We had a quiet Sunday after a long week. Kiddo took a rare two-and-a-half hour nap. I joined her. But something I read over at Grist must have stayed with me, because in my dream, everyone got smart about their meat source, and I could no longer get beef from my local farm. He was sold out. It must have been a nightmare.
What, you ask, could possibly make me dream about meat? Well, for starters, it seems the beef industry is trying to save on the rising cost of grain by using the leftovers, or distiller grain, from the process of making ethanol. While plain, old corn has caused enough E. coli 0157 issues, the dregs of ethanol processing multiply the problem for the cows and for us. In fact, the USDA even admits that feeding cattle distillers grain may be one of the reasons for the record amount of beef recalls in 2007. The amount of beef recalled last year alone was EIGHTEEN times the previous record amount of beef recalled in a single year. The USDA does not plan on banning the practice of using distiller grain for feed.
This does not include the massive recall recently from Hallmark/Westland, either. You see, that beef was recalled because of the use of downed cows. And, here's where it gets scarier. Feeding cattle the distiller grains can cause sulfur toxicity in the cows due to the high sulfur content of the corn mush. Sulfur toxicity causes neurological damage, making the cows sometimes repeatedly bash their heads into the fence, and even die, if untreated. Given this, the questionable practice of processing downed cows may become a common issue. And no one will know the actual cause, sulfur or mad cow disease. Nice, huh?
The "feed" is also very high in phosphorus, which causes an increase in this environmental hazard from the cattle waste. Phosphorus is one of the key factors that caused the dead zone in the Gulf.
So, more deadly bacteria in beef, more questionable and untested cattle being processed, and more environmental harm just to create a biofuel that has a larger carbon footprint to produce than it generates. Genius!
Which is good reason to do a bit of tossing and turning as you sleep. What a nightmare.