Food: A Documentary Pt. 2

groceries in philadelphiaHOST

Studies have suggested corn-fed cattle may harbor more virulent strains of E. coli than grass-fed beef, although a new study out of Kansas State University is now challenging that assumption.

Feed lots have also led to wider use of antibiotics and almost all the beef you buy in the grocery comes from cattle injected with hormones.

BILL BRANDENBURG

Because it is much more expensive to produce beef without hormones.

HOST

Corn makes cattle fat.  Hormones give them more lean muscle tissue.

Bill Brandenburg says that the cattle can grow 10% bigger with hormones.

BILL BRANDENBURG

Without hormones, the cattle will have just a lot more fat in them so they are going to produce a lot more of those upper grades of beef.

HOST

Don’t they have more fat in them because we are feeding them corn?

BILL BRANDENBURG

It is the combination of corn and the fact that what the hormones actually do is the animal produces different ratios of estrogen and testosterone.   The hormones don’t actually go into the blood stream per se, but it causes the animal to produce its own different levels, so it maximizes the production of lean and minimizes the production of fat.

HOST

But if we didn’t feed them corn, isn’t it that corn feed that gives them the fat?

BILL BRANDENBURG

Yes.

HOST

So if we didn’t feed them corn, they wouldn’t necessarily need the hormones to make more less fat?

BILL BRANDENBURG

Well, you can do them grass-fed on without implants and you would still have a product but wouldn’t taste as good as corn-fed beef.  That’s what the consumers in the United States like; it is the flavor and the tenderness that goes along with corn-fed.

HOST

American beef is banned in Europe because of the use of hormones.  Shelton Murinda is an Animal Scientist Professor at Cal Poly Pomona.

SHELTON MURINDA

The Europeans will use what I will call the precautionary principle which simply indicates that if there is not enough scientific evidence, it is better to be on the safe side.

HOST

Isn’t it?

SHELTON MURINDA

It is always better on the safe side if you don’t have sufficient scientific evidence.

HOST

Why do we still use hormones in beef in the United States?

SHELTON MURINDA

The situation is rather different here.  The poison corns have been thrown about.  Some of them are what I indicated the potential side effects.  As far as I know, there has not been enough risk assessment that has been done with relevance to decide the effects of those hormones in the human population.  Not enough research has been done to gather that information, so there is no risk assessment that has been done.

HOST

So why not go on the side of caution like the Europeans?

SHELTON  MURINDA

We rather think differently.

HOST

So will any of these cattle end up on your plate?

SHELTON MURINDA

The chance of getting beef that is raised in California is rather slim, in other words.  Most of it comes from outside California.

HOST

The average American eats about 17 pounds of fish per year.   Half the fish we eat is farmed fish.  That means that the fish was born, raised and fed in a net not far off the coast.  We wanted to know whether farmed fish was as healthy as wild caught fish.  The answer, it all depends on what farmed fish eat.  Just wait until you hear what we are feeding them.

DON KENT

I grew up in San Diego when San Diego was the tuna capital of the world.  You go down at Embarcadero and tuna sanders were tied up next to each other, three deep along at Embarcadero.   That is gone now.

HOST

Don Kent is president at Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute.  Here, they are developing new ways to farm fish from the hatchery and now, to your table.  Hub Sea World wants to establish the largest fish farm off U.S. Coastal waters, five miles west of Mission Bay.  Kent sees it as a boon to the local economy and a way to take pressure off depleting fish stocks.  The debate over fish farming has traditionally been about how to do it in a way that doesn’t contaminate local waters.  Hubbs believe that by establishing nets five miles off the coast where the water is deep and the current is swift, it can minimize contamination concerns.  But there is another issue, fish also eat other fish.  If farmed fish are fed fish, the practice could deplete dwindling stocks.  So the challenged is to find other sources of fish food and fish oil to feed farmed fish.

Food: A Documentary Pt. 2

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