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Myths or facts?

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  • Myths or facts?

    Don't want to highjack the thread about heritage breeds, so I will post this important information here.

    As some keep mentioning, all of us want to be good stewards of what we care for, other human beings, animals, the land, our planet.

    How to do our part depends on many, many factors and there are many opinions out there of what we should do and why.

    When it comes to beef, especially how to raise it and why, there are so many myths out there about what is best, when the answers are not always that clear cut.

    For those that think grass raised beef has a smaller carbon footprint, well, that is one of the greater myths and here is the data to show how to answer that question:

    http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-...124721649.html

    As we can see, while it takes all kinds of food we can produce to please everyone for whatever reasons they may have to raise or buy their beef, when it comes to what is the most environmentally sparing and resources efficient way to raise beef, we really should give credit where credit is due and not follow false prophets:

    ---Capper cited a recent study that showed that in 2007:
    - 31 percent more beef was produced than in 1977;
    - the number of beef animals was down 30 percent from the total in 1977;
    - beef cattle consumed 19 percent less feed than they did in 1977;
    - beef cattle consumed 14 percent less water than beef cattle consumed in 1977;
    - beef cattle production used 34 percent less land than it used in 1977;
    - beef cattle produced 20 percent less manure than in 1977;
    - beef cattle produced 20 percent less methane than in 1977;
    - beef cattle produced 11 percent less nitrous oxide than in 1977; and
    - beef cattle production’s carbon footprint was 18 percent less than in 1977.
    Overall, in 2007, the beef cattle industry had 18 percent less impact on the environment than it had in 1977 – and it produced more beef, Capper said.
    She used the example of two vehicles – one of which is more fuel efficient than the other. However, by revealing that the less fuel efficient vehicle is a bus that can transport many more people per gallon of fuel than a small car that can transport two, it makes a person view challenges differently, she said.
    “It’s essential to assess impact per unit of output rather than per unit of the production process,” she said.
    When assessing which is better for the planet -- grass-fed, natural (production-enhancing technologies not used) or conventional (feedlot-finished), Capper said she does not advocate for any particular group. However, removing technology from beef production considerably increases animal numbers and increases resource use and greenhouse gas emissions if attempting to keep output the same.
    “If all U.S. beef was grass-fed, it would increase land use by 53.1 million hectares, which is about 75 percent of the land area of Texas,” Capper said. “It would increase water use by 1,733 billion liters, which is equal to annual usage by 46.3 million U.S. households, and it would increase greenhouse gas emissions enough to equal annual emissions from 26.6 million U.S. cars.”

    Capper said that incorrect data are sometimes used in newspaper and magazine articles which can lead to a bias in consumers’ food choices. She cited an example where studies that appeared in a major U.S. magazine referred to beef production but the data came from other countries where practices are not as efficient as in the United States. For example, in Brazil only 62 percent of beef cows produce a live calf, and cows are typically four years old at first calving."---


    As we can see, while it is great that everyone that wants to and has the resources and knowledge to raise what beef they want at home and for small niche markets, I don't think they should then bash conventional production methods to make themselves feel better about it, because those methods are part of what gives us the aboundance we have today and at a comparatively much better use of so many of our resources.

    In a way, to raise a few head in a backyard, slaughter them and use them yourself and bash conventional beef is like making your own car in your garage and then bash Ford, Chevy, Toyota and other commercial car manufacturers, just because you feel your car is special to you and you think is what everyone should have.

  • #2
    not quiet sure where you are aiming at, and it's too early to tackle a wall of text like this...

    But I am thinking (assuming) that you are pointing at old breeds of lifestock and tehir general ineficiency in regards to feed/gain value.

    I think you are probably right.
    But that does not make the value of a heritage breed.

    Their importance lays in the gen diversity they represent.
    Plus of course for a small farm it might not be prudent to have record size cow to put in the freezer.
    No different from the strawberry patch: When you grow commercially you pick the cultivar for different aspects then you do for the house patch.
    Originally posted by BigMama1
    Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
    GNU Terry Prachett

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    • #3
      Personally, I don't even like the taste of strictly grass fed beef. I much prefer mine finished with grain. But, since we have a lot of acerage in both pasture and hay fields, they spend most of their lives on grass anyway.

      Like I said in the other thread. My step father raises grass fed beef. You can charge a lot more for it. When I buy a side of beef from him, I have him finish it with grain which is, of course, more expensive. How's that for a dichotomy?
      ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

      Comment


      • #4
        Grass fed beef tastes better then corn raised.

        Beef raised on pasture not raise by feed lots tastes better.

        Beef that has not sat around on super market stores for weeks tastes WAY better.

        And I have to agree with Alagirl,
        Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
        Plus of course for a small farm it might not be prudent to have record size cow to put in the freezer.
        Heritages also frequently taste better.

        Cows are in NO way 'good' for the environment, but I know my meat has had a happy life. It's running around on the (albeit, a little wet today) grass right now.

        Where did your dinner come from?
        "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
        Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
        Need You Now Equine

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
          Personally, I don't even like the taste of strictly grass fed beef.
          It can be quite strong, but we send our guys in a little smaller & younger and mmmmmmmmmm.


          (Nes is NOT a vegetarian!!! )
          "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
          Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
          Need You Now Equine

          Comment


          • #6
            You know, Bluey, no offense but your argument is wearing a bit thin.

            Small business owners exist all over the world, including the US. There are all kinds of business models. What is a profitable enterprise close to an urban core is probably not as profitable in the Ozarks.

            The small business owner, marketing his products directly to the public, is not doing anything illegal or unethical. He's just not Wal-Mart.

            Plenty of farmers have discovered that by tweaking their existing operations, or branching out into new areas (such as marketing to restaurants or developing a unique product), not only save the family farm - but turn a healthy profit. A perfectly legal and ethical profit.

            A profit that does not go to a corporation like Tyson - but into their own bank accounts to pay for their own retirement, their own kids college education.......

            Not everyone likes the monoculture "products" that are for sale in stores nowadays. That does not mean there is something wrong with the product - only that they prefer not to buy it, and would like something raised in a different manner.

            I don't like soda. I don't care if you buy it, I don't care how much you drink of it. I think it tastes like crap and I won't drink it. I prefer to drink water. When I tell people I think soda tastes like crap and I prefer the taste of water, and that I think sugar in soda is a factor in insulin resistance and the rise in obesity problems, plus it tastes like crap - that is not a lie. That is the truth. But I'd oppose any effort to ban or restrict the sale of soda. Do me the same courtesy.

            My customers LIKE the taste of beef finished on grass. It is a taste and texture they actively seek - and appreciate; especially those who are watching their fat intake. The beef is legal - it is USDA inspected - the labeling process I went through is the SAME process big corporations go through.

            If you don't like it - that's fine. But you do not have the right to tell others they should not eat it - just because YOU prefer the taste of beef finished on grain.

            And what's your problem with genetic diversity? We have different breeds of horses, all bred to do different jobs, thrive in local climates, and from which local recipes and cooking evolved to enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.

            WTF is wrong with preserving that? Do you also have a problem with people who like to eat their own garden produce? Who like to can or preserve their harvest?

            And what about people who like to sew? You have a problem with people who like to sew their own clothes - because they should be buying clothes at the store? Really? Arts and crafts, too? Just buy at the store instead of making them at home?

            Geez - Bluey - I do understand and appreciate your perspective, but people and animals are not toasters.

            Many people want to preserve diversity - in animals and in agriculture.

            There is more than one way to farm - and just because it does not conform to your worldview does not make it any less a farm or farming.

            You're just going to have to accept the fact that plenty of small business owners and people with small or medium holdings (and many with large holdings) have found a legal and ethical way to continue farming.

            And many more - dissatisfied with their hectic, soulless urban lives, have found contentment and satisfaction marketing healthy, nutritious food directly to the public. Preserving a body of knowledge, preserving breeds nearly lost to extinction, and also preserving arable, productive farmland that would otherwise be paved over for yet another Wal-Mart.
            Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
            Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
            -Rudyard Kipling

            Comment


            • #7
              I like heavily marbled, so grain-fed, please. However I am more interested in heritage from the genetic-diversity angle anyway, plus more into dairy breeds. (And higher fat content as I'm after milk for cheese, butter, and soap, not just mass quantities of liquid. I don't like milk anyway.)

              ETA: To be honest--I buy from corporate. Because I can invest in most of those (except ConAgra, darn). I don't have any benefit from paying more so someone 'small' can pocket the money when I could give my money and buy into it so I can get a divident back, too and pocket it myself. But if they can find people who buy their product, more power to them. Big buisness is not harmed by the presence of small business. That's the free market. Unless of course one or the other tries to regulate their 'oppenent' out of business rather than just competing them into the ground if they can (which is fair.)
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                Plus of course for a small farm it might not be prudent to have record size cow to put in the freezer.
                Um yeah. After years of experience, I'm still having trouble figuring out how to deal with half a cow. I like Delmonicos and stew beef. That leaves me with ...well let's just say LOTS... of ground. I'm learning to deal with roasts and spare ribs. I am SO done with liver. I gave up tongue sandwiches when I was in third grade
                ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

                Comment


                • #9
                  SmartAlex - I've found a great way to get rid of the ground.


                  Cookouts! A couple of cookouts and it's mostly gone.

                  And lots of Shepherds Pie, too.
                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                  -Rudyard Kipling

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    And meatball parties! I bring the ground meat and eggs, you bring the wine and onions.
                    ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I do have to agree with the argument Bluey presented based on the thinking that if all the large farms in the US or NA or anywhere decided to up and switch to heritage breeds tomorrow, there would be a few problems.

                      (1) There would not be enough stock
                      (now if we pretend the world was magic, and this would be possible)

                      (2) Inputs and Outputs would increase tremendously
                      (3) Fat contents in meat would increase
                      (4) There just wouldn't be enough meat to feed current demands
                      (5) Cost to the farmer, and eventually the consumer would increase a great deal.

                      That being said, if everyone gave up meat in the first place, there would be enough food for every single human being on this planet (by feeding what we give our cows/hogs/etc., to people).

                      We also wouldn't have evolved into modern homo sapiens with out meat to increase our brain development a couple thousand years ago.

                      You also have to take into account (sorry for the buzz phrase) the "real cost" of food, the tole we're taking on the environment as well as our society.

                      Cuba has an incredibly interesting agriculture because of communist rule. (now obviously there were a great deal of problems (social and economical) to come to this equilibrium, and it's not a perfect model).

                      eta: Buying straight from the farmer is also CHEAPER!! We pay around $4/lb for our beef (haven't quite figured out the # now we own the cows). That does mean we're paying $4/lb for ground beef (which is more then the sale price around here) but that also means I get oven roats & rib-eyes are $4/lb and those go for around $20/lb around here.
                      Last edited by Nes; Jul. 6, 2011, 11:54 AM.
                      "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                      Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                      Need You Now Equine

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                      • #12
                        when it comes to what is the most environmentally sparing and resources efficient way to raise beef
                        most people who want grass-fed beef, or free-range chicken, are doing it for the sake of humane treatment of the animals, not trying to reduce resource use. Beef grain-finishing feedlots are inhumane. Factory-farmed anything is incredibly inhumane. Besides, have you considered the impact of growing all that grain for feeding to livestock? or the impact of having a huge amount of animal waste concentrated in one location?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                          Um yeah. After years of experience, I'm still having trouble figuring out how to deal with half a cow. I like Delmonicos and stew beef. ...
                          I also find it quite challenging, but I like it gives me an excuse to try out some new recipes!

                          I'm hoping to get the butcher to cut us some more "poor quality" roasts for pot roasts and less ground/stew, bc we LOVE pot roasts!! (In the slow cooker they are so easy!)

                          My mother has her dogs on a raw diet (lets not get into THAT debate now!) so the 'extras' are going to her! Should keep her dogs well fed for quite awhile!
                          "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                          Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                          Need You Now Equine

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                          • #14
                            Is anyone actually saying that HUGE large-scale production should switch over to heritage breeds? I think it's more that small-scale producers should be encouraged to use less-common types of stock. It can't feed everyone (and most people are going to buy based on price and keep right on doing that), but the point is for those willing to pay premiums or serving a small market, using heritage breeds makes sense.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                              Is anyone actually saying that HUGE large-scale production should switch over to heritage breeds?
                              Actually I'm not 100% sure what exactly Bluey was trying to say. It was mostly just a vomit of un-related statements . Then a bunch of 'facts' from some cattlemens website.

                              “If all U.S. beef was grass-fed, it would increase land use...
                              Perhaps Bluey will be back to elaborate?
                              "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                              Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                              Need You Now Equine

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                                ...but the point is for those willing to pay premiums or serving a small market, using heritage breeds makes sense.
                                We've chosen a dual purpose "heritage" breed for our chickens because we only produce for ourselves we don't need a dozen eggs a day, and I want the extra Roos to have a useful purpose.

                                (I should say: I was trying to get a dual purpose heritage BREED (barred plymouth rock) and ended up with 3 different, but similar looking, dual purpose breeds "heritage" buying at auction is fun...)

                                That being said, we are getting your standard hatchery white for our meat birds because they finish in 8 weeks. I don't know if we'll continue to do that, or if we'll be able to get our chicken flock up to a big enough number we can produce our own meat birds.

                                Any discussion about "Hertiage" breeds should also include the warning that heritage is not any sort of certification like Organic is. When it comes to plant seeds many open pollinated varieties are labeled as heritage with nothing to really back that up except a heavier price tag.
                                "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                                Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                                Need You Now Equine

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                                • #17
                                  This is very true. But honestly, I would be more willing to pay for use of rare breed/heritage breed food product than "organic", which is overpriced because you have to jump through an increasingly absurd number of USDA hoops to get the label and in the end the product tastes the same and is the same commercial varieties, by and large, as everything else. (Except our local turkey growers, where it is not taste that varies from Butterball but SIZE. Turkey-zilla. We had to start ordering the smalls because the mediums didn't fit in the oven. I am not making this up. I have no idea what they feed, and their certified organic Angus cattle look like they're normal-size cows, but their turkeys are MONSTERS. I wouldn't want to meet one in a dark alley. Thanksgiving turkey lasts 'til Chirstmas.)
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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by JSwan View Post
                                    You know, Bluey, no offense but your argument is wearing a bit thin.

                                    Small business owners exist all over the world, including the US. There are all kinds of business models. What is a profitable enterprise close to an urban core is probably not as profitable in the Ozarks.

                                    The small business owner, marketing his products directly to the public, is not doing anything illegal or unethical. He's just not Wal-Mart.

                                    Plenty of farmers have discovered that by tweaking their existing operations, or branching out into new areas (such as marketing to restaurants or developing a unique product), not only save the family farm - but turn a healthy profit. A perfectly legal and ethical profit.

                                    A profit that does not go to a corporation like Tyson - but into their own bank accounts to pay for their own retirement, their own kids college education.......

                                    Not everyone likes the monoculture "products" that are for sale in stores nowadays. That does not mean there is something wrong with the product - only that they prefer not to buy it, and would like something raised in a different manner.

                                    I don't like soda. I don't care if you buy it, I don't care how much you drink of it. I think it tastes like crap and I won't drink it. I prefer to drink water. When I tell people I think soda tastes like crap and I prefer the taste of water, and that I think sugar in soda is a factor in insulin resistance and the rise in obesity problems, plus it tastes like crap - that is not a lie. That is the truth. But I'd oppose any effort to ban or restrict the sale of soda. Do me the same courtesy.

                                    My customers LIKE the taste of beef finished on grass. It is a taste and texture they actively seek - and appreciate; especially those who are watching their fat intake. The beef is legal - it is USDA inspected - the labeling process I went through is the SAME process big corporations go through.

                                    If you don't like it - that's fine. But you do not have the right to tell others they should not eat it - just because YOU prefer the taste of beef finished on grain.

                                    And what's your problem with genetic diversity? We have different breeds of horses, all bred to do different jobs, thrive in local climates, and from which local recipes and cooking evolved to enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.

                                    WTF is wrong with preserving that? Do you also have a problem with people who like to eat their own garden produce? Who like to can or preserve their harvest?

                                    And what about people who like to sew? You have a problem with people who like to sew their own clothes - because they should be buying clothes at the store? Really? Arts and crafts, too? Just buy at the store instead of making them at home?

                                    Geez - Bluey - I do understand and appreciate your perspective, but people and animals are not toasters.

                                    Many people want to preserve diversity - in animals and in agriculture.

                                    There is more than one way to farm - and just because it does not conform to your worldview does not make it any less a farm or farming.

                                    You're just going to have to accept the fact that plenty of small business owners and people with small or medium holdings (and many with large holdings) have found a legal and ethical way to continue farming.

                                    And many more - dissatisfied with their hectic, soulless urban lives, have found contentment and satisfaction marketing healthy, nutritious food directly to the public. Preserving a body of knowledge, preserving breeds nearly lost to extinction, and also preserving arable, productive farmland that would otherwise be paved over for yet another Wal-Mart.
                                    Your response makes it clear that I didn't seem to have made my point.

                                    I am not saying raising whatever kind of beef anyone want is wrong, I am saying we need ALL we can raise.

                                    I am not saying grass fed is bad, I am saying it has it's place, BUT SO DOES conventionally raised beef too.

                                    What I am trying to say most of all is that so many that choose grass/heritage/niche market beef really should not bash conventional beef and especially not with the wrong facts, like which kind is raised the most efficiently.
                                    See that article and the studies behind it for the data on that.

                                    Whoever thinks alternative ways of producing beef are more "humane" don't realize ALL beef is raised the same, other than grass beef is slaughtered off the pasture, grain finished generally is fed in pens for a few extra months, which to cattle are like living in what for cattle is the Ritz, room service and all the amenities cattle may want, including congenial friends.
                                    THAT last step in grain fed beef, that extra 1/3 lbs of beef from the same one animal, that is what makes them so efficient, where we can raise so much more produce with so much less resources, see the article to understand the details of why that is so.
                                    A bit like plucking your tomato when it is little, or letting it get big and get that much more tomato from the same tomato.

                                    So, for those that prefer their beef to come from their own backyard or neighbor's backyard, that is fine, just don't bash how others chose to produce beef, as some do, because the facts don't support the bashing and it is going to take all to keep people fed the proteins they need.

                                    I hope that makes my point clear.

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                                    • #19
                                      Turkey-zilla
                                      This happened to our former landlord (the cow farmer), they had turkeys last year. Just normal Broad Breasted White turkey (which grow like STINK!) and they kept them a few weeks too long. He had to call & ask to borrow out freezer, and still only 2 of them fit in a medium-chest freezer. They were HUGE!!

                                      We were going to buy one off him, but there were no way they were fitting in the oven .

                                      I like a big turkey because I LOVE leftovers, but part of the benefits of having Narragansett is they dress small enough to fit in my oven .
                                      "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                                      Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                                      Need You Now Equine

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                                      • #20
                                        We had to cut the mediums in half to fit them in the oven. Lots of leftovers, and great bones for soup, but what a hassle.

                                        And really, if those were the MEDIUMS....
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