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Sustainability: Corn and feedlot cattle

Posted 4/16/2008 11:53pm by Leaf Myczack.
When looking at the state of health for the average American citizen, the phrase “you are what you eat” should make thinking persons question the whole concept of “food” as it is currently presented on Main St., USA. Food provides the building material and fuel to grow and maintain our complex body structure. This brings me to another currently used phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” How ironic that taste alone compels us to stuff ourselves with what we matter-of-factly refer to as “junk food.”

We are the most overfed (yet malnourished) nation in the world. Adult and childhood obesity are at epidemic levels, and type 2 diabetes is nearly epidemic as well. The fault can be credibly laid at the doorstep of King Corn! Corn, once a nutritious cereal grain, has been degraded by plant geneticists into a tasteless, nutritionally devoid, renewable starch feedstock. Grown on a scale and industrial intensity with highly toxic soil killing chemicals, corn has gone from agricultural gift to environmental curse. Nothing about the current industrial manner of growing or processing commercial corn can be considered sustainable. When King Corn crashes, which it surely must, it will herald the collapse of the contemporary, unhealthy American food chain.

When I refer to corn as a starch feedstock, I am talking about the ubiquitous High Fructose Corn Sweetener (HFCS) found in everything from bread to salad dressing. River barges and trains deliver the yellow No. 2 dent corn to giant refineries where it is chemically transformed from starch into sugar. A sugar by the way, with no nutritional value, and because it is derived from corn starch, one that promotes the growth of fat cells in both animals and humans. Soft drinks are one of the most egregious examples of HFCS use in what could legitimately be called an "anti-food beverage."

Cows, as ruminants, were biologically meant to eat grass. However, grass fed cattle tends to grow slower and take longer to gain weight than the beef industry is willing to wait. The Beef Industry’s answer is to force feed cows a corn based diet in filthy, cramped feedlots, which turns them into sickly, obese, saturated fat laden animals. Given this horrific treatment, it is realistic to refute the USDA and claim that grain fed beef bought in grocery stores is basically unhealthy for a number of reasons. When Opra Winfrey brought this up on her TV show, the Beef Industry sued her!

Grain finished beef cattle are unhealthy for human consumption because feeding corn to cows will, over time, stress them and make them sick. Harmful acid build up in the stomach and blood, (acidosis) is a major feedlot problem, and the longer they continue to have a corn-based diet, the more at risk they are of “sudden death.” The beef industry plan is to fatten them up as quickly as possible and then kill them before they get sick and die. Currently the average feedlot bovine spends up to 16 months “finishing” on a corn diet.

There are currently small, organic family farms who are raising wholesome, grass fed beef and dairy cows. To find a farmer near you who raises grass fed beef, check out http://www.localharvest.org/  Not only will you be supporting your local farmers, but you will also be contributing to your own good health.

-farmer leaf