Where’s The Beef

July 20, 2010

We are surrounded by beef and beef  byproducts. Beef steak tomatoes, beef patties, beef cake, milk, cheese, belts, shoes, handbags, and I am sure I am missing a few things.

I grew up on what, back then, was considered a large farm.  Although we only had about 300 head of cattle, it was considered a huge herd in those days. As more farmers were forced to leave their land due to economic difficulties, larger farmers and ranchers bought out the smaller land owners, and today, owning less than 10,000 acres is considered small.

As I travel along back roads I am calmed when I see pastures dotted with grazing cattle and horses.  For me, livestock is a great comfort.  Instead of flighty, like most animals, cows seem steady, stable, braced, rooted. After a hard  day  of work keeping a hectic schedule, I always feel that the world makes more sense when I see animals.

The majority of people think that animals have no feelings.  I strongly disagree.  Every fall we would take our crop of young calves to market.  (For those of you that don’t know the industry, ranchers and farmers make their money by selling off the young calves.) The mothers would bawl for days on end, and some would wander aimlessly looking for their young.  I would be awakened in the middle of the night by their loud mooing, and cry myself to sleep because I knew they had souls and they missed their off spring, just as we do.

Cattle are more instinctual than we are. Their sense of danger, smell, bad weather, is far beyond human capabilities. Hours before bad weather is upon them, they begin to move towards shelter and group together for protection.  Their hides thicken according to what the temperature will be for the winter.

Ok, cows and other animals fart.  For years I have followed a little known government piece of legislation deeming cattle as dangerous polluters of air, and want to inject all livestock in this country with chemicals that would prevent them from passing gas.

Recently I had lunch with a dear friend of mine, who is extremely intelligent and votes conservative. He is also an environmentalist who recycles, and is very concerned about pesticides and harmful chemicals in our food chain. Because he lives in a large city he is critical about factories and other large corporations polluting rivers, oceans and air. He bikes to and from work and where ever else it is convenient instead of taking his car.

Our conversation turned to environmental issues.  I was stunned to the point of almost falling off my chair, when he vehemently supported the government injecting chemicals into our cattle to prevent them from farting; befouling  the air.   I had to check my hearing.  I always admired his intelligence, now I was convinced he had gone off the deep end. As if the government hasn’t messed up our food chain enough.

Not only are we subjected to the pollution that large corporations produce rendering our rivers, oceans and air quality dangerous to the point that we bear the brunt of negative health effects, we are now facing the possibility of beef being further contaminated by chemical injections.  Our food chain is already compromised to the point where scientists have proven negligible nutritional benefits of certain foods. Traces of DDT used in the 40’s and 50’s, is still found in all mammals.

Does my friend not realize how much poisons cars, trucks, and airplanes spew in a single hour?  Does he not realize there are cities so polluted that their citizens must wear a mask when leaving their homes because the air quality is so contaminated from factories and automobiles belching chemicals?

Past government administrations have done squat to stop large corporations from polluting, and are still behind the 8 ball when it comes to our transportation system gushing incredible amounts of toxins into the air.

Conservative political administrations natural inclination is to single out ranchers and farmers to bear the enormous expense of injecting cattle with chemicals because ranchers don’t have a lobby to stop stupidity.  Mean while,  corporations spend millions buying off our congress so they can continue their polluting. Bottom line is, shareholders would revolt if their profits were spent on over hauling manufacturing techniques that would be more environmentally friendly.

I am a simple farm girl, and by no means do I tip the high-end of the intelligence scale, but even I can see the idiocy, and sheer economic and health disaster, that would befall us should that piece of legislation be resurrected and implemented.

One thing is for sure.  If you leave your car running in a closed garage it will take only a matter of minutes before you  die.  If you are in a closed garage with a cow who farts on occasion, you may not like the smell, but it would take days before you expired.

Southern Colorado Beef

Where’s the beef?  Besides doing its job feeding and clothing us,our beef is meandering in far-flung pastures grazing on lush grass, unaware that they might be altered and manipulated just because they fart.

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7 thoughts on “Where’s The Beef

  1. Perhaps you should be checking back with those who still raise beef for the facts to correct your friend. Then ask them if they would like to be injected to keep their gas from polluting, people fart too. Currently our landfills produce more methane than cows do. That we can do something about.
    It’s DDT, not DTD, and it’s interesting to note that further research has proven that DDT was never a danger to us or birds. The problems that caused egg shell thinning in birds were mercury, oil and other pollutants in our rivers. Our rivers today are much cleaner than they were back in the 40’s and earlier when it was not uncommon for rivers in industrial areas to burn, as in catch fire.
    We’ve come a long way in cleaning up our waters, now it’s time to clear the air. Time to quit blaming cows for our love of oil guzzling motors that are the real culprit.

  2. Very good post. The more I see of cows the more I see individual differences and personalities. And you’re right. When the stock truck comes, they know what’s happening.

    Down here, where there are more cows than people, there was a big hoo hah about cows being the main producers of greenhouse gas and there have been a few wild schemes to somehow capture and recycle the fumes! I haven’t heard of the injection idea, but it can’t be good for the cow and who knows what it will do to us the consumer.

  3. Thanks for a great blog, Arlys. I stopped eating beef after a visit to Costa Rica, one of many places where rain forest is cleared for raising cattle. The loss of biological diversity is immense, and the land is quickly depleted and won’t support even cows for long.

    I don’t think raising beef should be eliminated, but I wish people would consume less of it. It takes a lot of corn to feed cattle and the land used to raise corn for cattle might be better used raising food for people. It is more efficient to get calories from plants than from farmed animals. Farmlands could benefit, too, from more diverse crops instead of so much corn.

    I enjoy seeing cows dotting a pastural landscape, but I’ve also seen the environmental damage brought about by the sheer volume of production. If everyone ate a vegetarian meal or two every week, maybe we wouldn’t need quite so many cows, and that would help the methane problem, too.

  4. It’s been a number of years since I’ve driven by pastures of grazing livestock. I miss it. I cannot imagine actually stopping cattle from passing gas! This is one for the ASPCA! I say inject those foolish legislators with such chemicals so they will stop polluting the environment as well! This may not be the most intelligent comment on his issue, but it comes from my heart.

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