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A Response to Nolan Ryan Beef: Part Two

on | in Health | by | with 18 Comments

If you read my post last week about USDA meat labeling, you may or may not have noticed a surprising comment left by the CEO of Nolan Ryan Beef. There were too many points to cover in a single blog comment reply, so I offered some thoughts yesterday in Part One.  Here’s part two:

We don’t own a single feedyard and none of our cattle are in “mega” feedyards but instead we are feeding cattle in relatively small feed yards in South Texas.

~ Charlie Bradbury, CEO of Nolan Ryan Beef

Response: I’m a little confused with the terminology here. My original post states that “Nolan Ryan owns no fewer than four mega-large ‘feedlots’ in Texas.” Your comment used the term “feedyards” instead of “feedlots.” Nolan Ryan’s beef website states that you “only work with licensed feedlots.” So, are you saying that you feed your cattle in small feedlots in Texas but you don’t own the feedlots? How do you define “relatively small?”

The claim that you own feedlots was taken from information that is a few years old. Based on your statement I’m guessing that things have changed since then. Once I understand better what you are saying I will change the original post so that it is accurate.

For Example, USDA defines “All Natural” as any beef that is “minimally processed with no artificial ingredients added” There is nothing in that definition about how the cattle are raised. Beef that has been “enhanced” meaning it is pumped with a sodium phosphate solution such as that sold at Wal-Mart, does not meet this definition, Nolan Ryan Beef does meet this definition and hence we can put it on our label, we are not trying to decieve anyone, just following the regulations.

~ Charlie Bradbury, CEO of Nolan Ryan Beef

Response: It is to the advantage of feedlot operations that the government regulates beef labeling*. Representatives from CAFO’s, Big Beef, or whatever-you-want-to-call-them spend millions of dollars annually lobbing Congress to write regulations that favor their interests.

Concern #1: Antibiotics and Growth Hormones

While still meeting the requirements of “All-Natural” labeling, it is my understanding that a calf can be implanted with a growth hormone several times from birth to weaning, several times after weaning and until they are shipped to the feedlot.  They can also be given antibiotics via medicated feeds, protein licks, tubs, etc. Also, feedlots routinely implant animals with additional growth hormones upon arrival at their operation.

I have also been told that implanting an animal with growth hormones less than 100 days before slaughter is wasted money. Apparently there is not enough time for the drugs to bulk up the animal enough to justify the expense so it simply isn’t done. What frustrates me is how “All-Natural” labels often say “No antibiotics or hormones” when it really should say “No antibiotics or hormones in the last 100 days.

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I am not claiming that Nolan Ryan Beef is intentionally trying to deceive anyone, but I do think somewhere along the lines someone was trying to pull the wool over consumers eyes. The “All-Natural” label is confusing for the consumer. That was the point of my original post.

Concern #2: Genetically Modified Corn

An extremely high percentage (maybe 90+%) of all the corn grown in American is Genetically Modified (GMO) grain. Feedlot cows eat a lot of grain. According to Expert Jeffrey M. Smith, author of “Seeds of Deception”, studies link GMO’s with adverse reactions such as: allergies, infertility, infant mortality, immune system dysfunction, stunted growth, accelerated aging, and death.

We are different species, but we are not that different. If GMO products can cause harm to humans, then it logically follows that they will compromise the health of cattle as well. Especially since corn is not even a part of a cows natural diet.

It disturbs me that beef can be labeled natural that has been fed GMO’s. It just doesn’t make sense. GMO is the antithesis of natural. And if “you are what you eat” holds true, then what the heck?

Concern #3: Cloning

I don’t know the answer to this, so I’m hoping someone can tell me: Can a cloned animal qualify as “All-Natural?” I know that cloned beef is not required to be labeled as such, so I am curious.

Conclusion

The free market system in the U.S. will reward those who provide a superior product at a competitive price.  I believe grass-fed beef is a superior product relative to its health benefits, its environmental benefits and its flavor profile.  Competitive pricing is a different story.  Grass-fed beef is not cheaper than feedlot beef.  But, that is not a bad thing.

The U.S. average household spends LESS of its budget on food than any other industrialized country in the world.  The U.S. average household spends MORE of its budget on healthcare than any other industrialized country in the world.  Does anyone see the correlation here?  I would venture that families who eat healthy, locally and as organically as possible spend less on healthcare than those who do not.  Where do you want to spend your money, on good food, or on visits to your doctor, hospital, and pharmacist?

* This is my opinion, not a statement of absolute truth!

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18 Responses to A Response to Nolan Ryan Beef: Part Two

  1. Well, regardless of how they tiptoe around terminology, the facts are the same: we want grass fed ONLY beef. We want that grass to be organic, not sprayed with or otherwise contaminated by pesticides. We want these cows to never have touched hormones or other as-of-yet unvilified injections / medications. And we want the meat butchered in facilities that are not contaminated by toxic chemicals like bleach. Seriously, I don’t want bleach in my beef.

    Thanks.
    .-= Daniel (Daddypotamus)´s last blog ..Prophetic Vision Casting Versus Practical Teaching =-.

  2. Nicholas says:

    Great post Heather

  3. I’ve just come across this series and WOW was it fascinating and so well researched and written. My only disappointment is that Mr. CEO didn’t have the guts to respond. I LOVE it that a well educated Mommy totally took him on though! You amaze me, Heather!!

  4. looks like the feeling may have been mutual on his part too. =)

  5. AK says:

    The govenment has different standards for items labeled as “natural” v. items labeled “organic.” Truthfully, the “natural” label means absolutely nothing. It is nothing more than big business lobbying the gov’t to get a label that they can fool the the consumers with. Foods with a “natural” label can contain the following:

    •pesticides
    •herbicides
    •toxic heavy metals
    •trace amounts of PCBs
    •toxic fluoride
    •hidden MSG
    •high-temperature cooking byproducts
    •synthetic chemical vitamins
    •other non-natural substances

    The FDA defines “natural” as:
    Natural foods are processed without preservatives or additives, but may have been grown with the use of pesticides or other conventional methods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the term ‘natural’ only as it applies to added color, synthetic substances, and flavors. The term ‘natural’ can include free-range and hormone-free, and it can mean that a product contains no synthetic ingredients or color additives. However, you should always check the label to be sure of a product’s ingredients. Check out Food Labels

    So as you can read, “natural” means anything but natural. If you look, you’ll find under these standards 7Up is defined as “natural.”

    If you want truly natural food (not “natural”) you only want to buy items labeled at “organic.” “Organic” foods as defined by the USDA-FDA are:

    Consumers no longer have to play a guessing game when it comes to organic foods. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) now has national standards for the use of the word “organic.” Unlike just a few years ago, consumers buying organic products, whether produced in the United States or imported, can be assured that the foods are produced without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering. Organic farmers are required to adhere to certain soil and water conservation methods and to rules about the humane treatment of animals.
    The USDA now uses private and state agencies to inspect and certify food companies that market organic foods. Small farmers with less than $5,000 in organic sales, such as those selling at small farmers’ markets, are exempt from the certification process but they still must be truthful in their label claims and comply with the new government standards. Individuals or companies who sell or label a product as organic when they know it does not meet USDA standards, can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation.

    Currently, organic foods represent a small part of overall grocery sales in the United States, but the market is growing steadily. In 2001, sales of organic foods and beverages exceeded $9 billion. The new regulations are expected to help the organic industry as consumers become more confident in the labeling and as larger corporations enter the organic foods market.

    As the new regulations are phased in, it is important to keep in mind that the term “organic” does not necessarily mean “healthier.” The USDA makes no claim that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Consumers will still need to read nutrition labels and make wise selections to maintain an overall healthy diet. Keep in mind that the words “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. Only food labeled “organic” designate that the product meets the new USDA organic standards.

    So, if you want foods free of chemicals, free of bioengineering and added hormones…then only buy organic.

    • Lucy says:

      In addition if you choose to eat All-Natural Products just make sure that you research that companies policies. Nolan Ryan All-Natual Beef Line has their policies on thier website. All beef is safe guys if it wasn’t they would not let us sell it. It is your choice on what type of beef you buy just know the differences, USDA policies, and do your research if you are choosing to eat All-Natural Beef.

  6. Sue says:

    I live in Huntsville, Tx. I was a loyal buyer of Nolan Ryan Beef. I can’t say that the flavor was any different than the other meats in the supermarket. I just bought it because I though it was better and I was trying to switch my family to an organic diet and it was the best I could find at the time. A friend told me I should try the meat at a local meat market, Goerdel’s. I spoke with the owner and he explained to me how his meat was raised and that it didn’t have the fluids added you would find in the supermarket. I decided to try a couple of his steaks. I cooked it without any seasoning at all, and all I can say is WOW. What a huge difference. Me and my husband were overwhelmed by the flavor. It was so good. We have since became loyal customers and buy all our meat from Goerdel’s. The funny thing is he is very competitive on his pricing so you are paying about the same as you would pay in the supermarket but getting quality meat. I like being able to talk to the source of my meat and he even gives me great new ideas on cooking my meat.

    • Heather says:

      That’s wonderful, Sue! Our rancher gives us great pricing as well when we buy in bulk. I think my T-bon steaks cost somewhere around 5-6 dollars a pound whereas they are $17/lb at Whole Foods.

    • marie says:

      That sounds great i will be sure to go there when i pass through Huntsville! Do you know if he also sells beef online?
      If so please send a email: tillmangirl72@gmail.com

    • marie says:

      So do you think Nolan Ryan beef is better then Heb beef or is it really all the same.
      One product he has that i can taste the difference is the frozen hamburger patties my husband bought-they taste really good.I never like hamburger meat from grocery stores-but don’t mind his bagged pre-made patties.

    • Samantha says:

      They’re now called Ainsworth meats and they ship their meat in from Bryan/College Station. I stopped going when I asked about nitrates in their pork and was told they didn’t use them only to read the packaging on their ham to see that they do. They keep this behind the counter mind you so I couldn’t just pick it up and read it. I now buy Applegate farms products and only labeled organics.

  7. Chuck says:

    Nolan Ryan was my baseball here….and I saw three of his no-hitters….but his first steak I ate (last night) was terrible. Too much bone, too much gristle, too much fat, and not nearly enough tenderness.

    My first and last time

    Probably oughta inject some of those chems and meat tenderizers and keep those animals locked up.

    Chuck

  8. Seriously amazing post Heather. I have been searching and searching for a good brand of beef that is at least hormone and antibiotic free and my mom started picking out Nolan Ryan. Although when she did I always was really skeptical about them ever since for some reason. And when I read about the within 100 days thing I lost it!

    Then I found your post and with the promptness and strange response from the CEO makes me feel even more resentful towards ever buying from them. It makes them look really guilty and really defensive which in my eyes in a very bad thing and there must be something going on behind all of this. I am so angry at these companies for constantly pulling the wool over the eyes of the consumer.

    I am only sticking to organic and my local farms beef from now on. God this absolutely sickens me the nerve these people have to be so deceitful just for money. I have never been so infuriated with something like this in my life. Food is something that is needed to live and they are using it like a scalable ladder for power and money rather than feeding people. I’m going to have to go yell in a room by myself or something because this is driving me nuts.

    Why cant we just live in a world where we can trust the food we put into our mouths rather than have to constantly question whether or not its going to kill us slowly. I’m sticking with my local farms that farm organically and buying organic from now on. The problem is that I’m 16 and my parents are the ones that pay for the food so I have to be careful (which is why I even settle for Nolan Ryan in the first place, but NEVER again will I settle for anything less than organic or from a local farm that farms organically) but they spend a lot of money on me now when it comes to food because they care about me so much. So thank god for that. What do you think of HEB’s natural line of meat? Supposedly its no hormones ever and no antibiotics ever. But I’m not sure I trust them any more, seems too many companies just want to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumer. Any way I’m done fuming about this. Thank you for the informative post again Heather you are a total savior for posting this.

  9. P. says:

    Heather, thank you for being so alert with all we eat.
    Being very allergic or sensitive to all that is put into my body, I have to watch any and everything. I have found that lately Nolan Ryan meats stay red longer and I cannot eat them as they do a thing to my body. Do you think they spray the meat with something now?

  10. J Scott says:

    Nolan Ryan made some comments about South American beef (and the fact that it is grass fed), but I doubt he has ever made it a steady part of his diet. I lived in Argentina from age 15 – 18 and enjoyed as much meat there as I could as a growing teen. Their meat supply was so safe in the 1970s it was generally transported and sold chilled, not frozen. I can’t speak for today, as I understand some Northern Hemisphere artificial practices are starting make their way down there.

    As an American raised on grain feed beef, it takes some getting used to the smell in the butcher shop of grass fed meats. Basically it’s “gamey”, like venison, but that’s a good thing. You quickly realize that all that odor translates to a superior tasting product once cooked. And for all the restaurants I’ve eaten at in the United States, from McDonalds to $100 a plate bistros, I’ve never found a better tasting meat in the USA as I found in Argentina. The Argentines are also experts at grilling meat, and know how to use heat and the natural fat to make cuts juicy and tender. Their version of filet mignon, “bife de lomo” (cut a bit differently from the cow) is usually tender enough to separate mouthfuls with just your fork.

    Because of my disgust with the American food supply, I spent a decade eating mainly ovo-lacto vegetarian. I have since returned to eating meat, but am trying to be more particular about its source. At least for vegetables, I purchase them 9 months of the year from a Community Supported Agricuture (CSA) food co-op, ironically from Amish farmers. Their heirloom varieties may not be the prettiest, but I know they are genetically clean, and the flavor rivals what I have sampled in South America and Europe.

    And this dietary care has most definitely translated to health savings. My personal healthcare cost as a percentage of Gross Personal Product for decades has been no more than a rounding error.

    “Let Your Food Be Your Medicine; and Your Medicine be Your Food” Hippocrates.

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