The Nonchalantdad: becoming an ethicurean (bit by bit)
We as a family are not big red meat eaters. But, like many people, I like a good steak. And, if you are concerned where your steak originates from, like I am, then you are interested in your beef coming from a reputable source. Much of the cattle that is used for steak is most often fed corn or grain. Apparently, cows are not meant to be consuming the stuff. Cows, by nature, are grazing animals and prefer to eat grass or other leafy plants. This is what their four stomachs were built for – to break down the fiber associated with the greens. So, why mess with nature? Because, it is more convenient and supposedly more conducive to a year-round supply being met cheaply – or at least cheaper than the grass fed animal. And, as I was reading lately, that is a bit of a shame when you consider how much more stress on the environment a feedlot animal creates. And, a cow that grazes in an open green pasture produces a better quality meat – full of healthier fatty acids that have been identified as an effective cancer figher. A grass fed meat is also full of Vitamins A and E. And, as I just read, it is one of the few land-based protein sources whose levels of omega-3 fatty acids outrank the omega-6 variety. Omega-3s are said to help prevent heart disease, fight depression, and improve brain function (which when you have small children, can be a proven asset!).
Though not widely available in the USA (as much as we might like to think) grass fed beef is becoming more popular. About a year or so ago the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service cleared up some apparent loopholes when it issued new standards for grass fed marketing claims - standards that clearly defined the meaning of 'grass fed'. It is reported that Niman Ranch – the name almost synonymous with the production of a natural meat product – used to feed its cattle some grain near the end of the process of rearing the cow for slaughter. (This method produced a well-marbled meat with a traditional corn-fed taste that people have long been used to). Well, even Bill Niman is not the rancher he once was, as is reported by the NY Times. He now concentrates solely on feeding his cattle grass. He didn’t come to the decision easily though. He resisted the argument that a diet of corn was ruinous to a cow’s health and the environment. Now, Bill Niman is no longer associated with the brand bearing his name. He has struck out on his own and is pushing in new directions when it comes to the type of meat we eat.
Keep you eyes and palate peeled on the next big thing: Goat Meat! It could be giving Lamb and Chicken a big run for your money! Now, where we live it is not extremely difficult to find a grass fed meat source. In fact, we have a few choices in Rhode Island. But, if you do have a problem identifying a source you might want to consider purchasing your next steak from online. Some suppliers can even get you your grass fed meat by the next day. I haven't checked into that yet – but I just might consider it. Why not? Just search ‘grass fed beef for purchase’ on your computer and see what comes up. But, make sure it is really up to the standards that are applied.
So, if you are continually concerned about what’s in your food, or where it comes from, keep the option of a grass fed steak on your list next time you feed the family red meat. Soon, there just might not be any more excuses left to eating the commodity meats reared with grain and confined to feedlots! And, here’s another interesting fact in case you are put off by the whole subject: Bill Niman’s wife Nicolette is a strict vegetarian!!
Eat well. Grow long.