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Date: February 14, 2003
Contact:  Donald E. Bixby
Phone: (919) 542-5704
Food for a Healthy Heart
Americans are become increasingly aware of the health and safety issues of
our food.  These issues surround factory produced meat, eggs, and milk, and
include the concern about antibiotics dn hormones in feed, effect of animal
by-products in feed, animal welfare, environmental degradation, and the
social impact of industrial livestock production.
Jo Robinson explains the surprising benefits of grass fed meat, eggs, and
diary products in her book, Why Grassfed is Best!  She highlights the
nutritional and health advantages of products from animals fed on grass and
hay compared to industrial feeding systems, often called CAFOs (confined
animal feeding operations).  Her book offers an array of information sources
as well as a directory of pasture-based producers.
Marjorie Bender of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy points out the
benefits of grass fed animals The ALBC News, Vol. 19, Issue 5.  Meat and
milk from grass fed cattle contain higher levels of Vitamin E and Beta
Carotene, both antioxidants thought to inhibit cancer,  than grain finished
commercial cattle.  Omega-3 fatty acids as well as conjugated linoleic acid
(CCL) are much higher in grass fed animals.
Michael Pollan’s feature article in the NY Times Magazine, This Steer’s
Life, follows the life of a feedlot steer, and concludes that large
commercial feedlots are ecologically unsound as well as unhealthy for the
animals, the workers and the consumers.  Pollan supports grass feeding as
the solution, and enjoys the fresh taste of grass finished beef.
Marion Burros, Food Editor for the NY Times has embraced the concept of
naturally raised foods.  "The Greening of the Herd” appeared in the May 29th
issue, in which she points out  that livestock producers in America have
bred animals to perform in the feedlot, rather than on pasture, thus the
need for heritage breeds that retain grass genetics.  As a Thanksgiving
treat, she offered her readers her enthusiastic paean on range reared
heritage turkey breeds, recently nominated by ALBC to the Slow Food Ark of
With the promotion of the benefits of grass feeding has come misleading
labeling.  Most cattle and sheep spend part of their lives on pasture, but
all commercial animals are finished in feedlots on a high grain diet that
eliminates all benefits of the previous management.  Most free range poultry
may not have access to green living forage. If consumers do not know who
grows their food, they should be asking for grass finished beef and lamb and
pasture-raised poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
Many traditional breed of livestock retain the genetics to succeed on
pasture.  Grazing efficiency, good feet and legs for mobility, and better
distribution of fat stores make breeds like the Highland, Galloway, Devon,
Red Poll, and Dexter good breed choices for many markets.  Navajo-Churro,
Katahdin, Tunis, and Cotswold are a few of the sheep breeds that will excel
on pasture in an appropriate environment.  Factory pork has no comparison to
pigs in clover.  The Tamworth, Hereford, Gloucestershire Old Spots, and Red
Wattle raised out of doors produce a rich, moist and flavorful pork now
being sought by chefs and others who appreciate these culinary
A Delaware or Wyandotte chicken raised on pasture will produce a truly
golden egg, loaded with minerals, vitamins and other health benefits not
available from the “factory girls.”  And a supermarket chicken will never
produce anything like the Sunday dinner centerpiece of one of the historic
breeds raised out of doors.
For more information about grass friendly historic breeds, or to join in the
effort to conserve rare breeds, visit the American Livestock Breeds
Conservancy web site or contact Don Bixby at ALBC, PO Box
477, Pittsboro, NC 27312, PH. (919)542-5704 or e-mail

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