Conventional vs. Organic Beef

According to http://www.vrg.org/press/2009poll.htm only 3% or 6-8 million people are vegetarian. With that math there is approximately 97% of the U.S. population eating meat every day.

I couldn’t find any exact numbers on how much beef Americans eat each day, but for that many people it must be a lot.

You would think that since animals are actual living beings then they must be fed properly or be respected in any kind of way, but if you thought that then you are wrong. I was wrong too, until a number of years ago my mom started researching what was actually in our food.

There are two types of beef.  Organic and Conventional. 99% of the beef that is made in U.S. comes from farm industries as opposed to family farms or organic farms. http://www.holistickid.com/wheres-the-beef/

Conventional cows that are later turned into conventional beef are fed a steady diet of grain (to promote rapid weight gain) beef tallow (beef fat), urea (chemical compound found in urine), feather meal (comprised of processed chicken feathers that have been thoroughly cleaned, heated with steam, and ground up) and chicken litter. They are also given a variety of growth enhancers and antibiotics.

 Organic cows that are later turned into organic beef have all of that crap removed from their diet. In order to be an organic cow, you must be a cow that has grazed on grass for the entirety of the grazing season in the region where you were raised for at least 120 days.

 Conventional cows are raised in confined an animal feeding operation which causes a lot of stress on the cows. They don’t have any space and often times they must compete for food and water.

Conventional Beef Industry

Conventional cows are raised in confined an animal feeding operation which causes a lot of stress on the cows. They don’t have any space and often times they must compete for food and water. Conventional cows are raised in confined an animal feeding operation which causes a lot of stress on the cows. They don’t have any space and often times they must compete for food and water. http://www.holistickid.com/wheres-the-beef/

To raise calves destined to be slaughtered for veal, the calves are confined in crates about two feet wide and are tethered to the front of the crate with a chain around the neck. These calves will be slaughtered when 4-5 months old.

Veal

To raise calves destined to be slaughtered for veal, the calves are confined in crates about two feet wide and are tethered to the front of the crate with a chain around the neck. These calves will be slaughtered when 4-5 months old. http://www.green-blog.org/2010/07/22/the-cruel-life-inside-a-factory-farm/

Organic standards forbid the continuous confinement of beef cattle on feedlots. Feedlots can only be used for temporary situations like the non-grazing season. To be considered organic the living situation of a cow must be like that of the cow’s natural environment.

Organic Beef

Organic standards forbid the continuous confinement of beef cattle on feedlots. Feedlots can only be used for temporary situations like the non-grazing season. To be considered organic the living situation of a cow must be like that of the cow’s natural environment. http://www.holistickid.com/wheres-the-beef/

When it comes to slaughtering the cow, beef must be killed in slaughterhouses which are certified organic meaning they are clean, empty of equipment without any contact with non-organic meat or any materials that are prohibited in order to be considered organic beef. Unfortunately I’ve also read that whether or not the beef is considered organic sometimes can make no difference. Many cows that are brought up organic go to conventional slaughterhouses. Both kinds of beef companies have been caught slaughtering in cruel ways. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1242503/Think-going-organic-lets-eat-meat-clear-conscience-This-shocking-investigation-humane-slaughterhouse-make-think-again.html Maybe the best thing to do is cut it out all together. From what I’ve read, usually the animals are stunned through electricity and then their throats are slit so they bleed out. The meat of animals that are dead before they bleed out isn’t “marketable” http://www.hedweb.com/hillman/animpain.htm. And sometimes they are just skinned alive and fully conscious.

For some, the question of whether electrocution prevents the animal from feeling pain is coming to mind. According to http://www.hedweb.com/hillman/animpain.htm it is unknown for sure. The guy who wrote the article above seems to have really done his homework and although the rest of it isn’t necessary for me to put in this post, I strongly recommend you check it out.

Some are animals are just shot. I don’t know what I was expecting. Although I’ve never liked the idea, I always knew that animals had to die in order for me to eat meat, but I never thought about how they were killed. When I started working on this research I thought they were probably just shot or something else quick and painless, but unfortunately that is not the case. I’m not going to lie, I thought that organic was way better, but the article above and as I did more research I found similar stories, which leads me to believe its not painless no matter what. I still think organic is better than just regular meat because organic has a better life, but it seems the deaths are still the same.  I’ve always wanted to cut meat from my diet, but I’ve always hated vegetables and they always leave me hungry. After doing this research though, I really don’t want to cause that for another living being. From what I’ve read there seems to be true ‘humane’ slaughterhouses out there, but how to find them or how to really know what you’re getting seems impossible. Each person has to decide for themselves whether or not they want to take that risk.

Slaughter

The picture above was released by the Indian Cultural Affairs Office and shows a spinning sawblade about to slit the throat of one cow in an American industrial slaughterhouse. The cow swinging from the mechanical rack was in the same position 30 seconds before. http://cominganarchy.com/2008/02/19/us-says-indian-photos-of-cow-slaughter-to-damage-bilateral-ties/

Because of their crappy diet and poor conditions, when they are processed, the meat needs to be uniformly decontaminated, so it is sprayed with ammonia http://www.holistickid.com/wheres-the-beef/.

The biggest environmental problem of conventional meat production practices is the concentration of large amounts of livestock manure in a small area. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, livestock in the United States produce 6 to 10 times the amount of waste as humans, creating challenges for safe disposal.  Livestock waste has hazardous levels of nutrients, pharmaceuticals and pathogens that pollute the soil, waterways and air. On top of that, cows’ excrement that has no fertile soil to enrich, so it is washed into our water systems and pollutes other crops. The bacteria in the manure often cause infections and health problems which is the need for all the antibiotics.

Sick Cow

Dairy cattle make up the largest percentage of downed animals in factory farming, 75%. Too sick or injured to walk, this dairy cow is left in the stockyard while a calf looks on. http://www.green-blog.org/2010/07/22/the-cruel-life-inside-a-factory-farm/

In regards to the picture above, some people have been pointing out that this is not a dairy cow. I am in no way a cattle breed expert and I only took the subtitle that came with the picture.  I looked up the different breeds, I found some that are black and white and some are brown like the one in the picture. How they are so sure this is not a dairy cow, but this is not the point. When is it okay for any thing to look like this? The facts are still the same. Seventy-five percent of downed animals are dairy cows. There are still cows that are suffering. The picture represents them. It is a visual representation.

Organic standards say that there must be a management plan that prevents manure from becoming a pollutant. Factory farmed beef contributes to the earth’s ozone depletion largely because the feed factory cows eat requires such a large amount of energy to grow, harvest, and deliver. The soil it is grown on is depleted of nutrients and thus requires tons of chemical fertilizer, and the machines that harvest and delivery the feed require gasoline. Conversely, grass-farming typically incorporates rotational grazing, an efficient use of natural resources. It eliminates the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers required to grow unsustainable corn and soy, and eliminates the problem of pollution from animal waste, since manure cycles right back into pasture soils during grass-farming. This circle of efficiency reduces soil erosion and flooding, and contributes to diverse and healthier ecosystems.

An organization called National Organic Program creates the standards and make sure they are carried out. Organic beef will carry a certified organic seal on the package. Supermarkets will sometimes carry these kinds of products, but natural food store like Wild Oats or Whole Foods carry these products, so check there if you can’t find it anywhere else. Also I wasn’t able to find out a whole lot about how closely organic beef is watched or how reliable NOP is in its examinations, so I would check out what your store has to offer and research each company on its own.

It would seem that we have a choice to make. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: If you don’t buy then they won’t sell it, but it has to be enough people banning together and demanding a change. What I’ve learned during this research was disgusting and quite a blow. If you don’t like the idea of cutting meat out all together then just cut back. It’s likely that most people eat way too much meat anyways. Check out the recommended amount of meat for each meal and see if you’re within the range.

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