Buying Local Beef Makes a Difference!
If you’re visiting this website, chances are you care about where your hard-earned money goes. After all, you’re here reading about and supporting a small, local business (thank you!). Have you ever investigated where your meat comes from? Read on for more information.
Where Does Americas Meat Come From?
Americans might be surprised to realize that most of the meat they buy is NOT from the U.S. You may even be more shocked and disheartened to know that even meat labeled as “Product of USA” does not have to actually be from the USA, and most meats with this label are NOT. Brazil is one of the largest beef exporters, and meat labeled “Product of USA” often comes from there. How fresh can the meat you are buying at your local Wegman’s be if it was killed in Brazil, processed in Brazil, then put on a cargo ship to float across the ocean, arrive at a port, be unloaded (maybe), be put on a tractor trailer to drive across the U.S. to be delivered to your local grocery store? After all this it is put out on the shelves as “fresh” and as a “Product of USA”.
The U.S. had banned meat from Brazil for a short time due to the USDA repeatedly finding bone fragments, blood clots and “unsavory material” in the meat. However in 2021 the U.S. tripled its Brazilian beef imports! In fact, the United States imported over three billion pounds of meat from 20 different countries last year. The ”Big Four” meatpacking companies, including Cargill, JBS, National Beef and Tyson Foods, control more then 85 percent of the US Beef Supply. That gives them a lot of power over prices and politics. To maintain both their lock on the marketplace and their share of the retail price, these large multinational corporations have intentionally blocked transparency in the food marketplace, to keep you in the dark.
Labeling is supposed to be used to provide consumers with important information about their purchasing choices. It helps guide consumers who want to buy from family farmers and local ranchers rather than buying from industrial multi-national corporations that commingle meat from several foreign countries. Right now in the United States, you can pick up a package of hamburger to make spaghetti dinner or for “Taco Tuesday” and have your package contain meat from two sides of the planet! Yes you heard me correct. The USDA has made it legal not only for meat labeled “Product of USA” to not actually be from here, but also for meat from two different ends of the world to be mixed together. The package of ground beef you’re about to make tonight for your family might contain meat from grass-fed beef in Australia mixed with fattier corn-fed meat from Kansas. You would never know. The USDA allows the meat to be mixed and labeled as “lean” and the USDA also allows that meat to be labeled as “Product of USA”. But let's be honest - you can’t get too much farther away than Australia.
Factory Farming: The Ugly Truth
Trust me, even as an adult I've had a hard time watching animals I raise, feed and take care of be hauled to be killed. Part of me would rather buy from the grocery store so I feel less guilty. But then I think about all the cows that are being killed to supply the grocery stores with meat and how they are abused. If you've never taken the time to learn where America’s meat comes from, I urge you to Google factory farming. See what goes on at the so-called farms that most Americans think are supplying your grocery stores with meat that is feeding your family.
In their commercials, Tyson paints a picture of nice people on idyllic farms, walking outside to feed and care for the animals they are using to supply your family with food. That picture they paint couldn't be farther from the truth. The abuse is unimaginable and is the reason why many have chosen a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. I will not be sharing links to those videos because all of them are very upsetting to watch. Animals raised on factory farms and processed at plants like Tyson’s are literally tortured in the name of efficiency and maximizing profit. A word of warning: If you do Google this you won't be able to erase the images from your mind.
That being said, I’ll be honest with you: I do believe it is selfish for you to not see them. There are many injustices happening in the world, and many of them we don't have any control over. But this is a situation where we can make a difference if we're willing to look at the problem and then vote with our dollars. Can we really justify choosing to "not see" abuse that we know if there so that we don’t have to feel bad eating our hamburgers and tacos? All those animals who have suffered and continue to suffer everyday deserve to be witnessed. Polls have shown that most Americans care about animals and want to do the right thing. They are upset to learn that the meat on their dinner plate comes from an animal that was tortured.
For this very reason the meat industry spends billions on lobbyists to control our elected officials and ultimately to control you and your family. Lobbyists pushed for what is called Ag-Gag Legislation. This is exactly what it sounds like: a “gag” order on the “ag” business. It protects the abuse and safeguards the abusers. It makes it illegal for anyone to document and record the abuse.
The only way anything changes is through education. But how does education happen with these ag-gag rules in place?
The answer is that there are brave investigators who document the horrors that go on at factory farms and release the information to the public. I do not know how they do it, but I am thankful that they do. An investigator will pose as someone who wants a job at a factory farm. They get the job and while working there they document the abuse and take videos. At times they literally risk their lives. What then often happens is that they leak the videos to the public, which causes such a public outcry that the USDA and other enforcement agencies have no choice but to respond and impose punishment.
The USDA does have laws against these violations. The issue lies with enforcement and documenting the abuse in the first place, and also with the fact that much stricter laws need to be in place. Let’s follow this further. Why aren’t the laws stricter?
Partly because most Americans already complain about the cost of meat. If all of those animals being kept in horrible overcrowded concrete rooms had to have fresh air and grass to stand on, the factory farms could never keep up with America’s meat demand. Prices would go up. BUT that is only true if Americans continue to depend on the four largest agri-corporations for their family’s meat.
Eating Consciously: How You Can Make A Difference
WHAT IF Americans started to seek out local farmers for their beef? Right now small farmers can’t compete with the large corporations. But WHAT IF Americans started buying eggs, pork, beef and chickens from real local farmers? imagine what could happen. Small farms would flourish! Small farmers would be able to afford to keep their family farms, your family would be eating humanely raised animals from a farm you can actually drive to! Local communities would be strengthened. Sustainable meat production would lead to healthier air, soil and water for everyone.
Here's a question for you: How much meat do you throw away each year?
Food waste is one of the top sources of carbon emissions and leading contributor to climate change. Over 26% of the meat in the U.S. is wasted in the retail market. This statistic refers to consumers (those of us who eat meat), and does not include the waste from factory farms and slaughterhouses. One thing you'll find if you investigate this more is that many animals die before they make to the slaughter. This is not only a waste of their lives, but a waste of the resources that went into raising them, and a source of pollution in the environment.
This is something we can do as individuals to make a difference. We can choose to choose, cook and eat our meat consciously, using only what we know our family is actually going to eat. If we did this how many animals could be saved from unnecessary suffering and death?
The "food chain" in the United States amounts to nothing short of insanity. And this is true for the rest of the world. We export much of our pork to China, but yet we import a lot of our pork from China.
Does that make any sense to you?
If we have enough pork to be exporting to another country then why are we paying to import meat from half way around the world from the same county? Why are we not just supplying our country with meat and China supplies their own country with meat? It's because meat production has became a game of money and politics. I believe there are better ways to feed ourselves and our families, and I hope you agree.
We all know how we get change on the corporate level, we hit them where it counts ... in their pockets! We all know how we get change on the political level .. .by making our opinions heard! Let your congressional representatives know what matters to you.
You care about the quality of what goes in your family’s bodies. Does being lied to by the USDA and the meat industry make you mad? Then take a few minutes and email your representative! WHAT IF you made your opinion heard? Don’t assume it is just one opinion and it won’t make a difference. YES IT DOES! Collectively we ARE making a difference. Yes, animals are raised and have been raised since the beginning of time for our personal desire to eat their meat, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be raised and killed humanely, with kindness and ethical responsibility.
How We Raise Our Animals
When you buy from Belmont Farm you know where your meat is coming from and you know who has raised it. Anyone who knows me knows that I love animals and any animal being raised here is taken care of. Livestock raised here for food are treated the same as the ones we have here as pets. They are fed well, have clean bedding, have fresh clean water, get treats, and in general are given the very best lives we can give them.
Our animals are transported early in the morning and taken right to a farm/processing center in Hagerstown to be processed. Within an hour of being dropped off our animals are humanely killed. Many places are not like this. Unfortunately many farmers will choose the closest processing center to them and will drop the animals off the day before. This mean that the animal is left in a concrete holding area for that day, a whole night and part of another day.
To many farmers livestock are almost like a crop - it’s about making money. Yes, I have lived on a farm my whole life, but I am very emotional about animals and believe they have feelings and can suffer. It's important to me that they not be stressed or scared. Transporting an animal and changing its environment will always stress it out. Imagine being taken from your home and dropped off at a kill center (that’s how I look at it).
It is very important to me to make sure the animals raised on this farm are treated the very best all the way up until the very end. I believe every living creature deserves to be respected and treated humanely, and even more so if they are giving their lives so we can eat.