Your Dinner’s Dinner

I make a habit of daily exercise. Most mornings, around 5 a.m., you can find me at my local YMCA chugging along – although a little slower than before. Some days I find a magazine to distract myself from the work at hand. This morning, I picked up the newest copy of SELF Magazine. About 10 pages into the March 2013 issue, I found the image and text copied below (this was actually pulled from the SELF website but is the same as the print version).

I, by chance, read the short bit of text and found myself confused and concerned by what the magazine was trying to say, despite what the evidence it cited actually said.

The magazine takes into question the nutritional value of beef from cattle that had been fed candy and cookies. It ignored the fact that nearly all forms of sugar are the same and provide the same energy and brought into question the quality of beef – providing false and misleading information for its readers.

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Was This Your Dinner’s Dinner?

Farmers are giving cattle stuff like stale candy and cookies instead of pricey feed. So even if you’re avoiding junk, your beef probably isn’t. The sweets don’t alter the food’s nutritional value (or even hurt the animals’ health), but still…

Tell Us!

Does this weird you out or is it NBD? We’re listening@SELFmagazine.

*Source: Michael Van Amburgh, Ph.D., associate professor of Animal Science at Cornell University

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Cattle owners finding new, and unique, food sources for their animals is not new news. Several major media sources talked to cattle owners last year when the drought hit corn fields and pastures, reducing the availability of traditional feed sources and spiking the price of what was still available. In true entrepreneurial spirit, farmers looked to other, non-traditional, feed sources to provide the nutrients their cattle need.

The article brings into question the nutritional value of the feed choices – citing the use of candy and cookies. The feed choices, while unusual, provides the same energy sources to cattle as traditional corn feed. And, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, all forms of sugar really are the same:

“High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn and can be found in numerous foods and beverages on grocery store shelves in the United States. High fructose corn syrup is composed of either 42 percent or 55 percent fructose, with the remaining sugars being primarily glucose and higher sugars. In terms of composition, high fructose corn syrup is nearly identical to table sugar (sucrose), which is composed of 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. Glucose is one of the simplest forms of sugar that serves as a building block for most carbohydrates. Fructose is a simple sugar commonly found in fruits and honey.”

(Source: Iowa Corn Growers Association http://www.iowacorn.org/en/corn_use_education/high_fructose_corn_syrup/)

Cattle, like people, metabolize all sugars the same and uses the food for energy and there is no scientific proof that a cow’s diet affects the nutritional value of the beef derived from the animal. In fact, the magazine takes editorial authority in assuming that a cow fed candy would produce less-nutritional beef. It is simply not true! An animal’s body composition is what determines the fat and nutritional content of the beef, not the feed supply. The candy provides sugar and energy the same as corn. Therefore, an animal feed gummie bears, for example, provides the same quality of beef as an animal feed traditional feed sources.

This blizzard provides a perfect example of why it is vitally important that we keep our animals healthy and well-fed. A healthy animal, and especially a healthy mother cow, will be able to weather the cold and wind. A skinny, unhealthy animal will not tolerate the conditions and will be more prone to sickness. That’s why we take great care to ensure our animal’s diets are balanced and provide all of the energy, protein and nutritional components the animals need. It’s all part of our business of raising health animals and producing quality beef.


One thought on “Your Dinner’s Dinner

  1. While I can understand that fcows need sugars (many baby animals are fed corn syrup as a stimulant to provide calories early in life), wouldn’t it be better to find, like, a cane farmer and buy their waste off of them? It’s still got sugars in it and it’s less processed. If processed foods destroy human teeth and bodies (which they have been proven to do), then wouldn’t cows bodies slowly break down as well? And if a human eats a lot of sugars and nothing else they miss out on a lot of nutrients essential for a healthy body and things like bones and muscle deteriorate. As well as the fact that sugar typically translates into nothing but fat. Not bad for a cow in a lean winter, but bad for a consumer since most of that feed is translating into fat, not muscle or other nutrient. That is part of why there is such a flavor difference in grass-fed beef. And I wonder… Has there been any scientific tests showing that the nutient levels of a cow eating candies is no different than that of one eating corn or one eating grass and legume hays? Recently a study showed that despite a smaller size, organically raised tomatos have half-again the vitamin C as a larger, GMO/pesticide heavy vegetable… I would not be surprised if a cow fed lots of simple sugars has less nutrients than one that is fed a more appropriate diet!

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