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