A very mad dairy cow

Checking the news for information on Mad Cow Disease in general and the suspected case turned up near Yakima, WA, is a pretty fruitless pursuit. You’re likely to find articles like the one in Slate cited by Prof. Bainbridge (via Instapundit) sensationalizing feedlots and urging you to a vegetarian diet, and that would be a mistake. So let’s collect some of the facts, just to be ornery.

In the first place, this Holstein cow isn’t an example of feedlot beef, good or bad. It was a worn-out, 4 1/2 yr. old dairy cow sold to slaughter along with 19 compadres because it wasn’t producing as much milk as the dairy farmer wanted. Your clues to that are the breed — Holstein’s are dairy cattle, not beef cattle — the sex — beef cattle are steers, not cows — the location — beef cattle aren’t raised on dairy farms — and the age — beef cattle are slaughtered at 18 months of age, more or less, and this cow was 4 1/2 yrs. old. It was most likely infected 4 years ago, when it was a calf, and probably by a milk substitute containing tallow it was fed to wean it off the profitable mother’s milk.

Worn-out dairy cows don’t get slaughtered for the steaks you’re going to buy at a restaurant, you can’t buy their meat at Safeway, and you can’t buy hamburgers at McDonald’s or Burgerville made out of them. Their meat goes into processed foods like bologna, sausages, and dog food.

If you want to worry about the contamination of the food supply, consider that this infected cow produced milk for the last four years, and you stand a better chance of catching mad cow from milk than you do from beef, although the evidence is pretty slim in either of these scenarios.

If we’re going to enact major policy changes to prevent further outbreaks of Mad Cow, the places to start would be in stricter standards for milk substitutes, a ban on selling old milk cows for human consumption, and more comprehensive testing. The thing you can do for yourself if you’re worried about tainted beef is to buy grass-fed beef from hippie ranchers, like I do, most recently from a rancher outside Eugene, OR.

Other than that, you might want to limit your milk consumption, but you should do that anyway if you’re over 2.

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12 Responses to A very mad dairy cow

  1. Steve says:

    Long term, the solution is to only eat cows that have been raised by Attachment Parenting.


  3. The solution is obvious – eat the hippies…

  4. joe says:

    mad cow isn’t spread thru milk

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  6. 65DegN says:

    This is just one more symptom of a corrupt government and greedy corporations.
    Just like the use of the synthetic hormone rGBH to force greater milk production out of cows.
    rBGH has been banned by Canada and the European Union but not in the USA.

    Earlier in the year a vote came up before the House Agriculture Committee to ban downer cows from entering the food supply.
    The outcome had already been assured as the Dairy Industry had already given money to 33 of the 51 members of the Agriculture Committee.
    Of these 33 members of the House, 28 voted to continue marketing sick animals. Only four voted to ban the practice.
    Then there’s the spreading of sewage sludge on farms as ‘fertilizer’. This stuff contains not only human excriment but also heavy metals, industrial and household toxic waste and pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
    Even worse sewage sludge is mutagenic.(it causes inheritable genetic changes in organisms).
    You could be buying genetically manipulated food that has genes spliced from bacteria, insects or whatever the scientists think will make the big agricultural corporations more money and fertilized with sludge then, in some cases, irradiated to make it last longer.
    Mouth watering huh?
    Where is it all headed? Soilent Green?

  7. The Washington mad cow wasn’t a downer, so this legislation had no effect on it. It was tested because it was part of a herd of 20 that included one downer. There is a misconception that downers are always sick, and that’s not really the case as cattle get injured in ways that makes it hard for them to walk that have nothing to do with disease.

    Regulations limited the spread of BSE through feed were passed over six years ago, but this cow happened to be a few months too old to be protected by them. If corporate greed and government corruption were as you say they are, these regulations obviously never would have been passed. You might think about that.

  8. 65DegN says:

    I find that some of your assertions seem to be questionable. For instance,
    “Worn-out dairy cows don’t get slaughtered for the steaks you’re going to buy at a restaurant, you can’t buy their meat at Safeway, and you can’t buy hamburgers at McDonald’s or Burgerville made out of them. Their meat goes into processed foods like bologna, sausages, and dog food.”

    I just read this today,
    “It’s bad luck, really,” Weinstein said yesterday. “It’s like getting hit by lightning: There’s one cow in the U.S. with mad cow, and my family probably ate it.”

    You also stated, “The Washington mad cow wasn’t a downer…”

    But tread this…”A “test and hold” policy would have prevented meat from the Yakima Valley Holstein from entering the food supply. Tests on brain tissue from the diseased cow — a “downer” that was slaughtered on Dec. 9 — did not positively detect BSE until Dec. 23.”

    I take issue with this statement also,”If corporate greed and government corruption were as you say they are, these regulations obviously never would have been passed.”

    That statement assumes that the corruption in government is absolute and total. That no level of accountability exists. Since I did not infer that the corruption was absolute then there is nothing obvious about it.

    The restrictions on feed were passed amidst protest by the cattle/dairy industry. ( Greed ) Actually they can still legally feed these diseased animals to pigs and chickens.
    Mad cow disease was first detected in cattle in Britain in November 1986. About three years later they discovered that the disease was caused by feeding meat and bone meal to cattle. It only took US legislators 8 years to ban feeding downer cow parts to other cows that are part of the food supply.

    Also did you know that there was legislation to allow sewage sludge to be legally called ‘Organic’. Even though it is loaded with a long list of inorganic toxic pollutants. This was a scam perpetrated by big agribiz in concert with corrupt legislators in an attempt to destroy the organic foods industry. It failed because of huge public outcry.
    Organic farms and organic foods are the fastest growing segment in our food supply right now. The stocks prices for these producers and the distributors of their products are leaving the chemo based food producers stock values in the dust. They have become real competition. Big agribiz doesn’t like it either.
    I could go on and on about corruption in government and document it all but I have better things to do with my time.
    If you choose to turn a blind eye to it then that is your choice.

  9. Apparently worn-out dairy cow meat does go into some the real cheap ground beef you can buy at some supermarkets, although it’s not sold by McDonalds or as steaks.

    The media reports on the downer have been contradictory, with the early reports saying this cow was a downer because of injuries in calving, and others saying another member of its herd was so injured, so believe what you want. The one thing that is consistent was that the downer cow was unable to walk because of injury and not the disease.

    Regarding sewage sludge, I know people who’ve used it on their gardens on the theory that manure is all natural and therefore groovy. Mad Cow disease is also natural, and so is bone meal and crushed up animal guts, so you have to draw your own conclusions about how natural you want to be with respect to food.

  10. 65DegN says:

    The people that used the sewage sludge thinking it was natural apparently did not do their due dilligence. Everything that goes down the drain is in that stuff. It is a chemical soup, only the base is human waste.
    Mad Cow disease is spread by feeding healthy cows the spinal column and the brains of their infected comrads. This is hardly natural since these are strict herbivours. I think it would be more accurate to say that Mad Cow is just a natural response to an unnatural situation.
    If this is how the disease spreads it begs the question, would it even exist if cows were not fed in such an unnatural way?
    I don’t see how it could. Seems to me it was a man made problem.
    In regards to human food sources, the question isn’t simply about ‘natural’ vs synthetic as many chemicals that are in food are made from ground up rocks, minerals or are extracted from petroleum, coal or are even by products in the manufacture of metals, like flouride is from aluminium.
    These chemicals are all from natural sources but they are not of organic origin. Even then there are organic lifeforms that are toxic to people.
    Knowlege is power. It gives us the ability to actively control what we willingly expose ourselves to. Just as we look back at the Romans and think, how stupid they were to drink from lead cups.
    I suspect that future generations will look back at what we are doing now and say the same thing.

  11. Lemme put it another way: mad cow disease is spread by cow brains, an organic food according to any definition of “organic”; i. e., cow brains are not man-made, chemical, or synthetic. That organic stuff can kill you, as many people who’ve lost children to the E. Coli from improperly composted animal manure on their lettuce can tell you.

    Synthetic fertilizers are safer, cleaner, and more effective than organic, and it’s only because of them that so many people can eat regular meals in the Third World today.

  12. 65DegN says:

    Your comment,
    “Synthetic fertilizers are safer, cleaner, and more effective than organic, and it’s only because of them that so many people can eat regular meals in the Third World today.”
    This is nothing more than an gratuitous assertion, you offer no basis for your assertion, and I wholeheartedly disagree.
    Synthetic fertilizers create chemical salts in the soil that build up and render the soil inhospitible to plants in time and creates a barrier to water absorption in the soil. It damages the naturally occurring biological activity and disrupts the natural soil balances.
    Regarding E-coli,
    “Please read the following news report on research done in 1998 at Cornell
    University which found that cattle fed a grain-based diet, typical of a
    feed lot operation, harbored E. coli 0157:H7 while cattle fed a forage
    based diet, typical of pastured organic cows, did not. This appears to
    be correlated with the pH of the intestinal tract, which is highly acid
    with a grain-based diet and favors this particular strain of bacteria
    because of that. Perhaps this should still be called ‘hamburger disease’
    …….or more accurately ‘feedlot
    Again, another man made problem.

    I have gardened organically here in Alaska for over 20 years and have grown amazing gardens that were lush, vigerous and chemical free.
    I primarily use composted Salmon guts and Seaweed with outstanding results.
    Broccoli and Cauliflower that has full tight heads 12 inches across. Carrots, Peas, Turnips, Parsnips, Potatoes, Corn, Tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Rhubarb, Kahlrabi, Cabbage, Cucumbers and more. No chemicals added what so ever and the fertilizer is not only organic it is free.

    There is no shortage of food to feed the world or the means for it to be grown. Its the distribution of it that is uneven and the fact that we throw away, discard as useless waste the very organic materials that can be used to make gardens grow prolifically.
    I have backed up my pickup truck to the canneries here and filled the bed completely with Salmon carcasses and guts and they were happy to see me because they had to dispose of it some how.
    This is how short sighted we have become.
    After using this for a few years the soil becomes light, fluffy and dark in color and smells rich and wonderful. It is home for lots of beneficial life forms like earth worms that airiate the soil and microbes that eat the compost to further break it down so that plants can more efficiently use the nutrients.
    When done correctly it becomes its own ecosystem in balance.
    There are numerous studies that have shown that plants more effeciently absorb organic nutrients than the chemical counterparts.
    For instance,
    “Recent research published in the prestigious scitentific journal, “Nature”, suggests that crops under stress will by-pass the energy consuming step of absorbing mineralized nitrogen (NH4 and NO3) and directly and easily absorb it’s nitrogen in organic or free amino acid form”
    This is the type of nitrogen made available with composted fish waste.

    Chemicals on the other hand are hostile to a lot of beneficial microbes and life forms and it does not add to the tilth of the soil as organics do.
    Chemicals do not build soil fertility and increase soil health as organic fertilizer does because all you are doing is adding chemicals to grow crops, the soil becomes nothing more than the substrate to suspend the chemicals.
    After a few years of using chemicals farmers need to use even more because the naturally occurring nutrients have been depleated. More water is needed because the soil has no tilth.
    Consequently when the weather is dry the remaining top soil is blown away. After a while they realized this and did away with the soil all together and developed hydroponics.

    These chemicals injure the ecosystem and many farm chemicals are deadly to Salmon and other fish not to mention birds, other animals and people. They have been found concentrations in NW waterways that cause damage to aquatic life.
    They mimic hormones that control the development of young and disrupt the cronological sequence of natural hormone release.
    There is no place on this Earth that has not been contaminated by airborne pesticides. Studies have turned up DDT in streams at the northern most reaches above the Arctic Circle in Alaska thousands of miles from the closest farms.
    Cleaner? Safer? More effective?

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