The Ongoing Debate: Grass-Fed or Corn-Fed Beef?

Here’s a video of Fox Business host John Stossel analyzing the environmental benefits of grass-fed and corn-fed beef. To debunk the “food myth”–as he calls it–that grass-fed beef is better, he interviews Dr. Jude Capper from Washington State University, who claims she has researched this issue and that corn-fed beef is actually better for the environment because feedlot cows live shorter lives and are therefore a more productive commodity. She claims they actually have a smaller carbon footprint, too. (Check out my blog post from January, 2010, supporting the claim that grass-fed cows are actually carbon-negative.)

But the issue isn’t only an environmental one, which makes Stossel look pretty narrow-minded in this video. Healthcare and animal welfare are big pieces of the meat pie that he simply ignores when it comes to choosing grass-fed over corn-fed beef. While emphasizing the high price of grass-fed beef, he never acknowledges the impact of feedlot meat on people’s health–a cost that all of us pay for long-term. Nor does he address the long-term effect of feedlot cesspools on the environment.

Check out the video as well as Animal Welfare Approved Andrew Gunther’s recent blog post in The Huffington Post. Do you think Stossel has a convincing argument?


2 responses to “The Ongoing Debate: Grass-Fed or Corn-Fed Beef?

  1. “Do you think Stossel has a convincing argument?”
    Heck. No. For many of the same reasons you mentioned in your second paragraph and given in Gunther’s article, I disagree with Stossel completely. One other thing I did not see mentioned in either is the price of corn subsidies on the American people. Corn production would not be so high and thus corn-fed cattle wouldn’t be so “cheap” if taxpayers weren’t propping up the corn market. I would argue that in fact the cheapest solution can oftentimes be the greener solution, and feeding subsidized corn to cows is far from cheap.

    My husband made a similar comment this weekend- that corn-fed beef was more efficient because it takes less time and fewer pounds of corn than grass to prepare a cow for market. While that is a valid argument, it’s simply a piece of the puzzle, and one of the only ones that favors corn-fed over grass-fed beef.

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