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Natural Is Not Always Better


It's not what we don't know that causes us trouble. It's what we know that isn't so. Whichever famous writer said that (it's been attributed to many), what he said carries truth.

What are some of the things we know that aren't so? Here's one: Grass-fed "free-range" beef cattle are better for the environment — and for you — than factory-farmed corn-fed cattle. It does seem to make sense that the steer raised in the more "natural" environment would be better for the world.

Michael Pollan, the prolific food author and activist, wrote in The New York Times that "what was once a solar-powered ruminant (grass-fed steer) (has been turned) into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine." How so? Farmers burn fossil fuels to ship corn to feed cows instead of letting them eat what's naturally under their feet.

Restaurants serving burgers supposedly made from grass-fed beef self-servingly claim their foods are healthier for the planet. The American Grassfed Association — surprise, surprise — says its cattle are better for the environment because harmony is created between the land and the animals.

People believe. Nobody likes the idea of cattle jammed into feedlots. When we asked people which kind of cattle were better, we got the expected answers:

"Free roaming."

"Cows should be outside."

"Free-roaming grass-fed cows, because you've got happy cows. They've lived a happy life out in sunshine."

It's logical to think that grass-fed steers might be better for the environment, but so often what sounds logical is just wrong.

Don't believe me? Dr. Jude Capper, an assistant professor of dairy sciences at Washington State University, has studied the data.

Capper said: "There's a perception out there that grass-fed animals are frolicking in the sunshine, kicking their heels up full of joy and pleasure. What we actually found was from the land-use basis, from the energy, from water and, particularly, based on the carbon footprints, grass-fed is far worse than corn-fed."

How can that be?

"Simply because they have a far lower efficiency, far lower productivity.

The animals take 23 months to grow. (Corn-fed cattle need only 15.) That's eight extra months of feed, of water, land use, obviously, and also an awful lot of waste. If we have a grass-fed animal, compared to a corn-fed animal, that's like adding almost one car to the road for every single animal. That's a huge increase in carbon footprints."

Once again, modern technology saves money and is better for the earth. By stuffing the feedlot animals with corn, farmers get them to grow faster. Therefore they can slaughter them sooner, which is better for the earth than letting them live longer and do all the environmentally damaging things natural cows do while they are alive.

"Absolutely right," Capper said. "Every single day, they need feed, they need water, and they give off methane nitrous oxide — very potent greenhouse gases that do damage."

But what about damage to people? Some advocates of grass-fed beef claim that the more naturally raised animals are healthier to eat.

"There is absolutely no scientific evidence based on that. Absolutely none," she replied. "There is some very slight difference in fatty acids, for example, but they are so minor that they don't make any significant human health impact."

But what about those hormones the cows are given? Surely that cannot be good for us.

"What we have to remember is every food we eat — whether it's tofu, whether it's beef, whether it's apples — they all contain hormones. There's nothing, apart from salts, that doesn't have some kind of hormone in them."

So the next time you reach for that package of beef in the grocery store tagged with all the latest grass-fed, free-range lingo, remember: Not only does it often cost twice as much, but there's no evidence it's better for the environment or better for you.

It's just another food myth.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="" <>></a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




29 Comments | Post Comment
This is a sound and logical argument; free range cattle are not better for the environmen or for the consumer. Therefore, free range cattle being better for both is just "another food myth". However, the argument does leave out a factor that may contribute to some people supporting free range cattle, regardless of its environmental or health exagerations.

To quote a line from the article, "Free-roaming grass-fed cows, because you've got happy cows. They've lived a happy life out in sunshine." Perhaps some people actually are concerned with the happiness of the animal they've chosen to consume. Many cultures were taught to honor the animal they've killed to eat, to thank it for its 'sacrifice'. Just because most Americans buy their meat at a grocery store, far from where the animal lived, does not mean we've lost all semblance to our hunting ancestors.

Being a flesh consumng omivore, does not make you a flesh consuming monster. We may care for living things, and may be willing to pay more at the butcher's to ensure a cow had a better life. Maybe te consumer is voting with his/her dollars, as the free market allows. Maybe they're saying that they don't want to giver their money to the guy growing his cows in 15 months if it is to the detriment to the living animal. Maybe they realize that eating a plant and creating 'grass-feeding' emmisions is a natural part of existence for a herbivore.
Comment: #1
Posted by: RyanTodd
Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:25 AM
Great article Mr. Stossel. I have enjoyed you for years, since your early days on 20/20, and you've always been a favorite reporter of mine.
I would also like to point out a difference between grass fed free-range cattle vs. the corn fed type. The corn fed cattle just tastes better. Grass fed rangers tend to have a slightly different taste, and because the animals tend to get more excercise, their muscles become tougher. All in all, you lose a lot of what makes a great, tender steak great and tender.
And you mentioned hormones. It should also be pointed out that dairy cows who receive hormones produce more milk, thus requiring fewer cows (which in turn requires less food to feed them and a lower carbon footprint).
Comment: #2
Posted by: Otto Ruefrak
Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:54 AM

I am surprised you left out the other side... Corn fed beef is only possible due to the outrageous corn subsidy. In fact, it's become somewhat of a beef/chicken subsidy due to the amount that is dumped on feed lots fattening them up.

You also mention the hormones, but fail to mention antibiotics. Corn fed beef is dosed on antibiotics on a regular basis. Why? Because feeding corn to a cow makes them very sick. They have not evolved to eat it and it slowly kills them. Now personally, I'm planning on eating them either way, but it seems like eating a cow you just made sick can't be too good of an idea. (I've got no bag of scientific evidence to say it's bad... but it sure sounds like it would be.)
Comment: #3
Posted by: Spork
Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:59 AM
In regards to a earlier post, corn is not toxic to cows. Havinig four stomachs they have a easier time digesting corn then we do. Most corn fed steers diet is made up of only 50% corn. Antibiotics used both in beef and dairy have meat withdrawals that are set by the USDA. Meat is tested regularly and any farmer with cows found with reisdue is held accountable.
Being a farmer and caring for animals I would rather be able to treat my sick animal properly with a vet's guidence then not treat them and call it "organic"
Comment: #4
Posted by: Sasha
Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:01 AM
I beg to differ on cows & corn. While they have 4 stomachs, they have a neutral pH. Feed corn turns the stomach acidic. (It's also probably not a good comparison to compare feed corn that a cow eats to the sweet corn we eat. They're not even close to the same thing.)
There are numerous articles on the damage corn causes to feedlot cows. One example (by the previously maligned Micheal Pollan):
(Warning: It's long.) The nice list of maladies corn causes is about half way down.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Spork
Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:45 AM
Left out, so far, is the fact that some, mabe many producers just "call" their product "natural" or "organic" and charge more for the label. Cow $h*t is both natural and organic, but I won't be making any BBQ cow patties, anytime soon.
Comment: #6
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:49 PM
Sorry, John, you can't just brush off the benefits of grass fed beef and the drawbacks of feedlot beef so easily. Honestly, I thought you of all people would support your conclusions with more solid evidence than the opinion of one potentially biased source.
When athletes take hormones to enhance performance, it sickens and eventually kills them. Dr. Capper says disingenuously that all food has hormones. But she knows that not all food has ADDED hormones. Please. Why wouldn't we believe that added hormones are bad for humans and cows?
Please cite the scientific research that says added hormones in meat do not harm humans, especially children. My guess is that this issue is new enough that there hasn't been time for a substantial body of research to be proposed, funded, and conducted. Also, the big money here is in the corn-based feedlot system, so that is who would likely be funding such studies.
Universities themselves also have a vested interest in the feedlot system since that is generally the only method they teach. It is worth looking into whether their agriculture programs are financially supported by the big food conglomerates that run the feedlots. Your one supporting source has a good chance of being heavily biased.
Sorry, John, you've been had again. Cows ARE designed to eat grass, not corn. They are ruminants whose digestion processes grass best. Yes, cows can live on corn. Humans can also live on candy bars.
Yes, cows can live in close confinement, too. Barely. Their immune systems get weak from the confinement, poor diet, hormonal imbalance, and no exercise, and that is why they need ongoing antibiotic supplements.
Most mothers of small children know that they couldn't pump antibiotics into their kids continually--just to prevent the next infection--without serious consequences. It's the same for animals. They eventually get sicker, whether or not the humans are actually ingesting the antibiotics. I would also like to see the studies that show no traces of antibiotics are getting to humans.
As for Dr. Capper's contention that feedlots are better for the environment: I don't have time here to go into all of her faulty assumptions and assertions, but let me address one. Does she seriously expect us to believe that cow flatulence is a major cause of global warming? Even assuming that global warming is real--which is highly contested--where is her evidence?
If you want to talk about modern efficiency, you might look into recent developments in intensive grazing rotation management. However, much of this information is off the radar for those married to the feedlot system, including many university professors.
As for the texture of the meat, it's no different than that of any wild meat served in the finest restaurants. A well-informed cook will prepare grass fed beef in a manner similar to venison as opposed to corn fed beef. Properly prepared, grass fed beef at least equals every other meat in texture and flavor.
What are my sources for this information? I come from a family which has farmed since at least the 1700's. My father was educated in the "newfangled" feedlot method. My sister is a registered nurse who reads widely on nutrition. My brother studied the information and decided to raise beef on grass. However, he is not a stickler and does market corn-fed beef for other local farmers (which don't have most of the feedlot problems), giving his customers a choice.
There are good reasons people are flocking to grass fed beef. I'd suggest another visit to this subject with more information from sources on both sides.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Gina
Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:32 PM
Recently I was told Naural is better and the example given was a package of ground beef labeled Natural. When I examined the label I found the beef came from the US, Canada and Australia but it was proce3ssed in the US. I asked how she knew the beef from Australia and Canada was Natural she did not know. Also of concern was how long the beef from Australia had been in a container waiting to be processed. What her response was is the response most consumers will make. "The label says it is Natural so I figure it must be". I see in another comment the belief is properly prepared grass fed beef is equal to every other beef in texture and flavor. The marbling, or fat, in the ribeye of the beef is what gives the beef it;s flavor. If you don't follow that thought then think why the most expensive cut of beef, the tenderloin used to make filet mignon, is bacon wrapped. It has no flavor by itself. Watch Stossel's program and we may learn something we didn't know.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Bill
Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:05 AM
The grass fed/cornfed people are forgetting their plant science classes, if they ever had any, Corn is a grass.
As for antibiotics, The folks in Denmark found out that if you outlaw antibiotics at the subtheraputic level (Not to treat a disease but to prevent disease) you actually end up using more antibiotics, since it takes more antibiotics to treat a disease than to prevent one.
Hormones used in livestock are also used at a level way below what athletes use to pump up. There is also much more research on hormone use in livestock, going back over 40 years. We talked about this when I was in college. This is not a new thing.
People act like these are new problems when the research is many years old, and most likely done before those who don't trust the science were born.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Michael Wojahn
Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:44 AM
Re: Bill
Natural, as a marketing term, has no defined meaning. As long as it loosely fits some dictionary definition, you can slap natural on any product. There is no regulation to tell a company what they must do to use the word natural in food marketing, like there is for "organic".
And, properly raised, grass-fed beef can have equivelent marbling to CAFO beef. And it's a misnomer to say that tenderloin has no flavor. It has a very mild and subdued flavor. But it still has a flavor.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Michael
Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:19 AM
Re: Michael Wojahn

If you only fed cattle corn stalks, it might not be an issue. But feeding cattle the corn kernel breaks down their digestive system.

Also, the Danish study you are mentioning refers to anit-biotics in confined feeding operations, not prophylactic anti-biotics in range fed cattle...why? because ranchers who raise cattle on the range don't use prophylactic antibiotics. CAFO anti-biotic use can be directly traced to the rise in anti-biotic resistant E. Coli.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Michael
Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:22 AM
Re: Gina
Scientific evidence for hormone usage and its effects on animals? Hoffman and Evers book 'Drug Residues in Animals' shows that from a 3 oz serving of conventionally raised beef, given normal, 3 phase trenbolone acetate/estrogen implanting, the residual estrogen you will get from that serving is 1.9 ppm, vs 1.3 ppm in non-implanted beef. Compare that to normal estrogen levels in female body: 480,000 ppm. From a single birth control pill: 35,000 ppm. That means a female would have to eat 18,421 3 oz servings of beef to equal one birth contol pill. Still think hormone in the body is an issue? According to the USDA-FSIS, for a prepubescent male would have to eat 1.3 million lbs. of implanted beef and a female would have to eat 47,384 lbs. of implanted beef PER DAY to equal that of an adult male or female.
Also, according to the National Academy of Science, humans use 10 TIMES the TONAGE of antibiotics than is used in the livestock industry.
So maybe you need to evaluate your sources. If your family was as instilled in the livestock industry as you claim, you might be a little better brushed up on the actual science of the matter.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Travis
Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:50 AM
"The fat content of beef is the primary reason it has lost ground as a respectable entr&#233;e on America's dinner table. Not only do most beef cuts have a high fat content, ranging from 35-75%, but the majority of it is saturated.

"Grain fed beef can have an omega 6:3 ratio higher than 20:1"
-- J. Anim. Sci. 2000. 78:2849-2855

This well exceeds the 4:1 ratio where health problems begin to show up because of the essential fat imbalance. Also grain fed beef can have over 50% of the total fat as the far less healthy saturated fat.

Grass fed beef has an omega 6:3 ratio of 0.16 to 1

This is the ratio science suggests is ideal for our diet. This is about the same ratio that fish has. Grass fed beef usually has less than 10% of its fat as saturated."

I am a doctor and that research right there tells me there is a huge reason why grass fed is healthier. Also grass fed has the following that grain fed does not:
* A natural source of omega 3 fats High in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
* Full of beta carotene
* Loaded with over 400% more of vitamins A and E
* Virtually devoid of risk of Mad Cow Disease

Dude needs to do some more research and try to at least hide the fact he isnt paid off by monsanto or fox news or the beef people.
Comment: #13
Posted by: docj
Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:56 PM
The article above mentions this :
"So the next time you reach for that package of beef in the grocery store tagged with all the latest grass-fed, free-range lingo, remember: Not only does it often cost twice as much, but there's no evidence it's better for the environment or better for you."
Well if the author is basing her info on "supermarket purchased free range and grass fed products" then I see a problem right there with her research. I wouldn't touch that crap either!!! I only buy grass fed direct from local farmers....big difference. hahaha...llke I'm going to believe the labeling in a supermarket?
Comment: #14
Posted by: Tommy
Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:09 PM
All I know is, my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were raised on fresh food that was grown naturally and wasn't toxified with chemicals and hormones and antibiotics, and they lived to ripe old ages with few, if any, health i...ssues. Today, chronic illnesses are rampant and the population as a whole is SICK SICK SICK. Hmm, let's play "connect the dots" ... what changed? Well, everyone's DIET has changed, that's what. So what's the solution? Go back to eating the way folks ate 100 yrs ago, before there was rampant diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Problem is, no one remembers what food was like back then. People think "phood" is a reasonable substitute for FOOD. But yanno, who am I to stand in the way of your lifestyle choices. If you prefer to eat beef raised on grain (full of omega 6s), fed antibiotics (feed lots are very unhealthy places for creatures meant to run around on green pastures) and growth hormones (8 yr old girls starting their periods, WHY??), then go for it .. better yet, let Micky D's prepare it for ya and you'll have the BEST (worst) of the BEST (worst) .. instead, let's talk about who pays Mr. Stossel's salary, all those millions he makes for spreading the Gospel according to Corporate America. WAKE UP, AMERICA!
Comment: #15
Posted by: Ig Vigé
Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:29 PM
All I know is, my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were raised on fresh food that was grown naturally and wasn't toxified with chemicals and hormones and antibiotics, and they lived to ripe old ages with few, if any, health i...ssues. Today, chronic illnesses are rampant and the population as a whole is SICK SICK SICK. Hmm, let's play "connect the dots" ... what changed? Well, everyone's DIET has changed, that's what. So what's the solution? Go back to eating the way folks ate 100 yrs ago, before there was rampant diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Problem is, no one remembers what food was like back then. People think "phood" is a reasonable substitute for FOOD. But yanno, who am I to stand in the way of your lifestyle choices. If you prefer to eat beef raised on grain (full of omega 6s), fed antibiotics (feed lots are very unhealthy places for creatures meant to run around on green pastures) and growth hormones (8 yr old girls starting their periods, WHY??), then go for it .. better yet, let Micky D's prepare it for ya and you'll have the BEST (worst) of the BEST (worst) .. instead, let's talk about who pays Mr. Stossel's salary, all those millions he makes for spreading the Gospel according to Corporate America. WAKE UP, AMERICA!
Comment: #16
Posted by: Ig Vigé
Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:31 PM
I think the author may be biased. I think her research and interest/studies are geared toward environment and feeding the masses as economically as possible.
You know, sort of like the pharmaceutical companies funding studies of pharmaceuticals. (wink)
Comment: #17
Posted by: Tommy
Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:38 PM
Re: Travis
I went to the National Academy of Science couldn't find your facts. I did find that they are very concerned about AR (antibiotic resistant) bacteria caused by sub therapeutic use in confined animal feeding operations. see Antibiotic Use in Food Animals
Contributes to Microbe Resistance.
This comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
WASHINGTON - "Every year in the United States 25 million pounds of valuable antibiotics -- roughly 70 percent of total US antibiotic production -- are fed to chickens, pigs, and cows for nontherapeutic purposes like growth promotion, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. This finding -- 40 percent greater than the estimate of the livestock industry for all animal uses -- is the first transparent estimate of the quantities of antibiotics used in meat production.
The report is also the first to show that the quantities of antibiotics used in animal agriculture dwarf those used in human medicine. Nontherapeutic livestock use in chickens, pigs, and cows accounts for 8 times more antibiotics than human medicine, which is using only 3 million pounds per year."
We could find facts that argue each point all day long. How about using nature to its fullest extent not fighting it. Here is another fact, the vast majority of bicarbonate of soda is used in feedlots.
If corn was so good for cows why are they in a constant state of indigestion. When a cow is taken from their pasture to the feedlot they have to go through a feed transition. The bacteria that inhabited their stomachs were the type to digest grass, the corn has to be added slowly to change the bacteria to the type that digest corn.
This brings me to another point. Travis, do you raise cattle? have you seen what happens when a cow eats too much corn? I have. Its not pretty. First it appears they are drunk because of the fermentation process in their belly, then they founder. What's this you say? The hoof wall separates from the bone so that the cow is walking on the bone. During this time the liver is being destroyed from the toxins produced. If they aren't euthanized they die a horrible death. I have NEVER seen a cow eat too much grass!
So Travis, before you make accusations of irresponsibility to a concerned cattle producer you need to live in their shoes. These producers, myself included have made a choice to care for our animals in the most humane natural way possible. This means let a cow be a cow, pig a pig, chicken a chicken. Not a confined animal unit.
Do more research and you will someday find as we have that natural grassfed is best!
Do yourself a favor, read Joel Salatin's book The Sheer Ecstasy of a Lunatic Farmer you will see where we are coming from.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Derek Morris
Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:00 PM
You need to get the other side of the story before you make statements about grassfed beef being bad for environment. Dr. Capper is giving you the expected agribusiness pitch. There is much information and practical experience to the efficiencies of grassfed beef and dairy. This website and publication is a good place to start your education. Joel Salatin would be a good person to interview if you want the truth outside of agribusiness.
To start, the great plains supported 70 million head of buffalo. No fossil fuels needed there, they walked, ate, applied manure as fertilizer. Today we grow corn, fed with fossil fuel fertilizer, fossil fuel pesticides,and fossil fuel herbicides, tractors, combines, trucks. to support 40 million head of cattle. Which in turn have been grown all over the country ON GRASS to be shipped to feedlots and fed this fossil fuel intensive subsidized corn. then the finished product is fossil fuel shipped again back to where they originated. Doesn't sound very efficient to me.
Now, your Dr. Capper from WSU obviously has no experience in MIG (management intensive grazing), in this system many head of cattle (100+ head per acre) are grazed on small plots of fairly mature pastures for very short periods of time (12 hrs), then the pastures are rested for fairly long periods (30 days). This grassfeeding that you call inefficient uses FREE sunshine, grass that grows without being planted every year, cows that walk on their own to harvest this feed and like the buffalo fertilize the pastures.
MIG also has other benefits. If I remember my high school science correctly, plants utilizing photosynthesis take in this so called bad CO2 and turn it into a usable form, in this case GRASS! This perennial grass has a much longer lifespan than corn, which intern uses more CO2 in its lifetime. Cows being the wonderful creatures that they are with their 4 stomachs efficiently convert this free SUNSHINE and CO2 into protein (beef, milk).
When MIG is properly practiced, some of that CO2 (carbon) is sequestered in the soil. The organic matter in MIG pastures increases every year. Topsoil can be produced much faster than nature herself on MIG pastures.
A boilogically active MIG pasture will sequester more CO2 than the cows produce. Tell Dr. Capper to read the studies out of New Zealand and Australia on this subject. If cap and trade ever goes through according to those studies graziers will be very wealthy farmers trading their credits.
You will not find that true growing corn on chemically treated dead soils.
MIG practiced properly will see increased yields and less to no fertilizer need.
MIG graziers can now graze twice the cattle on the same land that the Dr's at the university said could not happen. Can you say efficiency?
If Dr. Capper thinks our current system is so efficient wait till diesel gets to $4-5 gal. I believe feedlots wil be going out of business and modern local sustainable agriculture practices will prevail. Grassfed beef and dairy is the ultimate in sustainability.
The Dr's statement about no health difference is untrue. There is a huge difference, the omega 3 to omega 6 fat ratio is much better in grassfed cattle and not in grainfed cattle.
The fat on a properly finished grassfed beef has a yellow tint, a sure sign of increased beta-carotene levels, in my case the cream in our milk has a yellow tint which makes a rich yellow butter unlike the pale butter found in stores from CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) cows fed many pounds of grain daily.
There is also no mention of the health of these animals in CAFO"s. The vast majority of antibiotics produced in the U.S. is consumed by the CAFO industry. Heard of antibiotic resistant bacteria?
Another problem is manure runoff from these huge farms into drinking water. Oh yea, John we subsidize these CAFO's to manage their manure which doesn't work, just ask the EPA. Don't you think in a free market system they should do it themselves?
The govt doesn't have to give me anything, my cows spread their own manure (fertilizer).
To the slower growth rate, Dr. Capper is correct if you use modern day 1600lb beef and dairy cows. Cows that have been bred for grass finishing can finish in as little as 16mo. This used to be the case here in the U.S. till government subsidized corn and cheap oil came to be. This is being done in Argentina currently, and is starting to happen here, again. These cattle are smaller framed 1000lb cows with more grass capacity. They kinda look like a 55 gal drum on legs.
Did you know that the vast majority of bicarbonate of soda used in the U.S. is in grain feeding cattle! Now tell me, if feeding corn to cows is so good why are the cows in a constant state of indigestion. My dairy cows don't get bicarb of soda, nature intended for cows to eat GRASS.
I love looking at my happy Jersey cows in my green pastures knowing I am building sustainability.
Don't believe everything you hear just because it comes from a university, where do the research dollars come from. Follow the money!
Here are some easy to find rebuts to your Dr. Capper, she needs to read more. And you need to do more research before you make claims like this.
Grassfed Milk Tastes Better
Friday, 22 October 2010
Grass Point Farms in Thorp, Wisconsin, won first place for white milk flavor at the World Dairy Expo Dairy Product Contest this year. Sixteen brands competed in the event and judges commented that Grass Point's milk had "a creamy rich flavor." Grass Point Farms is the first nationally distributed full-line of grassfed dairy products with milk, ten types of cheese and butter. Milk produced by cows direct grazing grass and legumes during the green season is higher in naturally occurring beta carotene (vitamin A) conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced milk from stored forages and grain. Grass Point Farms expects grassfed milk to soon rival organic in the dairy wellness market.

Modern Cattle Not Bred for Grass
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Lee Manske, a range scientist at North Dakota State, recently pointed out that, on average, cattle with modern, fast-growing, hard-to-fatten genetics are 20 percent heavier than traditional cattle. They also have energy requirements that are 27 to 43 percent higher than traditional cattle and protein requirements that are 41 to 72 percent higher. The net result of this improvement is that forage crude protein is deficient for these "modern" brood cows as much as 82 percent of the year. Someone along the way forgot that we have cattle because we have grass. They are not a end in and of themselves
Grassfed Milk Lowers Heart Attack Risk
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Many people have assumed that a lower fat milk is better for them but reports a study published in the May issue of The Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that full-fat milk is actually better for you as long as it is grassfed. The Journal said that the more grassfed full-fat dairy products people consume the lower their risk of heart attacks will be. This is because 100 percent grassfed dairy products have up to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional dairy products. In this study of 3500 people, those with the highest levels of CLA stored in their body tissues had a 50 percent lower risk of heat attack than those with the lowest levels of CLA. The CLA level in milk is lowered by the feeding of even small amounts of grain so consumers should always specify 100 percent grassfed milk products.

Grasslands Absorb Methane
Monday, 26 April 2010
Research by Sydney University in Australia has found that healthy soil bacteria in well managed grasslands absorb more methane per day than a cow produces in a year. Professor Mark Adams, agricultural sustainability researcher and Dean of Agriculture at Sydney University told Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the findings are "a good news story and the farming community needs good news stories." Adams said, "...we can say that grazing is a methane neutral or even methane positive land use." He said in organically rich, well drained, well structured soils there were lots of bacteria willing to do this methane absorption work. This Australian research was reported in In Practice newsletter.

Comment: #19
Posted by: Derek Morris
Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:08 PM
John, I find your conclusions all wrong but I will agree with you on one point at the end of your show - let those who want to eat organic eat what they will and persons like yourself to continue eating what makes you feel good, eventually the healthier will out live (including quality of life) those who wish to continue eating junk. We all pay for the decisions we make in life and hopefully I won't have to pay for yours as well. I truly expected more from a free thinker but for whatever reason the good guys got trashed again on the Stossel show who would of thought.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Jeff Hunter
Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:18 PM
I don't normally follow Fox Newes, but one of my brothers sent me this link and suggested I comment on the column by John Stossel because it is an area in which I have personal involvement and interest. First a little background information. Derek Morris in his post above described a pasture management process called management-intensive grazing (MiG). I wrote the book 'Management-intensive Grazing: The grassroots of grass farming'. Many pasture-finishing operations are based on principles outlined in that book. I was on the University of Missouri faculty for 22 years working in the area of beef cattle & grazing research. I have been involved in pasture-finished beef production (aka grass fed) as a researcher, educator, and practitioner for over 15 years. I hope this may provide some credibility to my posting.
Dr Capper's modeling of carbon footprint, energy efficiencies, and environemntal impact of feedlot beef production vs. pasture finishing is totally bogus in my opinion. The assumptions on which she based the inputs and outputs of the grass fed component of her model have no bearing on the reality of pasture-finishing as it is practiced in this country or NZ, Ireland, Uruguay, or any other serious pasture-based beef economy. Her model was a straw man comparison designed to arrive at a predetermined conclusion that would support her personal bias.
I sent Dr Capper a letter several months ago asking for the basis of her assumptions in the model and providing more accurate information relative to the industry. I have not yet received the courtesy of a reply.
Her statement that there is "absolutely no evidence" of differential health benfits of pasture-based vs. feedlot produced meat or milk is blatantly false. There is an abundance of peer reviewed articles in Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Food Science, and other prestigious journals reporting clear cut and significant advantages to pasture-based products, especially dairy, but also for beef and other ruminant meats.
Mr. Stossel, I am not familar with your other work, but from what I read in your column relative to this topic it appears you have completely ignored a huge body of both scientific literature and farmer/rancher experience. I can see it as nothing less than either very inadequate journalism or outright bias unbecoming of a news program.
One of the reasons I quit academia and went into private business was the ever increasing number of fellow researchers confined by the tunnel vision of mainstream group-thinking. Our colleges and universities have become training grounds rather than centers of thinking and learning. While regular Fox readers may think this is only true of left-wing liberal institutions, it is just as true in the agricultural schools which tend to be very right-wing oriented. On both sides of the spectrum, students are spoon fed ideological tripe rather than being taught how to think for themselves.
Jim Gerrish
American GrazingLands Services LLC
Comment: #21
Posted by: Jim Gerrish
Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:23 AM
Re: docj
Your Omegas are both listed as 6:3 but you state two seperate ratios for the same number over 20:1 and 0.16 to 1. What is the reason for that?
Comment: #22
Posted by: wendyS
Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:56 AM
Dr. Capper's paper "The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007" includes among other cost factors, the cost of draft horses used in production. The fact that this paper, available in the Journal of Animal Science was partially funded by Elanco Animal Health (maker of Rumensin and Posilac aka rBST) should be taken into consideration.
Comment: #23
Posted by: chluke3
Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:31 PM
Re: Michael Wojahn You mean there's no difference between green chop and polenta?
Comment: #24
Posted by: chluke3
Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:48 PM
Seriously.... It seems that you have taken the beliefs of one "expert" let them lead you by the hand down to a conclusion and you never stoped to think about if this is actually correct. What you assume to be true about cows in a feedlot situation is that they are better for the environment than farm raised beef. So you pack 3000 head of cattle in a feedlot and 50 cattle on a family farm and what you get is better for the environment? You do understand that the farm beef are grazing on grass that grows naturally and doesn't need planted. Feedlot cattle are dependant upon farmers planting corn, watering the corn, harvesting the corn, shipping the corn and then feeding the corn. The amount of energy needed to do this is astronimical compared to a family farmer cutting and bailing hay and storing it themselves and using it as needed. No extra planting, no exra shipping, no extra electricity to make the feed available to the cattle. Then you go on and state that the obvious reason for this being better for the environment is that they can produce a market ready beef cow more quickly than a family farmer. So your assumption would be that when the feedlot cattle are ready for market then they do not replace the cow with another one and start feeding that one. They just stop production and the environment is saved for all mankind. Hooray for the feedlot farmers!! Actually they get more cattle, need more water, more energy, more corn, more everything. Let's talk crap... a family farmer uses the waste produced by the cattle to feed the ground for fertilizer to use for the next hay growing season. Factory farmers do not have this ability to use all the waste and it needs to go somewhere... I really don't want to know the answer to this. If you want to get an actual idea on the truths of this issue try looking at the web site Funny but factual... Horrible job reporting on this issue... Very Dissapointed
Comment: #25
Posted by: Alan
Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:06 AM
I happened to click on this article out of happenstance. It's not quite seven in the morning, but I think it's possible that this will not only be the stupidest thing I'll read all day, I would hazard a guess it may be the stupidest thing I'll read all month. It will probably make the top five stupidest things I've read in 12 months. Congratulations, Mr. Stossel-of-the-porn-star-moustache, you're an idiot.
And although I read your by-line second, I wasn't the least bit startled to find that you are employed by Fox News.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Joanna
Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:54 AM
The difference in cost is simply because you have put a down payment on feedlot finished beef with your tax dollars. Feedlots are nothing more then a way to to add value to taxpayer subsidized corn. Farms have become more efficient, but farm profits have not increased, the only thing that has increased is the profit on the inputs being sold for production. The other major beneficiary of cheap feedlot beef is the fast food industry, they are making profits off taxpayer subsidized corn. Lets look at a country with no subsides, New Zealand, their industry is built around grazing for economic reasons, because it's a true free market. How about Argentina, the Government there limits the price of beef and farmers are forced to produce it as cheap as possible. They have therefore become very good at grazing management. There may be no quantifiable difference with "Naturally Raised" or "Organic" in a lab analysis, but you can quantify a difference in the beneficial fats found in Grassfed beef. Funny thing is, all those health benefits are in the fat. You're one of my favorite reporters John, but you could have dug a little deeper on this one.
Comment: #27
Posted by: Ben Hartwell
Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:57 PM
I am taken aback by the lack of evidence that was shown to support the negative comments made by Dr Capper regarding grass fed beef.
John, you owe it to your loyal public to do a follow up report and please, this time, with some seriousness brought forth.
This is no laughing matter.
What do her peers say?
You can do better.
Comment: #28
Posted by: Martin
Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:34 PM
Well from someone who used to buy into the factory, corn fed model I can tell you Stosel or Capper know nothing. The "science" Capper uses is very convienent. What are the carbon emissions to grow the corn? A little fact she omitted. Another is that feedlots are not near the corm producing regions of the country, more carbon emissions to transport the corn to the cow. Capper didn't even look at the fact that well managed pasture is a methane sink, meaning it absorbs more methane than the cows on it produce. Also absorbs enourmous amounts of carbon. Sure grass fed takes longer to grow and they produce more manure but organic farms soils are actually alive and dung beetles, soil microbes and a whole lot of other bugs incorporate the manure into the soil within 48 hours of cattle leaving an area. This builds organic matter thus absorbing more carbon and methane. Oops guess they didn't know about that, but when has lack of knowledge kept Stosel quiet. As far as corn being bad for cattle there is just no arguement. We used to have all sorts of health problems when we fed corn and 99% of the cows had serious liver abscesses when slaughtered. Omega 3 to 6 ratio was 15 to 1. Not exactly healthy. We haven't treated a cow with antibiotics in years. In that time not even a case of pink eye. Without corn sickness is practically non existent. We don't live in an area of the country where grass fed is twice the price of feedlot but if that is actually true it shouldn't be. It certainly should command a premium but nothing near that level. But after watching my wife go from serious kidney disease eating the factory stuff to being able to live a normal life eating grass fed I would happily pay it if that were my only alternative. Summary Capper- figures can't lie but liars can figure, Stosel-should keep his mouth shut.
Comment: #29
Posted by: SamDakota
Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:48 PM
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