Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The majority of the beef we eat in Australia is finished on grain. By finished, I mean that at least for the last 100 days of its life, the animal is enclosed in a Feedlot and is fed a sole diet of grain. Cattle aren't designed to eat grain, they are grass foragers. I was at a workshop once, where there was also the manager of a Feedlot. The facilitator asked him, "what do you do with your sick cattle?" I hadn't really thought about it before this, but apparently it's someones job to ride the pens every day and take out any cattle that are sick. They are then given anitbiotics until they are well or they die - the ones that get well then enter the meat market. I'm not exactly sure what is the cause of this kind of sickness - is it the small confined pens, is it the grain feeding, or is is simply that none of it's natural to the animal. We as a society are eating this beef. Until we have a certified grass fed market we won't know whether we are buying a cocktail mix of chemicals and poor nutrition when we buy our conventional beef. If you are interested in your health, but also the welfare of the animal, it's really important to find grass fed beef (or any other meat product for that matter). It may not always be as tender as grain fed meat, but the flavour is so much better and it's so much better for you too. It's not even about buying organic meat, as long as it's diet is freerange and is based on good quality pastures, the meat will have the nutrtional value that it should have. Beef that is raised on green pastures will have a good balance of omega 3's and 6's. Grain fed meat is predominantly omega 6. The smaller butcher, CSA groups, organic buying services or getting to know a farmer may be all that is needed to find a source of pasture fed beef. Once the customers come, the product will be available.