Grass Vs. Grain Fed Beef Discussion Turns Ugly

Prairie Gleanings

I always assumed feeding more people was a good thing. Apparently, not everyone agrees.

Published on: April 6, 2012
I don’t know about you, but when I see the commercials about malnourished children in Africa, my heart breaks. Apparently, not all folks feel the same way.

Last weekend, I was on a “survival skills” weekend. To say the crowd was environmentally conscious would be an understatement. Of course, the campfire topic of conversation frequently turned to food. I was there to have a good time, so I tried to stay silent.

On the second day, my buddy thought it would be humorous to goad me into a debate with these folks. The topic was grass-fed beef. I explained why I have no problem with corn-fed beef. They looked at me as if I’d just dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

One person even said, “I don’t know how you could even argue that corn-fed beef is better than grass fed.” Not making much headway in the economics, efficiency or taste department, I pulled out the “lower-class deserves animal protein too” argument. In their infinite wisdom, the group agreed lower class folks should be eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Not wanting to explain the cost/supply ramifications of finding fresh veggies in East St. Louis, I leaned back and rolled my eyes.

The conversation continued. The group began to trash the world’s food distribution system. Then they said we should get back to the days when everyone grew their own food. At this point, my friend was very sorry he’d started down this path. Becoming outraged, he made the point that many starving people in this world eat because of U.S. farmers. “What, would you have a significant portion of the world population starve, in the name of shunning modern farming practices?” he asked.

To our complete disbelief, the conversation ringleader piped up and said, “I’m fine with that.”

Rather than start a shouting match, we shook our heads and walked away. We both couldn’t believe that the same folks who were gung ho on saving the earth and preaching tolerance would willingly let people starve for the sake of “getting back to our roots.”

FYI: one of the arguments brought up about “getting back to our roots” was that man was initially created to be a hunter/gatherer. Again, the same people who were intrigued by the evolutionary process of insects were unwilling to admit that agriculture was a phenomenal invention.

Since I was too busy taking deep breaths, I didn’t have time to point out that they all wouldn’t have a job if society went back to the good ole days. They’d be too busy trying to fatten up that cow before they ran out of meat. Here’s a tip: feed it corn!

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We could easily grow enough food worldwide organically if we had enough people who knew how. Unfortunately, we don't so we will continue to need 500 hp tractors with mega farmers farming thousands of acres with little help.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I used to raise corn fed beef. Now I raise grassfed beef. It is much tastier, cheaper to feed and more nutritious. I can also make more profit. The author can continue to raise his the way he wants and loose money. That is his choice. The world food distribution network is messed up. Best to eat and grow local!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Animal Equality and Anti-Humanity "I don't like kids. I like cats. There's too many people in this planet." Dr. Steven Best, ElPaso Times, 2/8/10 "Anthropocentrism, regarding human kind as the very center and pinnacle of existence, is a disease of arrested development." Michael W. Fox, speech "A Vision Shared: What We Are Fighting For," to the World Congress for Animals, Washington, D.C., June 20, 1996 "We are not superior. There are no clear distinctions between us and animals." Michael W. Fox, (Washingtonian Magazine, February 1990) "Surely there will be some nonhuman animals whose lives, by any standards, are more valuable than the lives of some humans." Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of Animals, 2nd ed. (New York: New York Review of Books, 1990), p. 19. " "Humans are exploiters and destroyers, self-appointed world autocrats around whom the universe seems to revolve." Sydney Singer, director, the Good Shepherd Foundation, "The Neediest of All Animals," The Animals Agenda, Vol. 10, No. 5 (June 1990), p. 50. any wonder that some of these people don't care about people having enough to eat? Animal rights agenda includes extermination of many humans as well as domestic animlas..

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think one very common misunderstanding is the subject of sustainability. We need more data, proof, evidence, popular press showing that modern farming practices are sustainable. We need to repeatably show that high yields of corn do not lead to land degradation or reductions in the water table. We need to show that a large dairy, swine or beef operation does not degrade any of the surrounding land. better yet, can we show improvments in land and water quality by using modern methods? The underlying assumption of too many people is that we are feeding the world at the expense of being able to feed our grandchildren.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Obviously realism isn't everyone's strong suit. These are the same people who think we can raise enough fresh vegetables for the whole world organically.

  6. Anonymous says:

    WOW! I knew that the chasm of understanding and appreciating agriculture's role in our world was ever widening, but this is downright disturbing. How can anyone with a conscience hold those views? My hope for the future of our nation and our world is tempered by absurb idealogy such as this - what a sad perspective on the world we ALL live in! Sorry you had to endure such radical thinking, Josh, but I'm glad you didn't give them the satisfaction of a debate as they don't comprehend logic.

  7. Anonymous says:

    "A rich man has many worries, a starving man but one." Anon. There's a direct correllation between the attitude you mention and being well-fed and informed by network television news. Nuff said from here. Dan

  8. Anonymous says:

    I hear that stuff frequently while working with the public and other agencies... However, place that person in a dire situation where food and water is scarce and I bet they soon return to their ancestorial traits, "Eat or be eaten." Reality has a way of proving our theories. Please pass the salt.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I encountered the same "I'm fine with that" attitude recently and am puzzling over it. I'll agree that our societal attitudes towards health and nutrition could take some adjusting, and firmly believe that those of us in the business of producing food are well aware that we can make changes and improvements. I still argue, though, a) people operate on personal choice. As a farmer I can't change that. b) Investment in research and infrastructure (i.e. food distribution) can only help put a dent in in the food deserts found in the U.S.