Americans eat beef like Laura eats candy, and Laura

Fey with her meat and vegetables

Fey with her meat and vegetables

eats a lot of candy. On average we eat about 65 lbs of beef a year, about 1/3 of our annual consumption of meat. On account of the demand, the meat industry has been industrialized to the point where your steak comes from a cow that was fed corn based feed with antibiotics and hormones mixed in to help the animal fight off any diseases it would get from living literally on top of its own fecal matter with thousands of other cattle a necks length away. That steak might be cheap, but the hidden costs include heart disease, food-borne illnesses, and environmental degradation to list a few.
Central Market

Central Market

I hopped in to the Lancaster Farmers Market to find out what the meat options were and found Fey, a local who was picking up some steaks at the Country Meadows Farm stand. The farm raises all kinds of meat from beef to lamb and does so in a responsible way. The animals graze on grass and are not fed any hormones or antibiotics. I asked Fey why she bought her beef there instead of at the supermarket, and she said as ruminants, cows are not supposed to eat anything but grass; their digestive systems are not built to process corn based feed. She is absolutely right, how are we supposed to stay healthy when the animals we eat are not healthy? The farm also encourages customers to build a relationship with their farmers, and tear down the barriers set up by supermarkets that disconnect us from our food.
The Market in Lancaster is an impressive sight, the entire building packed with people eager to buy directly from their farmers. It used to be open only two days a week but another day was added because so many people support it. So the next time you are craving that burger find a grocer near you that sells local grass fed beef, it will be high in Omega 3’s, CLA (reduces body fat), vitamins and minerals, and help out the land and local business.

For an in depth look at the beef industry, here is a link to Michael Pollan’s

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July 2009
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