In this post I am going to focus on cows. I have read LOTS of different sources with this information, but for the sake of time I am only going to reference one article. The author, Jo Robinson, has thoroughly covered the topic. I would highly recommend reading her article by clicking here.
A basic synopsis for you is that when cows are born naturally and raised naturally they eat their mother's milk and then move on to grass. That's it and that's all. When they live like this they are healthy. When a cow gives birth it produces milk for as long as the baby needs it. When a cow is being milked by a human it is tricked into producing milk longer, but it remains healthy during this process and the milk dries up naturally after about 11 months.
Cows do not need anything extra in order to feed us humans. However, the industrial minds of the human race think factories are the best way to produce everything. By making factories out of farms cows are being forced to live in an unnatural state. The stress this causes is the reason cows are getting sick. In order to protect their meat and milk the factory farmers (as I have decided to call them) are giving antibiotics to every cow everyday. Can you imagine what would happen to us if we took antibiotics every day of our lives? One reason people drink milk and eat yogurt is for the probiotics. Do they mean to tell me that there are actually any probiotics left after a cow has been injected with antibiotics everyday of its adult life?
Another fear with antibiotics is that bacteria builds up resistance. The antibiotics that factory farmers give cows are almost the same as those taken by humans. Bacteria resistance is dangerous for us and it's dangerous for our food sources.
Factory cows can also be given growth hormones. Cows naturally produce a growth hormone called Bovine Growth Hormone - BGH (think HGH - Human Growth Hormone). However, we clever humans came up with a synthetic version of this hormone so that we could increase milk production in cows. The synthetic version is called Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone - rBGH. Traces of this unnatural hormone are found in all the regular beef and dairy products we buy at the store. The use of rBGH has actually declined significantly. According to Robinson's article and an article by The American Cancer Society only 17% of US cows are injected with the hormone. The biggest concern regarding the hormone is that it makes cows sick. It also causes infection in the udders. These problems lead to more antibiotics and more resistant strains of the infections.
The last issue with factory farm cows is what they are being fed. You are what you eat, and cows are what cows eat. At factory farms cows do not eat grass. They are fed "grain". Grain used to be largely made up of corn, but when corn started getting pricey factory farmers started improvising. Mad cow disease was non-existent until cows started being fed the remains of ground up cow bones and blood. Let me just stop right here and let you in on little secret. If you are in a life and death situation never, never, never eat the guy next to you. You might live a little longer, but you will go crazy in the head. No mammal is made to eat its own. It's called cannibalism, and that's what was happening to these poor unassuming cows. It's fairly likely that all the "mad cows" are gone by now, but there's no guarantee. None-the-less, cows are meant to be herbivores, but they are still being given left over parts of chickens as well as other junk, including but not limited to stuff from the landfill, chewing gum, candy, etc. You can read all about it in Jo Robinson's article. The problem with eating cows that eat junk is that you are inevitably eating junk. There is no way for cows to be nutritious to humans if the cow is lacking in nutrition itself. When you eat a steak from a factory farm you are basically eating flavored empty calories. It's a way to fill your belly, but your body isn't getting nearly the nutrition (vitamin C, E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids) it could get if you were to eat a steak from an organic grass-fed cow. If you are going to eat the calories you might as well benefit from them. That way your body will be nourished and satisfied and it will tell you that it doesn't need anything else to eat.
So, that is cows as I understand them. Now for the nitty-gritty - THE COST TO YOUR WALLET. The biggest resistance to going organic is the cost. So, I've gone to different grocery stores and farmer's markets to cost compare for you. Below you will find pics of the prices of ground beef from Wal-Mart in Conroe, TX, Albertson's in McKinney, TX and from Rehoboth Ranch in Greenville, TX.
Milk (I'll write about raw milk another day. For now all is pasteurized.) These were taken side by side at Wal-Mart in Garland, TX. The last pic is from Kroger is Willis, TX.
such as leafy green vegetables, broccoli, sardines (with bones), and salmon.
Butter. These were taken at Wal-Mart in Garland, TX.
I didn't get pics of cheese, but cheese can also be bought organic. I bought Horizon brand shredded cheese last night for $3.98 for 2 cups. Just off the top of my head I think standard bags of chees are 4 cups for $3 - $4.
Organic IS more expensive. There are no two ways about it. However, when cost comparing think about the costs outside your wallet. I would cut cable and sell all but a few of my clothes and work two jobs in order to continue feeling the way I have felt since June. My life has radically changed because I feel good all the time. I still splurge every now and then. My weakness is Asian food. I also never turn down a home-cooked meal from a friend or family member, but I can tell the difference in how I feel almost immediately and it takes me a day to recover per day spent eating "conventionally". What's crazy is that when I'm recovering, I'm recovering from how I felt every hour of every day before I stopped eating processed food and going totally organic. It's mind boggling how much has changed. No more restless legs. (I ate a pasta meal the other night and boom! 30 minutes later I was going crazy with restless legs.) No more allergies. No more feeling tired at 3pm. No more sleeping for 11 - 12 hours every chance I get. I only experience these things after I go back to old ways for a meal or two.
I hope the info helps. I also hope you try local organic beef and dairy products soon. Your farmer neighbors will thank you.