sad pigs

Recently, I was reading an article I came across on National Public Radio (NPR) about European Cows Vs. American Cows. Although not surprisingly, my mind was absolutely blown to see the glaring difference between the meticulous levels Europeans take to raise and sell their livestock, compared to the mass marketed standard American industrial cow produced through synthetic hormones and CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation).

The article elaborates on one Michel Baudot, a French farmer and the process with which European livestock is raised and their beef procured. With the exception of winter, these cows are grass fed and are free to roam virtually their entire lifespan. What I found amazing was everything from where they were born, what they are fed, how much they weigh, and so forth is all recorded throughout their lives. When the final product is sold at the supermarket, the sticker on the meat package is there to tell you the respective farm the beef came from. Not only does this make it easier to track if something were to ever go wrong from a government standpoint, but also awards we the consumer the right to know where what we’re eating came from.

The vast majority of American cows on the other hand, are only grass fed for the first few months following their birth. After this they are thrusted into the harsh reality of CAFOs, essentially feedlot facilities where they are penned in with sometimes up to thousands of other cows in an unhealthy environment where they are fed corn and injected synthetic hormones to optimize their production worth. It is sad that a majority of the American public is simply unaware or pays a blatant disregard to the fact that these hormones and CAFO’s are not only making the animals many times unnaturally bigger than they should be and compromising their health, but that we are also put ourselves’ at risk.

From a business perspective, I understand why American producers want to bulk up their cows: create a high volume product with limited effort and receive the cash reward. However, doing so at the expense of the overall health of our population and environment is shortsighted to say the least. I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “quantity over quality.” I’ll end the article on that note and let you decide how you want to spend your ‘cheddar’ on beef.

Google CAFO’s to get more information and check out other related articles on NPR.