I posted this below on our farm blog/website. However, I felt it was worth posting here too! I should be posting regularly again on my blog. I've figured out (not technically me, but my genius bro in law....thanks Aaron!!) why my Internet was less than poor here.
There was an article in The Houston Chronicle yesterday about commercially raised beef. The article focuses in on the slaughterhouse practices in factory farming.
Butcherers of large meat producing plants grind up various undesirable parts of the cow (instead of whole cuts) and can use multiple cows from different slaughterhouses to make up their hamburger meat.
This particular article spotlights a young woman who thought she was purchasing top quality meat labeled "American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties" and paid a premium price for the meat only to be stricken with E. coli and paralyzed from this deadly food-borne illness.
With many recent food borne related illnesses and recalls in the news, I feel its important to pay attention since the government does not have our best interest at hand when it comes to food that are commercially sold and processed.
Instead, the FDA and USDA are trying to crack down on small farmers by trying to pass certain legislation (read this article here) instead of tackling the bigger of the two beasts. I feel this is nothing other than an attempt to look as though they are "handling things" in regards to food. When in reality, most small farmers that we know exceed all government standards and regulations.
The article gives insight into the awful practices of the commercial meat industry and how the USDA is doing virtually nothing to combat the problem of the spread of E. coli throughout the commercial meat industry.
This quote is taken directly from the article.
"In August 2008, the USDA issued a draft guideline again urging, but not ordering, processors to test ingredients before grinding. Dr. Kenneth Petersen, an assistant administrator with the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said the department could mandate testing, but that it needed to consider the impact on companies as well as consumers.
“I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health,” Petersen said."
Scary, huh???? The "not just what is best for public health" part doesn't sit right with me. As a small farmer, our biggest consideration in raising food is always the consumer and their health. Always. We have structured our entire farming practices with that very notion.
The article makes a case to buy from local farms without even directly stating it. I don't even think its intent was to promote small farms. By simply stating facts, its obvious that consuming factory farmed and slaughterhouse butchered meat is not in our best interest.
Our farm is very particular in who we use to butcher our meats. We have established a wonderful relationship with a local small butcherer to ensure that we receive only our cows. Our cows are never held in a slaughterhouse. They go straight from our pasture and are slaughtered right when they arrive at the butcherer.
On the days our cows are butchered, we go to great lengths to make sure that our cows are butchered first before any other meats. The hamburger meat that we sell contains none of the "junk meat" that you would receive from commercial hamburget meat. We use on whole cuts of beef and then have our butcherer grind them up. Its a bit more costly to it this way since you are most likely grinding up what could be roasts and steaks. However, we prefer to do it this way over using less than desirable cuts of meats that the factory slaughterhouses would use to cut corners and save a buck.
If the USDA won't look out for our best interest, then we have to take it upon ourselves to do so. Factory farming is not the answer. You DO have a choice. To find a farm near you who has good farming practices you can visit http://www.eatwild.com/.
To view the article in the Chronicle, CLICK HERE.
Graphic yet telling, a commercial slaughterhouse pictured below. Its no wonder various cows and cow parts are getting mixed up in the ground beef.