Natural Is Not Always Better

What's so great about "free-range" beef?

(Page 2 of 2)

But what about damage to people? Some advocates of grass-fed beef claim that the more naturally raised animals are healthier to eat.

"There is absolutely no scientific evidence based on that. Absolutely none," she replied. "There is some very slight difference in fatty acids, for example, but they are so minor that they don't make any significant human health impact."

But what about those hormones the cows are given? Surely that cannot be good for us.

"What we have to remember is every food we eat—whether it's tofu, whether it's beef, whether it's apples—they all contain hormones. There's nothing, apart from salts, that doesn't have some kind of hormone in them."

So the next time you reach for that package of beef in the grocery store tagged with all the latest grass-fed, free-range lingo, remember: Not only does it often cost twice as much, but there's no evidence it's better for the environment or better for you.

It's just another food myth.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

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  • Old Mexican||

    I was expecting this one since yesterday, after reading his column in Human Events. Get ready for yet another flame-war with anti-Stossel nitwits. Let's get ready to rumble.

  • Jason||

    And the organicists.

  • ||

    Why does John Stossel hate choice?

  • PETA Peter||

    But cows prefer eating grass to corn.

    Don't they?

  • ||

    Cattle love the hell out of corn ,

  • ||

    Grass is their natural food obviously (unless it was cows who domesticated maize and perfected its mass-production). Cows are the #1 consumer of antacids in the country because they did not evolve to live on grains and they can't properly digest corn and will develop ulcers if left untreated. If the only goal is to fatten up the cows as fast as possible, then yes feeding them nothing but grains/corn is the way to go (feeding a human nothing but grains/corn will fatten him up quick too).

    I don't give a rat's ass about the environmental argument, but grass-fed cows taste better to me because of the gamier taste (I'm sure plenty of people like the blander taste of corn-fed more). The living conditions in factory farms are disgusting and cruel. I want to eat cows that live in open fields eating grass, not packed shoulder to shoulder eating corn. For those reasons I'm happy to pay more for pastured grass-fed animals.

  • ||

    I agree. Its the moral issue for me(yes as a Libertarian). And it tastes better. Isn't it great we have a choice in this matter, instead of having it forced on us?

  • ||

    +10000

  • Xenocles||

    +1 is enough for me.

  • Sean Healy||

    Live in Ireland. Plenty of grass, plenty of cows, tasty beef.

  • ||

    Yeah, but do you have Four Loko?

  • ||

    The real question is, how long do we?

  • ||

    Agreed. A cow's first choice of foods isn't corn, and my first choice of foods isn't speed-fattened McCow from some horrid feedlot.

    Just because we have the technology to raise more of a fatter cow in less time doesn't make it a more desirable product. At least it doesn't to me.

    I also think the science here is at least partially bullshit, no pun intended. Yes, any creature allowed to grow at its natural rate and take all the time it normally does to eat, grow, and mature does consume more resources. Duh. So do humans, so by Dr. Capper's logic, let's find a way to accelerate and shorten human lifespans so the annoying bastards don't consume or crap as much. Let's at least grow them to maturity in less than a couple of years, so the amount of time I have to spend in public with the noisy little sticky-fingered 'tards is significantly eased.

    But one of the reasons the free-range, grass-fed beef costs more is that it produces only a small fraction of the animals that factory farming does. Dr. Capper's stats compared environmental impact cow-to-cow, not ranch-to-ranch. A range-fed cattle operation would still have a much lower environmental impact (and indeed, the livability of the community, if you've ever driven by a factory farm with the windows down) because it's limited to raising only the number of cows that the land will support, and I still think it has an advantage because it limits the number of chemicals and medications that make their ways into water supplies.

    If I slipped and fell into an irrigation ditch, I have to say I'd much rather fall in one next to a naturally-raised cattle range than one bordering a Hormel feedlot.

  • ||

    in a blind taste test you wouldn't know the difference...!

  • ||

    Cattle prefer green hay, so they are best on grass from spring to summer and will eat brown grass in the fall. Cattle need a certain amount of hay or straw. Grain weather it is mixed with straw, or in addition to straw and hay. Feedlots and farmers know this so they feed hay or silage in addition to hay as part of a winter ration. BTW most calves are weened in the fall and fed until June when they are slaughtered as people like to grill beef in July and August.

  • Will||

    The govt prefers corn to grass. I guess Stossel is a big fan of subsidies for the corn industry. I don't which is better for the environment and none of these theories convince me but I know which is better for the economy and that's the one that isn't supported by government intervention in the marketplace. Stossel as usual proves himself to be a socialist shill for big govt.

  • ||

    Even if I choose to concede Stossel's point (and I don't have anything that directly contradicts him), there is another argument for "free range beef":

    IT TASTES BETTER.

  • robc||

    Wouldnt that also be an argument for corn-fed beef...depending on your taste?

  • ||

    Yeah. Who's ever heard of grass on the cob?

  • Happpppy Cows||

    You can tell the grass-fed ones by the big smiles on their faces!

  • Ron||

    A free range beef taste better because it has a more diverse diet not just one type of grass.anything feed only one product it's entire life has less flavor. could you imagine what we would be like if we only ate one thing.

  • The Dan||

    delicious?

  • ||

    Not having eaten "long pig", I have no idea what difference diet would make to the flavor.

    ;P

  • smartass sob||

    I've read somewhere (don't remember)that human flesh tastes remarkably like pork. Of course, even the flavor of pork depends greatly on what the animal eats, as is true of most meats. I've heard more than one story out of depression era East Texas about trapping oppossum and feeding them clean kitchen or garden scraps to clean out their system and improve their flavor.

  • Pip||

    This is true. I leaned on Iron Chef America last week that farm-raised pheasant is significantly less flavorful that pheasant taken in the wild. Varied diet of the wild variety was sited as the reason by Alton Brown.

  • Pip||

    cited

  • Colonel_Angus||

    A wild pheasant has a more diverse diet than a cow, a domesticated animal. Even a "free range" cow is confined to an area. All they eat is grass and weeds, limited to what is growing in a confined area, as opposed to the pheasant which I imagine is eating a variety of seeds and berries. The diet of the wild pheasant is not analogous to that of the grass fed cow.

  • IceTrey||

    Uh,no. Cattle farmers sow all kinds of different plants in their pastures.

  • ||

    And many rotate cattle between tame hay, native pasture and winter feeding where they feed grain and hay. So a cows diet would be more diverse. One thing since corn, wheat, potatoes are highly efficient grain fed beef tends to have more fat. Artificial Growth hormones however counteract this by ensuring the calf gains more muscle.

  • Miku||

    Have you ever driven through rural America to see the ranging cows, they have plenty of room, and what naturally grows is much more diverse than corn. Now, in terms of the environmental footprint, factory farms are probably better, well except in the near vicinity. If you try both kinds of meat, the free range almost always wins out on taste, loses on environment.

  • ||

    How much room does a fucking cow need?

  • DADIODADDY||

    a lot more than one that isn't fucking that's for sure

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    You are the man...excellent for so early.

  • Gonzo Gourmand||

    "If you try both kinds of meat, the free range almost always wins out on taste, loses on environment."

    Grass fed cows, if properly rotated on pasture, improve the health of the soil. Grain fed cows destroy the soil, both it's quality and it's quantity.

    Grain fed animals are worse for the environment. Stossel screwed up on this one. There's also the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico (you know, the six thousand plus square miles of nothing living).

  • Obvious||

    Yes. To me, corn-fed beef taste much, much better. Less gamey, less chewey, more tender, more delicious. That said, is superior taste a proper justification for basically torturing the cow? I'm all for eating animals, but we probably need to be held to some moral standard in our treatment of them prior to killing them. Killing - ok. Torturing before killing - not so okay. And modern corn-fed practices do seem rather torturous. Of course, so is boiling the crabs alive, and I do eat crab.

    "Not the veal. It just died of loneliness." - Homer Simpson

  • slowburnaz||

  • Mo||

    Grass fed != organic

  • slowburnaz||

    Oh, I know that... that's not the point. I was just pointing out that it could very well be a psychological preference.

  • Adam||

    Penn & Teller didn't make any comparisons with meat. I am the first to admit that I can't tell the difference between organic and conventional vegetables, but put a blindfold on me and I will pick which one is the grassfed steak and which is conventional. The fat is buttery and melts in your mouth in a way that corn-fed does not.

    As for the environment, I could give a rat's rear end. I just like the delicious, buttery, melty fat.

  • ||

    Penn & Teller are frauds. Bankrolled by Monsanto.

  • Adam||

  • Mo||

    Interesting that the grass fed steak was the cheapest.

  • ||

    Grades. What tends to happen is that calves are weened in fall and put on a feed ration first of oats and hay then of wheat, corn, potaoes and hay. In the spring calves which have gained better are sold to for finishing while the lesser ones are put on grass. Cows are also kept on grass. So in all likely hood the grain fed steak was AAA thile the grass fed a cheaper and gamier B or D grade meat (although most D grade is canned). The grade is more important than how the animal was raised. If you want leaner beef buy B1 or B2.

  • C'mon man||

    That D grade canned shit is only good for public school lunches, oh and dinners now.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I have never detected any discernible difference in taste. I would say taste has a lot more to do with the individual animal, particularly the amount of fat. I prefer some fat as opposed to George Foreman style.

  • DADIODADDY||

    All beef tastes good, I say let's eat all the cows...right now

  • ||

    Well... ok. But your premise assumes that the only relevant basis for the "grass-fed", free-range" argument is the health of the planet and/or person. I surmise that many consumers (like myself) also take into consideration the well-being of the animal (i.e., a life living outside of the confines of a factory stall).

  • ||

    take into consideration the well-being of the animal (i.e., a life living outside of the confines of a factory stall).

    Then killing them.

    (With loving kindness, of course.)

  • Mike in PA||

    I think it's best to measure quality of life as the quality between birth and death. If you measure the quality of life by the manner of death, or perhaps the quantity of life, I think you'll find that nearly every life is too short and ended painfully.

  • slutmonkey||

    How do you KNOW that the animals are happier??

    I'm MUCH happier in the city than the country even though that means I'm couped up like sardines with millions of other people. I love it despite the dirt and the crime and the smell. What kind of expert are YOU to say that cows are "happier" outside?

    Further, how do you know cows have the emotional depth to be happy? I don't think they're intelligent enough to have emotions beyond the primal drives of hunger, contentment, pain and arousal. Most likely you're projecting your own emotional reaction onto these witless animals. You're trying to put yourself in their hooves without giving up all your biases about what makes YOU happy.

  • Pip||

    Brain studies have shown that mammals brains allow them to feel emotions. What their brains lack is the ability to process them as well as humans because we have that whole frontal and temporal lobes thing going on.

  • ||

    It doesn't take much thought to realize a cow would rather be walking around with other cows than shoved into a pen barely bigger than the cow is. It doesn't take much emotional depth to feel uncomfortable in that situation.

  • ||

    It also doesn't take much "thought" to realize that a dog would rather be out in an open yard than shoved in a little kennel, but the truth is that my dog feels safer and happier in its kennel, and goes in there voluntarily all the time.

    You're making what Stephen Colbert would call a "truthy" argument.

  • ||

    Well then I say we conduct a study. Let the cows voluntarily choose to be in the pen, or out eating grass. I bet they choose the grass.

  • C'mon man||

    Chances are, if they are raised in a confined space, they have no fucking idea what it's like to walk around, eat, and poot (underused word) on the open range.

  • ||

    @ C'mon man:

    That still doesn't make it right.

  • ||

    They're put in a good size pen and cattle do like to bunch up.

  • ||

    then why do people ride MARTA in Atlanta?

  • ||

    Animal welfare is the sin qua non of these more natural practices -- organic, cage free, grass fed, etc. etc. be it for pigs, cows, chickens, or other food animals. Stossel and his quote-whores just elide over the issue, blurring climate, environmental and animal-welfare arguments as if they are all one big undifferentiated lump.

    Stossel does not take his audience seriously, and does not show basic respect for differing points of view, which at the least must involve accurately and fairly characterizing opposing points of view. He deserves to receive no more courtesy than he shows.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Animal welfare is the sin qua non of these more natural practices -- organic, cage free, grass fed, etc. etc. be it for pigs, cows, chickens, or other food animals.

    Really? You are really making this argument concerning animals that are raised for slaughter?

    Really?

  • Fluffy||

    Sure, absolutely.

    Which would you prefer: to live in comfort for the next 30 years and be executed, or to be tortured for the next 30 years first, and then executed?

  • slutmonkey||

    Don't be obtuse. If you really cared that much about "animal welfare" then you'd be vegetarian and all this discussion would be irrelevant.

  • ||

    Not to mention the fact that cows wouldn't even be alive on this planet if people weren't breeding them to eat.

    you just can't project humanity onto animals and reason rationally from there.

  • DADIODADDY||

    sin qua non? get a life you douche

  • asdf||

    Seriously, what kind of asshole argument is this? We hugged them before we slaughtered and ate them? Go fuck yourself.

  • asdf||

    Seriously, what kind of asshole argument is this? We hugged them before we slaughtered and ate them? Go fuck yourself.

  • DADIODADDY||

    or better yet, fuck the cow and kill it as it climaxs (or whatever cows do) it wil give the meat the certain sin qua non I'm sure all the gormands out there will truely appreciate.

  • ||

    I surmise that many consumers (like myself) also take into consideration the well-being of the animal (i.e., a life living outside of the confines of a factory stall).

    I surmise that many consumers (like myself) also take into consideration the well-being of the animal price of the product.

    Buy free range cow flesh if you wish. I won't even pay extra for dolphin free tuna catches.

  • ||

    Thus the need for mandatory government regulations.

  • Dan's Conscience||

    Yes, yes!! We must regulate everything to my belief system.

  • ||

    No. While I agree with the morality of the issue, using government force will not fix it, and would be immoral itself. Persuasion, and leading by example is the only way.

  • C'mon man||

    Like our leaders in Washington.

  • ||

    If only...

  • Mensan||

    I used to care about dolphin safe tuna, but then I learned that dolphins are assholes.

  • ||

    I've been snaked off some good waves by dolphins. They don't fuck around.

  • ||

    beef cattle aren't kept in stalls there kept in pens and have lots of room to move.

  • ||

    Being raise on a farm most of what i see is nothing more than a marketing tool, So people like me can sell food to uppies for more money at the locale farmers market, Can one tell the difference in an angus beef copared to a hereford beef i think not once the skin is off, looks the same .. I was always told grain feed has more fat an marbleing in the meat compared to grass fed, beef..

  • ||

    My understanding is that the marbling in grass fed beef does not show up as much as that in cornfrd beef. The yellow colored fat does not show as great a contrast to the reddish colored muscle as the white fat that comes from cornfeeding.

    Marbling is still all fat, no matter what feed is used.

    I was raised on grass fed beef until my mid teens.

  • ||

    it's also that because grass feeding is less efficient than grain feeding a grass fed animal is more likely to be B2 than AAA.

  • BB||

    We hear the same kind of stuff about synthetic versus natural fabrics. How synthetics use more oil and are less "real" somehow, while ignoring the very real costs of fuel and food/fertilizer to cultivate cotton, wool, and the like.

  • Pip||

    Everything on the planet -- everything -- is natural.

  • André||

    Cher's face.

  • Mike||

    Touche. Also, MJ's nose...

  • Jerry||

    Wasn't another argument that they could get sick more easily when they're frolicking outside?

  • Wolves||

    We prefer grass-fed, definitely.

  • Vultures||

    Us too, yum!

    Just kidding. Actually, we don't really care what it ate as long as the wolves kill it for us...

    Thanks wolves!

  • DADIODADDY||

    What about the wolves and mountain lions and other free range carnivores?

  • ||

    Then can get sick if kept inside from getting to warm. Most feedlots do not have sheds and the cattle are outside, however they use slab fences to slow down the wind also the fences mean cattle don't wander endlessly in a blizzard. When cows are kept on a range they too need shelter in the form of trees or wind breaks.

  • Matrix||

    I hate hearing about how organic and all this other crap is supposedly better when there's no science to back it up. But then the organiacs (similar to the greeniacs) get this smug attitude and berate you for your choice to save money and buy reasonably priced food over their high priced hippy crap.

  • Fluffy||

    There's also no science to back up the proposition that a Mercedes is better than a Toyota Tercel.

    Enjoy the Tercel.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Except for the easily quantifiable differences in acceleration, breaking, handling, and other performance metrics that is.

  • Fluffy||

    If you drive somewhere and get there, those other metrics don't matter.

    They only matter to your personal enjoyment of the experience of driving, which is utterly subjective and non-scientific.

  • Fluffy||

    You're buying the "better" vehicle in order to possess that one, and not the "lesser" one.

  • slutmonkey||

    Actually there's plenty of easy to do science on Mercedes vs Toyota. If you took the time to look you can find data on breakages per thousand miles. Read a Consumer Reports book on cars sometimes and you'll find there's a huge quantifiable difference between brands.

  • Chony||

    We should all eat grass instead!!!

    Externalities!!!

  • Matrix||

    I hear Les Miles recommends it

  • George V||

    Eat or smoke???

  • Jerry||

  • Old Mexican||

    [Dr. Jude] Capper said: "There's a perception out there that grass-fed animals are frolicking in the sunshine, kicking their heels up full of joy and pleasure. What we actually found was from the land-use basis, from the energy, from water and, particularly, based on the carbon footprints, grass-fed is far worse than corn-fed."

    How can that be?

    "Simply because they have a far lower efficiency, far lower productivity. The animals take 23 months to grow. (Corn-fed cattle need only 15.) That's eight extra months of feed, of water, land use, obviously, and also an awful lot of waste. If we have a grass-fed animal, compared to a corn-fed animal, that's like adding almost one car to the road for every single animal. That's a huge increase in carbon footprints."

    You can't BREAK the laws of economics. More economic efficiency (i.e. reducing costs) means not only more for your bottom line, but also means LESS WASTE.

    Profit seeking = cleaner Earth.

  • Yonemoto||

    This makes no sense. If they're grass-fed, then why would you need "eight extra months of feed". Same with water. And grass-fed farms, done right, don't need to even deal with manure.

    It's true. You're up the creek if you try to grow grass-fed cattle efficiently where grass-fed cattle oughtn't be farmed due to local environmental conditions.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Yonemoto,

    This makes no sense.

    Get your head out of your ass so that it does. Read on.

    If they're grass-fed, then why would you need "eight extra months of feed".

    Because they have to WALK TO IT and MUNCH IT. Corn is instead GIVEN to them. It's the human equivalent of hunting/gathering versus going to Kroger or Safeway.

    USE YOUR HEAD, for a change!

  • Yonemoto||

    ? So, in order to get the food at Albertson's or Vons (I'm in california), it has to be trucked in, and then I have to drive to the super to pick it up (I'm in california).

    Last I checked, hunter-gatherers generally didn't use petroleum to get around. Although I hear the cavepeople of the philippines were a hoax and there are videos of them horsing around on (gas-powered) ATVs.

  • Mark||

    Yes, and do you think nearly 1/3 of Americans would be obese if they had to chase down, kill, butcher and cure the beef required to make all the double cheeseburgers they eat, if they had to actually plow, plant, reap and process all the flour required to make the donuts they so enjoy instead of simply driving to Mickey Dees and Krispy Kreme?

  • Yonemoto||

    IIRC Krispy Kreme doughnuts are vegetarian. Also they are tasty as hell, but only obsese retards with broken taste buds can stand to eat more than two at a sitting.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Yonemoto,

    You ignored Mark's point, which is the same as mine. It takes less effort and time to feed a person TODAY, thanks to division of labor. The same with corn-fed cows.

  • Yonemoto||

    So how does division of labor fit in with your analogy about cows eating grass versus getting their feed shipped to them?

  • ||

    It all depends on how much it really costs to ship the feed. If the shipping is cheap, the longer living cow will cost more in terms of resources.

  • Yonemoto||

    "will cost more in terms of resources"

    Like what? Sun and rain?

    I hear Utah is considering a rain catchment tax, claiming the rain is state property.

  • ||

    Are you really implying that "sun and rain" are the only resources used to grow a grass fed cow?

    If i have 100acres and I can grow 100 cows every 15 months feeding them corn or 100 cows every 23 months with grass feeding how am i not using more resources per 100 cows? I need more man labor per 100 (gotta feed and pay the ranch hands) I have MUCH more water usage per 100 cows (you dont really believe that all I do is let the rain fall handle it, sorry bub but I have a huge tank and irrigation and a water bill to contend with and since many beef producing regions are in drought conditions 8 months less water definitely has major benefits to both cost and environment)

    Also when grass fed the cattle have to be moved from pasture to pasture so that the grass crops can be rotated as all crops need to be. Cow transport gets pricey, with corn they can stay in 1 location and enjoy room service.

    Of course reason is not automatic and those that deny it will never be conquered by using it and poor little yamo was clearly denied a reason upgrade at birth.

  • DLM||

    Like what? Sun and rain?

    Look up the definition of 'opportunity cost'.

  • Mark||

    I'm beginning to think you are being purposefully obtuse.

    One of the premises of the original article is that resource use is greater for grass-fed beef production than for corn-fed. That's because grass-fed cows require nearly 50% longer from birth to slaughter to attain a weight suitable for slaughter. The point OM and I have been making is that increase in time results from the fact the cows must actually WORK to get their food, unlike those who are fed corn.

    You're point that the resources needed to feed corn-fed cows (transportation of feed, manure management, etc.) may be valid, but it directly contradicts what the person quoted in the story said, and therefore requires some data to back it up. But more importantly, that is not the point either I or OM were commenting on. We were responding to the question of why it takes grass-fed cattle longer to grow to a satisfactory size.

    I'm not sure what your point regarding Krispy Kreme donuts is; they are made from flour, lard and sugar fried in vegetable oil and covered with melted sugar. And finally, only a retard would make a value statement about what another person chooses to eat.

  • slutmonkey||

    I think he's just confused because he's never been outside of the city long enough to realize that "grass-fed" & "free range" is not the same as letting a few cows run wide on a huge ranch with no one doing anything until it it's time to round them up for market.

    No one can afford to have all that land area sitting nearly idle like that. It'd be a waste and you wouldn't be able to pay your property taxes.

  • Mike||

    Actually, more than 50% longer. Either way, the argument holds water.

  • oh no||

    That is not true. I have a BMI of 22.8, an IQ of 115, and a HUGE appetite for Krispy Kremes. I could certainly eat 3 at a sitting. And there is no such thing as a "broken" taste bud.

    Also, you do appear to be deliberately obtuse about this issue.

  • ||

    Grain has more energy than grass especially in the winter when grass is dead and buried under snow. Cows are usally kept on free range but they are still fed in the winter. And yes manure management does make feeding in a pasture more efficient for cows. The problem with calves is that too much grain is lost when they are not fed through a trough or self feeder. Manure is still spread.

  • ||

    Grass fed beef can be pen up all day eating hay .Something that was over look in this artical.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Roger B,

    Grass fed beef can be pen up all day eating hay.

    And? It takes more time to GROW cows with hay than with corn. That is the main point.

  • Yonemoto||

    So, all other considerations similar (fuel to send the cows to the abbatoir and then to the supermarket and then to your plate). You can on the one hand, consume 2x more TIME to grow your cow, but with zero or near-zero water, fertilizer, input. Or you can grow the cow faster and pump it full of petrochemical-backed energy.

    Let's assign the per time consumption of petrochemical energy "n". So on the one hand we have zero times two. Versus n times one. I pick the zero.

    Now, that's not to say that the free-range label necessarily means that the inputs are zero. But there are operations out there which do run close to zero, such as famous libertarian farmer Joel Salatin.

  • slutmonkey||

    but with zero or near-zero water, fertilizer, input."

    You're just plain wrong on that.

  • Zeb||

    Dr Capper's statement is stupid. He starts by saying that people like grass fed because they perceive the cows to have a better quality of life, then says that it is less efficient and proceeds to judge it on carbon footprint. Quality of life for the animal and environmental impact are two completely separate reasons why people would like grass fed beef.

    Grass fed beef is more expensive because it is less efficient and productive, but people want it for a variety of reasons beyond a foolish perception that it is better environmentally.

  • Yonemoto||

    Or is corn fed beef cheaper because government subsidies and inflation-driven farm mergers and consolidation keeps in place people with ideas that have past their time?

  • Obvious||

    Good question. But I think corn-subsidies are driving UP the price of corn, not driving it down. That has been the complaint of third worlders who rely on corn for susteanance.

  • ||

    No, it's subsidies for NON-FOOD use of corn which is driving the price of corn up. Incentivizing its use as a source of fuel and plastic goods is artificially increasing global demand for corn.

  • ||

    This reads like a bad joke. The cattle are not efficient? If they are grazing in the pasture in Montana they don't need corn to be grown in Iowa and trucked over, with all the fertilizer that uses, plus the transport of the fertilizer.
    Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms, which Pollan wrote about, is efficient because it minimizes inputs by judicious husbanding of resources. Even the fertilizer that is used there is local.

  • slutmonkey||

    except that in the same space we're growing that grass we COULD be growing a lot of corn and have the cornfed cows AND still have room left over.

  • Ass of Catalonia||

    You're completely ignoring time(labor, land use, etc) as a factor in determining efficiency. Like it nor not, our economy relies on exponential growth and harvesting stored energy on the cheap. When not subject to significant input scarcity, time is the most important factor relative to efficiency within our economy.

  • ||

    Farmers in Montana usually don't feed Iowa corn but local wheat, durum, barley or oats, along with locally grown tame hay. in a drought year the cattle are sold many would likely end up in Iowa and Nebraska where there is corn, and some corn would be bought by Montana ranchers, as well as hay from Canada. In this way trade provides insurance against drought.

  • Mo||

    Not only does it often cost twice as much, but there's no evidence it's better for the environment or better for you.

    While I agree with the statements re: being better for the environment. There is plenty of evidence that grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, leaner, higher in Vitamin E and lower in saturated fat.

    Plus it tastes better.

  • ||

    Mo, while I tend to share your preference, I realize it is nothing more than my own subjective opinion.

    I'm pretty sure you'll find that most people prefer the taste of corn fed beef.

  • ||

    Most people have fucking awful taste. FACT!

  • ||

    I can't argue with that. :)

  • ||

    Not this person. Much prefer grass fed beef.

  • Mo||

    When you consider that the most popular comedy TV show on right now is Two and a Half Men, I'm not too distraught that my preference isn't the most popular one. Besides, less demand means lower prices.

  • Yonemoto||

    Unless the supplier decides to throttle back.

  • ||

    It's also worth noting that in preferring cornfed beef, consumers are not necessarily expressing a preference for a better tasting product, per se, but for a more consistent product.

    What ever the qualities of grass fed beef, as the linked Slate article above notes, if the grass is not of the highest quality grass fed beef can be kind of rank.

    This will come as no surprise to anyone who has had wild game. Venison can taste completely different depending on whether the deer has foraged on fruit or acorns or crops.

    The Corsicans (or is it the Sardinians?) raise a highly prized variety of pork by letting their hogs range free foraging on acorns.

  • ||

    Don't know about either island, but Spain produces some awesome ham from pigs who primarily forage for acorns.

  • Raven||

    The difference in taste, however, is noticeable. Grass fed beef tastes better than even prime corn fed beef to me.

  • ¢||

    IT TASTES BETTER.

    IT DOESN'T. It tastes like the thing it came from was old and pissed off when it died.
    I only eat beef-fed beef. It's like smile pudding.

  • NoVAHockey||

    I buy grass-feed beef in bulk direct from a farmer. on a per pound basis, it's cheaper. i can't buy quality steaks for $4.50 a pound at the grocery store.

  • Adam||

    "What we have to remember is every food we eat—whether it's tofu, whether it's beef, whether it's apples—they all contain hormones. There's nothing, apart from salts, that doesn't have some kind of hormone in them."

    Interesting piece, but this response is a non-sequitur. That's like concluding that carcinogens are not a problem since there are carcinogens all around us in daily life that we consume without realizing it.

    The real question is whether the quantity and type of hormones given to cows had a negative impact on human health. I have no idea what the answer is, but "everything has hormones in it" is a non-answer.

  • ||

    Don't go around using real logic here. It doesn't fit into a soundbite quote.

  • ||

    Don't go around using real logic here. It doesn't fit into a soundbite quote.

  • Old Mexican||

    Once again, modern technology saves money and is better for the earth. By stuffing the feedlot animals with corn, farmers get them to grow faster. Therefore they can slaughter them sooner, which is better for the earth than letting them live longer and do all the environmentally damaging things natural cows do while they are alive.

    Ok, cows don't "damage" the environment just for being alive as they ARE the environment (part of, at least,) but taking the AGW zealots' argument as baseline, free-ranging cows are more damaging than corn-fed cows.

    From an economic standpoint, corn-fed cows are more efficient as a product than free-ranging, as explained above; that saves MONEY, that saves ENERGY, and ultimately, those two things together mean the ENVIRONMENT is less affected.

  • Yonemoto||

    "From an economic standpoint, corn-fed cows are more efficient as a product than free-ranging, as explained above; that saves MONEY, that saves ENERGY, and ultimately, those two things together mean the ENVIRONMENT is less affected."

    You don't know that. There are a lot of government distortions affecting the equation. This is like saying corn ethanol spiked petrol is cheaper in iowa, so it must be better for the environment.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Yonemoto,

    You don't know that. There are a lot of government distortions affecting the equation.

    Oh, use your head, man! If you can bring your product to market EARLIER, it IS more economically efficient. It is called "BEING MORE PRODUCTIVE," i.e. doing MORE with LESS. If you use LESS of something, you're TAXING the environment LESS. It is THAT simple.

    I am not assuming any government data, merely using ECONOMIC ANALYSIS and THEORY.

  • Mo||

    Maybe the same loose wire that causes you to randomly capitalized caused you to miss his point. Corn is cheap because there are massive government subsidies to corn, making it much cheaper. If the government sufficiently subsidized purchases of hamsters, I could make a killing generating electricity with hamsters on a wheel. That doesn't not mean it's the most efficient way possible, however.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Mo,

    Maybe the same loose wire that causes you to randomly capitalized caused you to miss his point. Corn is cheap because there are massive government subsidies to corn, making it much cheaper.

    Mo, sheesh, you think grass is expensive??? You really think ranchers are dumb or something?

    The fact is, even without the subsidies, corn turns cows into cash-cows FASTER than leaving them in the field eating grass.

  • Yonemoto||

    If you use LESS of something, you're TAXING the environment LESS.

    Well that's true, except when you're talking about money. There's subsidies, for starters. Secular inflation also creates pressure for businesses to get bigger and bigger, which means less competition, less innovation, and more inefficiency.

    Use YOUR head, man.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Yonemoto,

    Well that's true, except when you're talking about money.

    Oh, here we go . . .

    There's subsidies, for starters.

    Which means SQUAT when it comes to turning the inventory, but go on. . .

    Secular inflation also creates pressure for businesses to get bigger and bigger, which means less competition, less innovation, and more inefficiency.

    That's a lie. Inflation does not encourage companies to be bigger, nor does bigness equate to inefficiency or lack of competition, that's a fantasy induced by ignorance of economics: THE CONTRARY IS TRUE, companies grow larger IN ORDER to be MORE EFFICIENT, not less.

  • Yonemoto||

    No, sorry, yours is the corporatist fantasy. It's true that companies grow larger in order to be more efficient. But here in the real world, they EVENTUALLY become lazyasses and over time start resting on their laurels. That's normal and nautral, and what is not is the barrier to entry that government puts into place preventing the starting of companies. The reason why inflation encourages companies to become bigger is because it allows for counterparty risk to become aggregated making investment in big companies more preferable - eg via avenues like the stock market. Of course the safety of this aggregation is an illusion and we get bubbles and bailouts.

    In a noninflationary system, lending would be more decentralized because the lenders would be on the hock for their money - and the fact that large companies have more obfuscable income streams would discourage investment in them.

  • Yonemoto||

    I mean "relatively discourage investment". In other words, small businesses would find more money going their way, and less of us would throw money at the stock market to try to beat inflation (and subsidize corporations and golden parachutes) because we would be able to stick it under our mattresses and get a reasonable preservation of value, IF we so chose.

  • He Said NOLA||

    Your analysis oversimplifies. Tremendously.

    All other variables being equal, time to market indeed reduces cost. But that is only one variable among many that make up the complete picture. For example, the corn the cattle are fed must of course be produced at a certain cost, and that cost must be evaluated against the cost of any other feed, including grass. Additionally, your argument fails completely to address the offloading of cost, assuming that faster time to market must be the result of greater "efficiency." for example, if I am able to bring my product to market more quickly by not wating time treating my groundwater runoff, then I am indeed more efficient, but only within the closed system of my own operation. In this circumstance, I've achieved the "efficiency" by offloading a portion of the true cost of my product onto someone else. Pollan's point is exactly this, and Stossel oversimplifies to a great degree, as do you.

  • Yonemoto||

    Stossel needs to read up on his Salatin. He's right that grass-fed doesn't NECESSARILY have all these "good" attributes. But, it CAN, and in some places, does. And it's certainly true that there are awful, awful problems with big box beef farming.

  • Zeb||

    Indeed. If you have huge, unpopulated grass lands available, grass feeding cattle probably has relatively little environmental impact.

  • Yonemoto||

    "huge, unpopulated grass lands available"

    Sounds like a country close to my heart! If only we hadn't razed our beautiful grasslands to grow corn!

  • Missouri cattle rancher||

    Or to build cities for stupid cocksuckers like you. Sir, you truly are a dumbfuck and have no copmrehension of the world around you

  • squarooticus||

    There is actually a substantial body of evidence suggesting that grass-fed beef is much healthier for you than corn-fed beef. E.g.:

    http://www.csuchico.edu/grassf.....fits.shtml

    I've been to many organic farms in my area (Massachusetts) that are completely self-sustaining and therefore carbon-neutral, though I don't really care: that doesn't factor into my decision about what to eat. Still, the reading I've done gives me a lot more confidence that organic agriculture is sustainable versus industrial agriculture, not of course taking into account the need to feed 6 billion mouths.

    But this is where the market comes in: I can afford better food (in terms of both nutrition and flavor), and I prefer it, so I eat it. If pasturing cattle/chickens/etc. really isn't sufficient or economic to meet the world's protein needs, those who can't afford it can eat soy gruel or corn-fed chicken/cattle.

    Bottom line: I have no desire to force my preferences on everyone else: eat what you want. I'll eat what I want.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: squarooticus,

    I've been to many organic farms in my area (Massachusetts) that are completely self-sustaining and therefore carbon-neutral[...]

    You mean like moon colonies? They even recycle their own waste and air and everything?

    I can afford better food (in terms of both nutrition and flavor), and I prefer it, so I eat it.

    Fine by me, that's not the point. The point is, don't pretend it is more economically efficient or "better for the environment," because it is not.

  • squarooticus||

    They even recycle their own waste and air and everything?


    I know you're trolling, but I'll bite. Solid waste, yes: they use it as fertilizer for their pastures and crops. I honestly have no idea what happens to the urine once it's in the ground.

    I put air and sunlight into the "ether" category: it's always there, and as long as they aren't dumping a whole lot of something into the atmosphere, it can be considered a constant. A sustainable farm that "imports" only air and sunlight must be carbon neutral, so at the very least they aren't dumping CO₂ into the atmosphere. The nitrous issue is beyond my knowledge.

    Again, I don't really care about this stuff, so I haven't spent a lot of effort trying to educate myself on it.

    The point is, don't pretend it is more economically efficient or "better for the environment," because it is not.


    I didn't realize I was one of the implicit "you"s in your statement. I'll have to check my straw man detector.

  • Mo||

    I don't know if farms do this, but you could theoretically pull the ammonia and phosphorus from urine and turn it into a fertilizer.

  • Yonemoto||

    Ammonia's not necessary. Grow the right plants (grass) and the appropriate rhizobia will fix it from the atmosphere. That's one of the things - corn is not a nitrogen fixer so it either needs to be rotated out with soy or it needs to have a ton of ammonia (or nitrate, or ammonium nitrate) dumped on it.

    Phosphorus. Well, that's tougher. Luckily it doesn't disappear so easily either, so, basically, as long as birds keep shitting it in at a rate that matches how quickly it leaves via stream efflux, it should all be good.

  • Mo||

    We may need to start recycling it. Bird poop alone doesn't supply us with phosphorous. We get most of it out of mines and those are declining. Of course, sufficient supplies of phosphorous have been a concern since FDR's day (at least), so it's not necessarily something to worry too much about, yet.

  • Yonemoto||

    Those mines are usually on islands like nauru. Where do you suppose that phosphorus comes from? Think about roosting seabirds.

  • Mo||

    Some is guano and some comes from phosphorous rocks like apatite. There's a lot of phosphorus in the Western Sahara and China as well.

  • Yonemoto||

    I bet the apatite is just metamorphosized animal poop. There's a pretty interesting hypothesis - gaining traction - that gold veins are the fossilized excretions of gold-fixing bacteria.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: squarooticus,

    I know you're trolling, but I'll bite. Solid waste, yes: they use it as fertilizer for their pastures and crops. I honestly have no idea what happens to the urine once it's in the ground.

    It was YOU who said they were "carbon neutral," yet I am the one who's "trolling" when I point out the absurdity of what you allege?

    A sustainable farm that "imports" only air and sunlight must be carbon neutral[...]

    ... especially if they use ox-driven carts and mills and pigfat candles to light their cold nights. Oh, hit-and-miss motors do not count - "sustainable" is the keyword.

    Sorry, squarooticus, there's no such thing as being "carbon neutral", and this "sustainable" canard is no more than a marketing ploy for the unsuspecting and gullible.

  • asdf||

    This. It's marketing for the retards, like all the natural / go green bullshit.

  • Pip||

    "I honestly have no idea what happens to the urine once it's in the ground."

    It seeps through the earth all the way to China. Those people are yellow for a reason you know.

  • Yonemoto||

    +20

  • Mensan||

    I can afford better food (in terms of both nutrition, flavor, and price), and I prefer it, so I eat it.

  • ||

    I'm getting hungry just reading this article and the comments. As long as regular,old-fashioned, corn-fed cow is available, I happy if some marketing genius can convince artsy-fartsy no-nothings to spend more money on free-range, frollicking mooers. A fool and his money are soon parted.

  • Yonemoto||

    True. When you get some debilitating condition (diabetes, cancer, CJD) it will drain your wallet. I, for one, am no fool and plan on offing myself somewhere between 60 and 80, depending on when I will no longer be able to woo the ladies on the dance floor.

  • ||

    You, Sir (Yonemoto) have dispensed here the most circular and asinine arguments I have ever read. My IQ has been lowered by bothering to read your drivel. Please tell me you're close to your self-inflicted expiration date.

    Or, as someone once said, I can see your sixtieth birthday from my backyard. I think it's cute, too, that you give yourself twenty years of wiggle-room before you opt for the Kevorkian solution. Please, don't dither. Commit to something!

  • Yonemoto||

    I was just being flippant, but the $20,000/month cost of staying alive in a hospice or the insane expense of certain drugs makes the cost differential (which sometimes doesn't exist, see BPD below) of "natural food" pale in comparison.

  • Mensan||

    One study has produced findings that "natural food" has any additional nutritional benefit. I have not seen any study which has been able to reproduce those results, but many other studies have found indications that organic produce is nutritionally indistinguishable from commercially farmed produce. Organic produce is, however, more likely to carry foodborne pathogens, and consistently loses in blind taste tests.

  • zoltan||

    An old-fashioned cow would have been grass-fed, moron. And a marketing genius can change one's taste or the nutritional content of beef.

  • Ron||

    Besides the better taste of a free range beef there is the added benifit that ranging cattle also tramp down the under growth. The undergrowth that California now calls ladder fuel for forest fires but unfortunately the state is looking at decreasing the number of free range cows because they crap in the rivers, I call it fertilizer myself.

  • Insane Clown Stossel||

    Grass-fed is far worse than corn-fed.

    How can that be?

  • ||

    I don't care if free-range cows are happy. My only concern is that they're tastier. MMMMMMMMM.....Steak!

  • ||

    Grass fed beef has much more flavour. Some of you trash bags may not appreciate this though.

    As far as environmental impact goes, I suspect that the regional climate, and the feed sources will be major inputs. i.e. How much irrigation vs rainfall? How much feed supplementation is needed? What fertilizers etc need to be used. etc

  • mr simple||

    Who gives a shit? If restaurants or whomever want to sell it and people want to buy it, then who cares?
    And isn't this just the same appeal to authority that local news does? One scientist that did a paper on environmental impacts of dairy farms: a comparison of 1944 to 2007 does not equal absolute truth. I've seen evidence that grass fed meat and eggs from hens who were grass fed is intact better for you. Science is about aggregating results from multiple studies.
    Also, her suggestion that extra hormones in food is ok because many types of food have hormones is just silly. That's like saying that because we all get radiation from he sun, any radiation is ok.
    To pretend we know everything about food and nutrition is laughable.
    Eat what you want, live how you want. I usually like Stossel, but this seems like a reach.

  • ||

    "Who gives a shit? If restaurants or whomever want to sell it and people want to buy it, then who cares?"

    Kochtopus gives a shit. It is obvious they are mercantilist with big interest in Big Agriculture. They love the corn industry. In case you haven't noticed, they focus a lot of energy on loving Monsanto, big corn and calling Ron Paul racist.

  • Statist Bingo Card||

    Koch brothers...check
    Big "whatever"...check
    racism accusation...check
    Monsanto...check
    Some 17th century "-ism" like imperialism or mercantilism...check

    BINGO!

  • Mensan||

    There's nothing wrong with hormones in food. Hormones are proteins. When eaten, the hormones, like all other proteins, are denatured by hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and other enzymes in the stomach and duodenum. They are broken down into constituent amino acids before absorption. The functional hormones never enter your body.

  • ||

    Here in the Pacific Northwest the restaurants focus on locally grown, largly organic/free range meat, whether it is beef, pork, mutton, or whatever. It tastes better, it doesn't travel as far, and you can buy meat directly from the farmers if you would like to.

    But the best beef I ever had was at a roadside place in Texas. They raised their own cattle and slaughtered on site. Stank out back, I can tell you. But the food was absolutely the best I have ever had. Burgers, steaks, just amazing.

    You simply don't get the same taste with mass produced beef.

  • asdf||

    Can I have some more anecdotal evidence? It's really compelling shit.

  • ||

    Raised their own cattle out back? What, in a pasture? What were they fed? Grass? Grain?

    Because the style sounds the same as many large producers use. Your taste difference was in freshness--not raising style.

  • Mike in ATL||

    The John Stossel article generator:

    1 - Watch South Park and pick a trait/trend Cartman associates with 'hippies'.
    2 - Interview one person who agrees with you.
    3 - Submit column.

  • ||

    As long as people are debating what kind of beef to eat, it at least drowns out the voices of those who don't want us to eat it at all.

  • NoVAHockey||

    I'm pretty sure those types don't want us eating anything.

  • ||

    I'm sure you could have a small handful of uncooked wild grains harvested through foraging, and perhaps a squirt of Bragg's Amino Acids to approximate the sensation once known as "flavor."

  • ||

    SAVE A COW.....EAT A VEGAN.

  • ||

    Whats next free range eggs or commercial growen eggs . Eever see what a chicken will eat.

  • Yonemoto||

    I do want people to eat less meat, but I'll be damned if I'll make you eat less meat.

  • zoltan||

    I want people to eat more meat and less grains and sugar, thus making my visual life more appealing and not full of ugly fatties.

    But I won't make anyone do that either.

  • steve||

    I could give two shits about what's better for the environment or what makes cows "happy", but I just filled a chest freezer full of grass-fed beef literally yesterday. Why? Because unlike, Stossel, I do believe it's healthier. Forgive me if I doubt the words of a "dairy science" professer who probably gets funding from the USDA or some other entity interested getting meat to market sooner. I really don't think she is an expert in nutrition, specifically omega 3 vs omega 6 fatty acids and the huge differences between grass-fed and grain-fed cattle in that regard. This is why fish oil has become so popular lately; it's an omega 3 source that brings the omega 3/6 ratio back in balance. If you eat naturally fed animals, you get omega 3's naturally. Likewise farmed (grain-fed) salmon for instance aren't has healthy as their wild counterparts.
    But then again, what the hell do I know, I'm no doctor and should probably shut up and take my lipitor someday if big pharma, therefore the medical establishment had their wish.

  • ||

    THANK YOU.

  • Mensan||

    Don't worry about not being a doctor; most of them don't know anything about nutrition either.

    I see you've been reading grass-fed beef producers' websites. Good choice. I'm sure they are much more reliable than an independent research scientist. You admit you're not a doctor. You're obviously not a Nutritionist, so why do you think the fact that you "believe it's healthier" has any relation to reality?

  • steve||

    My beliefs come from subscribing to the paleo diet and a whole host of books, articles and websites supporting it. I'd list a few, but this comment thread already has enough conflicting ones anyway. I no more feel a dairy science professor counts as independent as the USDA does when it puts out the food pyramid. Put up a convincing argument against the paleo diet and more specifically the omega 3/6 data on grass-fed vs grain-fed livestock and you'll succeed in changing my "beliefs".

  • ||

    This article completely ignores the fact that cows are ruminants - their multichambered stomach is designed to digest grass. Corn is not their natural diet; they cannot chew their cud when fed corn (to day nothing of bakery wastes, stale candy, and whatever else the feedlot "farmer" can get his hands on cheaply). They become ill, which is why they are given antibiotics (which you, in turn, consume whether you intend to or not). The livers of most feedlot animals are diseased when slaughtered, and the health of an animal's liver is indicative of the health of the animal.

    And, really - would YOU want to stand knee-deep in your own waste 24 hours a day, be given hormones to make you grow twice as fast and be force-fed a diet that was completely unnatural to you and that made you ill? Please, someone explain to me how food raised in such conditions could possibly be just as good for you than food that is allowed to eat what it is supposed to eat, spend its days roaming outside and is allowed to mature in a natural manner?

  • Yonemoto||

    It's possible, after all the meat can generally be considered to be distilled protein. But I'd rather not take my chances.

  • Bingo||

    Exactly!

  • Mensan||

    "...their multichambered stomach is designed to digest grass." By whom?

    "...antibiotics (which you, in turn, consume whether you intend to or not)." So long as you eat the beef raw, and the antibiotics were administered within about 24 hours before slaughter.

  • ||

    EVOLUTION MORON!

  • Vines & Cattle ||

    Sad to see John Stossel knee jerk his way into supporting ag subsidies.

    Grass fed beef = libertarian beef

  • ||

    This analysis misses the mark on several levels. Here are some non-hippie objections to the article:

    1-Commercial feedlot beef doesn't have any hormones in it one way or the other. The FDA requires animals to be hormone/antibiotic free for 30 days before slaughter to allow the hormones to flush out of the animals' systems. This is a non-issue but is incorrectly represented in the piece.

    2-Pastured animals can utilize marginal croplands that would be otherwise unavailable for cultivation. This means that pastured production can potentially add to feedlot production increasing overall efficiency.

    3-Omega 3 fatty acid levels in pasture raised/finished animals are measurably different than feedlot/grain-finished animals. Grass fed beef has the same ratios of health amino acids found in salmon. This is the reason that grass-finished beef is considered healthier.

    4-Feedlot agriculture, while very efficient, creates unintended consequences that relate to the production chain. These include a host of very real problems including: topsoil erosion, nitrogen runoff, eutrophication of surface waters and groundwater pollution. Pasturing animals dramatically reduces these problems.

    5-Grass fed beef currently offers the opportunity for smaller producers to sell their animals as a finished product rather than a commodity. This is good for small businesses (farms) because they can charge a higher price for their processed animals.

    6-Despite the higher prices that these farmers earn on their animals v. selling them as commodities, the price to consumer is not signifcantly higer than supermarket prices. I purchase bulk beef from a regional farm at approximatly $5.50 a pound.

    7-Pastured production is very economically efficient. It is profitable. If it wasn't farmers wouldn't do it. Input costs for raising the animals are dramatically lower, which compensates for the increased time necessary to get the animal to slaugher weight.

    Bottom line? Grass fed/finished is somewhat healthier than feedlot finished. It's production helps to conserve topsoil and protect water resources and makes use of marginal cropland. It makes the most sense to purchase direct from a regional producer--this dramatically reduces the price per pound.

    Or, better yet. Don't buy grass-finished beef. Modest demand will help keep the prices down for those of us who enjoy eating pastured beef now.

  • ||

    Very informative. Thanks!

  • Yonemoto||

    Bingo. I always bring up #2 to enviros who talk about "eating lower on the food chain" which is totally nonsense BS - except for issues about bioaccumulation (which is only an issue for aquaculture)

  • ||

    "3-Omega 3 fatty acid levels in pasture raised/finished animals are measurably different than feedlot/grain-finished animals. Grass fed beef has the same ratios of health amino acids found in salmon. This is the reason that grass-finished beef is considered healthier."

    Will this make a noticeable difference to the quality of anybody's health? I mean, if two people have identical diets, lifestyles, and genetic histories, but one consumes corn fed beef and the other consumes grass fed beef, would their be a significant difference in their health? By what margin?

    "4-Feedlot agriculture, while very efficient, creates unintended consequences that relate to the production chain. These include a host of very real problems including: topsoil erosion, nitrogen runoff, eutrophication of surface waters and groundwater pollution. Pasturing animals dramatically reduces these problems."

    Won't the free range cows themselves create manure run off that contaminates ground water? Also, grazing cows can eat too much grass creating similar topsoil erosion problems.

    I am not that familiar with most issues revolving around farming or raising cattle, but it seems to me that most of the pro grass fed beef argument revolves around certain ideal circumstances. Basically, you have to find large expanses of marginal grasslands that aren't useful for production of other crops yet still have abundant natural grass. These expanses of grassland must be somewhere where it rains often, and the winters have to be relatively mild, so that the cattle don't have to be stored and fed food from commercial farms when it is icy outside. The summers also have to relatively mild, so the rancher wouldn't have to pay for water from other sources.

    It just seems to me that the issue isn't that cut and dry, no matter what side you are on.

    "Pastured production is very economically efficient. It is profitable. If it wasn't farmers wouldn't do it."

    True, but there are only certain places where it is profitable to raise cattle on pastureland. Factory farming, warts and all, seems to offer the option of raising cattle in places that aren't best suited to that purpose.

  • KD||

    Will this make a noticeable difference to the quality of anybody's health? I mean, if two people have identical diets, lifestyles, and genetic histories, but one consumes corn fed beef and the other consumes grass fed beef, would their be a significant difference in their health? By what margin?

    Yes. There's some increasing evidence that heart disease and other "diseases of civilization" may be partly due to the fact that our omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in our body is out of whack. Simply put, our cells are healthier with less omega 6. However, if you eat a lot of other common sources of omega 6 like vegetable oils, seed oils and grains, then the difference eating only grass fed versus grain fed isn't going to make that much of a difference in your total health. That still doesn't negate the fact that grass fed IS healthier just because we also eat so much other crap, too.

  • ||

    "Yes. There's some increasing evidence that heart disease and other "diseases of civilization" may be partly due to the fact that our omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in our body is out of whack. Simply put, our cells are healthier with less omega 6."

    Still, I would like to see an actual estimation. I mean, if I eat grass fed instead of corn fed, how many years am I adding to my life?

    I'd argue that most of the "diseases of civilization" are really diseases of old age. Most people didn't live long enough to develop heart disease a hundred years ago. Back when grass fed cows were the norm, life expectancy was far shorter. Yes, I know that is egregious hyperbole, as those two things have nothing to do with each other, but my point is that arguing about things that are difference between living to 78 and 82 as completely ridiculous.

    "However, if you eat a lot of other common sources of omega 6 like vegetable oils, seed oils and grains,"

    Grains are bad for you now? This health crap makes me want to kill myself. Ironic.

  • KD||

    No one really knows, because there haven't been studies like that and likely won't be for a long time, if ever.

    And yes, grains are typically not good for you, but the government will never tell you that because of all the money tied up in the grain, corn and other lobbies.

    Personally, if all you ate was grain-fed beef and avoided grains, vegetable oils, sugar/fructose and processed foods, you'll be way, way healthier than 95% of the population. But there's some evidence that if you only ate grass fed and avoided all of the aforementioned things, you might do even better. How much better, well, nobody knows, because there aren't any longterm studies like that.

  • ||

    Grass-fed does not mean 'free-range'(a term that has no fed guidelines in relation to beef). Grass fed means that most--not all--of the diet is grass/hay/forage.

    A cow can be feedlot raised AND grass-fed.

    Pasture fed does not mean 'free range' or grass fed. Many ranchers use pasturage of some sort--even for 'corn-fed'(corn-fed is actually a specialty, normal feeds include grains, grasses and other ingredients). In fact, 'free range' is often noting more that the 'difference' between herded pasturage and fenced pasturage.

  • Gonzo Gourmand||

    "1-Commercial feedlot beef doesn't have any hormones in it one way or the other. The FDA requires animals to be hormone/antibiotic free for 30 days before slaughter to allow the hormones to flush out of the animals' systems. This is a non-issue but is incorrectly represented in the piece."

    There's a lot of things the FDA doesn't officially allow that their inspectors ignore for years or decades at a time. A lot of things. Why not that one?

  • ||

    The researcher avoids the question when she says, "What we have to remember is every food we eat—whether it's tofu, whether it's beef, whether it's apples—they all contain hormones. There's nothing, apart from salts, that doesn't have some kind of hormone in them."

    Yes, and...?

    The question was not if hormones in tofu or apples is harmful but if the specific kinds and amounts of hormones given to factory-farms cows are going to harm the people who eat the animal.

    I mean seriously..."What we have to remember is every day we go outside, whether its cloudy or sunny we are exposed to the sun's rays." Is every level of exposure to the sun equally harmful?

    Is being exposed to hormones in tofu better or worse than being exposed to hormones force fed to cows? More to the point, is exposure to the hormones given to cows harmful to us, or not?

    Stossel is not very good at follow-up questions, is he?

  • Mensan||

    "Is being exposed to hormones in tofu better or worse than being exposed to hormones force fed to cows? More to the point, is exposure to the hormones given to cows harmful to us, or not?"

    It's not. All eaten hormones are broken down to amino acids by digestion before they are absorbed into the body.

  • ||

    The premise seems to be: since it takes longer to raise cattle on grass, it must therefore be bad. That is the real bovine waste. Exactly what are these 'environmentally damaging things natural cows do while they are alive'? Eating grass and drinking water? The things ungulates have done on grasslands since there have been grasslands? Come on. Bovine flatulence is not comparablle the diesel exhaust. That's the very reason PETA and the vegans are wrong when they attack us meat eaters. producing vegan fare requires much more fossil fuel than raising cattle on grass (as most of the cattle in the world are raised).

  • ||

    The premise seems to be: since it takes longer to raise cattle on grass, it must therefore be bad. That is the real bovine waste. Exactly what are these 'environmentally damaging things natural cows do while they are alive'? Eating grass and drinking water? The things ungulates have done on grasslands since there have been grasslands? Come on. Bovine flatulence is not comparablle the diesel exhaust. That's the very reason PETA and the vegans are wrong when they attack us meat eaters. producing vegan fare requires much more fossil fuel than raising cattle on grass (as most of the cattle in the world are raised).

  • Don||

    If it takes 50% more time to reach slaughter size, that means 50% more animals will have to be alive at all times in order to supply the same demand. That means on any given day 50% more fuel/food is consumed, 50% more farts are let, etc. It's not just that each cow is doing this for longer, it's that the population has to be greater.

  • sevo||

    "Cows should be outside."
    Ya know, I'll agree with this. They can make a real mess in the living room.

  • ||

    I thought this was hilarious. +1

  • Obvious||

    This doesn't address the moral argument, however, that it is morally superior to allow a cow a normal life of free ranging and eating grass rather than cramming it into a pen and stuffing it with corn that it is not meant to easily digest. That is, if how we treat animals reflects on us morally, free range treatment is superior to the corn-fed treatment. Does that moral advantage outweight the additional harm to the environment and the more expensive meat? That question is not addressed.

  • Mensan||

    Why are all of you acting like the cows are being force fed the corn. They love that stuff. Have you ever been around a cow? They're like goats; they eat damn near anything. I've seen one try to eat a Hawaiian shirt.

  • asdf||

    We raise them to eat them, there is no morality here.

  • ||

    Okay, so the extra time spent raising the cow produces more environmentally harmful gas. On the flip side, trucking in corn to feed penned-in cows also uses a finite natural resource (oil) and produces harmful gas. There is also consumption in trucking waste away. Now it becomes an argument about which is more harmful based on consumption levels.

    Pollan actually envisions a farm system where animals, farmers and plants work on symbiosis, and little is spent on removing any unwanted pieces. Cows graze on grass for a couple of days, then move on, allowing it to regrow quickly. Chickens follow the cows into the pasture, pecking out fly larvae in cowpies and adding their own fertilizer to the land. This simultaneously helps resolve the problem of food and of fertilizer.

    Stossel quotes a doctor that "every food we eat...all contain hormones." If this isn't a straw-man argument, then Stossel confuses hormones for the antibiotics, which are administered in large doses to cows in almost constant contact with their waste, and which do get passed on through cow milk and beef. Widespread use of antibiotics in farm animals has been linked to the rise of resistant bacteria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....er_animals

  • Dave||

    @Gary, when the hormones argument comes up, it us usually with Monsanto's (they sold the hormone recently) RGBH artifical hormones that were injected into cows to produce more milk.

  • ||

    +1

  • Dave||

    Stossel, this makes no sense. I don't remember the last time I didn't agree with you, you are usually right on the mark. There is extensive research showing the difference in quality of corn vs grass fed. I don't know anyone who feels passionately about this who cares about the fossil fuel involved like Pollan pointed out. Nutrition is my concern. As long as you don't try to limit my ability to have grass fed, eat all the corn fed you want. Win - win, and you believe what you want. But no evidence? Give me a break.

  • Yonemoto||

    I want to see stossel interview Joel Salatin. Will his head explode from meeting an environmentalist, evangelical, libertarian?

  • ||

    You know, that's an excellent idea. Hell, I'd settle for him reading and reviewing Salatin's Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal. A real eye-opener, that one.

    And yes...an earlier comment made me wonder - just who IS funding this "dairy scientist's" research? Is it the USDA?

  • ||

    More Salatin on Reason! It'd be like peanut butter and chocolate.

  • Sarah Lee||

    The only reason I would advocate grass-fed is because cows were not meant to feed on grain. The enormous amounts of cellulose that is in grass is not conducive to the growth of fatal strains of e. coli that thrive on the high starch diet of corn. Maybe mix in some grass into the corn.

  • ||

    I'm suspicious of Dr. Capper's funding sources.

    Here's a presentation he did together with one Roger Cady, who works for Elanco, which manufactures pharmaceuticals for animals, including a canine Prozac called "Reconcile":

    http://ext.wsu.edu/pd/documents/WSUFoodMythsDebunked2010.pdf

    How are they generating their numbers? Aren't they ignoring the production and transportation costs of corn, versus grass which grows in situ?

  • ||

    PSU Meat Scientist Chris Raines:

    http://meatgeek.org/2010/10/07.....sfed-beef/

    "The reality is there is no evidence whatsoever that grass-fed beef has any advantage for safety, human health, or impact on the environment than grain-fed beef. Both types of beef deliver the important factors of nutrition in the human diet of protein, iron, and zinc in equal proportions."

    "Therefore, any speculation that eating grass-fed beef will enhance human health due to Omega-3 fatty acid consumption is clearly incomplete at best, and usually false."

    "Grass-fed beef will usually be leaner with less fat in the edible portion than grain-fed beef, and this is due to less marbling, or the intramuscular flecks of fat measured in the ribeye steak. The conflict for beef customers and producers is that consumer studies indicate the desirable factors of tenderness, juiciness, and flavor-generally described as “quality” by consumers-are highly related to marbling content. "

    "It is very important that we have grass-fed beef as a choice for beef consumers because these are often consumers that do not buy other types of beef. However, the enterprise cannot be sustainable and engage new customers if it is based on false and misleading information. There are many other important factors for beef –buying decisions we can use to promote the grass-fed product. Locally-produced, animals raised in a pasture environment, source verification, and others are very important features of beef that consumers value. Grass-fed beef can capitalize on many of these attributes without some of the deception going on now."

  • steve||

    "Therefore, any speculation that eating grass-fed beef will enhance human health due to Omega-3 fatty acid consumption is clearly incomplete at best, and usually false."

    Ironic since his little paragraph dealing with omega 3 and 6 is incomplete as well. The lead sentence mentions the all important omega 3/6 ratio, but then he completely ignores the omega 6 differences between grass-fed and grain-fed animals. It's not that grass-fed beef doesn't provide enough omega 3, it's that grain-fed provides wayyy too much. Another dairy scientist hard at work... for the USDA.

  • steve||

    wayyy too much omega 6, that is.

  • ||

    If you don't love this Stossel article then go drink some more mercury laced corn syrup and wash it down with a glass of fluoride. That's what a real libertarian would do!

  • ||

    Stossel and his "dairy science" professor (who is undoubtably in hock to the corn-fed dairy industry) are both full of shit.

    The importance difference between grass-fed and corn-fed cows is the ratio of omega-3 (generally anti-inflammatory, i.e. good for your circulatory system) to omega-6 fatty acids (not good).

    Grass-fed anything has a substantially higher omega-3/omega-6 ratio, and corn-fed anything runs the other way. Given that most of us will die of heart disease sooner or later -- and we would prefer later -- the health benefits of eating grass-fed meat are nothing at which to sneeze, or sneer.

  • ||

    Sometimes Stossel comes across as a spokesman for whatever company he's writing about. I love him for his independent voice, but sometimes, I don't think it is that independent. He never mentioned the libertarian's biggest beef-pardon the pun- with American agriculture- subsidies! None of the corn farming would be what it is without the Dept. of Ag. dolling out the cash.

  • DADIODADDY||

    what kind of acceleration do you get with a grass fed cow compared to a grain fed one?

  • Bingo||

    I like free-range, grass fed beef because:

    1. Fuck corn subsidies
    2. Tastes good
    3. It's got a very libertarian, laissez-faire aesthetic to it. Throw up a fence on a big piece of land, let the cows do their thing, and in a few months, you got steaks. Okay, that's a gross simplification of it, but it's very different from having to construct a building and stalls and feed systems and waste management.

  • Dakotian||

    Are our options just grass fed or grain fed? My father was a cattle farmer until the mid-70s. He grass fed his cattle until they reached a certain age/weight. Then he moved them to a feed lot and “fed them out” prior to selling them. As far as I know a lot of cattle farmers in North Dakota still do this.
    My father quit cattle farming after he spent a couple of years shipping in hay because of drought conditions affecting his pasture land. His hay bill in 1976 was more than he got for sale of his cattle. Farming, in most areas, is still heavily dependent on weather. In the areas of the country were a cattle farmer can get two hay cuttings of alfalfa a year, it will be more efficient and profitable to grass feed cattle.

  • ||

    I can tell reading so many of these post most have no idea. My cattle love corn if they get out they will follow my bucket of corn back home , If they dont get thier grain at a certain time they begian to get restless, in the summer they love tomatoes.. the words are tricky do they cause concern to enviroment i dont see it if thay do ,, Dont get confuse on food additives , an what is natural. grass, hay,, corn or grain,, they love to eat these things

  • ||

    Here's a critique of the work of Capper et al.:

    http://www.sustainabletable.or.....#more-4173

  • Will||

    Grass fed is healthier for you if you prescribe to the primal diet.

  • ||

    An observation here. The vast majority of the people posting here have never seen a bovine aside from their wife, know nothing about agriculture in general and beef production in particular, and about half of them actually prefer the shit that is grass fed beef.

    I raise Highland beef, as an aside or hobby, running about 150 - 200 at any given time. Some are genetic stock for breeding and are sold as such. Those (most) not projecting strong breed characteristics are sold for consumption, either to finishers (as weaned yearlings) or finished for sale by the side (or half side).

    I accommodate the yupsters on occasion with their "grass fed beef" (whatever the fuck that means to them) and charge a stiff premium for it, simply because it will bring a premium.

    If anyone has been to Britain you have dined on such beef (or horse meat if you're not careful) which explains the Brits aversion to beef and their pasty color. A cheeseburger there tastes like and inferior grade of cardboard. Most of Europe enjoys(?) such (can we call it) beef simply because there is no arable land in quantity to raise corn. In Scotland they feed kelp to finish, rather than corn, and it tastes like it.

    To those that have developed what they think is a taste for range beef, my hat is off to you and I'm available to take your money for such. To those of you that think you know better how to raise beef in volume economically, better you don't comment. Just keep in mind that the rancher/farmer does what works (time tested), is certainly not interested in poisoning you or his land, eats the same beef you do, and provides you with arguably the highest quality (by far) of beef and pork on margins so small you wouldn't believe it. It would also help if you knew the difference in the ranching end of the beef equation and the finishing end.

  • ||

    Horse meat is very difficult to find in the UK. Rest of your europhobic nonsense ignored accordingly.

    My uncle runs a cattle farm in NZ in an unsubsidized market and completely disagrees with you.

  • ||

    [Horse meat is very difficult to find in the UK. Rest of your europhobic nonsense ignored accordingly.]

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06.....29773.html

    [My uncle runs a cattle farm in NZ in an unsubsidized market and completely disagrees with you.]

    Probably.

  • Mo||

    Dateline: BORDEAUX, France

    Horse is popular in France.

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

  • ||

    dbcooper: Horse meat is very difficult to find in the UK
    Mo: Horse is popular in France.

    UK = France?

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

  • ||

    Horse is quite popular in central europe (I once worked for a horse meat exporter and we sold most of our product to Switzerland), but there is a major cultural taboo against it in the UK.

  • ||

    Horses can't be slaughter in the US. Thats more horses are abandoned now.

  • ||

    I suspect that climate, soil, water and land prices, and subsides are major determinants of what methods are most effective. See the variations across northern Spain for example (from all grazed to mostly cereal fed).

  • sevo||

    "Most of Europe enjoys(?) such (can we call it) beef simply because there is no arable land in quantity to raise corn."
    Even if the restaurant is supposedly renown for beef, don't ever order a "steak" in France.

  • JL||

    stossel's analysis does not take into consideration the sustainability of of each practice. pasture fed cows replenish the soil, agriculture (growing corn) will eventually destroy the soil and significantly increase costs for raising corn fed cattle. and let's not forget the economic advantage realized by the corn-fed cattle ranchers, from the massive government corn subsidies.

  • JL||

    we have to remember that we are not operating in a free market, so the argument that what's being done by the ranchers is most efficient because it's economic, does not stand.

  • Robert T||

    Here's a study, it took two minutes on google to pull it up.

    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/10

  • sevo||

    From the conclusions:
    "A number of clinical studies have shown that today's lean beef, regardless of feeding strategy, can be used interchangeably with fish or skinless chicken to reduce serum cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic patients."
    So it looks like the difference in feed is not anything that'll make me eat cardboard.

  • Random Libertarian||

    All of the green hysteria notwithstanding, grass fed beef TASTES a lot better. I don't have the cite, but ISTR that the fat on grassfed has Omegas in it whereas corn fed does not.

    The truth is that the West is starting to have people that are fatter than the pigs we eat. I think this is in no small measure due to the amount of corn-based products we consume. Corn may be cheap and efficient to grow, but look around at the manatees waddling through the mall to see the results of its integration into our food chain.

  • ||

    yes, far better were the old days when people were starvingly thin.

  • Mensan||

    " I think this is in no small measure due to the amount of corn-based products we consume."

    No, it's due to the amount of kcals.

  • ||

    In exposing this food myth, Stossel attacks my right to choose what I eat and the property rights of the growers in what they grow.

    Instead of focusing on food myth's Stossel owes the readership of this magazine and explanation about whether or not stricter FDA regulations are always better.

    It only took the FDA several years to change its laws after outbreaks of e.coli and mad cow disease.

    Explain the facts about government regulation John, not the myths of private enterprise and you can continue to call yourself a libertarian.

  • ||

    Cancel my subscription. I am ASHAMED of this quickly written, poorly researched (if researched at all) kind of writing that is typical of mainstream media and what Reason is supposed to be against. Ever heard of Omega 3 oils? Ever heard of E-Coli? If Stossell has then he knew what he SHOULD have been challenging. Since he only vaguely discussed "fats" I assume he did NOT research the issues. FOR SHAME

  • ||

    How is grass fed cattle less susceptible to ecoli? You should also know that Stossel supports irradiating meats for safety and fruits and vegetables for safety and quality.

  • ||

    As is well explained in several responses, cows are ruminants (four chambered stomachs). They chew cud, but when they are finished with corn they do not. Due to this biological difference, cows become susceptible to disease like E-Coli which is almost unheard of in pastured beef.

    I could be wrong, but at least I understand SOME of the science and if Reason wants to challenge it I encourage them. But they owe me, a subscriber, the decency of due diligence. They failed in this article.

    BTW, I support free markets and buy all my meat from local farmers I personally know. My meat comes from individual animals, not a blend of hundreds found is a typical McBurger. I trust my friends with my dollars. Do you?

  • ||

    "quickly written, poorly researched"

    Must be Stossel Thursday. That's how all his articles are. In general (very general) he says stuff to appease L/libertarians but his writing is high schoolish. I suppose as far as public education has fallen, I'll go as high as Freshman Composition to be fair to him. All his stories sound like the kind of thing you get from someone giving a speech for Speech 101.

    All the stuff on Reason from the editors and staff writers is fucking fantastic week in and week out, and Stossel's--by contrast--is shit. Yet he has a hardcore/rabid fanbase that will defend him against anything. See the first comment.
    Every week, someone says that you must be a nitwit to even attempt to think deeply about what Stossel has written and see any flaws in it.
    I just don't understand, if they are fans of Reason, how can they not see the difference between him and 80-90% of everything else here?

  • ||

    Maybe it is his upbringing through modern media. Seems to me that subscribers of Reason are entitled to the application of reason.

  • ||

    Yes I agree. This article is full with bad information and no good information. Not researched. Focused on global environment not individual health.

  • ||

    Right. Frankly I don't give a rat's ass if it is globally irresponsible if it is healthier for me. But even THAT is wrong. There are SERIOUS studies and theories that suggest that corn fed beef and mono crop agriculture is harmful for the environment.

    Again. Rightfully, challenge it, but that is NOT what Stossel did.

  • prolefeed||

    The only things I care about are

    1) Price

    2) Flavor

    A well-marbled choice ribeye from Costco will cost well under $10 a pound. The prime will cost about $10 a pound. Good stuff, with some Montreal Steak seasoning and Worchestershire sauce over a charcoal fire.

  • ||

    Cows are the perfect machine: they take shitty-tasking grass or the corn that gets stuck in my teeth, and they convert it to yummy, delicious steak. All hail the cow!

    Now if only we could invent an animal that would turn statists into pepperoni pizza, we'd be all set.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    CHEMICALS! Tonight on the Stossel.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Pesticide-free food is clean of all the insect corpses.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    cuz it's organic

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Orgasmic.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Show me the bodies!

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Let the bodies hit the floor!

  • Mosher ||

    *moshes*

  • Fiscal Meth||

    13 yr old gets bloody nose. Mothers complain. Moshing banned. No bodies hit the floor.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Fat people are linked with wiegh watchers

  • Fiscal Meth||

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>^^^^t^^^^^

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Emerging science? The head is crowning.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who is looking at children's urine? Perverts, that's who.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Synthetic materials are what brought about the Hulk. Also, She-Hulk.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Oh wait, that was gamma radiation. Gamma radiation, next Stossel!

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Synthetic? They were so green though.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    By that rational, beef should be banned for Asians since they didn't evolve with cows.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You shouldn't be drinking anything but mother's milk, my friend.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    My mother isn't certified organic. Plus she was corn fed

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Free range, at least?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Nope. Not even humanely raised...true story.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Peer-reviewed science. That term is more toxic now than any chemical you will find in an average Twinkie.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Productivity will go up among field workers if you spray the fields with cocaine.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Stossel's turkey is getting cold over there.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    He's quitting pesticides cold turkey.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "I can't pronounce half the stuff that's put in food these days."

    Still going on about your stuttering, John?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Dr. Whelan certainly isn't all natural.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If Stossel shoves a petition in my face, I'm signing it Rick Roll.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Water?? You mean like from the toilet???

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think that's Captain Janeway. Another Voyager time travel story, and she's breaking the Prime Directive going on TV spouting off about 21st Century chemicals.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Make Stache eat tons of broccoli and see if he gets the C

  • Fiscal Meth||

    I should start eating receipts to protect myself against botchalism.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is she wearing a track suit?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Humans benefit from chemicals because they are made of them.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Why? Cause Al Franken produces it?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What if scientists could take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed thousands? Yeah.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Jesus was feeding people GMOs!!!?!?!?!?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    OMG!

  • ||

    OMSOG

  • Mensan||

    I can do that. Just make sure one fish is male and one is female, and I'll need about five breeding cycles.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I expect bread from my messiah, as well.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Mensan?!?!?Sounds like a nickname for teh MONSANTO! GET UR CHEMICALS OUTTA HERE!!!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Gregor Mendel, scourge of history!

  • Fiscal Meth||

    He was just a lapdog for Big Corporate Food.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    How do we know that we know this in the future?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Chemicals cause people to talk over and past each other.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    We better take this lady a little more seriously since she has aparently been sent back from the future.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    TO WARN US!!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In the future we will all have problems organizing our thoughts.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Apparently chemicals will make us confused and scrunchy-faced in the future.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Stem cell cream?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Harvested from Dick Clark.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Sign me up

  • Fiscal Meth||

    And Now...Stammering Conventional w-w-w-w-Wisdom...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yes, but what did they feed the trees from whence those toothpicks came?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    It's hard for a person with a British accent to sound stupid but She pulls it off with her happy cows theory

  • Fiscal Meth||

    The Brit on the street not the Brit at the desk.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Okay, I was going to call you on that.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...Gov'ner.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The grass fed animals were held back several grades.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Happy cows my ass, the ones that saty back a couple grades are always the bullies

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Bullies. I get it.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Unintended punsequences

  • ||

    and they still finished with D's

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's it; I'm switching to an all salt diet.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Chemicals bring about Sam and Ella?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's it; I'm growing my own food. And my own chemicals.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Awk-ward.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Contagious stuttering

  • Fiscal Meth||

    That was an awesome John Stossel moment. Just ruined the guy.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Pull off Joshua's mask, you will find Ralph Nader.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Unsafe at any peristalsis.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Slow food-Brought to you by the people who care more about getting their memes to catch on than they do about any meaningful information.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    But didn't humans evolve with bacteria?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    As long as they don't fondle it like it was a marital aid.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Stossel has an enemies list.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Ban the bans!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Team Stossel, out!

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Where's Cappy?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I would seriously consider kicking him out of the gang if I hadn't missed the last two outings myself.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Our truancy has been unforgivable. We should all kick eachother out of the gang and then form a new gang so we can fight against the old gang.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Too much work.

  • truth||

    But like, animals have feelings too, man.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Tender feelings. Juicy feelings. Succulent feelings!

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Not after you BBQ them properly.

  • ||

    Can we please do something about this whole government-owned media thing so John Stossel can go back to selling refurbished condoms?

  • ||

    I.e., what is the point of this article? If the FDA started setting regulations in favor of grass-fed cattle farming, then I'd have a problem. Otherwise, the science isn't conclusive for either side, and moreover, who gives a shit?

  • ||

    pigsfromagun....the fda regulates animal feed. in my previous comment I am asking stossel to expose the facts of this kind of regulation and explain why it has had to become stricter.

  • ||

    AllThingsMe,

    I'm aware that the FDA regulates animal feed. That might be a pertinent subject for an article, but you point straight to my point, which is that this article has no point.

  • ||

    I just re-read the title of the article and wondered why I would read something with as asinine a title as "Natural Is Not Always Better". Guess what, people!! What works for some may not work as well for others! Oh do enlighten me, please.

  • Carl||

    while i respect jon because of his libertarian beliefs he has little tolerance for anyone who chooses a lifestyle of eating organic, etc. its almost as if he promotes big ag at times.

  • Don||

    Most of the differences in beef come about as a result of slaughter age rather than what the animal was fed on. There will be somewhat noticeable differences between corn and grass fed beef of similar age, but consider veal vs mature beef. The difference between is glaringly obvious. It's like the veal came from an entirely different species of animal. And all beef from birth to slaughter falls somewhere on this spectrum. Young beef is tender but mild, older beef has a more meaty flavor but gets progressively leaner and tougher as the animal excercises and collagen develops in the flesh and marbling disappears. Grass fed animals take longer to reach full size, and that's the biggest contributer to why they taste different. Corn fed animals reach full size younger and then they're slaughtered right away, mostly because it's a waste of money to let a meat animal hang out for an extra year and keep on feeding and housing it when it's not going to make any additional meat for you to sell by getting any larger.

    If cooked right, four year old beef is absolutely delicious, but it makes sense that it would cost three times as much per pound as 16 month old beef -- it consume three times the resources getting there. For the average person just having a meal so they won't be hungry anymore and can go about their business, it's nice that there's that beef costs what it does rather than three times that amount.

  • ||

    I typically agree with Jon on debunking pop-culture and the myths and or lies the masses tend to belive. However this article is pushing his own agenda, of course going to an extreme of only grass fed cattle would be worst for carbon emission's and take up much larger amounts of land. Who is proposing such a thing? The health benefit is not in dispute, corn is a starch based food that when digested by animals depletes the nutrient potential of the animal where as the natural state of eating grass allows for the cow to maximize it's nutrient potential.

  • ||

    I'm still not convinced that raising cows on a pasture where they eat just grass is worse then raising cows in a smaller pasture where they eat mainly corn, which is subsidized by the government and requires copious amounts of diesel fuel to cultivate and transport. Based on Mr. Stossel's logic, riding a bike to work is worse for environment then driving a car because it takes longer to get there.

  • ||

    It's hard for a person with a British accent to sound stupid...

    It's funny you think that.

    The minute I start to hear a British accent I think, ah, we're in for something really stupid now.

    It's a prejudice that is almost always confirmed regardles of the speaker's class.

  • ||

    'Grass fed tastes better'. Really? Then why'd we switch? Why was(is) corn-fed beef a premium? Why are all the super premuim beef cuts on special feeds?

    Zoltan pointed this out eloquently upthread--'an old fashioned steak IS a grass fed steak'.

    What do you think all those cowboys were doing? Herding grass fed beef. ALL our beef was primarily grass-fed for a long time.

    Premuim beef was corn fed.

    Current feeds approximate that. They give us a beef that was considered better than the grass fed beef of the past. Tender, instead of stringy. Consistent, instead of varying gaminess.

    Why, the change in beef feeding is responsible for the popularity of things like steak. Look at old recipes, beef was boiled, braised and cooked to within an inch of it's life. There was a huge market for tenderizers--even today, many of our marinades are based on the flavors of things used to tenderize beef.

    We tried grass fed beef, for centuries. It was trampled by grain fed beef.

  • Zephram Stark||

    "Every single day, they need feed, they need water, and they give off methane nitrous oxide—very potent greenhouse gases that do damage."

    Capper is intentionally misleading the reader here. Yes, all cows produce methane and nitrous oxide, but cows injected with growth hormone do not produce less over the course of their lives. Methane and nitrous oxide production is a function of fatty acid storage. The same size cow with the same concentration of corn fat would produce the same amount of Greenhouse Gas irrespective of how long it took him to grow. Add to that, the fact that grass fed beef has substantively less fatty acid (contrary to another lie told by Capper) and we can hypothesis that a cow fed on grass will produce significantly smaller amounts of GHG. Now get out there with a fart bag and put this hypothesis to the test!

    "There is absolutely no scientific evidence [that cows fed grain with fungus unnatural to their systems and often given antibiotics to combat the fungus and/or growth hormone to cut their life cycle in half is bad for humans]. Absolutely none."

    There is also absolutely no scientific evidence that eating razor blades is bad for humans either. Some things are such no brainers that we don't need to conduct a scientific test, but for those who have a question, a test should be performed. Until one is, the safest thing to do is not eat razor blades or substances injected with chemicals harmful to humans.

    The bottom line is that humans were not meant to sit around chewing our cud for hours each day. We have more important things to do, but the fact remains that we need the benefits of massive amounts of green leafy vegetables and/or grass in order to be healthy. We can employ cows to extract all that green goodness and store it efficiently in their meat if we let them eat greens. When we feed them corn instead, we get only an overabundance of grain in our diets.

  • reg||

    First time on the Reason comment boards. It's at least a little better than the typical flame-war. But here's my question: why does Stossel get away with saying a question is neatly answered, once and for all, because he talked to ONE agricultural researcher with an opinion on the subject? Maybe he could have talked to a few more experts (no, quoting Pollan's article doesn't count), even some who disagreed with the others? Maybe, he would have -- gasp! -- let his readers make their own decision based on the facts and theories that he gathered for them? Or as Stossel might say (make sure to say this in his best 20/20 voice), "I mean, COME ON!"

  • Patriot Henry||

    "Every single day, they need feed, they need water, and they give off methane nitrous oxide—very potent greenhouse gases that do damage."

    Woweeee! So I guess what Stossel is saying is that concentration camp cows are more "green"??? So they do have Al Gore's stamp of approval, right?

    I suppose grass fed cows must be "An Inconvenient Beef".

  • ||

    I'm sorry but when it comes to food, I choose what is better for me, not the world. China is a big place and they have no respect for what is better for the world--free range animals are only adding a fraction to the atmosphere's pollution. The more important item here is that grass fed beef is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids--not everyone in land locked areas could eat enough fish. No, they got their necessary omega3 FA from plants--like grass. So grass fed beef fat and lard of time long past was actually not harmful. Cornfed beef--omega 6. This discussion requires alot more space that the comment page will allow. So Mr. Stossel, your article is not very intelligent.

  • Ryan||

    Why do some libertarians feel the need to wage a war against organic and natural food choices? Organic foods isn't government mandated and is more of a direct result of consumer choice in the free market. Stossel's argument is flawed. Look at the instances of Ecoli and other harmful bacteria in grass fed vs. corn fed. Grass Fed cows are healthier and safer. The traditional large corporate beef industry is in bed with big government from subsidies to special farming legislation (cheap corn due to subsidies is the biggest reason we feed cows corn). If anything, "Food, Inc." (largely based off of Pollan's book) should be the libertarians guide to eating (granted not a 100% perfect).

  • Skobie||

    The word "organic" is all but owned by the USDA. A producer can not simply slap "ORGANIC" on their label unless they have been certified by the USDA or a certification angenicey working under the USDA guidelines.

    I agree with everything eles you said.

    Stossel failed on this one. He should have at lease taken the time to talk to a farmer on this issue, he may have found that they are very open to libertarian ideas and values. Infact many of the things organic farmers complain about on a regular basis are the same complains that libertarians have been complaining about for years.

  • ||

    It's articles like this that make me doubt whether I should be choosing reason.com for a rational source of information. I'm talking about this article and every other article that I have read having to do with environmental or ecological issues.
    Economics is not my forte. And so if reason.com wants to say that a certain FED policy is bad for the country, or that some new legislation will have positive or negative effects, I can be persuaded due to my lack of knowledge base on these topics.
    But as a masters landscape architecture student specializing in ecological restoration, I can say that when it comes to the ecological/environmental topics, the articles on this site have been so drastically oversimplified and myopic that the reader is certainly left more misinformed and polarized.
    It just makes me question the integrity of all the other articles as well...

  • Grant||

    Stossel should have a conversation with Joel Salatin about this.

  • Chris||

    I too question the enivronmental friendliness of "natural" and "green" products and services, but Mr Stossel's argument on corn-fec versus grass-fed cows is extremely superficial.

    Not once does he or the researcher (note her words) mention the carbon intensity of producing, distributing and administering corn feed and the flow-on impacts on the human food supply chain. Instead, the carbon footprint measured is that of cows eating the corn itself.

    Nor does he treat the hormone issue with sufficient scrutiny. Yes, there are traces of hormones in just about everything we eat. But what is important is the quantity, which he conveniently ignores altogether.

    So in general, a fairly superficial and thin article for what should eb a very important issue. A great shame.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    ThaNk U

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