CAFO BEEF AND MAD COW. BIG MEAT’S TALE OF TWO SHITTIES
This article is from my upcoming book titled InflaNATION: Industrial Diners and a Doc in the Box. One of my chapters reveals the appalling nature to which Big Meat will go in providing us with cheap beef while maintaining maximal profits. Because of this we are all still extremely vulnerable to being exposed to the prion disease from mad cows. Part one below explores the Industrial Meat Industry called CAFO for confined animal feeding operation, I’ll call all the stuff associated with the industry as simply Big Meat.
This section for me is one of the most fascinating areas of inquiry I have ever researched. The use of the word fascinating might conjure up an idea of “goodness” or something spellbinding in a positive way. Well, no the confined animal feeding operations or CAFO industry is so revolting that I can’t stop thinking about it. That’s what’s fascinating.
Factory farms allow us to be removed from taking personal responsibility for raising our own food. There is no one to be held accountable for raising garbage food or treating animals inhumanely because the system has taken on a life of its own.(Sustainable Table).
First off if you deliberately tried to be more grotesque it would take some effort. The CAFO industry for example could engineer legless animals with only brainstems, put them in Matrix pods….the truth is they are already thinking of breeding brainless animals and god only knows like muscle cell cultures that the FDA is already saying is no different from real meat. If it’s no different from real steak then you eat it.
That brings me to a story. A good friend of mine loves meat and he often has us over for a BBQ. He also loves CAFO meat even though he could afford organic or grass fed. I was sitting in the kitchen one night when he and my other bud walked in carrying a huge platter of right-off-the-grill steaks. Preceding their entry by a second or two was the scent from their No Name brand steaks. This was no ordinary bouquet of delicious BBQ it was the unmistakable scent, right down to it sticking on my shoe, of dog shit. It was actually so bad that I was certain someone had stepped into a steaming pile and tracked it into the house.
But it wasn’t dog shit at all. No it was just CAFO meat off gassing its feed-lot dinner. You see by law steers and cows can be fed a lot of really weird stuff under the name of protein and yes, one of those weird things is shit and lots of it. I’ll get to the animal waste and to the rendering industry in a minute but first let’s cover the basics on CAFO and the omega story.
THE OMEGA COW
CAFO meat is really a whole different animal than grass fed meat. One of the many bad attributes of CAFO meat is the poor omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of fatty acids. We now know (right?) from reading earlier in this chapter the inflammatory effects of the omega 6 FA’s. We therefore want to avoid eating too much of these. One of the things that CAFO does is produce meat with very high omega 6’s to omega 3’s something on the order of 20:1 maybe higher. This happens because the food given to feed lot beef is very high in omega 6 FA’s and low in omega 3 FA’s. The end result is that the meat resembles the feed. In figure 6 below you can see the various omega 6 Vs omega 3 ratios of cattle feed. Notice how high grass is in healthy omega 3 fats.
Figure 6 (US Dairy Forage Research Center, 1995 Research Summaries.)
In figure 7 we see that wild animal meats are closer to 3:1 depending on the species-more in line with how our ancestors ate. Grass fed is about 2:1. The exact numbers are not important. What is important is that grass fed and wild meats are neutral or anti-inflammatory whereas CAFO meat is highly inflammatory because of its omega 6’s promotion of AA and the “bad” eicosanoids. One study found that the muscle meat of production steers and cows fed protein concentrates (AKA rendered animals) is very high in the pro-inflammatory FA arachidonic acid. CAFO meat is also raised with the GMO grains corn and soy. I haven’t talked about GMO’s yet but they are the other science experiment Big Agra and the government is performing on us right now.
Figure 7 ( GJ Miller, “Lipids in Wild Ruminant Animals and Steers.” J. of Food Quality, 9:331-343, 1986.)
A POWERFUL CANCER FIGHTER FOUND ONLY IN GRASS FED
Furthermore CAFO is devoid of Conjugated Linoleic acid or CLA a special fat with remarkable health benefits. It is found abundantly in grass fed and wild animal meat up to five times more. In fact modern pastured animals have a wonderful, healthy, FA profile something our Paleolithic ancestors would have been very comfortable eating.
CLA provides a number of excellent health benefits including:
- Fighting cancer and diabetes
- Helping you lose weight
- Increasing your metabolic rate, a positive benefit for promoting normal thyroid function
- Helping you maintain normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Enhancing your immune system
In fact, grass fed beef is the richest known source of CLA. It is a powerful cancer fighter. In an animal study published in Cancer Research just a tiny percent (1.5%) of total calories contributed by CLA provided a whopping 60% decrease in tumor growth. In a Finnish study women who ate the most CLA had an equivalent 60% drop in their risk of breast cancer.
One of the richest CLA containing products is grass fed cheese containing five times the amount contained in conventional pesticide ridden cheese.
According to Tilak Dhiman a professor in Utah State University’s Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department. Professor Dhiman estimates that if you are an omnivore you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating daily one serving of meat, one slice of cheese and one glass of milk from a grass-fed cow.
Apparently taking a CLA supplement is not the same. This is in stark contrast to the findings from another study, which found that the type of CLA used in supplements has been associated with an array of negative side effects, such as:
- Promoting insulin resistance
- Raising glucose levels
- Reducing HDL (good cholesterol)
- Stomach upset
Clearly, getting your CLA from a natural source like grass-fed beef is the logical choice when faced with such findings!
GRASS FED VERSES ORGANIC
Be sure to understand the distinction between grass fed and organic beef. Organic beef means that it was raised without antibiotics and hormone pellets and was fed certified organic feed which could include not just grasses and hay but grains as well like corn and soy. Most organic beef I come across is grain fed and grain finished which means that this meat has the same FA profile as conventional beef which is no good. The best option therefore is to buy grass fed and grass finished which will have the healthier profile low in omega 6 FA’s, rich in CLA, also higher concentrations of vitamin E ( 4 times higher than CAFO) and beta carotene. If it’s grass fed and grain finished the FA profile is ruined also. The best bet is to look for grass fed which implies grass finished but ask to be sure or call the company.
Pesticides are another overwhelming feature of CAFO meat. Since they are conventionally raised each cow is given a pesticide patch transdermally and hence is chock full of pesticide residues as well as fungicides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, toxins, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals from the conventional feed mix containing rendered protein concentrates. (see below).
People who are exposed to farm chemicals have a much greater rate of Parkinson’s Disease, according to recent studies. Whether they are farm workers who are applying the chemicals or people who happen to live nearby, exposure to chemicals such as paraquat or the fungicide “maneb” increases the risk of Parkinsonism by 75 percent. There is no cure for this progressive disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, mood, and behavior.
Buying food that’s pesticide-free is good for you and for people in farming communities.
I will discuss pesticide exposure in detail in another section but suffice it to say there is virtually an unlimited supply of research confirming the devastating effects of pesticides. Feed lot animals provide one of the greatest concentrations of pesticides in any single food. If money is tight you would be better served by eating conventional produce and buy organic or grass fed beef with the savings.
These animals are sick and get sicker each week they are in the finishing feedlot eating foods in which their genetics were never meant to eat including of course grains and meat-their own brethren and many other meats like skunk and hippo. “Yo, two skunk and hippo plates to go!” Sure hippo, giraffe, a filthy minkey (thanks Peter Sellers), or whatever else the country’s zoos belch out per year and end up rendered.
Conventional calves sent to a feed lot are given drugs like rumensin and tylosin, antibiotics, to keep their stomachs from exploding due to the high acidity and gas generated from grains especially at the beginning during the transition from natural grass to corn and soy. Grain fed ruminants experience a condition called subacute acidosis which if left untreated can eventually kill. Big Agra refers to this as a natural adaptation to a high-grain diet but grass is what they were designed to eat so it causes stomach pain and acid reflux, which makes them kick at their belly, eat dirt, pant and salivate. In other words they are miserable.
The condition as Michael Pollen tells us in Power Steer from The New York Times Magazine can lead to diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system that leaves the animal vulnerable to everything from pneumonia to feedlot polio. Cows rarely live on feedlot diets for more than six months, which might be about as much as their digestive systems can tolerate. “I don’t know how long you could feed this ration before you’d see problems,” Metzen [a veterinarian] said; another vet said that a sustained feedlot diet would eventually “blow out their livers” and kill them. As the acids eat away at the rumen wall, bacteria enter the bloodstream and collect in the liver. More than 13 percent of feedlot cattle are found at slaughter to have abscessed livers.
“The shift to a “hot ration” of grain can so disturb the cow’s digestive process—its rumen, in particular—that it can kill the animal if not managed carefully and accompanied by antibiotics.” 
Grain feeding also helps to select for super bugs like acid resistant E. coli which then has a much better chance of getting past our front line defense within the low pH of our stomachs. In a study from Cornell University researchers found grain-fed cattle to have approximately 300 times more E. coli in their guts than grass-fed cattle; worse yet, the E. coli in grain-fed animals is more likely to make us sick.
ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE THREATENS OUR HEALTH
Antibiotics like Cipro are given to increase growth and to help prevent illness while living and sleeping in their own manure. Finally, after years of asking we have a number. The FDA released the first ever report on antibiotic use in America and found that factory farms used a whopping 29 million pounds of antibiotics in 2009 alone! To think people get mad at us for inappropriately prescribing antibiotics to patients when the estimated share of antibiotic use from all of Big Agra is as high as 84% of all uses including medicine. Big Meat has the impertinence to sit back and ignore the ever increasing threat of super antibiotic resistant bugs emerging. “Antibiotic medicines are losing effectiveness on humans due to their increased use in animal feed,” According to Margaret Mellon PhD and director of the Food and environment program for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Study after study shows that in regions that have banned antibiotics in animal feed the number of patients infected with antibiotic resistant stains of bacteria plummet. Also the presence of antibiotic resistant stains of bacteria in the animals themselves is markedly decreased.
Once again we have fat cats (USDA & Big Meat) making decisions (to use antibiotics that will eventually threaten our lives) behind our backs without our input just to make a buck. Is this starting to sound familiar yet?
According to William Agger, MD, director of microbiology and chief of infectious disease at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, WI, 30 million pounds of antibiotics are used in America each year. Of this amount, 25 million pounds are used in animal husbandry, and 23 million pounds are used to try to prevent disease and the stress of shipping, as well as to promote growth. Only 2 million pounds are given for specific animal infections.
Agger contends that overuse of antibiotics results in food-borne infections resistant to antibiotics. Salmonella is found in 20% of ground meat, but the constant exposure of cattle to antibiotics has made 84% of salmonella resistant to at least one anti-salmonella antibiotic. Diseased animal food accounts for 80% of salmonellosis in humans, or 1.4 million cases per year. The conventional approach to countering this epidemic is to radiate food to try to kill all organisms while continuing to use the antibiotics that created the problem in the first place. Approximately 20% of chickens are contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni, an organism that causes 2.4 million cases of illness annually. Fifty-four percent of these organisms are resistant to at least one anti-campylobacter antimicrobial agent.
Denmark banned growth-promoting antibiotics beginning in 1999, which cut their use by more than half within a year, from 453,200 to 195,800 pounds. A report from Scandinavia found that removing antibiotic growth promoters had no or minimal effect on food production costs. Agger warns that the current crowded, unsanitary methods of animal farming in the US support constant stress and infection, and are geared toward high antibiotic use.
Do you remember when the last spinach-born illness hit the US? I can remember one where it was contaminated with E-Coli and I also remember someone in BigAgra performed a public relations circus act claiming that the organic industry was responsible for contaminating the spinach because they use manure. Even though there was a huge beef production area nearby that may have been the real reason why the spinach was contaminated.
CANDY IS DANDY
Candy is now being added to the feed to make it more palatable in the form of a new artificial sweetener called Sweetnos®. As a substitute for the more expensive molasses the much cheaper neotame or Sweetnos® which is like aspartame on steroids, is mixed in with the foul tasting rendered guts pellets and grains to make it more appealing to these cloven hooved grass eaters. Furthermore, if neotame is anything like aspartame it will encourage overeating which is exactly what the Devils Workshop (Monsanto) and farmers are looking for. Also waste from candy companies is currently a hot item to encourage the cows to stuff themselves.
According to a recent review, milk chocolate and candy “are often economical sources of nutrients, particularly fat… They are sometimes fed in their wrappers. Candies, such as cull gummy bears, lemon drops, or gum drops are high in sugar content.” The article recommends that “upper feeding limits for candy… and chocolate are 5 and 2 lb. per cow per day, respectively.”
December 28 2010.
 Michael Pollan Power Steer The New York Times Magazine, March 31, 2002
December 28 2010.
December 28 2010)
 Agger WA. Antibiotic resistance: unnatural selection in the office and on the farm. Wisconsin Medical Journal . August 2002. )