Open letter To My Sister Jean

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I recently spent some time with my sister and I probably talked about the damage that our current corn based meat and dairy production system is doing to our health and the environment. She called me and said do you know that grass fed ground beef is more than $5 per pound? I said yes but it is a real value at that price. I could tell by the silence on the line that as a widow watching her expenses she was a complete skeptic. So I thought I would share with her and our followers the value she would receive for an average 20%  premium for grass fed beef.

Health advantages:

Grass fed beef is 7 times lower in saturated fat than corn fed

Grass fed beef has substantially higher omega 3 than Corn fed

Grass fed beef is the only natural source of cancer fighting CLA

Grass fed beef has no antibiotics and does not destroy our ability to fight infection

Grass fed beef has no growth hormones with its yet undocumented health effect

Corn fed cattle are inherently high in e-coli, which can be deadly to humans

Also see our reference #16 from the National Cancer Institute

Scientists are just learning the adverse affects of atrazine, a chemical widely used in weed management by industrial agriculture. Is atrazine the major cause of high cancer rates in Iowa and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?

Environmental and other advantages:

Corn production for animal feed is 50% responsible for advanced eutrofication of rivers East of the Rockies and the  destruction of Gulf water species. The other 50% is processed food and ethanol.

Unmanaged CAFO manure and corn production used for animal feed is more than 90% responsible for Chesapeake Bay pollution and major species loss.

Shortcuts in corn cropping diversity resulting in 2-crop or less rotations is the direct cause of top soil erosion affecting future soil productivity and the resulting sedimentation of all rivers and estuaries East of the Rockies.

Corn fed cattle are abused in CAFO’s

Jean. I know that many of these issues do not affect you living in Nevada and you have never seen the horrible conditions in a CAFO or seen the documentary FOOD INC. or see daily the destruction of our Creek but don’t you think that every citizen who buys these industrial products with knowledge of the damage to our water and soil assets and to the animals themselves bears some responsibility for this destruction which can only be described as a National disgrace being ignored by responsible regulators.

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2 Responses to “Open letter To My Sister Jean”

  1. Dean Says:

    Certainly higher quality foods such as grass-fed meat products take more time to grow and produce, but Don is absolutely correct that they are worth the price – there is a physical and ethical benefit that comes from eating healthy foods, and a documented increased health factor in the pasture-raised animal that is translated into more complex and healthy tissue in the product that winds up on your plate. It’s called ecology. We should each take responsibility for ourselves, and reduce our meat costs by eating sustainable meats less frequently while avoiding unsustainable product. Yes they are cheap and easy, but in this day and age we don’t really need to respond to the evolutionary conditioning that makes us crave sugars, carbohydrates, and abundant protein sources. Eat less, but more healthy meat – make it a treat and enjoy it. And replace the protein on the non-meat days with plant products such as beans, vegetables, and soy products. Remember that the 2x daily meat serving recommendation in the USDA food pyramid is a recommended *maximum* We will all gain health by cutting poorly produced meats out of our diet. They are dangerous and not so tasty!

  2. Katherine Marsden Says:

    As I see the issue, on the consumption side, there are three major challenges, accessibility, education, and price. While great advances can be made through improving accessibility and education, at some point the price differential will need to be addressed to eliminate unhealthy and environmentally destructive food production. Perhaps this will need to happen through regulation on production practices, perhaps through some sort of environmental tax and elimination of corn subsidies. Trying to find ways to reduce the cost of good farming practices would likely lead to the same mass production mess we are in, so probably somehow the true cost of bad practices needs to be reflected in the price at the store I think the price differential was a very valid point for Jean to bring up. I sincerely doubt if you looked in her refrigerator if you would find ground beef of any sort. It is just not what she typically cooks. I am sure her investigation at the market was just to compare based on your conversations. A typical shopper just going out and looking at the store, finding grass fed beef there, and comparing should be seen as a really positive indicator on both the accessibility and education fronts.

    On the larger issue of value and responsibility and understanding our individual impact on the environment and each other, that is a very hard problem given the level of globalization on this planet. The problem extends far beyond the particular issue which is the focus of this site. For instance, maybe my 401K manager invested in BP and I helped build the monstrous rig that blew up, so I share responsibility for the earth hemorrhaging horrible goo into the gulf, poisoning food and destroying the coast. Perhaps filling up my car contributed to the demand that made someone think such a risk was justified. Perhaps the electronics I took to the recycling center ended up burning, producing toxic fumes breathed in by a child forced to work extracting the precious metals. Perhaps something I ate hurt the creek behind your house. It is impossible for the human mind to grasp and understand all of our individual impact and footprint. I think the only way to slow or reverse the declining health of our planet and species is to localize as much as possible, so that such an understanding is possible and each strive to understand our impact more.

    Progress can be made on all environmental and health threats out there by addressing the core consumption side issues of accessibility, education and price as well as whatever supply side issues exist (well beyond the scope of this post). It would be great to see improved accessibility and track metrics on bad meat consumption and its reduction over time. There are broad brushed accessibility and positive reinforcement approaches that could make a much more significant impact than individual finger pointing, especially when that finger pointing is quite possibly completely misdirected. Certainly the answer is not to make a villain of someone for bringing up a perfectly valid issue, particularly someone with no internet access or means to respond to the open letter posted here.

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