buy meat, eggs and dairy products from grass-fed animals.
Not only does eating grass-fed livestock not support CAFOs, it is hugely beneficial for the environment and our health. Cattle live in their natural environment where they can move about at will. Ranchers who produce grass-fed beef typically know each animal by sight and can make sure they are well-cared for and manage the slaughter process to ensure the animal feels no pain or stress. Cattle on grass do not experience the sub-acute acidosis of their feed-lot counter parts. Animals with this condition are plagued with diarrhea, go off their feed, pant, salivate excessively, kick at their bellies, and eat dirt. Feedlot diets low in vitamin A cause blindness and convulsions. Cattle on grass rarely get sick since they don’t experience stress.
A diet of grazed grass requires much less fossil fuel than a feedlot diet of dried corn and soy. Grazed pasture removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more effectively than any land use, including forestland and ungrazed prairie. Soils in the grazing land in the Great Plains have over 40 tons of carbon per acre, while cultivated soils have only 26. In addition, grazed cattle produce as much as 20 percent less methane than feedlot cattle. On well-managed pasture-based farms, the animals spread their manure evenly over the soil where it becomes a natural source of organic fertilizer. The manure improves the quality of the grass, which increases the rate of gain of the animals. The ground is covered with greens all year round, so it does an excellent job of harvesting solar energy and holding on to top-soil and moisture. It’s a closed, sustainable system.
Farming cannot be sustainable if the topsoil is constantly being eroded. Currently, the United States is losing three billion tons of nutrient-rich topsoil each year. Growing corn and soy causes six times more soil erosion than pasture. Pasture reduces topsoil erosion by 93 percent.
Six Minnesota pasture-based ranchers asked researchers to compare the health of their soil with soil from neighboring farms that produced corn, soybean, oats, or hay. At the end of four years of monitoring, researchers concluded that the carefully managed grazed land had:
53% greater soil stability
131% more earthworms
Substantially more organic matter
Less nitrate pollution of groundwater
Improved stream quality
Better habitat for grassland birds and other wildlife
Meat from pastured animals has more antioxidants, vitamins E, A, D, and beta-carotene than feedlot meat. It also has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals, and higher levels of CLA. CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids and 7 times more beta-carotene.
Eating grass-fed meat also vastly reduces your risk of e-coli contamination and zeros your risk of mad-cow disease because animals that are fed greens alone from birth until market have no exposure to animal by-products that cause mad-cow. Grass-fed cattle rarely need antibiotics and receive no growth hormones. Feed-lot cattle not only have pesticides in their grain, but they may be injected with pesticides as well. To find a grass farmer, check out www.eatwild.com or check your local farmers market.
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