You Are What You Eat –Beef and Dairy- A Toxic Cycle
When we eat, our body uses the nutrients from the food for many vital functions. These include such important things as energy for our heart to beat and our brains to think. Most of us have heard the phrase: “you are what you eat”. This obviously applies to all organisms that consume others. They are what they eat and in turn we are what they eat as well. Though it may seem like a monumental task to determine what the meat we eat is fed while it is alive, it matters. In fact, it matters quite a bit more in recent times than in generations past.
With a rising population and growing demand for food, many farmers are being forced by massive corporations to raise a substantial number of cows on very small feed lots. Traditionally cows would be raised on a pasture where they dined on a natural diet of grass and hay. Though some cows are still raised this way, the majority are having their feed supplemented. Most cows receive about 4 to 8 pounds of grains per day. This could include corn, oats, or barley. Almost all of this feed is genetically modified. Due to our regulations, manufacturers are not required to tell you on the label.
Some cattle farmers recycle feed from chickens to cut the overall cost of producing beef. This wonderful food or “poultry litter” consists of left overs scraped off chicken farm floors and can be a combination of feces, feathers, and uneaten chicken feed. According to the Consumers Union samples of poultry litter might also contain such healthy treats as antibiotics, heavy metals, bacteria, and bits of dead rodents. We find that the cycle has come full circle when we examine the ingredients for some of the chicken feed pellets. That’s right, one of them is beef protein. As you can imagine, a diet based on cannibalism and fecal matter does not make for the healthiest food on the table. The FDA attempted to prevent the use of the litter in 1967 but was attacked into submission by lobbyists from large corporations. In 2009 welfare organizations tried again to stop its use, but they have yet to be answered. To this day, the corporate revolving door that is our FDA has yet to pass any regulations against using poultry litter to feed cattle.
Many of the cattle in the US are also treated with synthetic hormones to speed the production of meat. One of the most common is rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin). It is primarily used to prevent mammary death in dairy cattle, allowing them to produce more milk. Though banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and the European Union, The United States FDA considers dairy products and meat from treated cows to be safe for human consumption. rBST is not the only hormone administered to cows. Many are pumped with estrogen, insulin, testosterone, and progesterone to promote various other natural processes. Antibiotics are often used to prevent and treat many of the infections that occur as a result of their unnatural living conditions. There have not been enough studies to say whether or not everything the cattle are treated with can be passed onto humans. The FDA, which is often made up of high ranking ex-officials from the major food manufacturing companies, claims to focus on health and nutrition, yet blatantly ignores the possible effects of hormones and antibiotics.
Many organic cattle farmers are turning to grass feeding (or pasture raising) their cows. Look for labels on beef and dairy products that list hormone free and grass fed. It should not be abnormal to raise cattle the way nature intended them to live, but unfortunately we need to be aware that most products will not be “all natural.” Just remember that if we are what we eat, and we choose to eat cows, we are what they eat.