Diets in Review - Find the Right Diet for You

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Hormones in Food: The Good, The Bad, and The Potentially Dangerous

Love it or hate it, unless you seek out hormone-free options, the food you eat likely contains additional hormones. From meat to milk, hormones are added to increase productivity. Some are produced naturally by the foods themselves. We teamed up with our favorite registered dietitian Mary Hartley to look at foods containing hormones, what their effects might be and how you can avoid them.

cow in field

Hormones are most commonly found in meat, milk and plants. In meat and milk, they are added through production. Steroid hormones are given to beef cattle to make them grow faster, build more muscle and make their meat leaner. Two-thirds of all cattle and about 90 percent of the cattle on feedlots in the United States are given hormones. Six steroid hormones are approved by the FDA for use in food production. They are: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate. Steroid hormones are released into the animal from a pellet that is implanted under the skin of the ear. Due to federal regulations, these hormones can only be used on sheep and cattle.


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Cows Being Fed Gummy Worms: The Health Consequences

Is there any food match more appropriate than sprinkles atop an ice cream sundae? Maybe, but none as colorful. Below the sprinkles is the obligatory mound of whipped cream, which stands tall above two scoops of ice cream. It’s expected that this dairy dessert be decorated with sprinkles and cherries and maybe even gummy worms, but would you ever think of those ingredients as feed for cattle?

It’s been reported that, in light of the worst corn harvest in six years (per the USDA), that many cattle farmers are turning to candy and other junk food to feed their cows. Yes, one penny-pinched farmer in Indiana, trying to feed 450 dairy cows on a budget, got a good deal on ice cream sprinkles. He told the Orlando Sentinel that it was a “pretty colorful load,” and in an effort to keep down costs.

With less corn feed available, a standard for large cattle operations, the price is becoming out of reach for some farmers. In addition to ice cream sprinkles as part of the new cattle diet, other farmers are finding bargains on junk food snacks like cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, dried fruit, and even Mexican food.

Orville Miller, a dairy farmer in South Central Kansas, told KWCH that he uses scraps from a local chocolate factory and Mexican food scraps from another local factory to supplement his cows’ diet at a savings of almost 50 cents per cow per day.

It’s a way of recycling,” he said, as he feeds his cows chocolate pieces, soft taco shells and refried beans. “It’s high fat, high energy feed,” Orville says, which is necessary for his cows to produce hundreds of pounds of milk a day.
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Beef Recall in California

Have you ever thought about being a vegetarian? Would you consider it? You may after reading this story. The Department of Agriculture ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef in California due to a video that catches workers doing all kinds of cruel things to cows. While it would be nice to think that the agency is doing it for humane reasons, it’s actually because the behavior raises concerns of how improper handling may lead to possible disease, including mad cow.