In Defense of The Family Rancher

☆ March 5, 2013

In my last post, I got this comment: I do not understand how someone who has such love and respect for cattle can advocate their slaughter. I’ve received versions of this comment/question many times since I launched Star Brand Beef and, to be completely honest, I’ve never really understood the question. I started Star Brand Beef because I love and respect cows. But last week, I watched this video clip and at the end of the video, the guys at MIT say, “we’ve posted the code online for free use so that anyone can enhance their own home videos,” and I got so excited, because I want to do this – I wanted to pack a bag and move into their lab and watch these enhanced videos all day long – but that simple line turned my entire brain into a question mark. What does that mean, add code to your own videos?? Because coding and such is so foreign to me, I became baffled and frustrated. And it made me think, perhaps this is how it is with the beef question – it’s simple to me, because it’s a huge part of my life, but for others, it seems baffling and frustrating. So here is my explanation, as long and as detailed as the explanation I would like to hear about the enhanced video code so I can do it myself!

I eat meat – here is my post about why I’m not vegan or vegetarian. I don’t feel guilt about eating meat (I feel respect and gratitude) but I would feel guilt, and feel like a hypocrite, if I didn’t do everything in my power to keep cattle from going to feedlots. The fact that I can offer other people healthy, humanely-raised, affordable, antibiotic-free, GMO-free meat is a bonus.

Even if I became vegan tomorrow, I would still do this work, because other people still eat meat. And, any vegan who has a dog or a cat is buying animal products in the form of dog or cat food – and it’s not karma-exempt just because it’s for your pet. Unless it is explicitly labeled grass-finished and pasture-raised, the beef on the market (or at the taco stand or in the dog food can) comes from cattle that spent time – in most cases half their lives – on a feedlot. Feedlots are cow concentration camps. Commercially raised pigs and chickens have their own versions of this, too. Anyone who has not seen a commercial feedlot, please google, or watch Food Inc.

Backing up: How and why do cattle end up on feedlots? Family ranches make up the majority of the source of all beef sold in the US.* These ranchers run the breeding stock – the cows and the bulls – and every year, they sell the calves to feedlots. So, the cows stay on the ranch, and the rancher’s income comes from selling calves each year. This system has succeeded because ranchers spend 14-hour days working the land and tending the animals – they don’t have the time (and, often, the inclination) to be salesmen and women on top of that. And pre-internet, selling beef directly to the consumer would have been virtually impossible for most ranchers. So, the ranchers have a simple, dependable manner in which to sell their calves: to the feedlots and packers (though it is not without disadvantages, which I will get to later).  Calves enter the feedlot system at around six months old to 1.5 years old and are fed corn and soy and heaven knows what else, and are injected with Zilmax and antibiotics and heaven knows what else, and then become beef for the consumer market at around two years old. The animals are big enough, by then, but there’s another reason – they will die from liver failure after two years in a feedlot, because what they are fed is so contrary to their physiology.

Mike’s oldest cow, fed only grass, is 21 years old. Cattle fed in a feedlot will die within two years. There’s something terribly, terribly wrong with this picture. Combine that with the horrific physical conditions of a feedlot – no area to move or run, no shade from the sun, nothing but layers of their own shit to stand in – and one can see why there is rampant use of antibiotics on cattle in feedlots. (More than half of all antibiotics and antacids used in this country are given to cattle on feedlots.) And then the people and cats and dogs who eat this meat are eating extremely unhealthy meat – they’re eating meat that was sick, and that is filled with antibiotics and other drugs, and this in turn contributes to the health problems we see today in our society (red meat is not inherently unhealthy; corn-fed red meat that is pumped with antibiotics and other drugs, is).

Mark Bittman did this TED talk that discusses the enormous amount of beef consumed in America today. It’s a great talk, though not without flaws: the cattle industry statistics at the beginning are in relation to feedlots – no one is blaming global warming on elk or reindeer (bad Santa!). And his solution is personal choice – changing our collective eating habits to “knock down” industrial ag.
This is important, yes. But it’s not the most viable solution. Because, first and foremost, ranchers (under the current system) will sell their calves to feedlots and feedlots will market all that beef. The statistics in the second half of Bittman’s talk confirm that.

I see another possible solution. Right now, most ranchers run “carrying capacity” with breeding stock, as mentioned before, and sell calves when they are weaned (or yearlings). However, if ranchers transitioned from cow/calf operations to cow/calf/grass-finished beef operations and were able to sell this grass-finished beef directly (realistically, through a cooperative) without going through the feedlots, some very remarkable things would happen.

The land can only run so many cattle. There is a finite amount of grass and hay. So, if a rancher switched from selling calves to raising these calves for grass-finished beef, they would have to restructure their herd, and run less breeding cows because they would also be feeding the beef-to-be. This would cut a rancher’s workload by about 25%, because some of the hardest work in ranching is calving, tending and working calves, and trailing cow/calf pairs. My little beef herd is extremely low maintenance compared to cow/calf pairs. I trailed them down the mountain on foot, they’re that easy. There still remains the ranch work of trailing and irrigating and putting up hay and tending to the (smaller) cow/calf herd, but overall, the workload is decreased by about 25%.

If these ranchers were able to sell their grass-finished beef directly to the consumer (or restaurant or school or cooperative owned-and-operated meat market), even after subtracting a commission to a manager/admin/organizer (someone who coordinates sales as I have done with Star Brand Beef), they would earn about 25% more selling finished beef than they currently do selling a higher number of calves. For those of you with office jobs, imagine being offered a four day work week along with a 25% raise. The rancher would also be in greater control of the market, rather than being at the mercy of the feeders and packers who drastically fluctuate beef and calf prices, over which the family rancher has no control. And feedlots would die.

OK, feedlots wouldn’t necessarily die, at least not immediately. This is because corporations, which make up only 4% of all cattle operations in the US, account for 35% of sales.* I’m guessing they would try to keep the feedlot system alive.  But if feedlots lose more than half their inventory, they’re going to feel the hurt. No business can run in the same manner with less than half the inventory – just ask the newspaper and magazine companies. McDonald’s hamburgers would cost $15. Two birds with one stone.

Family ranchers may be land-rich, but I don’t know any who are rich-rich. Some decide this life is too hard for too little pay and sell their ranch to multi-millionaires, or are forced out because of financial reasons. This has happened here. One such multimillionaire who bought out a family ranch has put in a private airstrip, a tennis court, a fake climbing wall, has built – among other things – a multi-thousand-square-foot hunting lodge in the middle of elk habitat (and then wonders why the elk no longer congregate in that area), and is planning a subdivision. Now we’re no longer talking about cattle but the diminishing habitat of other animals – rabbit, coyote, bobcat, fox, elk, deer, antelope, beaver, hawk, eagle, magpie, on and on.

When I spent the summer of 2011 camping on our mountain pasture lease, I noticed a sad phenomenon. Our pasture lease is 1000 +/- acres of private land owned by the rancher we lease from, and which is surrounded on all sides by other 1000-acre tracts of private land owned by other ranchers. But to get there, you must drive through the National Forest. I saw hardly any wildlife during my trips through the National Forest. I did see everyone and their mother zooming around on 4-wheelers. (Hint: there’s a correlation.) Once I crossed through a few gates and was deep into private land, I saw wildlife everywhere. Deer, coyote families, sign of bear, dozens upon dozens of birds. The US Forest Service biologists have noted compromised wildlife habitat in public land, even in areas with leave-no-trace / hike-in-only access. One could argue that private ranch land is one of the last refuges of wildlife. (Because a ranching family checking cows on horseback, or even me camping in the mountain pasture all summer, has far less impact on wildlife than the influx of thousands of hikers or campers entering wildlife habitat in public wilderness areas over the course of each season.)

Right now, 85% of the consumer beef market is controlled by four corporations, and they are making the decisions for ranchers and consumers. And this is through the feedlot system, which is downright horrible for the animals, for the earth, and for anyone who eats that beef. Change has to start somewhere, and it is starting, all over the country with small ranchers raising grass-finished beef. I have two ranchers on board with me after just one year of Star Brand Beef sales, and a number of others who are intrigued. Is this easy? No! None of this is easy. I’m not doing it for “easy.” But I’m good with cattle, and I think the current system is awful, and I think I would be a worse person if I didn’t work to change it. And I think it’s better for those who eat meat, to eat meat that was loved.

mountain meadow
{ our mountain pasture lease }

 

* data from the USDA Census of Agriculture

Comments

123 Responses to “In Defense of The Family Rancher”

  1. MKH
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:03 am

    Thank you for these comments. I eat very little beef but I really appreciate the work you do. Since I moved back to MT I try very hard to buy locally raised meats (chicken mostly). I wish you the very best in your endeavor to humanely raise beef, admirable!

  2. anita
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    Right on! Even though I choose to be a vegetarian, I wholeheartedly support your endeavor, convinced two people to buy your beef last year, and wish you and your fellow ranchers much success in the future. Thank you for all you do for the animals.

  3. Susan
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    Right-on.

  4. Anne
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    Thank you!

  5. Marg
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    I commend you for continuing to hammer home the reasons behind what you do although it must be tiring. Now you have a post that you can refer the naysayers to if they care to have “their” opinions countered. These animals are not pets!(for the most part, how’s Daisy?) and those who say that we shouldn’t consume them need to think ahead and realize without our desire for them they would all be exterminated quickly.

  6. Pat D.
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    Well said, very well said! Stand up for your beliefs, and make a difference! You GO, girl!

  7. MJo
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    I am sooo grateful for you and all you do. Thank you.

  8. Amber
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    Thanks for taking the time to write and post this, Shreve. Have you read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    One quote from that book that stayed with me and makes me hesitate before eating meat every time (and I do eat meat several times a week) is: “If we were to one day encounter a form of life more powerful and intelligent than our own, and it regarded us as we regard fish, what would be our argument against being eaten?”

    That thought gives me chills – even if I was cared for as well as possible and my slaughter was to be completely humane, I’d still want to go on living my life, you know? I can never reconcile animals’ obvious natural drive to remain safe and alive with the idea that if we treat them well and kill them kindly (the irony is not lost on me there), it’s acceptable.

    Important stuff to think about…

  9. Amy
    March 5th, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    My mother in law and I have this passive-aggressive war (friendly war) that goes on when she comes to stay with us. She raised five kids and taught Home Ec, and it is anathema to her to pay $4.50 for a carton of good, fresh, farm-raised eggs. Even though I buy nothing else, even though I give her money to do it. She is physically incapable of buying them since you can get a dozen at Safeway for $2 plus a gallon of milk for the same price.

    There is a mentality in America that we are endowed with the right to cheap food, and that’s a cause AND result of the industry you describe. I’m glad there are other like-minded people who believe in improving the current system for us all. Even if my MIL will never change her ways.

  10. CeeBee
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    For years and years, my rescued cats loved Fancy
    Feast Minced Beef. Now they turn their noses up at it. Finicky? I doubt it. Rescued cats aren’t finicky. And I’m guessing the chronic diseases and obesity that our country is overwhelmed by have something to do with why my cats won’t eat Fancy Feast Minced Beef.

    Thank you, Shreve. I wonder if Temple Grandin would join forces with you — she’s on the same page as you but with humane slaughterhouses. Women rock!

  11. Jennifer
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:03 am

    Love it! Well said! Very good sentences!

  12. annnoe
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:09 am

    I bought some of your Star Brand Beef last year. If you send more out west this year, I will buy more.

    Every time I take a piece of that meat out of my freezer, I think about “my” cow. I think about you. I think about what went into creating what will eventually become my family’s dinner. And I am GRATEFUL. To the cow. To you. As is my family because I won’t buy commercially produced beef and poultry.

    I want a revolution. I want your model to thrive. I don’t want big business on my plate. I do what I can to make that a reality. Thank you for helping me.

  13. Linda Lu
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Well said and quite politely, if I might add. Hope they get the message. Wonder if they ever think about where and how the meat that they eat came from and was raised. Love everything that you share with us about your Star Brand Beef and all aspects of that; Charlie and the rest of the farmily and your adventures and all the great pictures. Keep up the good work. You have a lot of followers, for sure, that love you. But I also know that the “one or two” negative comments can sometimes crush all the good ones for a little while, but the good always come back to conquer!
    Can hardly wait until we can have the opportunity to receive our Star Brand Beef for a feast!

  14. Nanci
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Great explanation, Shreve. The way the big corporations run us all is just sickening. And it all starts with us Americans wanting everything so darn CHEAP! From socks to meat.

  15. Sarah W.
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Thanks for the illuminating post, and for what you do to make the system better! I’ve been vegan for 15 years, and it seems so self-evident to me that I sometimes forget other people find it baffling…guess it works both ways.

  16. Nathalie
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    Your reasoning and logic of the feedlots is sound. I’m a meat eater but don’t eat it very often because we have a few lots that we pass on our way out of town and it saddens me, I can’t even look at them. I wish I could afford and had the space for Star Brand Beef, I imagine it is amazing.

  17. Shelly
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    As a ranchers wife with a relatively small herd (250) and a cow/calf operation, I have been intrigued by how to change to an all natural herd and sell grass-fed beef. I appreciate your post and will share it with my husband.

  18. Patr
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:30 am

    Beautiful post and your heart is so in the right place. Hugs and prayers for you.

  19. Ine
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    My husband and I switch to a different “lifestyle” a little over a year ago. We decided to only eat grass fed / no antibiotics meat. On top of that we try to buy local and in season veggies as much as possible. Not only is it a healthier way of living but also a much more interesting way. It’s fun to go to farmers markets, and to discover new places (ranches, farms) that we didn’t even know exist. We’ve learned so much in the past year, and we intend to learn so much. It’s great to see that you take initiative to change, and I do hope that at one point we’ll somehow be able to try Star Brand Beef in Vancouver, Canada. Keep up the amazing work your doing. I admire it every day!

  20. Wendy B
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    Very good post, Shreve! I’m sharing it, if you don’t mind. Your passion shines though in every word.

  21. LJ
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    So much to think about – very eye opening. I guess I have lived with my head in a sand dune for many years.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and time with us.
    I am still crossing my fingers that Star Brand Beef makes it’s way to the East Coast soon, as I will absolutely buy some.
    Best Always ~ and Keep the positive change going!

  22. Woman on Wild Mountain
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:06 am

    Perfect. Once again. Thank you for taking the time to explain what I have no patience to explain. I will just direct people to your post.
    K.

  23. montanarose
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    Beautifully written, Shreve. Reminds me of something Temple Grandin said about cattle: “Nature is cruel but we don’t have to be; we owe them some respect.”

    Looking forward to your next Star Brand Beef run down to Colorado (I hope!).

  24. Rebecca
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    What an interesting post! Disturbing too though to learn about the scale of these corporations and how much control they have over the market.

    I don’t think this post should be controversial – you were very tactful and thoroughly explained your stance yet didn’t try to denigrate vegetarians even though it sounds like some of those in the comments haven’t afforded you the same courtesy.

    I am a vegetarian/dietary vegan and therefore obviously do not eat meat; however, I respect those who choose to eat differently than me. I respect those who eat differently, yet humanely, even more. I have been a vegetarian for nearly 9 years and have never understood the holier-than-thou attitude many possess.

    I admire the care you give the animals entrusted to your care, both the ones who are pets and those who will be food. Regardless of what “status” an animal has, I believe they all deserve respect and should be treated as well as possible. I wish more people (especially those in situations to make a difference) shared that belief. Thank you for doing what you do on behalf of the animals.

  25. Sarah
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:32 am

    Beautiful and very inspirational post. Thank you Shreve, for standing up for what you believe in and for doing something about it!

  26. Roberta
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    This was such a well written and well thought out post. I’m sorry that people question your work to begin with, as though loving and respecting animals requires us all to follow some sort of accepted upon party line.

    I find people are squeamish when I talk aloud about using my chickens for meat. I’ve yet to do so but feel terrible about buying supermarket chicken. It’s truly more compassionate if you are able to provide a good life ending in a good death. I’m not a vegetarian. I do not intend to ever be. Being a carnivore is not a moral shortcoming. I’m not going to whatever you may imagine hell to be.

    Don’t ever apologize for what you do. You do it well. Your love comes through in your writing and your photography and no doubt in the day to day life that you lead that we are not privy to. Shine on, little darling!

  27. Laura
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    thank you, and it’s wonderful that you are inspiring other farmers/ranchers to follow your practices.
    You Rock!

  28. judy
    March 5th, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    I agree with everything you say; I eat meat also but I refuse to eat any animal food unless I can be sure that it comes from sources that humanely raise and slaughter them. I have to rely on Whole Foods because I think they are one of very few markets who do make the effort to source humanely raised animal products-I also buy from local farmers in the area. Anyone who has seen videos of factory farms from feedlot to slaughter to psychopathic, sadistic factory farm workers who deliberately torture animals, can’t possibly buy meat from regular grocery stores; if that was my only choice, I would give up animal products. Anyway, I applaud your effort and hope this type of movement spreads and grows. It would be better for the animals and people.

  29. Karen
    March 5th, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

    Thank you for your explanation and for all that you do! I worry a lot about the ‘disappearance’ of wildlife… don’t hear nearly as many birds as I used to. I think if I joined you on the Mountain one summer, I would feel as though I were in Heaven.

  30. Erynn
    March 5th, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

    Shreve, I want YOU to do a TED talk. On Star Brand Beef and what you’ve just written here. Many more people need to hear this, Star Brand Beef has to expand and become a new template for the way we raise, kill and consume all kinds of meat in North America. If you can’t convince TED to let you do a video remotely, I will!

  31. Erynn
    March 5th, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Shreve, sent you an email re: posting links to your site on my facebook page… is that ok? just checking with ya.

  32. Laurie
    March 5th, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    I am a vegetarian (slowly going to vegan) and I COMPLETELY respect what you are doing here. It makes perfect sense. My husband eats meat (rarely) because he has the same mentality as you and doesn’t want to have anything to do with the factory farms. THANK YOU for doing this. I might not ever eat meat again, but THIS is the right way to eat it.

  33. Anna
    March 5th, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

    I eat meat sparingly for health reasons, but when I do eat meat, I want it to be grass-fed. It is getting somewhat easier to find it … but like organic stuff it tends to get marked up.

    I am so glad that you are explaining this … and hope you will continue to do so. It takes various iterations to combat the mountains of misinformation.

    I agree that people can decide to not eat meat for whatever reason they choose… but if you are doing it for animals to be treated more humanely, that is not necessarily the most effective way.

    Thanks for doing what isn’t easy!

  34. Brenda
    March 5th, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

    What a terrific post. It was well written and you posted your references. Thank you.

  35. Felyne
    March 5th, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

    The source code they’ve posted online is a string of code which you would edit into your video viewing software code. By editing the code of the software, you make the program run differently.

    For example, say you’ve written a book in Word and your main character was constantly described as ‘the tall blonde’. By doing a global replace in Word for ‘tall lanky blonde’ to ‘short, burly chap’, suddenly your book, which still tells the same story, now just tells it of a short burly chap instead of a tall lanky blonde.

    All software applications are written as books (that is to say text), but instead of being words that people read to learn a story, they are words that create functions that people can interact with.

  36. Felyne
    March 5th, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    Oh and AMEN, SISTA! to the post. Sing it baby, sing it!

    Seriously, show them a better way and they will follow. I promise.

  37. Sue
    March 5th, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    This line says it all for me: ” And I think it’s better for those who eat meat, to eat meat that was loved.”

    Very well said.

  38. HollysFollyGlass
    March 5th, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    Well said! I come from a long line of kill what you eat hunters. My family ate meat because it’s what they could put on the table (along with fruits and veggies grown on their own land). The bottom line is gratitude.

    Grass fed tastes better and IS better for you.

  39. Felyne
    March 5th, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

    You might find this link helpful: http://videoscope.qrclab.com/
    You can upload your videos there to see the results.

    NY Times blog are right when they say “The team posted the code online and made it available to anyone who wanted to download it and run the program. But to do so required some technical expertise because the interface was not simple to use”

    Technically they are correct, anyone can do it, but practically not so much. It’s a bit like painting, technically anyone can do it if they have a paint brush. :)

  40. Maggie
    March 5th, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

    YES!

  41. Laura
    March 5th, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    YAY!!! Well said!!! Now, I need to figure out how to save the money to buy your beef. Until then, my garden and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!! LOL!!!

  42. Kathleen
    March 5th, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    Brava Shreve!!! Also Kudos to Amy and Erynn, I wholeheartedly agree. I have tried vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, but it’s very obvious that my particular body functions best eating more paleo/primal like. I like beef and I’m not ashamed to say it. I also love, love, love that I had the opportunity to participate in Star Brand Beef’s first year. I have to admit to being lazy sometimes and giving into supermarket beef when my life is crazy and I’m unorganized (although I at least try to get some sort of “organic” or similar labeled thing…or bison). I appreciate your post as it’s a wonderful less than gentle reminder that I need to not do that. I need to print it and paste it to the fridge next to my grocery list. Thank you.

  43. Carrie
    March 5th, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. I eat grass fed beef but I am not in the industry and didn’t really understand how cattle ranching works. Now I have good info to back my argument. Thanks again Shreve!

  44. SEMcC
    March 5th, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    You rock Shreve Stockton!

  45. Kelley Rico
    March 5th, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

    Well said, cogent, and correct! People around here (LOTS OF CATTLE in this area) seem to be moving toward the finishing/pasturing method more and more which is wonderful. A real revolution in how we relate to the food we eat is long overdue. Good for you Shreve in having that be a big piece of what you DO.

  46. Domenico
    March 5th, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

    Informative post, but I think the last line is the one that people don’t understand. I read a blog called Fig and Fauna, beautiful family on a beautiful farm in Florida. She talked about “harvesting” a goat they had raised, and I could not understand how one could raise an animal, fall in love with it, then harvest it for dinner. I don’t want to misquote her, so if you want her take the post was called Honey Panna Cotta and a Harvest on 11/14/12. She answered my question in the comments section.

  47. Claire
    March 5th, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

    Your explanation and description of the cow/beef business was great. I knew how the feedlots worked but for years put it the back of my mind. But thanks to you and your Star Brand Beef (delicious) I’m eating healthier on all foods. Good work Shreve and I know others will follow you.

  48. ChrisH
    March 5th, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

    Absolutely fascinating. I’d love to believe that a return to smaller, more distributed systems like what you’re talking about specifically regarding beef here, is something we could achieve. I like the notion of better, tastier, healthier food, and also the idea of putting dollars in the hands of the people who work to produce it. The agri-businesses of the world just don’t offer the idea of “value” that meshes with me. Well done, you, for /doing something/ to effect change!

  49. sybil
    March 5th, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    So do I. So proud of you. So damn impressed.

    I get chickens (in town!) in April.

  50. Katie
    March 5th, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

    As the daughter of a corn-and-soybean farmer who ran a small cattle operation on the side, I just want to say that this was a fantastic post. People don’t realize how much of themselves small farmers put into their cows/calves. They’ve never seen my father get up at 3 AM because one of the heifers is birthing, the way he had with the cows. They don’t realize how much that income meant to my family, when farming for the little guy can be a razor-thin profit margin at best.

    Great post. I’m going to mention it on my own blog tomorrow and link to it, because I think this is a post that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

  51. Sam
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

    I’ve been a vegetarian since 1995, so eschewing meat is second nature to me. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to eating animals, but if I had to, your philosophy is the one I’d need to follow to be ok with it.

  52. mlaiuppa
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    Fabulously stated.

    And that is why I only buy beef from Star Brand.

    I’m waiting to find a similar supply for chicken and pork.

    I am an omnivore.

    But I will not support the feed lot system if I can avoid it. I shop my local farmer’s market. We have a local coop garden that sells there. But so far, I haven’t found a local source for humanely raised chicken and pork.

    I love that two more ranchers have thrown in with you. You are subversive ranchers. You will quietly undermine the feedlot CAFO system by simply supplying what consumers want.

    I imagine in the end the last consumers of feed lot beef will be…the military and schools. Kinda sad.

  53. Rose
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    I’ve said this before, but people like you are making the change in our food system so, again, thank you.

    I will spread this article to my rancher friends. Hopefully, they will consider this to be a viable option.

    Slaughtering is necessary and unfortunately, the grocery store scene hasn’t helped connect us anymore to the animals we eat. I feel like when we process our own livestock, I feel gratitude and humble for this gift. Because honestly, I am just lucky that I am human.

  54. pam
    March 5th, 2013 @ 10:44 pm

    Not longwinded,all had to be said and you said it so well! controversial? Yes, BUT one must rock the boat and stand for what they believe in, no matter who or what disagrees with them.
    YOU have many who share your opinion, Shreve, and I am proud to know you, if only through the blog. I hope we will be able to buy Star Brand beef this year for delivery to the midwest (Chicagoland).

  55. Lea' in CO
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

    Fantastic post and I concur. I’ve missed hearing your longer posts – it’s great to read your writing again, although I do also love the photos. I’m so pleased and grateful that you are taking the time to post all that you are able. You are inspirational – keep it up. You may become weary at times, but you have lots of supporters who feel the same, or who now understand more about the world around them through your education. Thanks for all you do. Go Star Brand Beef!

  56. bonnie
    March 5th, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

    thanks for speaking up! with the internet being what it is, you are being heard. so thanks for taking the time to articulate all this so well. love

  57. Emily
    March 6th, 2013 @ 12:04 am

    I’m vegan. I’m quite content to be vegan, I miss nothing from my pregan days and I go out of my way to avoid proselytizing. I have a multitude of companion animals. They cats are, of course, obligate carnivores and the dogs, while omnivorous, still consume meat. I knew I’d be feeding them meat before I adopted them and know that I’d made the concious choice of stewardship of animals that require the deaths of other animals to live. In a magical, perfect world this wouldn’t be the case but it isn’t and it ain’t so given the choice between lovingly raised animals who were fed what they’re designed to eat and lived happily until they were killed with concious awareness to avoid needless suffering or the current horrifying industrial farm complex… Well, I’d have to a jackass to not support what you’re trying to accomplish.

  58. Sophie, The Pig | Mimi's Blog
    March 6th, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    [...] read a very interesting blog today from blogger Shreve Stockton. I actually get an e-mail from the author every day because she [...]

  59. scotty
    March 6th, 2013 @ 12:51 am

    great post. your solution is well worth considering. although it is an uphill battle railing against the unhealthy for man and beast industrial farm complex..hopefully from this people will spread the ideas and reach the consumer who will ultimately create the change. the ranchers and farmers lose sleep at night in nurturing the health of their animals and crops whereas the corporations with all their blowhard advertising care little about health for all and are all about profit.

  60. Heather
    March 6th, 2013 @ 1:03 am

    Keep fighting the good fight, Shreve, because big changes come from small beginnings. And I agree with Erynn about the TED talk. If you can make that happen then please do! TED talks are a phenomenal way to get to a message to the masses.

  61. rockrat
    March 6th, 2013 @ 1:22 am

    I love a good equivocal rant.

    Regarding feedlot animal life expectancy, I think 2 years is about right. Feedlot animals get dermal, ingestion, and inhalation exposures to ammonia gas and nitrates that are toxic. Try driving up highway 99 through the California Central valley. There are 5 or 6 operations right next to the highway where the ammonia gas evolving from urea is so strong it makes your eyes water (inside the car with the windows rolled up). On top of that, the nitrates seeping from the feedlot ground surface into groundwater is basically recycled into the cows because stock wells typically stop at first groundwater and produce with no treatment.

    Those California cows are not happy.

    Feedlot owners get a free pass on this environmental pollution because politically they’re still viewed as family ranchers.

    Although I love barbeque with beer, humans have teeth and intestinal tracts built for grains and plants. Meat releases carcinogens when it is grilled or degraded. Carnivores have jaws that don’t grind and surprisingly short intestinal tracts. Sharks don’t get butt cancer because their intestinal tract is a fraction of their body length. We get butt cancer from the long residence time of meat in our long intestinal tracts.

    Beer and a baked potato is ok.

  62. Arlene
    March 6th, 2013 @ 5:07 am

    “Carnivores have jaws that don’t grind and surprisingly short intestinal tracts. Sharks don’t get butt cancer because their intestinal tract is a fraction of their body length. We get butt cancer from the long residence time of meat in our long intestinal tracts.”

    I don’t believe this is the case, we crush our foods so that the enzyme amylase is released, we have a variety of enzymes in our stomachs specifically designed to begin the break down of protein, and our guts are loaded with bacteria to finish the job.
    If anything, grains and beans, many of which must be specially prepared for our bodies to ingest, are harder to break down once eaten.
    I have no argument with people who live a vegan diet and think it’s probably a million times better than the usual processed food many eat, but I don’t like vegan myths and propaganda.

  63. Calico
    March 6th, 2013 @ 5:36 am

    Thanks Shreve – great summary of the system and why it’s not really so great to spend so little of our collectives incomes on food. Never in all history have so many people had access to inexpensive food, but now it is taken for granted. And it hasn’t resulted in a healthier population, has it? Thanks so much again for all your efforts to improve your corner of the world, and spread the news !

  64. Kris
    March 6th, 2013 @ 6:04 am

    Thank you so much — so well said. My boys started a little business raising pigs last summer, and ran into so many (non-vegetarians) repelled by the fact that they could eat one of the pigs. (They made a tidy profit selling the rest, and have a waiting list for this year.) They were baffled. Knowing what we know about commercial operations, how could they *not* raise their own meat if they had the ability to do so? The disconnect is scary, but you did a great job in this post addressing it.

  65. Donna
    March 6th, 2013 @ 6:18 am

    You go girl! I chose a vegetarian life 30+ years ago to avoid hormones and antibiotics. Today, my health, endurance and appearance is that of one 10 years younger. Too many Americans fall victim to our consumer-driven society and the high that comes from cheap sugary and fatty food.

  66. sue
    March 6th, 2013 @ 7:47 am

    A bright light of hope in the dark horrific state of our food system. Thank you.

  67. Holly
    March 6th, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    Amen Shreve..thank you for opening our eyes to the entire system…If you delivered to Canada, trust me , so many people would buy. It is so hard up here to find grass fed beef. We have a hard enough time finding organic chicken. I wish everyone could come on board and do what you are doing..and you are right. Eating the proper foods would put less stress on the medical system..and as for wild life, because of the encroachment of subdivisions, we are driving the animals north, but they come down when they get hungry, and then the hue and cry goes out and the animal is tracked and killed..What the heck have we come to…..

  68. Diane
    March 6th, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    I heart everything you said! :-) Thank you! I’ve been a vegetarian, a wannabe vegan, and most recently, a regular meat eater (which my body seems to like best). I recently read a book called “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability” by Lierre Keith. I’m still mulling over everything she wrote about. Knowing what you know, and living where you do, I’d be so curious to hear what you think of this book!

  69. Hawk
    March 6th, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    This explains things very well. My family is very “carnivore,” but we don’t eat much beef either – as much because of ridiculous prices as because of health concerns. I spent some years in upstate New York, less than a mile from a (small) dairy; I know how much difference it makes in the milk for the cows to be well cared for. I’m looking forward to a chance at some Star Brand Beef this year!

  70. Tracy
    March 6th, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    Thank-you Shreve XO

  71. Marg
    March 6th, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    This post reminds me of the early days when I first started following you, long posts and lots of comments. LOVE IT!!!!

  72. Nancy S
    March 6th, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    I luv, luv, luv your blog. Thank you for such a thought out explanation. I wish the men in my life would cut back on their beef consumption and I wish I could afford beef like yours.
    It may not be to late for my son, I’m going to have to start working on this.
    Keep up the good work & the great pictures you take for us.

  73. Karen
    March 6th, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    Shreve on TED would be fab… if she’s so inclined!

  74. FG- Elaine
    March 6th, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

    Awesome explanation, great work you do with the animals and YES, sometimes 1 person can bring change, insight and new practices to the world – what a gift you are to us, the animals and the planet, Shreve – so proud of you!!!

    I’m personally at a loss as to how those of you are vegans even survive – on what food? Baffles me!! As some of you folks are baffled by us, I in turn am baffled at how you live day after day. I force myself to have a salad once a day because I know it’s good for me, but the only way I can choke it down is to drown it in zero calorie dressing so mask the taste of the greens and veggies. I might cut up some other veggies like – red peppers and cauliflower – to snack on, but that better include dip that is loaded with spices and hotter than blazes to be able to enjoy them.
    If it wasn’t for cheese, eggs and milk I couldn’t live and seafood, which I could eat every day. To the best my grocery store provides, I buy organic ~ range free organic eggs, organic milk and organic meats.

    Keeping on keeping on Shreve and how wonderful two other rancher are joining in – hopefully the whole state of WY before long. :) LOVE what you are doing and wish all farmers/ranchers would follow suit.

  75. CathyA
    March 6th, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

    Keep knocking them out of the park Shreve!

    I think people who believe (as one poster opined) that eating meat is a moral failing, do not acknowledge that they eat living things to survive, even if they consume no meat. Sure, celery doesn’t have eyes, but it’s still alive. Everyone uses living tissue to sustain themselves.

    I hope you can inspire many more in your “neighborhood” to switch to cow/calf/finished beef and no more land will be sold for houses, which is, after all, the “last” crop, as Carlton Ward opined (native Floridian photographer from ranching family).
    This is the cow hug right?
    http://www.carltonward.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=1&a=2&at=0

  76. scotty
    March 6th, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

    shouldnt that be ‘farmily rancher’?

  77. Lindsey
    March 6th, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

    Thank you for writing this…I love it! I can’t wait until Star Beef comes to the east coast!

  78. Susan
    March 6th, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

    As a long-time lurker I feel compelled to comment on this great post. I don’t eat much meat because in the current model you described it’s just not good for me or the planet. The one thing I’d like to mention is that the corn and soybeans fed feedlot animals are likely GMO (genetically modified). As a science writer I used to think that people against GMO were Luddites who “didn’t understand”. But lots of research and study and now I believe that GMOs are one of the biggest threats to health on the planet–and to the planet and it’s intricate web of life.

    All we have to do is look around, see the news. People are fatter and sicker in industrialized countries than ever before. I grew up in the 50s and 60s. There wasn’t much emphasis on nutrition. Everybody –and I mean everybody — ate a meat and potatoes diet maybe with canned vegetables. And, as kids we drank lots of whole milk. As kids we played outside but there wasn’t any emphasis on exercise. Yes, there were some fat people and it seemed everybody’s grandparents were “stout”. But there weren’t the grotesque, freak-show level of obesity that we see everyday now, people so obese they can’t even walk and need motorized carts to move around. Sure, it’s easy to blame the victim, individuals who are “lazy” and stuff their faces with junk food. But we had that back in the 50s and 60s too, along with cane sugar soft drinks.

    What changed? The food. Factory-farmed animals fed genetically modified food, that, as you pointed out, will kill them in 2 years. And then humans eat that meat. But not only meat, genetically modified wheat and other grains and vegetables. The quadruple increase in Celiac disease and gluten intolerance over 30 years corresponds to the change in wheat bred to be shorter and more disease resistant. Chemical companies like Monsanto got into agriculture. Now there’s corn and soy with a genetic mutation that allows it to survive spraying with herbicides. Who knows what other effects this genetically modified food has on the human metabolism. Maybe it causes unsatiable appetite where people must eat the way a junkie must shoot up.
    So, while health experts tout a “good diet” and exercise as the path out of obesity and health related issues. Really, there is no “good diet” unless it’s non-GMO and totally organic. And, that folks, is a rare and very expensive diet indeed.

  79. penny in co
    March 6th, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

    Great post Shreve. I am sure you are familiar with the Weston Price Foundation and their championing of the family ranch, raw milk and foods etc. Such important info!
    I am about to pick up part of a pig this weekend from a guy in Durango. I have been waiting 3 months for this pork!. It is worth the wait…just like your beef will be. Hope I am still on your list for this year if you come back through CO…..

  80. carmel
    March 6th, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

    Great post, would love to post this on fb and send it out there…

  81. Kelly mahoney
    March 6th, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    I appreciate and agree w what you’ve said- I’m a vegetarian, but firmly believe feedlots should be discontinued and our livestock should be fed more than corn and abx. I was just telling a friend ab this exact topic the other day- Here’s to grain- wheat- running in open fields and breathing…thanks Shreve!

  82. carmen
    March 6th, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

    This was very informative. I am going to show my husband and talk to him about changing the way we eat. Thank you.

  83. sherewin
    March 6th, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

    Great post! Having grown up on a family farm, I am frequently trying to think through and articulate these issues. You do a good job of that here. And as for what cows can do for the land, you *must* watch this video, if you haven’t done so already: http://www.dietdoctor.com/how-cows-could-green-the-worlds-deserts-and-reverse-climate-change

  84. mlaiuppa
    March 6th, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

    I found this video today and Huffington Post and I had to share it.

    http://youtu.be/ZMwTugJusj4

    It’s from 2010 and shows some cows in Holland jumping and dancing around in the spring grass after a long winter.

    How very different from how cows are treated in the U.S. be they dairy cows or in feed lots/CAFOs.

    These happy, dancing cows are how I picture Shreve’s Farmily.

  85. Twwly
    March 6th, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

    Couldn’t come at a better time for me, seriously.

    I’ve been Instagramming baby goat pictures and cannot tell you how the vegans have been filling my inbox……..

    Reminds me of the time someone told me that my children should be killed and eaten, this was after I posted pictures of piglets.

    Thanks, Shreve.

  86. Kristin
    March 7th, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    Thanks for opening up this discussion. I so wish everyone could read your article and they could decide what method is better for them and the planet. While I think its a bit more complex than you make it out to be in terms of the benefit of grass finished beef than grain finished. For example; what breed of cattle works the best for finishing them on grass? the current large animal breed? Also, can we get the federal mandate for corn ethanol reduced so that local ranchers can afford the pasture to finish their beef vs. keep the land for corn? Can we get out of this drought currently affecting hay prices to triple what they were 3 years ago? I so appreciate you opening this dialogue as grass finished beef is the best for us as people who consume beef, it is also best for the planet! Thank you for your essay!!!

  87. Becky
    March 7th, 2013 @ 11:59 am

    Goodness Shreve! I’ve thought to type “Bravo” or “You go girl” but honestly, I’m going to stick with “Goodness”…really, because it needs to be said and written and said again and again until we make some serious changes. I only know you through the blog, but as an older woman, I feel so very proud of you for speaking out to clearly and eloquently about a matter that is so very important to ALL of us.You exemplify “goodness” in your work with the cattle and in your motives for speaking out. You are so deeply appreciated! Thank you.

  88. volt
    March 7th, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    I don’t eat meat but I agree with your mission. This post reminded me of that animated commercial with Willie Nelson singing “Back To The Start”. I couldn’t help tearing-up (in a good way) when I first saw it. Anybody else seen this before?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos

  89. Kat
    March 7th, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

    Oh please, send this to some major magazine or newspaper so more people can read it. More people need to see this!

  90. Wendy Smith
    March 7th, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

    Well said Shreve. I am vegetarian but only because I didn’t like meat as a child and still dont, but I have no problem with rearing and then (humanely) killing the animal for thier meat and by products – I like a nice leather bag and shoes!
    I cannot stand factory farming and think farmers should be made to grass rear all their animals. In the UK, all cattle for human consumption cannot be over 18months of age (in a way a blessing if they are factory farmed).
    On a slightly different note, you might be aware of the current food issues we are having in the UK…. lots of beef products have been found to contain horsemeat… in some cases 100% horse! I believe this has come about because unscrupulous middle men have wanted to make more money and so have added horsemeat which is cheaper (also the shooper wants cheap food). They are also finding that in some instances the horsemeat contains drugs (ie Bute) So my advice to anyone here in the UK that eats meat is only to buy it from reputable butchers, your local farmer or farmers markets

  91. Colleen G
    March 7th, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

    I finally had a chance to sit down and read this. Goodness gracious thank you so much for doing what you do and inspiring others to follow suit. May the force be with you ;-)

  92. Mari
    March 8th, 2013 @ 12:56 am

    If a cow was given a choice of standing in crap feedlot or roaming grass-fed, I would expect grass-fed would be chosen. If given a choice of living a long life as a grass fed cow or dying by slaughter at a young age, I would expect living a long life would be chosen.

    I guess we have different views of love.

    Just about everyone commenting seems to agree with your view. I am one of the few dissenters. Oh well. :)

  93. Deborah
    March 8th, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

    I don’t eat meat, fish, anything that had a face or mother and that is my personal choice. I do not feel superior for choosing this, it just works for me and reflects my love for animals. I was raised on meat, so can say I’ve been there and done that. Shreve, I respect and “get” what you are saying about this industry and applaud your efforts. I think back on our Native Americans and how they killed only what they needed and BLESSED the animal before taking it’s life. Respect for the animal and gratitude is what is missing in our culture. It makes me very sad that our level of consciousness is so diminished when it comes to food. I don’t know what else to say, except that I do understand what it is that you are trying to do and I respect your thinking behind it.

  94. CLC
    March 8th, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    What a load of you know what. Disguise it all you want but the bottom line is that you have pulled in people who admire your story for your unique relationship with a coyote and now you are raising cattle (as pets) and slaughtering cattle to make a profit. Cattle who you pretend to care about, pretend to have mercy for. No matter how you paint it, you are running a slaughterhouse. And yours is the cruelest trick of all… you befriend God’s creatures and then you kill them. Justify it all you like lady, but the truth is that you are a for-profit killer.

  95. Kato
    March 9th, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

    Very well said!

  96. Eric Peterson
    March 9th, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    I am a vegetarian (not vegan), for philosophical reasons. I consider this as a personal choice, and never advocate it, nor do I harbor any disdain for those who do eat meat. A few years back I read a book by Mathew Scully called, ” Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (2002). It starts from the precept from the Bible, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”–Genesis 1:24-26, and then goes on to ask, what does this mean? Does it give the right to do whatever we please, or does it confer in us the responsibility of good stewardship? It is a remarkable, and comprehensive book. I, myself, am not particularly religious, but you don’t have to be to understand the rightness of his discussion. What Star Brand Beef does is exactly what Scully proposes. I applaud Shreve for taking this on.

  97. Lesley
    March 9th, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write this very thoughtful post, Shreve. I too am a meat eater and make every effort to practice humane consumption.

  98. Diana
    March 10th, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    I completely agree that animals should be raised with respect and dignity, even if they will eventually end up on our dinner table. I appreciate the things you do for your animals and have complete respect for the things you stand for.

    However, I do not believe your statement of “and this in turn contributes to the health problems we see today in our society” is based on any scientific evidence. Being a health care profession and scientist, it quite bothers me when people propagate misleading, false, non-evidence based beliefs without citing solid studies to support their statements. Many people read your blog and believe what you say. Please review the validity of your statements prior to posting them. Otherwise, it’ll just be like Jenny McCarthy and her completely unfounded promotion of the entirely false claim that vaccine adjuvants increase the incidence of autism.

    There is NO Grade A evidence for your claim that eating meat from a cow that was injected with antibiotics and other drugs leads to the “health problems we see today in our society.”

  99. shreve
    March 10th, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

    D ~ There’s actually quite a lot of evidence that the heavy use of antibiotics in livestock is linked with MRSA and superbugs:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/21/147190101/how-using-antibiotics-in-animal-feed-creates-superbugs

    http://bit.ly/Zd9k1E

    and that an imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids in relation to omega-3 fatty acids is linked with a number of degenerative diseases (corn-fed beef is high in omega-6s while grass-finished beef is high in omega-3s):

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909

    http://bit.ly/WCRt7H

  100. Diana
    March 10th, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    It is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in general, not just in animals, that leads to antibiotic resistance. For example, people who do not finish their 7 day course of antibiotic treatment allows bacteria that have developed resistance to proliferate, thereby producing a population that is now resistant to antibiotics from the same class. Humans who are on chronic antibiotic courses are also more prone to developing an infection with a resistant bacterial strain.

    There are studies out there that support your claims. However, there are just as many studies out there are refute your claims. Cochrane reviews (the gold standard) that have looked at omega-3 supplementation have been inconclusive at best. Abstracts can be misleading. Unless you can look at the results section of the article and see how the data was actually collected and analyzed, I would not suggest making conclusions from abstracts.

  101. m.v.
    March 11th, 2013 @ 7:58 am

    This is my “unscientific” thoughts based on 60 plus years of life and observation.
    Too many people/animals in too small an area resulting in more rapid spread of disease, bugs, crime etc.
    Too much reliance on and improper use of chemicals (including medications). I have lost track of how many times people I know have taken antibiotics till they “felt better” and then stopped even though the prescription wasn’t finished. Don’t get me started on how people use cleaners.
    Too many people following the latest craze be it fashion, health or cars for that matter without doing the slightest bit of research about the topic. No, you don’t need a college degree to do this, just time and a little common sense.
    Oh yes, too many “toos” in these comments.
    I am from neither the pro or anti-chemical camp. I have seen peoples lives destroyed because of chemicals and lives saved because of them (mine included).
    The bottom line is use common sense, respect the environment, and everything in moderation.

  102. Beth K
    March 11th, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    Hell ya! Go Shreve!

  103. Anita in MD
    March 11th, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    Stick to yer guns, Shreve!!! Can’t wait until Star Brand hits the east coast!

  104. Emma Bull
    March 11th, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    This is an outstanding essay, one that really makes clear the issues for ranchers and consumers and the environment. Best of all, it suggests a genuinely workable alternative.

    I’m a vegetarian, but I know it’s not the right choice for everyone. I hope the meat co-op notion catches on big time, and that a feedlot becomes a rare, strange sight on my cross-country trips.

  105. Sherri
    March 11th, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

    I think you are an amazing person, and I thank you for your work with this! Imagining a world without the feedlots – what a great day that would be. Every small step counts and I thank you for being part of the movement, towards that brighter future for everyone. :)

  106. Sherri
    March 12th, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    When I saw that original comment on the previous post I cringed. My first thought was city slicker, where do you think you meat comes from?

    I was raised on a large grain and beef/pork farm in Sask Canada and comments like that make me chuckle.

    Recently, because it has become more readily available, I am only buying free range meats. Yes it cost almost twice what the big stores sell the same cuts for but at least I know I’m eating “happy food” and it isn’t load with all the crap. It may be too late for me at 56 for it to make much of a difference to my body health but my mind loves it.

    Very good post!!!!

  107. MK Ray
    March 12th, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    Excellent description of industrial meat.
    Still. I love my dog but I could never eat her any more than I could eat any member of my family. That part just doesn’t compute. But thank you for trying.

  108. Amy
    March 12th, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

    @CLC – this is precisely why I don’t name my potatoes. It’s too hard to look ‘em in the eye before I pluck them from the ground, slice them up, fry them in fat and eat them in front of their family and friends.

    I imagine Shreve laughs like a cartoon villain when her cows go to the slaughterhouse. She is, as we all know, super evil and bad-intentioned and she pays no attention to the health and well-being of her animals, nor that they have a quick, dignified death. Nope! Not our Shreve. A real mustache-twirler, that one.

  109. Mel
    March 12th, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

    I grew up on small farm and thru the years we had pigs, cows, sheep and chickens. We had names for some of the pigs, and many cows and pigs enjoyed being scratched or petted. They a plenty of space to roam and plenty of good food, and when they reached the right age, Dad took them to market.

  110. CathyA
    March 13th, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    Shreve, I have to sort of agree with Diane on this point—-25% of abstracts misrepresent or contradict study findings. Not always possible to read whole journal articles if Springer or Elsevier has a grip on them.

    And I’m not sure about evidence that ill health is liked to an individual person eating an individual factory farmed animal.

    I do know that 25% of ducks in the wild in one study were found to have resistant bacteria in their bodies. It was quite a few years ago I found that study.

    Sources of antibiotic pollution come from feed lots, humans, aquaculture,hospitals, medical waste, pets. If all this is recycled back around to humans, filtered through pigs, chickens, cows, pets and back to humans, this resistance can be amplified. In China you can buy antibiotics anywhere w/o a scipt. Greece has some of the highest antibiotic resistance around – because of their free use of antibiotics.

    I was once a crop scout and while in a corn field got sprayed with the effluent from a hog waste pond, which they used as fertilizer. So there’s the possibility of horizontal gene transfer in a situation like that.

    Fate of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment is the MOST important issue to me:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20888028

    And the fact that they’ve discovered resistance can occur at 100 fold less concentrations that initially thought makes the presence of these bacteria in the environment a real hazard. Resistance also seems to be hard to breed OUT of a population of bacteria also.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141051/

  111. shreve
    March 13th, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    C ~ In my comment above (#99) I linked to one abstract and then an entire list of articles on each topic, which I think both you and Diane missed (and the abstract wasn’t on the topic of antibiotics). I have not said that the use of antibiotics in feedlots is the only cause of antibiotic resistance – I’m stating that it is a contributing factor to this problem we have.

  112. In Defense of the Family Rancher | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page
    March 15th, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

    [...] about making a difference in our broken food system. With a suggestion for how to fix it. In Defense of The Family Rancher : HONEY ROCK DAWN Sandra *My obligatory intro There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and [...]

  113. Chiriohs
    March 18th, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

    *sings* It’s the circle, of liiiiiiiiiiife!

  114. Steinwaldwolf
    March 19th, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

    Ok, I may just be a titty-baby, but this made me tear up and have all the more respect for you and your goals. You’re doing a brilliant thing!

    I’ve always wanted a similar path of “being the change I wish to see” (cliché I know). Particularly in the realm of sustainable farming and livestock husbandry. I just feel like it’s so unattainable sometimes. How did you find the means for land and getting started?

    I’m trying to get a small leather business up and running (so it’s mobile & for extra savings) while my partner currently looks for a better paid position closer to where we’d like to be (probably the NE). But ultimately that means near a city where land is a lot more expensive. Any beginners tips on how to help things move a long? I’m 28 and every year that passes at this point I feel more stuck. Thanks.
    ~L

  115. shreve
    March 20th, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    S/L ~ Thank you! To answer your Qs ~ I’m looking for land too – it’s so hard to find anything remotely affordable, and right now we just lease land for the cows. I started my biz with money saved from the Daily Coyote book. Having other sources of income is almost essential when you’re starting from scratch.

    But you can begin something great even with a small amount of land, or leasing land, or working part time for an existing rancher and getting a couple of cows in exchange for labor and running with their herd. And through this, spreading the word and showing what is possible. A lot of people need to see someone else succeed before trying it themselves, so you can effect change on a larger level even when you start small.

    And you are YOUNG. When I was 28, I was still living in San Fran, if that puts anything into perspective.

  116. Steinwaldwolf
    March 20th, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

    You are so lovely, Shreve. I guess small is where I am at currently; and while it’s hard to refrain myself from looking so far ahead I really do need to focus on my small. I hope wanting it bad enough will give me the drive I need to be where my dreams currently are. Thank you for the encouragement and I wish you continued success!
    ~L

  117. hello haha narf
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 8:32 am

    thank you for taking the time to write about all of this in such a way that those of us far removed from the horrors of feedlots may be reminded to do our part to change the system.

  118. kwiaciarnia online
    March 29th, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    This is the appropriate blog for anyone who needs to search out out about this topic. You realize so much its nearly arduous to argue with you (not that I actually would need…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!

  119. biuro wirtualne
    April 3rd, 2013 @ 5:35 am

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  120. operationpinkherring
    April 6th, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

    Will you be taking orders again at any point soonish? I lived on the East Coast when you first announced SBB, but now I’m in Utah and my husband is itching to buy a chest freezer!

  121. The Holistic Diet | Emily Eats
    April 9th, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    [...] that you get the highest quality meat possible. What you can’t see will still affect you. A cow living in a feedlot on a diet of grain (and other things that would not make up part of a [...]

  122. In Defense of the West | Alpenglow Images
    May 3rd, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    [...] ranchers are still succeeding in places, but the culture is slowly losing its grip as larger operations take over, among other things. [...]

  123. Barbara
    June 11th, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    Here’s how weird I am, and how at war my brain is with itself.

    ok so I completely respect what you’re doing and understand your reasoning. I eat beef, chicken, turkey, and the occasional bacon. But somewhere in my mind I need to pretend it’s not really meat, and if I see a cow I can’t seem to eat meat for a while. I live too far away to order your beef (I think) but I can’t do it anyway because of the pictures of your cows and because they have names. It makes no sense, I realize.

    So my question is – was it ever or is it ever hard for you to slaughter them given that you develop a relationship with them? I know you do it humanely. But it seems like it would be so hard. What about the ones you feature here – will they be slaughtered?

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