The Matter of the Meat


Or is it the meat of the matter? Either way you slice it, America is hooked on meat. Regardless that a constant flow of research shows that our current habit of eating meat is linked to death by heart disease, cancer and fouls the planet, consumption is on an upward tear.

Just recently, a study involving over half a million people showed increased levels of meat intake increases mortality. The US is #1 in the world for meat consumption; Japan #73. And Japan is #1 in life expectancy while the US is #35. Coincidence? Hardly. Since World War Two, meat consumption has increased, not only in the United States, but around the world. We export over $10 billion worth of meat each year. Nebraska is a top meat producing state. Makes you wonder if “Nebraska’s Farmers Feed the World,” should be replaced with “Nebraska’s Farmers Kill the World.”

Something is amiss in all the claims that eating meat kills. Untold numbers of studies indeed find that eating meat increases mortality. But not one study exists that shows eating grass fed or pastured meat increases mortality. In fact, studies show the opposite. At least in the case of grass fed beef, it improves health. And comparing industrial meat with small producer, sustainably raised, organic, pastured meat reveals that they are two completely different products. What makes them so different? The most important difference between grass fed, pastured meat and the confined, drugged, industrial stuff is the nutritional profile of what eat. It’s totally different. Here’s a sampling of how.

High on Grass The 2011 British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 105, published a study finding that healthy volunteers who ate grass fed meat instead of grain-fed for only four weeks, a total of 12 meals, increased their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased the level of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These changes are linked with a lower risk of a host of disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and inflammatory disease.

Researchers have long suspected that because the meat from an animal fed on grass had a better nutritional profile, it would translate to improved human health markers. This research confirms that.

Author and researcher Jo Robinson summarizes on her website, Eatwild.com, “Compared with commercial products, [pastured animals] offer you more ‘good’ fats, and fewer ‘bad’ fats. They are richer in antioxidants; including vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Further, they do not contain traces of added hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.”

That observation is based on the analysis of meat from grass-fed animals. So we know that the meat of grass-fed beef has more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff. The twist on the new research is that it was done on humans who eat grass-fed beef. Is there actually a proven benefit to us? Turns out the researchers say, “Yes.” Here’s why.

Diet “Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn. The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.” Any rancher will tell you: If a cow eats its fill of corn, it dies. Because a cow, like all ruminant animals, wasn’t designed by nature to eat corn — or any grain, for that matter. Corn kills a cow as surely as Roundup kills plants. And when you feed a cow corn, the animal starts to get sick and the nutritional profile of the meat changes immediately. That means the meat we eat from it is the kind that research says promotes cancer, heart disease and death. Industrial livestock may be fed anything from bubblegum and cardboard to chicken feces and antibiotics to speed up the growing process and get the meat to market as quickly as possible. In the case of beef, the industry realized a long time ago that feeding starch- and protein-rich corn to a cow will fatten the animal quicker than letting it graze on its natural diet of grasses. In the words of one cattleman, “Corn-fed is all about carve ‘em up quick.”

Stress Thousands of cows standing in their own manure in a hot building, eating junk food, confined cheek to jowl with other cows isn’t a happy life. Cattle prods were invented for these conditions and they are used… but not by my farmer. In fact, the farmer I get my beef from is hired by other locals to move their cattle from pasture to pasture because of his low-key, relaxed way of handling the animals with no shouting, prods or stress. It’s long been known that stress hormones in an animal change the tenderness and taste, binding nutrients.

Humanely raised This ties into the stress factor. When an animal is well cared-for, it provides better meat, period.

Healthier animals make a healthier meal. Animals cannot simply be treated as meat-making machinery without it having a negative effect on the product. Fortunately, alternatives are available. Some are listed at VoteRealFood.com/meat.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a New Age polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Visit HeartlandHealing.com for more information.


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