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Beef – Conventional, Grass-Fed or Organic?

For those of you that are joining in from our last blog, I know we promised our next blog to include the truth behind Grass-Fed beef AND free range chicken. Unfortunately as my research was underway, I uncovered so much disturbing information that I didn’t want to be neglectful and leave anything out. So, I decided to deal exclusively with grass-fed beef today and leave the next blog for the topic of free-range chicken and their eggs.

My research started with my usual sources such as Google, Wikipedia and I tried hard to dig into FDA and USDA. Here’s what I found. Basically, there are two ways to raise cattle in United States. One method is very profitable and predominant, and called a feedlot system. The other method is “Grass-Fed”.

Feedlot / Feedyard Cattle

Feedlot Cattle image

Feedlot / Feedyard Cattle

From Wikipedia “A feedlot or feedyard is a type of Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) (also known as “factory farming”) which is used for finishing livestock, notably beef cattle, prior to slaughter. They may contain thousands of animals in an array of pens.” This means the calf is raised on the pasture with its mother to feed on her milk and graze until it reaches an entry-level weight of 650 lbs. It is then placed in a pen and fed a “specialized” diet consisting mainly of hay, corn, sorghum and other by-products of food processing. These by-products are usually cottonseed meal, soybean meal, sugar beet waste, molasses and minerals. In order to get as much fat deposits (marbling) as possible in the animals muscles, feedlot cattle are fed a very nutritionally dense diet. In addition to this unnatural diet, feedlot cattle are usually given growth hormone to achieve faster growth as well as antibiotics, which they wouldn’t need if they were able to graze freely.

Grass-Fed Cattle

Grass-Fed Cattle Image

Grass-Fed Cattle

Grass-Fed cattle spend their lives on the pasture and are allowed to graze freely on fresh pasture, hay or grass silage. This means they do not need antibiotics, genetically modified growth promoting hormones or a diet that they were not meant to eat.

Ruminents, Corn & Acidosis

You see, a cow is a ruminant. It has a rumen which is a 45-gallon “fermentation tank” in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats. After this food is properly broken down they regurgitate their food, and chew it more thoroughly until proper digestion has taken place. One of the most serious illnesses that can happen to a cow on corn is a condition known as feedlot bloat. The rumen is always producing a lot of gas in which the cattle normally belch out during rumination. However, in a cattle on a diet high in starches and little roughage, rumination all but stops. At this point a foamy slime forms that traps gas, and the rumen expands like a balloon. Unless immediate action is taken (usually by shoving a tube down the esophagus,) the animal suffocates. The pH of a rumen is neutral, unlike our stomach which is highly acidic. A corn based diet can also give the cattle acidosis, which in serious cases can cause death but typically renders the animal very sick. Cattle affected by acidosis stop feeding, pant and salivate excessively, eat dirt and paw at their bellies. This condition can cause diarrhea, ulcers, bloating, liver disease and weaken the immune system. In these confined environments, any disease from polio to pneumonia can run rampant. In short, cattle, sheep, goats and deer are ruminants, and as such these animals were created by God to eat and live off grasses. Any diet other than that, endangers not only these animals’ lives, but also those humans that consume them.

“Cattle, sheep, goats and deer . . . were created by God to eat and live off grasses. Any diet other than that, endangers not only these animals’ lives, but also those humans that consume them.”

Avoiding Hormones in Beef

If Grass-Fed beef is something your family cannot afford than at the very least you should consider purchasing organic beef. Although organic beef may be raised in a confined feedlot system they cannot be given antibiotics and growth hormones. Also take this into consideration – the European Union has banned US beef from being imported. The reason for this ban is that the EU prohibits hormones in beef – something that the US still regularly allows to be administered to cattle. Per an article written by mad-cow.org, the hormones allowed for use in US cattle are estradiol (a sex hormone that represents the major estrogen in humans), testosterone, progesterone (a steroid hormone), zeranol (a non-steroidal estrogen agonist), trenbolone (a steroid used on livestock to increase appetite and muscle mass. This drug is a schedule III drug and is illegal for human use), melengestrol (a steroid hormone), clenbuterol (A non-steroidal anabolic and metabolism accelerator), dexamethasone (anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant) and triamcinolone-acetonide (a type of corticosteroid, about 8 times more effective than prednisone). This is serious stuff. If the consumption of meats containing these hormones doesn’t scare you, it should.

U.S. Wellness Meats Logo

Buying Beef Locally

The local farmer’s market is one of the best places to get your food. As a boy who was raised in Albania for the first 13 years of my life, when we came to the United States one of the things we had to get used to was that we did not know the source of the food we ate. It was just there, waiting for us to purchase at the supermarket. We did not know the farmer that grew it, nor did we know by what methods. At the time we did not think any more of it; it just became a fact of life. Now that I am older and see for my own eyes the importance of knowing where your food comes from, I’m much more selective. It may be more inconvenient to seek out and go to your local farmer’s market, but REMEMBER! your health is worth more than the cost of gas or any other excuses you may come up with! Getting your kids involved in this process can be as much fun and educational for them as well as future generations down the road. I have personally had the pleasure to meet with Mr. Bailey Newton of Triple B farms in Bullock, North Carolina, who sells his product at the Wake Forest Farmer’s Market. He goes out of his way to rotate his animals’ pastures daily, allowing them to graze on native grasses. He maintains fertile soils and green grass pastures by relying on compost and time-tested pasture grazing methods. The people responsible for your nutrition and well being should know you and care about you as much as they do for their families. After all, you are a part of their family.

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What Is Organic?

When most of us think about buying organic food, the first things that may come to mind are nutritious, tastier than conventional, better for the environment and maybe even expensive. But what does it mean to support the organic food industry? Is the buzz about eating organic really true?

organic seal

Per the USDA Consumer Brochure: “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.” What this means in a nutshell, is organic farmers have moved on from wanting to make as much money as possible in as little time as possible, to growing nutritious, wholesome food the same as God intended. Organic food is tastier and is better for you because it contains less pesticide residues (organic produce samples had 13 percent versus 71 percent of conventional produce samples), AND is much, much more nutrient dense than its other conventional counterparts.

organic produce

Conventional Could Mean Genetically Modified

Conventional foods may be grown with the “anything goes” mentality, meaning they may use any means necessary to grow the food as fast as possible. In most cases conventionally grown food has been genetically modified to resist bugs, bacteria and pesticides used to control weeds. Read that sentence again. Some conventionally grown food has been modified at the genetic level to resist pesticide spray so that those farmers, no longer have to worry about killing their crop while spraying the entire field to control weed growth and insects. Some food such as strawberries, have been genetically modified to resist frost so they may be grown at all times of the year. Whatever happened to the days when you ate certain foods only while they were in season? Wikipedia gives the definition of pesticide as “a substance or mixture of substances used to kill a pest. A pesticide may be a chemical substance, biological agent (such as a virus or bacteria), antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest.” In this world, where we are adding pollutants and chemicals into our environment at an alarming rate, the last thing we should do is knowingly and willingly put chemicals or genetically modified foods into our bodies. God never intended for our bodies to process chemicals, so the more chemicals we eat, the more we store (in fat and other tissues) as they have no use on the inside.

“In most cases conventionally grown food has been genetically modified to resist bugs, bacteria and pesticides used to control weeds.”

Purchasing organic food (for you and your family) is one of the best decisions you can make in your life, but an even better decision would be to purchase organic products from your local farmers. A popular but now forgotten phrase used to be “Know your farmer, know your food”. Visit the Farmer’s Markets in your local area, talk to your farmer and ask them questions about their growing techniques. If they are unwilling to answer your questions then maybe you don’t need to be buying food from them. You wouldn’t buy a car from a salesman who wouldn’t talk to you, right? Your farmer should be more interested in cultivating and maintaining a relationship with you, rather than trying to make the most money they can. Most farmers I have met and spoke with here in the Triangle area are some of the nicest people I’ve met. They were more than willing to answer any questions I had and then some.
It may be more expensive to purchase organic but ask yourself this; would you rather spend the money now and live a longer, healthier and happier life, or spend the money later to pay for expensive medicines to treat avoidable aches, pains and illness?

Please stay tuned for my next blog about the truth behind free-range chicken and grass fed beef.

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Eat Whole Foods in Their Natural State

Whole Foods

Whole Foods are foods that are in their God-created, natural, unprocessed state. According to Wikipedia, “The term ‘Whole Food’ has been known to describe any food that offers a complete balance in nutritional value while in its natural state.” As Jack LaLanne says, “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it.” That is great advice from the 94 year-old king of fitness. The body knows how to metabolize and use the whole foods made from our Creator. It has no clue how to use the chemicals and artificial derivatives in processed foods. When we eat those kinds of processed foods, we get our bodies into trouble.

Raw fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense and common whole foods. Fresh Juicing using Juicers or simply eating raw fruits and vegetables are the best ways to get your true daily value of vitamins and minerals. Some other whole foods are legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, meats, and grains like rice, barley and oats. And, no, cereal is not considered a whole food…it is made from processed grains. Also, most dairy products are processed (pasteurized and homogenized), which makes them damaging to most people who consume them regularly.

“If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it!”
– Jack LaLanne

Most processed foods have additives like refined sugar, dairy, salt, soy, corn, MSG, and other preservatives. These additives are included in synthetic, unnatural states, and so may cause damage to the systems of your body. Beware of the marketing and sales ploys behind food companies’ products that say ‘All-Natural,’ or ‘Fortified with Vitamins and Minerals’. Remember, they also consider the brain toxin MSG (among others), natural. Also, if the food were truly in its whole, natural state, it wouldn’t need to be fortified with anything or packaged.

The results of eating a whole food based diet often reduces body fat, gives you more energy, better focus, and better overall health. Whereas, processed foods often make our bodies fat, sluggish, unhealthy, and/or toxic. The choice is yours. Live well.