MEAT PRODUCTION ISN’T SYNONYMOUS WITH FEEDLOTS

March 23, 2017 by David Leffler posted on Defending Meat

When EPIC was founded in 2013, we set out to create quality meat products sourced from humanely-raised animals. In other words, we didn’t want anything from a feedlot or that stripped our planet of valuable resources and nutrients. We quickly realized that would be easier said than done. Pasture-raised animals, which are healthier, better for us, and better for the earth, were hardly part of the mainstream food supply chain. But taking the easy way out wasn’t an option. Not when it came to our food, our animals, and the world we inhabit. We’re standing proof that responsibly-sourced meat and regenerative agriculture are not only attainable—they’re the only way we can defeat climate change and the feedlots fueling it. Our work has just begun, though. 

The majority of people assume that all meat products come from feedlots—a claim that, while false, is unfortunately closer to the truth than we’d like. It’s true: most meat comes from the industrialized, conveyor-belt complex that has consumed the world for most of our lives. No wonder people can’t imagine herds of cattle freely roaming in pastures, or that they blame the meat industry for the problems threatening the future of humanity.

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But perception isn’t always reality. Despite the efforts of a few heartless food corporation executives, meat is not—and never will be—synonymous with feedlots. We’ve all got the tools to change this, too. It just requires an open mind and a willingness to rethink the current system. Let’s break this down for a second:

In the current system, most ruminants—cows, bison, sheep, and goats—raised for meat production spend the first 12-15 months of their lives on family ranches. It’s here, in their natural state, where they grow strongest. But after that, they’re sent off to feedlots and typically finished within 60 days of arrival. During their time there, these animals are pumped full of hormones, grains, and other additives that are not part of their evolutionary diet. This process is both wasteful of our planet’s valuable resources and harmful to our bodies.

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The good news is, this can be tweaked far more easily than anyone realizes. If we cut out the back end of the operation—the feedlots—and keep the animals in pastures longer, we’ll resolve two major issues: first, millions of acres of industrially farmed monoculture crops (grains) can be converted to grasslands, increasing our ability to sequester carbon and reverse climate change. Secondly, these ruminant animals will be able to roam their pastures until the day they die. This will better foster a healthy environment for our animals and, more importantly, allow our vital grasslands to grow stronger through positive impact.

Just as GMO-infused vegetables don’t represent vegetables as a whole; feedlots aren’t the only way to raise cattle. Over the past four years, we’ve gradually built out a robust supply chain of ranchers who share our view that meat is actually good for the planet when done right. But we need your help. To continue growing our movement, the regenerative food revolution must be championed by suppliers, companies, and most importantly, consumers.

Feedlots aren’t the future. They’re the past. Together, we can change the global food industry and leave a better world for our children.