Is Factory Farming Bad? What Meat Should I Eat?

You’ve probably heard that factory farming makes animals sick…

So it’s bad for you too, right?

What exactly defines “factory farming,” and is it DEFINITELY bad for animals and for the humans who consume them?

Factory farms are a sensitive topic with a lot of broader ethical implications, so for today’s post, I just want to concentrate on two questions:

  • Does factory farming make animals sick, and produce unhealthy meat?
  • Are grass-fed cows healthier than grain-fed ones?

Well, Scientific American says yes. (To both!)

They use MRSA as an example. (Remember, that bacteria from 2005?)

They go on to state that many farm animals live in less than optimal conditions that are easy breeding grounds for bacteria.

In fact, some percentages are given here: An FDA study on a group of farms found that almost 50% of pigs, and 50% of the humans who worked with them, carried MRSA.

Now, most bacteria aren’t dangerous to humans, but animals living in those type of conditions have to be injected with antibiotics…which means that bacteria gets stronger and more resistant. That’s how MRSA “jumped” from animals to humans in the first place.

What’s the Industry Standard?

If a farm tries to pack the most meat in the smallest spaces … that means the livestock live crammed close together, unable to move and able to spread disease much easier, a questionable tactic to say the least which I’ve talked about in the past!!

Plus, getting the most meat-per-sqaure-foot of your facility more than likely means fattening up your animals by pumping them with hormones, and by feeding them grain instead of grass?

So, is THAT bad??

It probably doesn’t surprise you that I say, animals shouldn’t be eating grain!

Meat Over Wheat!!

My main motto applies here too!

Sure, livestock may not eat meat, but they DO need omega-3 fatty acids!! Grain just doesn’t contain the nutritional value they need.

In fact, there have been some studies showing that along with the grains and corn… there’s actual waste, from food that restaurants throw out, to bubble gum, to chicken feathers and trace amounts of POOP! (While the poop emoji on your iPhone my be cute… I don’t want it in my Food!)

On the other hand, grass and clover are full of omega-3s!

So many that grass-fed beef contains TWICE as many omega-3s as grain-fed beef!

The Results

For me…

It just makes sense that animals who are free to roam the pastures will be healthier (and less disease prone!) creatures.

But when it comes to concepts like free range and grass-fed vs. grain-fed…how are we ACTUALLY affected as meat-lovers (who also want our cows and chickens to be treated well on farms)?

I mean…I’d be lying if I said taste wasn’t a factor in whether I’d choose grass-fed or grain-fed meat!

And, grass-fed and grain-fed DO taste different, but also everyone’s taste buds are different…Some people say that grass-fed beef is game-y and some say it’s beefier, and that also depends on WHAT grass the cow was eating. It’s also got less fat marbling appearance looks-wise, and it can have yellow tint if the cow ate grass containing beta-carotene.

Is that healthy? Yes. Is it gross? That’s up to your opinion!

It’s all a matter of personal taste, but you might find yourself acquiring a taste for, say, tougher beef from muscular free-range cows, or mineral-tasting beef from cows that ate lots of nutritious grass…knowing that these animals are happy and healthy!!

Obviously I’m very pro-meat-eating as long as the farms are treating the animals reasonably humanely and not stuffing them in cages.

So one could say that the research is undeniable: that’s just not good either for them or us, and neither is feeding them with grain, instead of with omega-3-loaded grass!

What about you? Have you compared the taste of free-range, grass-fed beef vs. the traditional corn-fed stuff? Any taste preference either way?

What’s your stance on factory farming vs. local, free trade farms?? I get meat from Butcherbox  (I think this link gives you free bacon!!)


Cooking Light

Mind Body Green


Scientific American

Erica says July 19, 2018

Hello Melissa. I feel an obligation to hop on and comment about a couple things here. “Factory Farms” are feeding the world. The number of farmers in this world decreases every year because it is a brutal occupation. I am a farmer and am in NO WAY trying to hinder people or get rich. I am growing food and husbanding animals and it is very hard work subject to Mother Nature and the changing tides of uninformed opinion. Maybe you should buy a farm and grow animals the way you advocate for them to be grown for a few years and see if your opinions change. It is not sustainable or practical. We cannot feed the world with archaic farming practices. We are just trying our best. If you believe it is more healthy, you are entitled to your opinion , but please don’t pass judgement on those of us just trying our best. If we stop people starve.

Christie Markfeld says July 20, 2018

I disagree with you Erica. Have you heard of Polyface farm? They raise pastured-poultry, grass-fed beef and use the rotation method which makes his farm more like an ecological system than conventional farming. I personally will only purchase grass fed, grass finished beef and pastured poultry. I wish more farmers would go back to this way of farming.

Tricia says July 21, 2018

I would just like to say to Erica, “I get it”. Farming is hard work and a costly endeavour with very little financial return.
However, farming can be done sustainably and ethically. We decided to turn our 58 acre land into a beautiful place to raise beef and poultry in order to provide quality, grass-fed food to our family and our community. It is possible to do so without jamming the animals in small cages and feeding them junk.

Amy says July 21, 2018

We simply can’t afford to buy grass fed and/or organic meat.

Chris says July 27, 2018

It’s a known fact that factory farms do not take care of their animals. All they’re worried about is the money coming in quickly. We also know that there really isn’t any such thing as “grass fed” meat. In the end these animals are all killed to satisfy someone’s taste buds. These animals don’t want their throats slit. Just my opinion, eat what you want but there is no HUMANE meat.
PS. I don’t like you any less because you eat meat. Have a great day. I have to laugh at the comment stating that if there weren’t factory farms everyone would starve. GO VEGAN

Tess says July 27, 2018

Farming is incredibly hard work, and I have great respect for what farmers do. However I think Melissa has some great points above. I actually went pescatarian 6 months ago* because of my concern about animal antibiotics as well as my concern about the carbon footprint of animals such as cows and pigs. I would encourage everyone to read up on the realities of the meat industries and make enformed decisions of what you are putting into your body and where it fits in the food chain.

*Side note: I do miss bacon. But there are many other tasty plant foods I’ve been exploring in the meantime.

Michaela Gasseling says August 5, 2018

I will echo what Erica said. Less than 2% of the population in America grows or raises food. It is a hard job in every way. When new models of cell phones or laptops or cars come out, people go crazy at the new technology. And yet, when farming advances are made, people say new technology is evil, when in fact, no other industry other that animal agriculture has made such big strides towards improved sustainability.

Michaela Gasseling says August 5, 2018

Christie, multiple studies have shown that grass-finished beef is less sustainable than grain-finished beef. If all farmers went back to “that way of farming,” it would take much more time, money, land, water, and other resources to get food from the farm to your table. Here are two well-known studies: and

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