The cost of genetically-modified (GM) corn and soy feed for conventional cattle is surging so high, and availability plunging so low, as a result of persistent drought conditions and resultant crop failures that conventional feedlot farmers are having to seek out less expensive and more plentiful alternatives. But such alternatives are not exactly the types of things you would typically expect a farmer to feed his animals: corn syrup-laden gummy worms, nutrient-devoid marshmallows, and chemical-laden ice cream sprinkles are among the many junk foods now being served to American cattle.
The Vancouver Sun reports via Reuters that a whole new “alternative” feed market is emerging out of the ongoing crop crunch, as farmers all across the U.S. are running out of common feed options for their herds. Because corn-based feeds are now too expensive or simply unavailable, feedlot operators in Indiana, North Dakota, and elsewhere are buying leftover candy scraps, pastries, extruded cereals, gummy snacks, and even food waste to feed to their cows, which end up directly fueling the production of conventional meat and dairy products sold nationwide to American consumers.
“Brokers are gathering up discarded food products and putting them out for the highest bid to feed lot operators and dairy producers, who are scrambling to keep their animals fed,” says Reuters. “In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.”
What this means, of course, is that those standardized cartons of pasteurized, homogenized milk in the dairy case and those attractive-looking cuts of meat at the butcher counter are actually the worst kinds of junk food disguised as supposedly wholesome nutrition. If the phrase “you are what you eat” holds any real merit, then consumers might as well just skip buying conventional meat and dairy altogether and have some cake or an ice cream sundae for dinner instead, since this is what American cattle are now eating.
What happened to good, old-fashioned grazing on natural grass pastures?
At the same time, it is somehow not all that surprising that even animals in America are now being forced to eat junk foods rather than the fresh grass, silage, and other natural foods they were designed to eat. American consumers, after all, have been shoveling these unnatural poisons down their throats for many decades now, so why should the animals get anything different?
As if being forced to eat loads of GM corn and soy for subsistence was not bad enough, American cattle are now being forced to eat things like candy corn and Oreos, both of which, ironically, are made from all sorts of processed GM corn and soy byproducts. But what is even more pathetic than this is the fact that the struggling American farmers who have resorted to this travesty of animal husbandry have not even considered trying to pasture their animals.
Cows are ruminant animals, which means their digestive systems were designed to eat grass and other plant-based foods, not fruit snacks and cream pies. So if corn and soy feed prices are too high — cows were not meant to eat these grains either, by the way — then why not try pasturing the animals instead? Not only do grass-fed animals produce high-quality, nutrient-dense meat and dairy, but grass tends to be a self-sustaining food that, last time we checked, is essentially free. Pasture-based animal husbandry also enriches the land and promotes healthy environmental stewardship.