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Garbage In/Garbage Out?

June 7, 2010

By Pat Tanner

As I was writing about grass-fed beef for the magazine’s current issue (“Greener Pastures,”), I couldn’t help thinking back to the exact moment I resolved to stop buying conventionally produced beef.

It was 2002 and I was interviewing Jo Robinson, author of “Why Grassfed is Best” on the radio show I hosted back then. I was already familiar with the arguments against the handful of huge, industrial companies that produce 99% of the beef we consume in the U.S.; to whit: inhumane confinement of animals, harm to the environment, use of growth hormones and antibiotics, and unsafe conditions for workers.

Compared to these, what Robinson related may seem minor, but for me it was the breaking point. She said that one of the big five producers – all of which are located in America’s heartland – routinely fed their cattle stale, unsellable Wrigley chewing gum purchased from the nearby headquarters in Chicago. Yuck, I thought. But then Robinson added the kicker: They did not even bother to remove the wrappers, including the aluminum-coated ones that enclose each piece.

Since then we’ve all learned comparatively more distressing facts, but that one has always stuck with me (pun intended). Of course, the same is true for industrial meat production beyond beef, thanks to talented investigative reporters like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. Facts, by the way, which have never been successfully challenged – such as pigs living their entire lives in their own poisonous waste, the runoff from which poisons nearby waterways.

These days, I buy only local beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and eggs that are raised humanely and fed only what nature intended, which primarily means they graze or forage on pasture, preferably that grown using organic methods. I am more than willing to allot a greater percentage of my grocery budget to the premium prices grass-fed meat entails for the peace of mind it gives me. (Not to mention the extraordinary flavor.)

The NJ beef farms I listed with my story can be found here:

» Beechtree Farm, Hopewell; localharvest.org
» Bobolink Dairy, Vernon; cowsoutside.com (beef and veal)
» Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville; cherrygrovefarm.com
» Howling Wolf Farm, Hope; see listing at localharvest.org
»Plaid Piper Farm, Wykertown; plaidpiperfarm.com
» 7th Heaven Farm, Tabernacle; 7th-heavenfarm.com (beef and veal)
» Simply Grazin’ Organic Farm, Skillman; simplygrazin.com (beef and veal)
» Upper Meadows Farm, Montague; uppermeadowsfarm.com

NJ Farms that Produce Grass-Fed, Grain-Finished Beef
» Neptune Farm, Salem; neptunefarm.com
» Pittenger Farm, Andover; lafayettevillageshops.com
» Snoep Winkel Farm, Branchville; localharvest.org

I live in the central part of the state, and below are some of my favorite local sources for other meats. Some sell via the internet or at farm markets in addition to at their own farms:

Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville, cherrygrovefarm.com (pork and lamb, in addition to beef)

Griggstown Farm, Griggstown, griggstownquailfarm.com (poultry, game birds, eggs)

Readington River Buffalo Company, Readington, njbison.com (bison)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2010 10:12 am

    Interesting article, though if you scratch below the surface of these
    statements, or PR by the farms. These animals are routinely treated pretty horribly. Steer are castrated without anesthesia, they are packed into trucks confined horribly, and killed in the same slaughterhouses as the factory farms. The word humane slaughter is an oxymoron, think about it.

    This goes with the ‘humane’ eggs, and milk claims as well. Several of the large producers of organic and ‘free-range’ animal products have been caught lying, doing whatever they like and calling it whatever they like. a slap on the wrist and they continue to lie
    and the people buy it, along with the story.

    chickens are still debeaked, the males suffocated or worse, calfs stolen from forcibly impregnated moms, to become veal. used up mom cows, who can barely walk forced into trucks and taken to the slaughterhouse. it’s not what you’re told. it’s horrific.

    Any time we use another being for financial gain, the money will always take precedence over the care ot the being.

    If you care about the environment, and the animals, and your health, why not eat less meat, eventually just switch to other sources of sustenance.

    think for yourself, do a little digging, don’t buy the lies.

    for facts that don’t come from the people profiting from this mess check out http://www.humanemyth.org No agenda, just truth.

    peace – to all beigns.

    john

    http://www.yogawithjohn.com

  2. June 10, 2010 3:24 am

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

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