What is fairly common knowledge is that beef cows, because we raise them by the gazillions, and raise mega amounts of grain and hay that need chemicals to grow to feed them, and pump them full of steroids and antibiotics that affect the chain of healthful medicines, and increase cancer in humans, while they release methane gas enough to become a planetary problem, and everyone closes their eyes to how they are treated and killed, and a new law pushed through the quiet of the night makes it against the law to secretly video tape farm and other animal cruelty and expose them, and kids think meat comes from a plastic tray, and if the farmer grazes them near bluffs or rivers, they erode banks and…shoot. It isn’t the cow’s fault they are such a problem and everyone loves hamburgers.
But, an encouraging piece in the Natural Resources Defense Council Magazine, Onearth has a blueprint for an agricultural revolution and a better burger.
Instead of stuffing cattle in feedlots, stuffing them full of expensive corn, grabbing calves away from their mothers, hot-iron branding them, vaccinating, castrating, and dehorning them before shipping them off to slaughter house, why not raise them on grass?
Back in 2003, a few contrarian farmers were doing just that and claiming they had better tasting beef. Will Winter and Todd Churchill decided to find out if it was true. They sampled grass-fed beef, some of it was inedible, and some of it was excellent.
Winter and Churchill have worked with companies that raise grass-fed beef, a sustainable farming practice, that is profitable and growing. What they learned is that cattle are like teens at a buffet table. They only want to eat what tastes good. They wander all over the pasture and eat selectively. Shifting to grass-fed farming is successful and tastier by rotational grazing. A new kind of polywire movable fencing, allows farmers to force the cattle to graze two-thirds of available forage, where they get a higher sugar content in the mix of grass species. Then, they up and move them to another fenced acreage.
Churchill now runs the Thousand Hills Cattle Co. in Minnesota. Theo Weening who carries grass fed beef in all of his Whole Food Stores says the demand for it is growing.
You raise more beef, on less land, without chemicals. It turns corn ravaged land into better habitat, promotes human health, humanizes farming, and produces a guilt-free steak.
Jim and I like a once-a-year hamburger. I occasionally cave in to a pot roast and some summer tri-tip. Now we can do it without the guilt.