grass fed beef

About twice a day, an email from a mystery man/unflagging anti-ethanol crusader named Ray Wallace appears in my inbox, chock full of excerpts from the latest ethanol slams and, on lucky days, choice quotes from politicos and the like sounding less-than-smart about the whole business. I’m not sure how I got on his listserv, and I can’t quite say how you can (but if you’d really like to, let me know and we can probably work something out).

Anyhow (I’m getting to my point), I mention Ray so as to credit him for alerting me to this quote, contained in today’s edition:

I’m a big believer in ethanol … We’re going to run into a constraint pretty soon, though. It turns out corn is needed for more than just ethanol. You got to feed your cows and feed your hogs.
— From President George W. Bush’s January 30, 2007 speech in East Peoria, Illinois.

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The funny thing is, I’d always thought we feed corn to cows and pigs because it’s dirt cheap and needing to be gotten rid of.

It’s not the first time someone has attempted to correct me on this. A few months ago, I was strolling past the meat counter at our regional mid-sized grocery chain and thought, hey, I should ask for grass-fed beef, ’cause they’ll only carry it if they perceive demand.

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The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, do you have any grass-fed beef?
Butcher: Hmm, grass-fed? I don’t think you can feed grass to cows.
Me: Well, they’re ruminant animals, so I think that’s what they’re supposed to eat.
Butcher: [sympathetic-but-authoritative head shake] I don’t think so. They need vitamins and minerals and stuff.
Me: Uh …
Butcher: Now this [points down at large, marbled slab in meat case], this is corn-fed beef.
Me: Yeah, well, um, thanks anyway.

So I don’t know what those so-called grass-fed-beef farmers have been charging me an arm and a leg for, but with the president’s backing, I’m going to call that bluff.

In the meantime, I’m relieved to know that the FDA allows farmers to feed chicken manure to cattle — though I’ll have to ask my butcher about the vitamin and mineral content.