Monthly Archives: April 2010

Quote of the Day

When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir

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Earth Day Weekend

The Earth Day CLIMATE RALLY – National Mall – Sunday, April 25, 2010

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is quickly approaching, but the United States has failed to enact a comprehensive climate bill.

It is time to stop protecting polluters and enact comprehensive climate legislation that will create American jobs, cap carbon emissions and secure our nation’s future. The first Earth Day was a success because 20 million Americans demonstrated their outrage for the state of the environment. Together, we can make Earth Day 2010 a pivotal moment in the environmental movement.

On Sunday, April 25, Earth Day Network will organize a massive climate rally on The National Mall to demand Congress pass strong legislation. The Climate Rally will include notable speakers Reverend Jesse Jackson, film director, James Cameron, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, Olympic gold medalist, Billy Demong, producer, Trudie Styler, author, Margaret Atwood, NFL player and television personality, Dhani Jones, environmental photographer Sebastian Copeland and many more.

The Climate Rally will also feature live music from Sting, John Legend, The Roots, Jimmy Cliff, Passion Pit, Bob Weir, Willie Colón, Joss Stone, Robert Randolph, Patrick Stump, Mavis Staples, Booker T, Honor Society and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger.

We stream the live event on

Free buses to the Climate Rally

Earth Day Network is sponsoring free buses from New York City, Philadephia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Charleston WV, Richmond, Charlottesville, and Baltimore. RSVP today.

Buses to DC will park at RFK Stadium. There will be easy access to the Climate Rally by Metro Rail.

Driving to DC?

Vans, buses, and cars are encouraged to park at the RFK Stadium parking lot. There will be a shuttle service to the rally along with vendors and access to water. Please sign up to register your bus, van, or car ahead of time to park at RFK!

Take Metro to the Climate Rally

The Smithsonian stop on the blue/orange line is the preferred station.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Climate Rally needs volunteers, please email to sign up.

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The Truth About Grass-Fed Beef

by Allison Aubrey

What’s old is new again. Across the U.S. farmers are turning back to a traditional method of cattle raising: Feeding cows on grassy pastures instead of troughs filled with corn. A decade ago, there were only about 50 grass-fed operations left in the United States. Now, there are thousands and the numbers are growing.

Just look to your local farmer’s market or specialty grocer for the evidence. It’s much easier these days to get your hands on beef from grass-fed farms where cows spend their days out on pasture grazing on all sorts of grasses – from clover to wild onions to different types of tufted grasses called fescue. And beef-eaters notice a difference from corn-fed cattle. (Watch my Tiny Desk Kitchen video above with NPR’s Susan Stamberg and Ari Shapiro to see which beef they preferred.)

The Taste

So there’s more of this meat on the market, but is it really any different? I was curious about differences — both in taste and nutrition — so I called on farmer Forrest Pritchard who runs Smithfield Farm in Berryville, Va.

“I think of my cows as four-legged lawn mowers,” Pritchard told me as we walked his pastures one morning. After he pointed this out, I noticed that his cows were always on the move. That exercise leads to more muscle tone. And the resulting beef? Well it can taste a little chewier than most folks are accustomed to. Taste testers say the flavor is more varied than the typical grocery store cuts of beef that come from corn-raised cows.

From Pasture To Trough

Farmers first made the switch from grass to corn years ago because corn allows them to fatten up their cattle faster.

It’s the difference, for humans, between eating bags of spinach all day vs. dense, calorie-rich oatmeal. A lot of corn-fed cattle raisers still start their animals out on pasture, but then quickly move them to troughs of grain for fattening.

That means farmers can raise more cattle and in smaller spaces — because they don’t need all of that pasture. And yes, that means there’s more beef for the millions and millions of hungry Americans.

Something Fishy

Alright, there is a difference in taste, for sure. But what I’m really interested in is whether it’s nutritionally any different. And the story gets a little fishy here. You know how nutritionists are always recommending fish? Well, that’s because many fish are rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

And where do the fish get these omega 3s? They eat it. (Well, generally, the tiniest sea creatures eat algae and it moves up the food chain to bigger fish.) With grass-fed cows, it’s a similar story. Omega 3s are in their meat— because they’re eating grasses and clover rich in these heart healthy fatty acids.

A recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that grass-fed steak has about twice as many omega 3s as a typical grain-fed cow that eats corn from a feed trough. Another study published in March in Nutrition Journal backed up those numbers.

Still, with 35 milligrams of heart-healthy fats per serving, grass-fed steak can’t compete with a salmon dinner, which has about 1,100 milligrams. But it’s a significant difference in omega 3s between grass-fed and corn-fed beef. (You can calculate the fat/protein or micronutrients of any food in your diet with this USDA tool.)

And since grass-fed cattle are typically leaner, almost all cuts of grass-fed beef have less total fat than beef from corn-raised cattle. Of course, the breed of cattle leads to variation, too.

The Cost

There’s a lot of variation in price on both sides of the aisle — and grass-fed will usually cost more. Farmers have to pay for all that pasture. A random price check found Whole Food selling a pound of grass-fed sirloin for $9.99 a pound; Safeway was selling its corn-fed sirloin for $7.99 a pound. (On the day we checked, Safeway had the sirloin on sale for $5.99 a pound.)

My conclusion? On the whole, grass-fed beef is better for you than corn-fed. But it may not give you that melt-in-your mouth sensation you grew up on, and it’s going to cost you a more. So are these differences worth the price? That’s up to you.

NPR / Your Health / Published: April 9, 2010

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