This is something that's been on my mind recently, as someone asked me about healthy eating and my opinion on buying the right meats and produce, etc. I thought I would share this little story...
Josh and I spent the first eight months of this year living on a cattle farm. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience, providing us with wisdom and knowledge to take with us for years to come. We experienced first-hand the hard work, care and dedication it takes to properly raise livestock.
Our cattle are grass-fed, free range, all natural and organically raised. Once a certain weight, They are sold to another farm to be finished and distributed to grocers in New England, including Whole Foods.
One of our many stockers. These cows are between 2-3 years old and come to our farm for a few months to be fed and cared for until they reach a desired weight, at which point they get sold to another farm. I spent most of my time hanging out with these gals. This one would let me pet her and take feed right from my hand.
While on the farm, we also learned a little bit about the technical terms behind selling and buying meats. We learned that the difference between “organic” and “natural” is simply in the licensing. You can raise your livestock totally organic, but unless you pay the extra fees for proper licensing, you can only sell to grocers and butcher shops as “natural.”
My first week on the farm, getting to know the residents
I recently read an article about antibiotics in meats and how so many people are turning away from them. While I agree that buying natural is better, I also learned a bit about this topic as well. Yes, there are some companies that are known to pump antibiotics and other various growth-promoting hormones into their livestock throughout the animals entire life, but the truth is, all it takes is for a single dose of antibiotic to change the meats licensing and labeling.
For instance, let's say during a cows first year he gets an eye infection. This is common for young calves as they graze through fields during humid weather where the air is thick and manure particles more apt to settle within the blades of grass. That calf then has to be rounded up and injected with an antibiotic to ease the infection before it spreads. Even if the cow remains totally healthy with no issues for the remaining years of his life, he is no longer considered “natural” because of ONE dose of antibiotics during his first year.
I hope you can see what I'm trying to get at. With all of the health food fads and phases, and the rise in awareness of healthy eating, people are quick to say “no” to foods that might not actually be that bad. Yes, do your research, learn where your meat comes from and care about how they are raised. By all means, go with what you believe to be the healthy choice. But also remember, not everything is as bad as it seems.
Feed time for these impatient ladies. Haven't even fully lowered the bale yet and they're already munching away!
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