Tweenie’s Greenies

Week 3: Eat It, on Purpose

Have you heard the buzz?  Meat, poultry, eggs, and milk that are free from rBST and antibiotics are gaining in popularity at the market.  What’s the fuss?  Should you stick to the usual goods and ignore the hoop-la?  Well, I will let you decide for your own family.  I will just say that my family will hopefully be free from eating unwanted hormones and antibiotics within the next couple weeks.  We are working on what’s in the freezer right now, so we will replace as we eat.  I would hate to produce more food waste.

What is rBST?  It stands for Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin  a growth hormone that was manufacture by Monsanto in the early nineties.  The FDA approved it’s use in 1993.  Some European countries still refuse to approve it for use in their countries.

What does it do?  It causes cows to produce approximately 10% more milk over their lactation period by stimulating mammary tissue in the cows.  It doesn’t produce more milk over the course of the day, but it stimulates their mammary tissue so milk is produced for a longer time (more days). 

What are the concerns?  For Dear Old Bessie down on the farm it means a 55% increase in the incidence of lameness, 25% increase in the incidence of mastitis (Can you imagine producing huge amounts of milk for an abnormally long length of time?  Ouch!)  This mastitis increases the use of antibiotics in the cows.

For us, the little people, it means the possible consumption of these hormones.  Studies have shown that growth hormone is present in the milk of cows treated with rBST.  The discussion presently is centered around just what exactly this means to our bodies.  The American Cancer Society reported in 1998 that there was a correlation between the growth hormone and breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.  Studies have also shown a possible link between this and the increased number of twin births in the U.S.  There have also been studies that have shown a link between early development in girls and the cow hormones.  Depending on the camp you consult with, some of the pro’s in the biochemical field will say that the amount of hormones present in the milk is not enought to affect humans.  I think I have pitched my tent in the other camp.

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Antibiotics, why are they used on the farm?  Approximately 25 million pounds of antibiotics are used in the U.S. for non-therapeutic uses such as accelerating animal growth and compensating for conditions in large scale “factory farms” (such as overcrowding where animals can easily become ill). 

What are the concerns?  The concern is not really that you will ingest the antibiotics it’s that we are developing conditions for bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotics that are used.  The bacteria which have been widely studied, such as E coli, and salmonella, have become strains resistant to several antibiotics.  This is thought to be largely due to overuse of antibiotics in livestock. 

What to do?  Well, it’s for each man’s choosing.  I will certainly try to eliminate the purchase of meats and other goods which are grown and produced using the above noted materials.  I felt before that it would be very costly to switch from the usual beef or chicken to the steroid/antibiotic free type.  I was wrong to an extent.  I found a few local “natural farms” in our area that do not use growth hormones, or other questionable practices.  Their prices are very reasonable (example: $3.20/lb ground beef) and the meat to be very high quality.  So, I will make the switch.  It’s worth it in the long run to me because I will know exactly what my family is eating.  No artificial additives. I will also be supporting the smaller local farms that use practices I agree with. 

Browse around your neck of the woods.  Ask questions about how/what animals are fed or given before being used for your food.  After all, it’s the circle of life and you’re in it for the long haul.  Might as well make it a happy and healthy one.

Websites used for info:

Natural Growers in my area: (has 4 local stores (farm is in Belding),  I am looking for more web info in this area instead just a name.  If you know any please leave a comment