Opinion Paper: Compare the views on animal agriculture and explain the aspects of meat eating
Beefsteaks are the national food of America. It is impossible to find a person who never ate a roasted steak in different forms, as barbecue, or part of a burger. Steak has become a part of an American culture. Ask anyone about the U.S., and one of the first things that will come up in mind is steak. However, many concerns from society and animal defenders occurred, and people argue on conditions in which animals are kept and on the quality of meat. Michael Pollan, cattle journalist, and Ryan Andrews, famous vegetarian bodybuilder, wrote articles on how real American beefsteaks are produced. The following essay will discuss these articles, compare the views on animal agriculture and explain the aspects of meat eating.
Both articles start with a brief description of the places authors visited, though they are different in some ways. Both Pollan, as a journalist, and Andrews, as a vegetarian, were interested in the process of steak production. However, the way of exploring the same theme differed in both cases. The article by Pollan contains more comprehensive data. It appears that Andrews visited farms better to entertain himself, then to do some research. He stayed on a farm for a short period, so he could not gather all information and get a deeper insight into the process. Pollan’s version of the process seems to be more adequate, mind the time he spent on a farm and all his expenses.
Pollan visited Poky Feeders, Kansas, containing 37,000 cows. His approach to the question was much deeper than that of Andrews – he not only visited, but invested in a steer to be aware of everything that was going on with it. He started the research when he decided that ignorance to the quality of meat and environmental and health problems connected to CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) should be stopped.
These farms occupy a large area and are divided into smaller sections where cows and steer grow up. Normally, a steer is weaned from its mother at the age of 7 to 9 months. After branding and castration the next place that it occupies is feeding pen. The food that steers consume during their pre-slaughter grow normally contains different ingredients, however, the most part of it is corn. The corn is cheap and contains a lot of protein and fat, which are the major source of cow’s weight and meat. Along with food, steers and cows at Poky Feeders gain antibiotics and steroids from food. These help to save the steers’ health and increase the weight of the future steak source. During his visit to Magnum Feedyard, Andrews was ensured that none of the cows was given any of antibiotics or steroids during the feeding process, only in case if they needed it.
There are 2.2 million farms in the U.S., and Magnum is one of them (Andrews, 2010). To be honest, the Magnum Farm is rather an exception to the rule, than a common phenomenon. According to Pollan, Blair brothers, who own Poky Feeders, make the feeding process and the food in a very comfortable way for the steers, mixing corn with alfalfa hay and grains, adding some steroids and antibiotics to it. It helps to gain nearly 1000 pounds of weight during 12 months, which means Americans would be supplied with beef annually. There were debates among the farm owners if it was prominent to use the remains of the dead cows as the complement to the food. Blair brothers assured Pollan that none of the cows consumed its brother or sister during meal. However, in most cases, farmers do not inquire about the ingredients of the food mix. “Fat is fat” (Pollan, 2002).
Both Andrews and Pollan tell why the grass feeding process is not efficient in this business. Cows and steers grow much longer to get the slaughter stage. Blair brothers said that it would take 5 years for a cow to get ready and slaughtered. With such nutrition given to cows, animals grow faster, which means faster income and stability.
However, the most argued theme among nature defenders is the ways of slaughtering animals. Andrews speaks of it as it is a trip to Holliday Inn (Andrews, 2010). Pollan watched almost the whole process, except the very slaughter.
Temple Grandin is one of the most respected and influential people in the U.S. cattle industry (Pollan, 2002). She is an autistic, which allows her to see the world as cows do. This helped her in designing the system of slaughtering that keeps meat fresh and make it look appetizing. The cows are brought to the slaughterhouse and put on the conveyor. The whole machine works as if it was a usual day for the future steak, and nothing seems to go wrong. At the certain point, the cow is shot in the head, so it dies faster and there is no adrenalin bursting into the bloodstream, which spoils the meat. Later, they are sent via conveyor to the special room where they are dismembered, and the carcass is separated from other body parts. The industry uses disinfection when transporting the beef.
Despite the industrialized process of growing cattle and maintaining its efficiency, Pollan had some concerns about the nature and the health of people. The point is that bacteria can develop immunity to the antibiotics given to cows, which means that in a few decades people will not be protected from different illnesses coming from cows. Corn fields receive many fertilizers, and this creates a dead zone in Gulf of Mexico. In addition, Pollan wrote his article as an investor. It appears that production of beef is not cheap at all – if prices on steroids, recycling, hormones, antibiotics, and health care are added. Moreover, the expenses on health of beef consumer should be included, regarding the issue with the antibiotics (Pollan, 2002).
It is worth saying that Pollan tried out one steak prepared from cow with normal and natural nutrition. He said that it was the best steak he has ever eaten, but it was slightly harder because cows move a lot eager to find grass. In comparison, meet that came from CAFO cows smelled of corn and artificial fat to him. There is a razor-thin difference in prices, so it is up to the buyer to decide what to eat – the cow which ate grass, or the cow grown on a farm using modern technologies.
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