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Visited Slaughterhouse in Nebraska - Page 2

post #16 of 74
I'd love to see pics... not of the entrail guy and anus sealers of course.
post #17 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by SField View Post
I haven't seen Food Inc. but isn't the typical complain against the industrial beef complex the raising of cattle? It doesn't matter if the slaughterhouse is efficient and kills efficiently if the beef is raised with large amounts of chemicals and is corn fed (if you care about that.)

You were invited by an organized association that has a significant branch that is set up specifically to mitigate the backlash against industrial beef. I'm extremely surprised that you were surprised by any of what you saw in there.

This.

I'm from Nebraska and my families were, for decades, largely dependent on Ag for their livelihood. Yes, they take their processing seriously, they have to now in the world of e Coli... and like any passionate business people they take pride in what they do. Family farms have really disappeared in the last 20 years, unfortunately.

But, being from that background, I have been to plenty of farms and ranches where chicken are still fed animal by-products, cattle are fed chicken by-products and cattle spend the day standing ankle-deep in feces. Those aren't contented cows.

Coincidentally I was at the national co-op conference last week. Visited a few small family owned ranches. I was struck looking at free range chickens, pigs and cows and how "strange" it seemed to see pigs roaming through tall grass etc... no pen of feces in sight.

Grayland- I am glad you had a good experience. We've no small amount of pride about agriculture back home and for good reason. But there are many ways in which we could lead to make healthy animals and processes the "majority" rather than "minority".
post #18 of 74
Thread Starter 
We weren't allowed to take pictures of the processing plant, but were allowed free roam of a "catwalk" above the plant. I saw everyting from the killing (pnuematic bolt in the skull) to the processing/break down/boxing of the cuts themselves. I saw it all. As I mentioned, They process 300 cattle an hour (they must've had 300 people working per shift, at least), so I can assure you they didn't stage anything for us. The workers barely looked up except at some of the good looking ladies. In addition, we visited a feed lot that held 21,000 cattle. They were kept in pens of about 80 -so yea, they had a lot of pens. I feel pretty confident they didn't rearrange everything and clean all of the pens for us.

As far as them standing in their own crap...do any of you actually think that in small artisan beef producers, the asses of cattle are wiped everytime they crap or that the crap is picked up in small plastic grocery bags like a suburban mom picking up after her cocker spaniel? Get real, guys, beef (and dairy) farms stink. Cattle eat, shit and piss; that is their life. These mass production farms allow middle America to afford beef as many of us couldn't afford paying double/triple the cost that artisan beef sells for. My wife and I make a real decent living and we can't afford to double our food bill buying local/organic for our family of five (and neither can most of you if you have a family of five eventually). We feed them as clean as we can though.

In order to produce corn-fed beef, they need to be penned so the food source can be delivered. Prior to fattening them up, they spend about a year and a half of their life grazing on grass, about 15 acres per animal. You don't get more free range than that. The fattening up stage comprises only about 25% of their life. As far as whether they are happy or not, hell, I don't know and neither do any of you. I didn't find any cattle who could speak English so that I could ask them. The "happy California cheese cows"...those are just commercials.

I do prefer that my beef is corn-fed and so do most Americans. I know I'll hear from some, "grass fed is so much better" people. Really, I don't care for the taste of grass fed beef and very few restaurants feature grass fed beef exclusively. Even in the finest restaurants, where customers are willing to pay the higher cost of grass fed beef, it rarely shows up as chefs/customers overwhelmingly prefer corn-fed. When foreigners visit the US, they often want to eat American corn-fed steak.

I do realize that the group who invited me had an agenda, but Food Inc. had an agenda too. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
post #19 of 74
Sorry, I am a bit biased here. I am currently reading Omnivore's Dilemma and rightfully or not, it really make me look at things from a difference perspective.
Cows have been eating grass for years, but now they are fed with corn laced with massive amounts of chemicals and antibiotics.......
While we can argue for days on end, I am sure there are many farms with less than ideal conditions for any living animal to live in.
post #20 of 74
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Man View Post
Sorry, I am a bit biased here. I am currently reading Omnivore's Dilemma and rightfully or not, it really make me look at things from a difference perspective.
Cows have been eating grass for years, but now they are fed with corn laced with massive amounts of chemicals and antibiotics.......
While we can argue for days on end, I am sure there are many farms with less than ideal conditions for any living animal to live in.

This has been going on for generations and unless you grew up on a farm, or had hippy parents, your beef has been corn-fed (Canada is basically the same as the US - I've spoken with their beef council too). There is that old saying that you never want to see the process of laws being passed or sausage being made. There is no way to lovingly slaughter an animal. Lucky for us, we're at the top of the food chain. Tis good to be the king.
post #21 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayland View Post
There were two girls who literally used a steamer/iron to "seal" the anus so that when the entrail removing guys did there work things didn't get dirty

Imagine telling people what you do for a living.

Now that I think about it, I think I've just found my calling.
post #22 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenoX101 View Post
Now that I think about it, I think I've just found my calling.

Anus sealer?
post #23 of 74
People really talk about agendas and cite Michael Pollan for support in the same post? Awesome. I basically agree with Grayland. The number of people we are able to feed due to this kind of ag is simply shocking. We could not feed them were our system to devolve completely, or even mostly, to small farms, local meat producers etc. There is also, I imagine, a high correlation between people who proselytize for local beef and people who would never live near a living small cattle farm. I say all this as somebody who generally eats produce and meats from smaller, local farmers. I like it, I can taste the difference. Most people I know cannot cook their meat well enough to tell a difference, or consistently enough to compare two pieces of meat. They do love their local meat, though.
post #24 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayland View Post
As far as whether they are happy or not, hell, I don't know and neither do any of you. I didn't find any cattle who could speak English so that I could ask them. The "happy California cheese cows"...those are just commercials.
I disagree, body language says a lot about someone and animals are quite capable of showing their emotions through it, true it isn't as easy to read as humans, but it's there. Not to mention that actions speak louder than words, the resistance of an animal from being caged or the preference they might have for grass over cornfeed certainly suggests that they would prefer a better lifestyle. And we can see that animals wail and scream for the same reasons we do - through pain, shock and suffering - by how they react to obvious examples of illiciting pain, pleasure, etc. (a dog will scream if you step on its foot). So it is fair to say that they are feeling at least similar to the way we are in most circumstances, so it isn't much of a stretch to suggest that they feel somewhat bad if not miserable in some of the conditions they are put in. Sorry for being blunt, nothing personal and it is interesting to hear of your experience in the slaughterhouse, it was just that this point that conflicted with me.
post #25 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayland View Post



I do prefer that my beef is corn-fed and so do most Americans. I know I'll hear from some, "grass fed is so much better" people. Really, I don't care for the taste of grass fed beef and very few restaurants feature grass fed beef exclusively. Even in the finest restaurants, where customers are willing to pay the higher cost of grass fed beef, it rarely shows up as chefs/customers overwhelmingly prefer corn-fed. When foreigners visit the US, they often want to eat American corn-fed steak.

.

I am torn on the taste issue - I like both. in south America and much of europe it's grass fed, but I like a Chicago steak every now and again.

but there does seem to be a strong health argument for free range, pasture fed beef, pork and chicken
post #26 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
People really talk about agendas and cite Michael Pollan for support in the same post? Awesome.

I basically agree with Grayland. The number of people we are able to feed due to this kind of ag is simply shocking. We could not feed them were our system to devolve completely, or even mostly, to small farms, local meat producers etc. There is also, I imagine, a high correlation between people who proselytize for local beef and people who would never live near a living small cattle farm.

I say all this as somebody who generally eats produce and meats from smaller, local farmers. I like it, I can taste the difference. Most people I know cannot cook their meat well enough to tell a difference, or consistently enough to compare two pieces of meat. They do love their local meat, though.

+1
post #27 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayland View Post
As far as whether they are happy or not, hell, I don't know and neither do any of you. I didn't find any cattle who could speak English so that I could ask them.

You can indeed tell. Demeanor, etc is significantly different. Spend a few summers on a ranch then spend it on a commercial feed lot.

I agree in part with Matt that we would be unable to meet demand if it weren't for mass-processing. Then again, if people ate better rather than all the heavily processed crap we eat now, returning to small-sourced/local and eating seasonally instead of having everything available every day of the year would make a significant difference. We're vacuuming the oceans clean thanks to large commercial operations.

I'm guilty too - while I buy 100% grass fed bison and beef 95% of the time, I usually by chcicken breasts in bulk, frozen, from the mass producers... simply economics. I go through 6-9lbs a week and at $8 a pound for natural, free range, I can't swing $50-70 a week just for chicken.
post #28 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
People really talk about agendas and cite Michael Pollan for support in the same post? Awesome.

I basically agree with Grayland. The number of people we are able to feed due to this kind of ag is simply shocking. We could not feed them were our system to devolve completely, or even mostly, to small farms, local meat producers etc. There is also, I imagine, a high correlation between people who proselytize for local beef and people who would never live near a living small cattle farm.

I say all this as somebody who generally eats produce and meats from smaller, local farmers. I like it, I can taste the difference. Most people I know cannot cook their meat well enough to tell a difference, or consistently enough to compare two pieces of meat. They do love their local meat, though.

BS. Isn't MacDonald's the major buyer of beef in the US? And isn't America the most obese country in the world? People don't need to eat meat 3 times a day 7 days a week. People need to be eating more fruit and vegetables and less processed junk.

Sure... free range, grass fed (or whatever) meat is more expensive but it just reflects the true cost of raising cattle. We spend a far less proportion of our salary on groceries than we did 50 years ago.
post #29 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by ben39 View Post
BS. Isn't MacDonald's the major buyer of beef in the US? And isn't America the most obese country in the world? People don't need to eat meat 3 times a day 7 days a week. People need to be eating more fruit and vegetables and less processed junk.

Sure... free range, grass fed (or whatever) meat is more expensive but it just reflects the true cost of raising cattle. We spend a far less proportion of our salary on groceries than we did 50 years ago.

And most farmers are earning only very small fraction of what they used to earn per processed pound.

Population pressure sucks.
post #30 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayland View Post
This has been going on for generations and unless you grew up on a farm, or had hippy parents, your beef has been corn-fed (Canada is basically the same as the US - I've spoken with their beef council too). There is that old saying that you never want to see the process of laws being passed or sausage being made. There is no way to lovingly slaughter an animal. Lucky for us, we're at the top of the food chain. Tis good to be the king.

From what I've read, beef has been corn-fed almost exclusively in North America (England, too, but they don't eat as much beef as we do), for only the past 150 years or so (and ubiquitously for much less).

Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
I basically agree with Grayland. The number of people we are able to feed due to this kind of ag is simply shocking. We could not feed them were our system to devolve completely, or even mostly, to small farms, local meat producers etc. There is also, I imagine, a high correlation between people who proselytize for local beef and people who would never live near a living small cattle farm.

IM(unsupported)O, agricultural subsidies and policies frequently favor large farms and are a big part of why our food production is as industrialized as it is. It's not all returns to scale.
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