In my previous articles I explained how we basically get our nutrition from 3 main “food” sources: plant (fruits and vegetables), animal (beef, cheese, chicken, eggs, etc.) and laboratory synthesized (high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, hydrogenated oils, etc). I then went on to explain how the fruit and vegetables of today are grossly lacking in the nutrition that they once possessed years ago.
Today, I want to talk about out meat based foods and explain that the problem with these is not with what they are lacking, but what is being added. You need to understand the reasons that meat and animal products can negatively impact your weight loss and diet plan.
Let’s look at beef as an example. Personally, a good steak or a slice of prime rib is one of my favourite meals. But where does beef come from?
Well duh! It comes from cows.
And who raises cows?
Well the answer to that should be a “no brainer” as well. Farmers raise cows. And that is the way it should be.
I live in rural Quebec. My neighbours are all farmers and they all raise cows. I see these cows out in the fields every day in the spring, summer and fall happily grazing on grass. In the winter, they have a huge barn which they have access to which is full of fresh hay for them to eat. These are the cows that I eat.
But are these the cows that you purchase in your local grocery store?
Sadly they are not. My neighbours barely make enough money from their herds to cover the expenses of these animals. First the calf has to purchased, then it has veterinary expenses, then it needs nutritional supplements (farmers know that the soil is missing certain elements and thus compensate for that. In our region, our soil is completely lacking in selenium.), then there is the electricity the barn uses for lights and to keep the water from freezing, and lastly there are tons of fuel expenses for cutting and transporting the hay.
Most small rural farmers raise cattle as a side income only. “Farmers” can’t make much money raising cattle because they have to compete with “industry” who are the primary cattle raisers in North America. Some of the largest cattle “ranches” in the USA are found in Arizona. In fact, they aren’t even called ranches or farms. They are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). 97% of all beef in the U.S. comes from CAFOs.
“So what is wrong with Arizona?” you may ask.
What do naturally eat? Grass.
What type of environment is Arizona? It’s a desert. So… no grass.
Cows have 4 stomachs. They evolved in this manner as they are a grazing animals that are meant to eat grass at a leisurely pace and slowly digest it in their stomachs. But since raising cows in these feed lots is not about producing food, it’s about producing money, CAFOs don’t have the time to fatten their cows naturally.
So in these feed lots cows are primarily fed a mixture of grain and corn, and in some cases rendered protein and even concrete dust! Rendered protein is the ground up carcasses of dead pigs (this is a problem because cows are herbivores, not carnivores). Concrete dust was found to increase the weight of cows at auction (heavier cows sell for more money!).
In the CAFOs, living conditions are not quite the same as here on my neighbouring farms and the cows are stressed. Stressed animals have weakened immune systems. Cows with weak immune systems are at greater risk for illness. Living in such high density corrals means that if one cow gets sick, they likely all will. So to reduce the risk of losing a cow, most cattle are fed prophylactic antibiotics to keep them “healthy”.
Don’t think of CAFOs as farms, they are cattle factories just like a car factory. Do you think Ford wants to spend a full month getting a car through the assembly line? No they want that car to be built and out of there as quickly as possible. It’s the same with the beef. The more cattle they can pump through in a year, the more money they make.
To encourage growth in these cows they are also administered growth hormones and steroids. So here you have cows that are taking regular injections of antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones, eating a diet that is completely unnatural to them, and packed into a super small living space. On top of that, the feed that they are fed is itself genetically modified and loaded with herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals.
These are the cows that are sent to slaughter and end up in your grocery stores! This is the beef you are eating. Pigs, chickens, lambs, and even fish are all raised in pretty much the same manner and experience the same outcome.
Just think about it. If your food is full of antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals, what makes you immune to them?
Have you noticed how big kids are these days? Have you noticed how early young girls start to physically mature? The kids today look a lot different now than when I went to public school just 30 short years ago. Do think this might have something to do with all the steroids and growth hormones they are getting second hand in their milk and meat products?
In the case of vegetables, your body is being placed under stress due to a lack of nutrition. In the case of meat, your body is being placed under stress due to the added chemicals and hormones. In an upcoming article, I’ll discuss how it is these stressors on the body, and not the number of calories that are primarily responsible for weight gain and excess body and visceral fat.