Friday, July 20, 2007

What is a CAFO?

One of the things I love about living in Argentina has been the wonderful steak. I have always been amazed by just how much steak I could actually put away compared to those rare times in which I would have steak in the States. It turns out that steak in Argentina comes from grass fed, free range roaming cows, not feedlots. What is a feedlot? It is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. According to the EPA there are AFO and CAFO. This is just their way of trying to define sizes and scope for these operations. Like just about everything in life they come in small, medium and large. One of the complexities of running these things is being able to handle the large amounts of waste. Yep, we are talking cow pies here on a massive scale.

Now how does Argentina raise cattle? They do it the old fashioned way, by letting them walk around the grass lands (called the Pampas in this region) and let the animals go and find their food. The result is that these cattle have less trans fat in the meat than their feedlot cousins where they are in confined spaces, with no grass in sight and their food is brought to them. The food, by the way, that is not part of their natural diet.

I have read that grass fed meat is tougher than feedlot beef. I think this is just a theory or at the very least a bad definition though since I have had more marvelous steak here than I ever had in the States. It is true that I occasionally ran into some tough meat but that has been the exception, not the norm.

In any case, what prompted me to write about steak this time? It was Yanqui Mike. You should go and read his posts on this subject. He should know more about it than me since he actually has cattle down here. He is not a born gaucho but more a self made one and he comes from my neck of the woods. That´s right, he´s from the windy city itself. Click on the picture below to go to the post in question. And if you ever see a guy on a horse dressed like a blues brother well it just might be him.
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