There are many problems today in our food supply but one in particular I feel I have a moral obligation to expose. I am sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news but the meat you buy at the grocery store is NOT what you think it is. I am not trying to convince you all to become vegetarians or make you feel bad instead I want you to become aware of who and where you buy your meat from. Most all meat counters, meat markets, and large chain supermarkets are getting their meat from FACTORY FARMS otherwise know as CAFO’s or confined animal feeding operations. Hmmm, doesn’t that sound organic and natural?
So isn’t the organic chicken I buy at my local grocery store from the farm pictured on the front good? Well, not really. Most often if you trace back any of the farm pictures you will come across a very ugly scene of factory farming. The organic label signifies a lot less than we think it does these days. It does guarantee the animal was not given antibiotics and fed on organic feed but does not mean anything in terms of welfare issues. Which means the chicken still could have been raised in a way overcrowded indoor shed full of sick diseased birds exceeding over 33,000 with little access to the outdoors, which can even mean only having the opportunity to look outside through a screened window. Another gross fact is that 70 percent of meat sold in stores is treated with carbon monoxide to keep the meat a deceptively fresh looking red color.
Factory farms have become the norm for U.S. meat production. I am not quite sure how it has been able to get this far but it has and it still is going on. The factory farm was created by twentieth-century American businessmen who worked in alliance with the government and the scientific community to create an environment that viewed animals as machines and this succeeded in producing cheap meat, milk, and eggs.
“Barren security buffers took over pastures, multitiered intensive confinement systems rose where barns once stood, and genetically engineered animals-birds that could not fly, pigs that could not survive outside, turkeys that could not naturally reproduce- replaced the once familiar barn.” –Jonathan Safran Foer.
Makes you wonder if buying the cheaper meat is really worth it in the long run.
Undercover investigations by dedicated nonprofit organizations are one of the only meaningful windows the public has into the disgusting day-to-day running of factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses. At an industrial pig-breeding facility in North Carolina, videotape taken by undercover investigators showed some workers administering daily beatings, and bludgeoning pregnant sows with a wrench. At another facility operated by one of the largest pork producers in the U.S. some employees were videotaped throwing, beating, and kicking pigs. An investigation at one large Tyson facility found that some workers regularly ripped off the heads of fully conscious birds, and urinated in the live-hanging area of the birds. I won’t go on with these horror stories but its just to show you all that factory farmed animals have miserable lives.
These miserable sick animals are also fed an unnatural diet of GMO corn and soy to fatten them up the quickest way, some never seeing daylight or fresh air. The animals in CAFO’s mostly cows, pigs, and poultry are also fed antibiotics and growth hormones daily and it remains in the meat, which means you too are eating the antibiotics and growth hormones. (hmmm…wonder if these hormones in meat and dairy have anything to do with early onset puberty in children today?) These factory- farmed animals produce low quality meat often tainted with disease and full of antibiotics, hormones, and who knows truly what else! It’s just scary!
We are all so removed that we just buy the meat and don’t think twice or maybe we just don’t want to think about it so we put the thought out of our mind. We have got to become aware of where our meat is from. If we all demand better –this situation can and will change.
So what’s the solution? Don’t eat meat, right? NOT NECESSARILY. I do believe it is in the best interest of all of us to avoid confined conventionally raised factory animals as they are hurting our health, the environment, and the animals themselves. But that does not mean we need to stop eating meat all together.
Instead we need to support and purchase our meat from farmers who are raising animals right! These farmers care for the animal and allow it to eat and thrive in its natural environment. These animals are raised as God intended. Humanely, fed a normal diet on pasture, chickens able to forage for worms and seeds outdoors, animals able to frolic and play and tend to their young. These pasture-raised animals are a completely different animal than factory farmed and they produce a heck of a better quality and nutritious meat.
Grass fed beef contains 2-3 times as much Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) as conventional beef. The special fatty acid is highly beneficial for losing weight and building muscle mass. Two 2008 studies published in “Poultry Science” found that pasture-fed chicken contained significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids (good fats we all need more of) than chickens raised without access to fresh forage.
So what do I look for and ask for when purchasing meat?
Here are 4 guidelines for purchasing meat.
Buy meat from a local food co-op, farm delivery, farmers market, or even online now you can find meats raised humanely by small farmers. They ship it right to your door frozen packed in dry ice. I know its not convenient and frankly its annoying to not be able to just go to the grocery and grab meat but until we demand better things won’t change. On my website I offer resources of where you can find good meat.
When you do find a good meat source buy in bulk and freeze. When we go up north we hit up 2-3 local farms on the way and fill our cooler full of pasture raised meats.
The meat label should read grass-fed and grass finished beef! Conventional meat companies are catching on to the grass fed demand and because of USDA loopholes can label their meat grass fed even though for the last 30 days the animal was sent to a factory farm to get fattened up. Technically it was grass fed but not grass finished, instead finished on corn and gmo soy. So read labels. Chickens and poultry should read “pastured” poultry.
You should be able to trace the meat you buy back to the farm it came from. Read up on that farm and see what they are all about and their philosophy for raising animals.
We need to be concerned for the welfare of these animals. Also we need to be aware that eating the meat from these factory-farmed animals is really bad for our overall health and leading to many chronic health problems. If you are going to eat meat start thinking about choosing Organic pasture raised! You are what you eat eats!
Sources: Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer and www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com