Since the end of the 20th century, a growing number of ranchers have veered away from the conventional route of sending their animals to feedlots for fattening with grain, soy, and other additives. Instead, they’re opting to keep their animals close to home, grazing on pasture—their natural diet. Many of these modern-day ranchers prioritize the well-being of their livestock, steering clear of hormones and growth-promoting additives. Consequently, their animals thrive at a natural pace, leading low-stress lives, and boasting robust health, eliminating the need for antibiotics or other medications.
Pasture-based animal husbandry stands in stark contrast to the standard practices of confining animals in large-scale operations known as CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). While these facilities provide a constant supply of affordable food, they bring about a myriad of issues, including animal stress, environmental pollution, overuse of hormones and antibiotics, and the decline of small family farms.
Animals in factory farms are fed diets engineered to maximize productivity and minimize costs, primarily consisting of genetically modified grain and soy. Additionally, by-products like municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and even candy find their way into the feed. Until 1997, bits of cow were added to cattle feed to help fatten them up, making these herbivores into carnivores and contributing to BSE (mad cow disease) and physical ailments such as subacute acidosis in ruminants.
A high-grain diet for a grass-grazing cow can wreak havoc on the health of these ruminant animals, leading to conditions like subacute acidosis. To manage these issues, animals are subjected to chemical additives and constant low-level doses of antibiotics. Unfortunately, overuse of antibiotics contributes to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, posing risks to both animal and human health.
Chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other animals raised in confinement endure severe suffering, deprived of their natural behaviors and confined to cramped quarters.
The concentrated waste produced in feedlots and confinement facilities leads to environmental degradation in surrounding communities, polluting soil and water sources. In contrast, pasture-raised animals spread their manure over a broader area, serving as natural fertilizer and minimizing waste management issues.
Opting for meat, eggs, and dairy from pasture-raised animals not only promotes animal welfare and environmental sustainability but also supports local farmers and offers the healthiest food options for your family. It’s a win-win-win-win scenario that benefits everyone involved.
Eatwild has a comprehensive database of grass-fed food sources in both the US and Canada. I utilize them as a resource when I am traveling, searching for options for clients, or investigating options I find on local menus.
Aside from being a fabulous resource, they also offer educational articles on why grass-fed is a preferable option, have a small store of books on farming, food, food politics, and cooking gadgets. It’s a site worth bookmarking for future reference!
To find local suppliers of grass-fed products in your area, click here: