Chipotle Mexican Grill’s business is going under… down under in search of grass fed beef suppliers to keep up with demand and I have to say in my very best Aussie accent “Good on ya mate”.
Tears of a Clown
For a large scale fast food operation to make the conscious decision to serve hormone and antibiotic free grass fed beef is a milestone. Previously Chipotle served what the company termed ‘responsibly raised’ antibiotic and hormone free feedlot raised (grain fed) beef. According to Chipotle’s Founder and co CEO Steve Ellis when the US supply (approx 45 million pounds) could no longer service demand when the Chipotle chain more than doubled in size growing from 800 stores to more than 1,600, the company started blending Australian naturally grass fed beef and I could not be happier.
A Giant Leap Backwards
Cows are not designed to eat grain. Cows are designed to eat grass. The reason why red meat has such a bad nutritional reputation is a direct result of feeding grain to fatten cattle. Before factory farming, shipping cows to feedlots for profit, cattle were naturally grass fed beef providing a perfect food – complete lean protein, rich and balanced with the essential nutrients.
Ellis hopes to persuade US beef producers to shift away from feedlots and return to grass fed programs of the past. “There is no question that parts of the US are ideal for raising beef cattle exclusively on grass. Many American ranchers are doing this on a small scale, and in the coming years we hope that American grass fed beef becomes the standard in our restaurants.”
Why Americans Are As Fat As Cows
In North America the overwhelming majority of livestock are factory farmed in feedlots raised on a diet predominantly of low fat corn and wheat grains, the identical ingredients you will find in your grocers cereal isle.
About 80% of all grain corn produced in North America ends up being consumed by livestock. The balance is slated for human consumption as breakfast cereal or is refined and becomes a sugar like high fructose corn sweeteners- a processed food and soft drink staple.
Fattening up cattle at feedlots happens quickly, generally taking 60-100 days. Pasture raised cattle arrive at feedlots and are actually carefully observed as the percentage of grains is gradually increased to the approximately the same levels the USDA recommends for a supposed healthy human… and no, I’m not kidding.
The animals are confined where they will spend the rest of their days inactive and munching on a high glycemic carbohydrate diet similar to a significant portion of the human population.
To answer the question you may be asking yourself: No, it isn’t normal for a cow to eat a high grain diet despite the ads promoting grain fed beef with just the right amount of inflection in the advertiser’s voice to make it sound ultra healthful.
Cows are biologically designed to eat grass.
Grass for cows is a natural carbohydrate that provides some great health benefits.
Grass is rich and balanced in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Grass is also a great source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) a rich antioxidant that may have some anti cancerous properties. Comparatively speaking, consider grass a green vegetable for cows.
From the moment a cow places one hoof inside the feedlot the process of fattening becomes very methodical. To illustrate that point, here is some advice from leaders in the science of how to make a mammal fat, as quickly and cheaply as human-ly possible.
Step number one is be careful with grain! According to Colorado Sate University. A rapid increase in the ration of grain concentration can overwhelm a beef animal’s buffering ability and may result in reduced performance (fattening) or death.
Merck & Co. one of the worlds largest pharmaceutical corporations also publishes a Veterinary manual concurs; the grain concentrate allowance for finishing cattle should be increased gradually over 2-3 weeks from the time they are started in a finishing program.
All of the studies confirm one thing…The best way to fatten cattle or any mammal for that matter is to feed them a dominant percentage of low fat grain products. The Ridley Agri Products Company – whose slogan is: suppliers of high performance animal nutrition have a heading in their website: Reasons for feeding grain: Fattening.
The Journal of Animal Science – conducted an experiment that found using high concentrate grains and reported that steers fed a high concentrate grain diet gained 6.6% faster and required 16% less feed to do so. Specifically the percentage of grain in the diet influenced carcass fat, fat thickness, marbling and yield (farmers get paid by the pound).
The National Cattleman’s Beef Association produce a feedlot finishing fact sheet that opens with: beef producers have successfully finished cattle by feeding a high grain diet for more than 100 years. With this century of experience they are able to predict that cattle coming from pasture to feedlots for finishing can expect to gain between 2.5 to 4 pounds per day on a scientifically formulated high grain concentrate.
Allow me to remind you that the USDA which oversees the cattle industry also recommends we factory farmed humans consume a diet of approximately 10% protein, 25% fat and 65% carbohydrates recommending the majority of carbohydrates come in the form of low fat grains?
The USDA recommended dietary allowance for livestock or animal RDA to fatten cattle as quickly and cheaply for market is virtually identical with slightly more protein at 11%, less fat at 23% and the balance of 66% as carbohydrates in the form of cereal grains.
So much for the meticulously designed USDA food guidelines to create lean, healthy humans. Haven’t you ever found it curious that if the best method to fatten livestock quickly and efficiently for market is to feed them copious amounts of grain products – then why is the USDA and food producers recommending virtually the same diet for humans?
If there is any doubt to this fat as a cow theory… the numbers don’t lie. The historical increase in grain products and corn-syrup consumption for Americans fits uniformly on a graph tracking human obesity rates.
A better question is: Why would the USDA with absolute knowledge of the best methods to fatten cattle recommend virtually the identical nutritional plan of mainly low fat grain products for humans…and why would we as a supposedly more intelligent species than cattle think that we wouldn’t get fat or expect a different outcome by following a virtually identical diet and sedentary lifestyle of livestock?
Vote with your fork, we as consumers have the power to create change – demand grass fed beef.
* Forking Right is a trademark of Grant Roberts Inc.
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