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Q: Hello! My husband and I are in the process of learning about grass-fed verses grain-fed meat. We have spoken to our local Whole Foods market and read your web site. Thank you for taking the time to put together the information on your site!
I do have a question for you. Our local market, who purchases beef locally said that it is vegetarian. That it is grass fed until 60 days prior to slaughter. At that time it is fed corn husks and potato skins. Is this the same as grain-fed? Is this what you do with your beef? When you say yours is grass-fed, is it for the entire life of the beef?
We are very interested in ordering beef from you and just need a little more clarification.
A: OK, good question. I believe your local market is selling Oregon Country Natural Beef. I guessed that even before I saw your Bend, OR address. I'm glad you included your address, because with it I am able to provide a better answer. Here's what OCNB's Web site says about their feed protocol:
Country Natural Beef cattle are fed a 100% vegetarian diet. For the first 14-18 months of the animal's life they are on native range grasses, seeded pastures and hay to assure a year around supply. Some ranches use winter growing lots where the cattle are fed a high roughage ration based on silages and hay before they come to the feedlot. They spend an average of three months at our gathering feedlot on a diet of potatoes, grain, and hay.
Country Natural Beef has been able to reduce the typical grain usage of 80% corn by combining corn, distiller's grain (a byproduct of ethanol) and sunflower seed screening for 32% of the feed. To complete the ration, they are fed about 60% cooked potato byproducts, 5% hay and 3% supplements and minerals. Feedlot activities focus toward keeping the fat in the muscle (marbling) at the High-Select/Low-Choice level to ensure quality for our customers.
What this means is that the cattle spend MORE THAN THREE MONTHS in a feedlot (the individual ranchers' "growing lots" plus the time in the centralized feedlot) being fed stuff that is in no way associated with the green leaf. Consequently the cattle produce what I would call "grain-potato-sun-flower-seed-fed beef." As you can see from our many articles about food, people should not eat grain, potatoes, or sunflower seeds. The same goes for cattle and cattle fed that kind of stuff. Potatoes are fungal hosts plus they are a very high glycemic food. Fungi put out mycotoxins and cooking does not destroy mycotoxins. Additionally, distiller's grain (a byproduct of ethanol) and sunflower seeds are a really horrible feed for cattle and people for that matter. Personally I'd avoid this kind of meat like the plague.
OCNB emphasizes on their Web site all kinds of nice animal husbandry points trying to give the impression they are better stewards of not only livestock but the land. But I look at that as a form of deceptive advertising. That's because they don't tell you that, except for idiots and low-life rouges, ALL ranchers and processors (especially the largest in the country -- contrary to popular opinion) excel in those approaches.
Advertising of this nature contributes to the overload of misunderstandings about the American meat industry. In addition, what the OCNB folks do not know about nutrition would fill most of the peer-reviewed scientific reports ever published regarding Omega-3 fatty acids, glycemic levels, and fungi in foods. For more about those topics look in our Science Links.
As for your meat market, the people there are clueless about these matters. And the Whole Foods organization is, for the most part, just as clueless. They know how to run a market based on imagery, but when it comes down to it, they are mostly deceptive. Whole Food's founder is a vegetarian who thinks grain is fine. The store is filled with grain and grain-based foods, high glycemic foods, and probably over 95% of their meat sales can be sourced to conventional grain-fed livestock. This general lack of knowledge, exhibited by your local retailers, about livestock rearing, feeding, and nutrition is common in the retail sector throughout the entire United States. That's why we are here. lol
This answer may seem a little harsh, but the food industry is loaded with deception from the smallest operator on up. Mostly it is due to ignorance and a desire to somehow set one's operation apart in a way that plays upon the minds of certain consumers. This is how mythology becomes "common knowledge."
Our cattle are grass-fed which means they live in a natural grassland environment and they eat what they always would have eaten prior to man showing up. Even if we feed them hay, that is natural because hay is the same as dried dormant grasses that grass eaters eat in the winter. It can even be buried under the snow. That's why deer, elk, bison, moose, etc. survive the winters in Yellowstone Park. Consequently that's why all "truly wild" animals end up with EFAs (essential fatty acids) that are balanced the same as the green leaf which is the way all animal life should have it -- including you and your children. See Omega-3 Essays.