The McGovern Report
Nutritionism, Byproducts as Feed for Livestock, The Results of The McGovern Report, True Cost of a Big Mac, Mediocre Products Misleading to Chew up a Chunk of the Grass-Fed Market
Written by: Braedon Paramore
At no other point in our human history have we been so confused about what to eat. We’ve never had to think about it. Recipes were passed down from generation to generation, families farmed and grew whole foods from healthy soil. Our hunter gatherer ancestors even passed knowledge on and we thought of food for what it was—carrot, potato, beet, cow, chicken, egg and not for it’s nutrient counterparts—vitamin b12, omega-3, vitamin c, protein, fat or carbs to name a few. We even approached our food with a reverence and understanding that it didn’t come from the grocery store but rather the sun and the earth and the bounteous blessings thereof after a lot of hard work. This idea is characterized by a word made up by Michael Pollan called nutritionism. Nutritionism is what confused Americans and nutritionism opened the door for marketing “food like” substances with bright and shiny packages and large words that make us believe, “that package of protein is good for me because it has protein.” Do you really believe we can create in a lab the nutritional equivalence of a tomato that was grown in rich soil with trillions of symbiotic and incomprehensible relationships? We need to get back to basics and learn our role within nature, after all we are apart of the whole, we didn’t create it. Therefore we should figure out how cattle thrive and and try our best to learn the patterns that got them here, not try to reinvent it. The same could be said of a tomato or anything else. A statement on our website says, “It seems funny to us to ask the question “why grass fed?” when, in reality, those changing what has worked for thousands of years should be explaining “why not grass fed?”
So what happened, how’d we get so confused? Due to increasing demand and government involvement in trying to keep food prices down as part of agendas we began subsidizing commodities like corn, soybeans and other products. It helped that in America we could now have ranchers all over the country put their calves on trains and ship them to Chicago and let the stockyards do the fattening; ever heard of a book called “The Jungle”? $20 billion a year is being subsidized to keep food prices low, they become transfer payments made by taxpayers to consumers of agriculture commodities—or, in other words, themselves. Did you know that each time a Big Mac is purchased it costs us, taxpayers, $7. So in order to cover the environmental loss, health care and subsidies a Big Mac should cost you right around $12, but nope it’s just $5 for you and we’ll pickup the rest! For those that eat Big Macs, your stoked about this great news but why don’t I have a choice in supporting this monstrous system. 550 Million Big Macs are sold each year. There wasn't enough time to wait for a calf to grow to maturity on mothers milk and it’s atavistic diet of grass. “We take them off grass. We put them in pens, called backgrounding pens, and we teach them how to eat something that they are not evolved to eat, which is grain, and mostly corn. Why do we do this? Well, it's a very good question, because it makes absolutely no sense from an ecological standpoint. From a financial standpoint, it does. It makes them grow much more quickly. It makes them get fat, and we like our meat really fat and marbled. And it allows us to speed up the lifespan. In capitalism, time is money. We're taking cows that we used to let grow to be four or five years old before we eat them [and] we've got it down to 14 months, and we're heading toward 11 months. What allows us to do this is getting them [on] corn, getting them off this whole evolutionary relationship they've had with grass.”
Just about every food industry furnishes some byproducts, byproducts that we decided to feed to livestock. I just finished reading a 12 page article titled “Byproducts as Feed for Livestock” from the USDA Yearbook 1950-1951. I didn’t know these existed until I finally quit searching for any literature that would educate me about corn’s history with cattle; I had to call my good friend and mentor, John Flatberg who led me to the Yearbook. “Corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal and hominy feed are widely used in livestock feeding.” or how about this snippet… “Although not so high in protein as the oil meals, such as linseed oil, soybean, and cottonseed, distillers’ grains rank well in feeding value. Fed on an equal protein basis, there usually is little choice. Tests by the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station, for instance, have shown this to be true in the feeding of soybean meal and distillers’ grains to fattening cattle.” It was all just one big experiment but check this next section out… “The more important animal byproducts used in feeds are tankage, meat meal, meat and bone meal, blood meal, bonemeal of several types, liver meal and glandular meal. Meat scraps, trimmings, offal, and the rejected carcasses are sometimes cooked with steam under pressure in closed tanks to separate most of the fat. The watery portion is removed and concentrated, and returned to the solid portion, which is then dried and designated as tankage.” umm… What?! That seems crazy to me. Oh by the way the definition of tankage is a fertilizer or animal feed obtained from the residue from tanks in which animal carcasses have been rendered. In case you didn’t know, I didn’t.
During these experimental years where the ‘system’ was becoming more ‘efficient’, (you’d probably be annoyed at using two air quotes in one sentence), something unique began happening and still continues until today. As mentioned above, we began to think of food largely as nutrients instead of food. This is how the nutritionism baby was born and this is how a corrupt food industry was able to penetrate the mouths and minds of Americans.
In January of 1977 George McGovern, who was defeated by Richard Nixon in the 1972 Presidential Race, which is what is best known for, also shared on the committee that released the nations first ever set of dietary guidelines. The guidelines stated…
“The simple fact is that our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years, with great and often harmful effects on our health. These dietary changes represent as great a threat to the public health as smoking. Too much fat, too much sugar or salt, can be linked directly to heart disease, cancer, obesity, and strokes, among other killer diseases. The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich; rich in meat, other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, and in sugar. Major health problems are diet related. Most all of the health problems underlying the leading causes of death in the United States could be modified by improvement to diet. Ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension are the diseases that kill us. They are epidemic in our population. We cannot afford to temporize. We have an obligation to inform the public. The public wants some guidance, wants to know the truth, and hopefully today we can lay the cornerstone for the building of better health for all Americans, through better nutrition.”
That all sounds fantastic! Doesn’t it? A committee dedicated to exposing harmful practices and substances, a committee dedicated to giving the people the truth we need… Well the meat milk, and egg producers were very upset and they weren’t the only ones.
The president and chair of the Sugar research foundations said, “We very respectfully submit that, “The Report” is unfortunate and ill-advised. It’s all part of the emotional anti-sucrose tidal wave which has swept the industrialized nations in recent years and seems echoed by “The Report.”
From the official record of the committee hearings, “Simply stated, people like sweet things, and apparently the McGovern Committee believes that people should be deprived of what they like. There is a puritanical streak in certain Americans that leads them to become “do-gooders.” One way of achieving this end is to give people a “guilt complex” so that they will deprive themselves of some simple pleasure in order to relieve the guilt they experience when they indulge themselves.”
The President of the Salt Institute fired back as a result of The Report as well. “To summarize the position of the Salt Institute, we feel that there is definitely no need for a dietary goal that calls for the reduction of salt.
The assertion that “improved nutrition” might cut the nations health bill by one-third was challenged…
“Degenerative diseases inevitably accompany old age. Indeed, health care expenditures increase if the lifespan is prolonged.” The argument that people live longer because they eat healthier could end up being more expensive. Dr. John Cairns pointed out that “If tobacco were banned from the United Kingdom, the increase in the expected lifespan would simultaneously increase the cost of old people, which comes under the category of healthcare expenditures. If people eat healthier, we might have more old people to take care of.” Doesn’t that quote alone make you wanna live to be 100?!
The National Dairy Council
“6. We recommend that the dietary goals as formulated by the staff of the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs be withdrawn.”
“7. Formulation of national dietary goals should have the involvement and endorsement by the professional community and the food industry.”
Of course they would think the professional community and food industry should have a say in what the dietary guidelines are, nobodies interested in the truth just their bottom lines at the expense of the very people supporting them. How’s that for customer appreciation? Wouldn’t that be the same as suggesting the chickens should play with the coyotes?
The two industries that had the biggest problem and thus caused the most friction were the meat and egg producers. The meat and egg producers requested additional hearings to express their views. The Indiana Egg Council: “by unanimous action request your assistance and cooperation in stopping immediately the distribution of the highly controversial report “Dietary Goals.” The frightening development as far as the egg industry was concerned is that the advocates of a modified, low-cholesterol diet now have the credibility and the prestige of the U.S. Senate as an endorser.” This statement was made by the United Egg Producers and fifty-six other egg industry organizations to the committee, July 26, 1977.
The President of the American National Cattleman’s Association described why they reacted rather violently… “In “Dietary Goals” meat is never mentioned in a positive way, another oversight of the report. The only mention of meat are those associating meat consumption with various degenerative diseases. If these “Dietary Goals” are moved forward and promoted in the present form, the American public and its medical-health advisors will be misled in quest for better health. Entire sectors of the food industry—meat, dairy, egg, sugar and others—may be so severely damaged that when it is realized that the “Dietary Goals” are ill-advised, as it surely will be the discovery, production recovery may be out of reach. It is clear that this report and its recommendations must not be promulgated further.” I’ll throw my 2 cents in, a sick cow cannot be good for human food. You’ve probably heard the quote “you are what you eat but you’re also what you eat ate.” If a cow is suffering because a rumen is meant to digest grass and turn that into natures balance of nutrients then doesn’t it make sense that two pieces of meat could be completely different in their ability to nourish? It makes sense to me.
President of the Livestock and Meat board wrote:
“Thus guided by my conscience, I am certain that actions of the animal industries to assure Americans are properly fed with abundant meat and other animal foods is an honorable and morally correct diet course.”
Ok so now i’ve given plenty of examples of how specific industries hated this report and it’s understandable why. Because obviously the report was suggesting to Americans to decrease if not avoid all together specific “foods”; remember the difference between foods and their nutrient counterparts; carrot instead of whatever was in the carrot. All this backlash resulted in a revised report from the committee by the end of 1977. So instead of “decrease meat consumption" the report now said, “choose meats, poultry and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.” In other words, don’t attack the carrot attack the beta carotene. How confusing is that to the general public? How were we supposed to know? What were we to do but trust the food scientist, which is what we’ve been doing, along with journalism and fantastic marketing campaigns ever since. We were truly left to play with the coyotes. This wasn’t enough for the meat industry though they also had these recommendations…
The Senate Select Committee on Nutrition should withdraw its recently issued “Dietary Goals” publication and should issue a correct report.
We concur with the Senate reorganization plan calling for elimination of this committee and incorporation of its functions into the Agriculture Committee.
Well the problem was The Agriculture Committee looks after the producers of food and not the consumers. The Committee responsible for the attempt to actually help Americans was disbanded after this and the guidelines were no more.
Ever since this report we’ve been forced to talk about nutrients instead of whole foods because talking about whole foods attacks a certain industry. I’d imagine it was as confusing as it is today; I can see it now… Mary Beth and Velma are in the corner store when they strike up a gosh darn good conversation. Velma says to Mary Beth “Well gee golly Mary Beth, I read that butter is bad.” “Isn’t that just too bad Velma?” says Mary Beth. “It sure is, but guess what?! They’ve come out with margarine! It’s better and it has less fat! Also, they have these new tv dinners that are precooked and packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals and all I have to do is throw it in the microwave and dinner is served!” It became cool to colloquially throw out the fact that you were purchasing this processed food because it has less saturated fat or was loaded with vitamins etc. How did they know? The box told them and it was backed by science! Wow! The problem with this now is that beef is beef or protein is protein and all tomatoes are created equal and eating one tomato grown in the best soil on earth that has never been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides is just like eating a tomato grown in a field of rocks void of life but rich in nitrogen inputs and chemicals. It’s all the same which couldn’t be further from the truth but our minds don’t ask all these questions because we’ve become so accustomed to just going to the store and trusting these gigantic corporations with million dollar marketing plans. Any product that is crappy has to have a million dollar marketing strategy. Ever noticed how great products usually sell themselves. Pay attention. The industry invaded our kitchens and it was new way of thinking about the meal.
A Bar 10 Steak has this much protein, these minerals and vitamins and this amount of fat all in natures balance but to most a steak is a steak and a grass-fed steak is gross and for sissy’s. Never mind how it actually got to your plate. A protein bar that was created to mirror everything that steak had is now just as nutritious. False. Look where that logic has gotten us. Sicker than we’ve ever been, more confused than we’ve ever been and more dependent than we’ve ever been.
Red meat is over consumed, no doubt about it but that’s only half the problem. The other half, in this instance, is that its red meat that is sick and just about to die right before it’s butchered but barely kept alive long enough in order to reach a certain weight by heavy doses of antibiotics from the unnatural diet they’ve been on for the last months of their lives and that’s the red meat we’re eating, that’s why it was and has been bad for human consumption since the 1950’s and that’s why it was part of this report. Red meat from a solid and honest rancher who is raising animals the right way; on green grasses and open pasture, with no hormones nor antibiotics is going to have natures balance of nutrients and can be very healthy for humans. Not to mention that it’s eating grass, in Bar 10’s case, our grass is testing at brix levels of 24! That means there is a very high mineral content in our soil which means our soil is alive and well. Even this health product can be overeaten. It’s ironic that being involved in selling beef i’m writing to tell people to not eat so much beef. I’m not wrong, i’m honest. We should eat much less red meat but the red meat we do eat should be from the best source possible. Bar 10 Beef is the best source. If McDonalds purchased beef from us it would cost the consumer a little more but overall we’d save taxpayers 3.85 Billion Dollars on Big Macs alone.
The grass-fed beef market has grown 100% annually over the past 5 years compared to grain-fed beef which has only grown 7%. The grass-fed market however is still only 7% of all beef sales in the United States but it’s expected to be 30% in the next 5 years. Grass-fed is on the rise because consumers are becoming more educated and conscious in their food choices. This means there are going to be, and has been, a lot of ranchers who take any cow and throw it on any pasture and direct market it to you in desperation to chew up a portion of the increasing “grass-fed” market. Genetics matter, soil matters, weening age matters, grass varieties matter, it all matters and it all takes time and dedication. Just because a package says “grass-fed” does not mean it’s a product you should be digging deeper into your pockets to pay for. You’re investing in your health now as opposed to later, right? If all cattle were raised like they were in the time of your great grandparents than meat wouldn’t have been apart of that report.
Let’s walk through some history. The ideal wasn’t too far in the past, for some it was a grandparent that knew a rancher raising what he could, on grass alone, because grass is all cows have ever eaten. Michael Pollan, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people after writing books like The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food said this in an interview with PBS “ Well, a cow out on grass is just an incredible thing to behold... Cows and other ruminants can do things we just can't do. They have the most highly evolved digestive organ on the planet, called the rumen. And the rumen can digest grass. It takes grass, cellulose in grass, and turns it into protein, very nutritious protein. We can't do that. We can't digest grass. So to take land that is not good enough for agriculture -- that's growing grass and nothing else, that's been doing that for 10,000 years since the buffalo -- and put a cow on it ... there's something beautiful about that, and it's just the way it was meant to be.” By the way corn finishing an animal might sound cool and someone may make it seem like it’s cool and what needs to be done but in reality it’s changing the entire fat composition of that animal and in most cases it’s purely for higher yield… more money, not more nutritious.
A rancher in the past would peddle his products, usually milk, cheese and beef, to locals. That was the only option he had before railroads were built. Those who supported him by consuming these products had a relationship with him, they knew how he was raising the cattle, they knew how he made the cheese and harvested the milk and they knew what type of man he was. It was always in the ranchers best interest to keep his soil healthy, treat his animals well and it was also in his best interest not to overgraze the grass just to put on a few extra pounds per animal. Over grazing would take from the following year and uproot a system that has been well established for decades if not centuries. By uproot I mean literally pull the grass roots out of the ground which damns the trillions of symbiotic relationships that were in place in order to move nutrients and minerals around in the unseen world we call dirt. They would try to rotate the cattle in order to mirror a natural pattern of grazing, pooping and moving along. This natural pattern fed the cows, fertilized the soil, moved the cows along so they didn’t over graze and brought them back to the section of land when it was ready. In addition to this way of life the fact is that cattle were still largely pure bred. Their genetics were built to fatten on grass alone, supply enough milk for a calf and maybe a little extra.
The way things are done now have sped up the lifespan of a cow and turned most ranchers into cow-calf operations. Once the calf is weened off mothers milk it’s shipped to a backgrounder or sometimes straight to the feedlot. The goal in both cases is to fatten it up as fast as possible on a heavy diet of corn and whatever else works, like you read above; byproducts of all sorts. When a calf is weened too early it doesn’t allow their rumen to properly develop. The industry average is right around 6 months for weening. Even the most efficient and healthy of rumens will suffer and needs heavy amounts of medicinal inputs to stay alive and the industry is taking underdeveloped rumens and throwing them on corn… All I can see are problems. Bar 10 believes 10 months is a good time to ween a calf. We didn’t just pull this number out of thin air, we have a handful of mentors that have helped us along the way. Steve Campbell and Gerald Fry being two very important contributors to the success of our herd today specifically with decisions about genetics and weening but overall about everything. There has been research done, in addition to a calf at about this age seems to naturally go from a mothers teat to grazing on grass. A large part of the development of the rumen is the development of villi, which increase the surface area in the rumen allowing the ruminant to glean more nutrients. When villi aren’t present and the rumen is being destroyed by an unnatural diet the animal is receiving little to no atavistic nutrition. Cattle genetics never ever needed corn to fatten up, that’s a lie that has perpetuated the previous 50 years in order to confuse millions and habitually move a pile of corn the size of a football stadium into the pockets of few using cattle as the machines. Higher yield = more money and doing it quicker on corn made it all the more fruitful. For who? For the animal? For the people? For the environment?
I’ve gone on and on but overall we’ve taken a look at a timeline dating back to the 1950’s where we gave up the kitchen in return for convenience. We’ve understood that we are obsessed with nutrients not food. We’ve seen that people will indeed do whatever they can to increase their bottom line at the expense of so many vital contributors to society, me, you, everyone, the earth and the air. We know there will be ranchers and farmers competing to take up the grass-fed market with less qualified products because we don’t ask the questions, packaging can be misleading. We’ve seen that there’re still ranchers and farmers who have come full circle to recognizing the sins of the past to once again producing fantastic products. Bar 10 Beef, Christiansen’s Farms, the entire community of Boulder, UT., Red Acre Farms in Cedar City, The Cultured Collective dedicated to educating people on fermented foods, brines, breads and beverages, even Heidi Heaton herself, my bosses wife grows an abundance of fruits and veggies every year that are so nutritious and tasty! There are options, we just have to start asking the questions and we need to read the right books, heck read any book you’d like but please have eyes to see and ears to hear. After all there are definitely conspiring men in today’s day and age. I have a list of suggestions if you’d like to get started, just shoot me an email. Rhonda i’m sorry in advance for all the errors that i’m sure are apart of this. Please forgive me. bar10beef.com yeehaw! Oh and please keep in mind that these are my thoughts and don’t necessarily represent the feelings of the Bar 10 Beef family and there is no revision process etc. Although i’m confident as all that has been stated is fact as far I can tell and feel. Thanks for reading.