Listen. Listennnnnnnn. This is hilarious to me:
Mike Yoder’s herd of dairy cattle are living the sweet life. With corn feed scarcer and costlier than ever, Yoder increasingly is looking for cheaper alternatives — and this summer he found a good deal on ice cream sprinkles.
“It’s a pretty colorful load,” said Yoder, who operates about 450 dairy cows on his farm in northern Indiana. “Anything that keeps the feed costs down.”
As the worst drought in half a century has ravaged this year’s U.S. corn crop and driven corn prices sky high, the market for alternative feed rations for beef and dairy cows has also skyrocketed. Brokers are gathering up discarded food products and putting them out for the highest bid to feed lot operators and dairy producers, who are scrambling to keep their animals fed.
In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.
“Everybody is looking for alternatives,” said Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Nebraska. “It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well. The big advantage to that is you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed. The amazing thing about a ruminant, a cow, you can take those type of ingredients and turn them into food.”
So, let me get this straight.
Cows – who aren’t even supposed to be eating corn, by the way – aren’t getting enough corn because the increase in corn would result in an increase in beef prices.
So, instead of simply taking the hit and increasing the prices on the animal flesh, they go and purchase products that are, in fact, made of corn because, ostensibly, the stuff made of corn is cheaper than the corn itself?
When we talk about the importance of sustainability, this is why we yell so loudly about it. This is why we say we need to make sure that all the venues through which we acquire food are using sustainable methods. Because when stuff starts hitting the fan, feeding our animals the kind of stuff that we avoid eating ourselves (or, at a bare minimum, acknowledge that we shouldn’t be eating regularly) on a regular basis is not going to cut it.
Cow, properly raised, is expensive. It’s supposed to be. It’s a several-thousand-pound animal. It’s also supposed to be lower in fat than it usually is, and be allowed space to… actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve mowed this lawn, before:
We, here at BGG2WL, know what happens when you feed someone a lot of something they shouldn’t be eating… and prevent them from being able to move. They’re unable to healthily develop muscle, and equally unable to burn any fat they gain. Since they’re having a hard time developing muscle… the industry doesn’t say “Let’s give ‘em room to play and grow healthily.” They say “Give ‘em growth hormones.”
Take it a step further, though. Because the cows aren’t eating what they’re supposed to be eating, they’re unable to fight off infection (sound familiar?) and illness. So, instead of saying “Ohhh, we’re making the cows sick, let’s go back to giving them what they’re supposed to have,” the industry says “Give ‘em antibiotics.” The anti-biotics can’t take care of everything, so the cows have to have a hole created so that a “ranch hand” (literally) can reach their hand inside the cow and pull out the infectious and indigestible product. Any antibiotics may help with illness, but not infection… so the meat is thereafter cleaned with ammonia.
I’ll be honest. I don’t eat red meat, but it has nothing to do with it being generally not “clean eating-friendly.” Cow can be clean, but these cows certainly wouldn’t qualify.
If you want cow, and want it clean, go with the good stuff and, if you’re concerned about the price, eat it less often and in smaller portions. Rest assured, it’ll taste better and be better for you.