food promotes a sense of connectedness to the land, the community, and strengthens our sense of belonging, fortifying our culture. In less developed societies, food provides a common bond between people and helps shape cultural identity. No feedlot, no matter how well run, can ever offer the same benefits of your local farmer. Lastly, strong local food supply contributes to national security. This is perhaps most in evidence in the “Victory Gardens” we’re all so familiar with.

    Some BigAg is not terrible, but that is not the same as being good. We must be held to a higher standard than thinking that something is okay just because it isn’t awful. After all, do we teach our children to do only what is “good enough”? Or do we teach them to reach for the stars and achieve their highest potential? Though it is idealistic, I continue “to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best” (Christian Larson)…and the best food, community, and culture comes from local farms.


    1. Rachel,
      Thank you for your comment, and I do appreciate (and agree with!) your perspective. The petroleum cost alone of trucking corn all over for cattle isn’t sustainable, so even if Joel Salatin can’t feed the world, neither can factory farms, forever.

      There are those who say that corn is a grass, too, and that the whole story of cows’ “acidic gut” from eating grain isn’t true, either. I can’t even tell you how many rebuttals to the rebuttals I’ve read! It’s mind-blowing that scientists can say the exact opposite of each other and both be backed by research.

      At the end of the day, I’d like to see all cows eating grass, but I don’t know that we can expect them not to at least be finished a bit on grain. There’s got to be a balance that can respect God’s creation and also make it possible for the country to grow food with fewer farmers. I don’t want to be a farmer; it’s too much work! I think a lot of people nowadays feel that way, so we must depend on fewer farmers to feed more people.

      I hope that sounds more like I’m agreeing with you than not, because really, I do feel that you hit the nail on the head.

      Thank you!

  15. Katie, thank you for presenting both sides! It is a challenging thing to do, but so important. It is easy–when you first start getting interested in nutrition and sustainability–to forget that there IS propaganda on BOTH sides. Organic farmers are selling you a product, just like the big businesses.

    My husband is a plant breeder and geneticist who works closely with growers in our state–he really keeps me on the straight and narrow, because he has information that I don’t on so many things. For example, he really thinks that GMO crops are one of the best hopes for sustainable organic growing…yet you won’t often here much of the case for organic GMOs around most natural food sources.

    It’s just a complicated world out there!
    .-= Terri´s last blog ..Chicken Stock Epiphany =-.

    1. Terri,
      I know organics ban GMOs, so how do organic GMOs work? That’s on issue I haven’t really looked into yet, but I have a bunch of sites bookmarked for when I get around to it! Any resources or stories you can share would be very welcome.
      🙂 Katie

  16. Simple in France

    Great post-well-researched, well-reasoned!

    For a long time, we’ve tried to avoid beef that’s not grass fed and chicken that isn’t organic. It was harder in the States and it actually meant we did without meat at all for the most part.

    Here in France we have more options–there are several local producers of lamb and chicken–small operations that we trust. Also, when you find a professional butcher you can trust here, you can actually find quite good meat even without going to the local producers at the farmer’s market.
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Greeks, Goldman Sachs, US Goverment–whose mess is it? =-.

  17. Mindful Momma

    Thanks for the balanced view on this important subject Katie! I think that documentaries like Food, Inc. are important to draw attention to problems with the system….but we also have to realize that large scale food production is here to stay. We need to advocate for changes that will improve factory farms rather than think we can get rid of them completely.
    .-= Mindful Momma´s last blog ..Spring Beauty =-.

    1. Tan@tan/green

      Ditto – living in the desert make this a particularly hard problem to tackle…there are few pastures in Las Vegas. A middle ground – and in-grocery store options (since I think groceries are here to stay too!) – is what I am hoping for. I am still thrilled that our food supply is really getting a lot more attention than even just a year or two ago – that has to be the path to something better.
      .-= Tan@tan/green´s last blog ..Vaccines =-.

  18. Katie,
    Thank you so much for providing information on both sides of this issue!!! Actually, I appreciate that you do that on all issues. I enjoy your blog so much because you do the research, you don’t just provide the same info that every other real food blogger does. I come from a family of “factory dairy farmers” and I get so upset when I read the same negative, untrue things being presented as fact. Thank you so much for the balance!!

  19. GreenRanchingMom

    Thank you!!! Thank you from a small cattle rancher in southern Iowa. I appreciate your respectful look at both sides & encouraging people to find out WHERE & WHO thier food comes from!

    As a small family ranch trying to sell beef (even some corn finished) I always try to never put down any other farmer or rancher; even when our opinions & methods differ dramatically.

    Thanks for encouraging everyone to KNOW YOUR FOOD!!!

    Y’all are doing a great job!
    .-= GreenRanchingMom´s last blog ..Choices & Perspective =-.

  20. Wow, I’m really impressed that you did all the work for this post! I haven’t checked-out the links yet because, frankly, there’s a ton of them! But I definitely plan to, and I appreciate all your work in putting them together. We saw Food, Inc. a few months ago and have since bought half an organic, grassfed cow from a local farmer and have started buying pastured chickens from the store… Thankfully, I found our beef at $2/lb. so it’s actually a better deal than the store, but I still feel guilty when I want to take a break from cooking a whole chicken to just buy a bag of frozen breasts or when I buy pork chops from the store. For the first time in about six months I bought some “regular” store eggs the other day because I could get 36 of them for what it cost me to buy a dozen at the price I had been paying. I’m eating them every morning, and that’s just a really big price difference! But I totally felt guilty. So I like your concept of balance and, honestly, it had never occurred to me that the makers of Food, Inc. might have a little bit of an unfair bias and that the other side should be seen. I’m sure this probably isn’t a popular idea in the real food blogosphere, so I appreciate you being willing to tackle it!

  21. Thanks for this post which looks to have taken much time and thought. I’m looking forward to reading it. In the meantime, it’s time for breakfast – eggs which were gathered just this morning from our own hens.
    .-= Lisa in WA´s last blog ..The Dirty Dozen…and the Clean 15! =-.

  22. I’ve been watching “Food Inc.” this week on YouTube – here’s the link to the first of 10 ‘episodes’ –
    I have actually worked on several organic meat farms in upstate NY in the last 13 years. I don’t have to watch a documentary to know that I prefer my meat to be raised, handled, and processed by human hands instead of machines. I can eviscerate a chicken in 6 seconds – probably as fast as a machine, but it takes human awareness to make the processing of raw meat sanitary without having to give the finished product chlorine baths.
    One way to cut down on the price of your meat may be to offer to help out your local family farm on processing day. Cook them a meal while they’re all busy in the processing room, or even don a rubber apron and pluck some feathers yourself.
    .-= Trina´s last blog ..Wordless Weekend: Mother and Child =-.

    1. Trina,
      First of all, I can’t believe you can do it in 6 seconds! THAT is really something. My eyebrows won’t leave the top of my forehead. 😉

      Second, what a super tip for the meat $ issue. I will have to ponder if I’m bold enough to ask to make a meal!
      🙂 Katie

  23. We are lucky to be able to buy beef raised by a co-worker. Of course, we have to buy half a beef at a time but it’s worth it. I haven’t found a local source for chicken but I’m working on it.

  24. What's Cooking

    I went to Hulu and still found Food Inc there through PBS. Here is the link

    They also have The Future of Food which I also highly reccommed if you haven’t already seen it.
    .-= What’s Cooking´s last blog ..Urgent =-.

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