(NaturalNews) The vast majority of meat sold in grocery stores today hardly resembles meat from fifty years ago and prior. With the emergence of post-WWII industrial agriculture that focused heavily on grain cultivation, American grasslands and pastures were replaced with endless rows of corn and wheat. Subsequently, cows and other pasture animals began being fed high-protein, high-grain diets that fatten them quickly but change the composition of their meat and fat. Thus meat, a once healthy and nutritious food source, has become the primary culprit in dietary-invoked illness and disease among the population due to its dramatically altered nutritional composition.
Long before the days of commercial grain farming and what is deemed modern agriculture, mankind hunted, foraged, gardened, and lived entirely off the land. Wild animals ate the grasses and plants native to the region, as well as smaller prey animals, and man would then hunt and gather these animals for food.
As burgeoning technology led to advances in farming and animal husbandry, substantial alterations in food-raising methods ensued, leading to a slew of unintended consequences.
Most American cattle used for food today are confined to feedlots for most of their lives. Cesspools of manure and disease, feedlots are where typical commercial cattle are fed grains like corn and soy to fatten them up before slaughter. In contrast to open, green pastures, feedlots are filthy, unnatural environments that constrain cattle and summon them to misery and disease. The unnatural concentration of large masses of manure often runs off into streams and water supplies, contaminating nearby farms, groves, and even municipal drinking water reservoirs.
The grains used to feed cattle also require tremendous swaths of land and pasture to be transformed into industrial agriculture factories in order to grow the crops, destroying the natural habitat and ultimately depleting the soil of nutrients. Chemicals, pesticides, and genetic modification are usually used in the crop-growing process, contaminating both the ground and the crops.
Besides the land alterations, the entire composition of meat is changed when cattle is fed grain rather than grass. Ruminant cattle, like cows and sheep, possess a special digestive system in which grasses are converted into digestible nutrients. Unlike humans who are unable to properly assimilate grasses and their nutrients, these animals are able to convert the plant cellulose into protein and fats. The result is a meat composition of roughly a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids with omega-3 dominating slightly. Other benefits include high amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), beta carotene, and vitamins A and E.
Grain, however, so disturbs the delicate digestive system of a ruminant that, unless done gradually, can kill the animal. "Feedlot bloat", a term used to describe the buildup of trapped gas in the rumen of the animal, is the primary reason why feedlot cattle must be feed antibiotics and hormones in order to keep them alive. Their digestive systems are unable to process the immense amounts of starch in their feed, turning their pH from neutral to acid and causing them to contract a myriad of diseases.
Though grain-fed animals fatten more quickly and can be slaughtered at a much faster pace, the composition of their meat can contain a ratio exceeding 1:15 of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, a ratio so devastatingly unhealthy that modern, commercial meat has been implicated in causing heart disease, cancer, obesity, allergies, insulin resistance, autoimmune disease, and a whole host of other contemporary maladies. Since grain-fed animals ingest little roughage, their meat contains far less nutrients and vitamins and far more unhealthy saturated fat.
The body requires a proper balance of the right fats; if the balance is offset, the body is prone to disease. They say, "you are what you eat", and that statement couldn't be more true both for cattle and for humans. What one eats will dictate what one is, compositionally speaking. It is important to recognize the distinction between grain-fed meat and grass-fed meat and purchase accordingly.
Grass-fed meats are naturally leaner than commercial meats and contain the ideal balance of fats and fatty acids, a generous dose of vital nutrients, and flavor that comes naturally in the meat. Grass feeding allows cattle to roam in their natural environments and forage on a diet that is ideal for their systems. The animals typically never get sick when free to "chew the cud" on the open range and thus do not require hormones and antibiotics. There is no excess waste runoff as the manure fertilizes the fields, not the feedlot, and thus provides nutrients for the new grass to grow.
Meat cannot simply be referred to as meat; grass-fed and grain-fed are two entirely different foods. One is a protein-dense, nutritional powerhouse while the other is a product of man-made greed.
Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.