Friday, March 20, 2009

Death on a Factory Farm

Did anyone see this documentary on HBO? I had seen the trailer for it on and it was very disturbing. We started to watch the full documentary the other night and had to stop. We just couldn’t take it. I just can’t wrap my head around how people can treat animals this way. It has completely ruined me for conventional restaurant meat products. I have evangelized for a while to ask where the meat comes from when you go to a restaurant and I have done this often. I have not asked every time and when they don’t know I used to still order the meat. Now I don’t. If they can’t tell me where the meat comes from and I recognize it (or can look it up on Mylie’s iphone) I just won’t eat it. I’ll just have to settle for vegetable dishes. Some well-intentioned restaurants in town striving to support local and natural still get their meat from conventional sources.

We were at Paggi house (they’re not paying me for this) last night and I wanted a filet, but was very worried that even this great place might just say ‘Wynn meat co.’ or ‘Ciscos.’ To my pleasant surprise they said ‘Niman Ranch,’ which is fairly well-known. And they’re a great step in the right direction. They’re not perfect from a Sustainability standpoint…..they still grain finish their cattle - which means they pasture raise them, but a few weeks before they go to slaughter they feed them grain to increase marbling and fatten the cattle up. There are balances in all areas of life - you don't always expect your dessert to have vitamins & minerals in it, right? And in terms of humane treatment, this is not a huge problem. But studies and anecdotal evidence from Betsy Ross Ranch (they test nutrients in their meat) show that most of the good qualities in the meat from grass-feeding cattle are lost within 2 days of grain-finishing the cattle. CLAs and vitamins are up to 90% depleted in that short time. Cattle just aren’t meant to eat grain! Period. It’s not good for them.

But, I appreciate Paggi using a vendor that pastures their cattle, uses no hormones or antibiotics, and humanely slaughters them.

Many people have been asking me where the best places to eat out for local, organic, and natural are. While I think the best choice is to eat at home, I want to highlight my adventures in eating out and share what I learn as I grill waiters in town (just kidding).

1 comment:

Dylan said...

When we moved to Seattle from Austin and drove through the endless fields of packed cattle in California it made me start to really question the source of my red meat. It definitely is part of my motivation to hunt elk for meat and to buy beef local. But your right, I really should think about what I'm ordering at the restaurant as well.