Recently, while I was at the airport waiting to depart on a flight for Chicago I came across a new hamburger restaurant in the airport terminal. The sign read “True Burger Co.” Being a little hungry, I thought to myself:
“Wow, this should be interesting; maybe someone has finally created a healthy fast food restaurant! A place where the owners understand the definition of a truly naturally raised animal and the huge nutritional differences in naturally raised animal foods vs. their sick, confined, industrially raised counterparts. I may actually be able to order something healthy to eat here!”
There is no reason in the world why “fast food” like a burger can’t be a relatively healthy thing to eat, and it looked like someone had boldly brought that idea to life. My eager anticipation and curiosity quickly turned into despair, then into a furious rage. Just under the “True Burger Co.” sign there it was, the proudly displayed little explanation of this restaurant’s concept:
“All our burgers are made from naturally raised corn fed local Ontario beef….”
What the F*&K!?! You can’t be serious! You must be F#%ING joking?
Adding insult to injury, there was an official “Ontario Corn Fed Beef” insignia with the words “Proud Partners” displayed in large letters beside it.
Now, I’ve heard of fast food companies attempting to hide their wrong doings under a cover of utter bullshit by spending millions on public relations, advertising and expensive lawyers. I’ve just never seen this before – unadulterated, in your face bullshit, proudly displayed as the cornerstone of a fast food company’s very concept, right down to the name.
From my perspective “False Burger Co.” would have been a far more appropriate name. Personally, I would have elected “Unhealthy Bullshit Burger” as the best name for this restaurant. Maybe, just maybe, someone responsible for this restaurant reads the following:
First, a brief, clinical word on the natural diet of cows:
Cows are herbivore ruminants. These animals subsist naturally on a diet of mainly grass, stems, leaves and flowers. The cow has just one stomach, but it contains four separate compartments, the largest of which is the rumen. These parts of the stomach work within the complex digestive system of the cow which allows the animal to control substances that are difficult and near impossible for many other animals to digest. An average cow can consume about 70 kg of grass in an 8 hour day. Grass passes through the rumen where it is mixed with specialized bacteria. From the rumen it moves to the other 3 parts of the stomach. During this process, partly digested food, known as cud, is regurgitated, chewed again, and returned to the stomach compartments where digestive enzymes break it down further and nutrients are absorbed. This is how cows have evolved to digest grasses.
1. Concise Encyclopedia
3. Animal Diversity Web – Bos Taurus, Aurochs
4. Oxford Dictionaries
Unfortunately, cheap corn has replaced grass as the primary food for our industrially raised cattle. Feeding them corn, for our purposes, speeds up their life spans and gets them really fat, allowing them to be slaughtered much sooner. Cows that we used to let grow to be four or five years old grazing naturally in pastures are now slaughtered in a mere 14 months. Corn gets them off the whole evolutionary relationship they’ve had with grass. The problem with this system is that cows are not evolved to digest corn.
The rumen is designed for grass. Corn is just too rich and too starchy. So as soon as you introduce corn, the animal is liable to get sick. When they get sick they are given antibiotics. Specifically, they get bloat. The rumen just expands like a balloon. It presses against the lungs and the heart, and if nothing is done, the animal suffocates. A hose must be stuck down the cow’s esophagus to release the gas.
Feeding cows corn also causes acidosis, which is an acidifying of the rumen. Eventually, if you give them too much corn too quickly, it ulcerates the rumen; bacteria escape from the rumen into the blood stream, and end up in the liver, creating liver abscesses. So to prevent that, or limit the incidence of liver disease, they must be given yet another antibiotic. They’re eating a diet on feedlots at 80 – 90% corn that would eventually blow out their livers and kill them. To help ensure the diseases caused by feeding them corn and other unnatural feed do not kill them before they are large enough to slaughter, cows are also given synthetic steroids and growth hormones to speed up their growth.
The nutritional profile of the animal also changes dramatically and for the worse with a high corn diet. The high fat beef from these animals contains saturated fat levels shown to be up to 7 times higher than in grass fed beef. As a result of the higher fat content, protein per quantity of corn fed beef can be almost ½ compared to healthier grass fed beef. Finally, corn fed beef typically has an unnatural and unhealthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of approximately 10:1. Naturally pastured, grass fed beef generally has a far more healthful ratio of 2:1. These stark nutritional differences cause the consumption of corn fed beef to increase total and LDL cholesterol concentrations, and drastically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. In contrast, all of the healthful aspects of pastured beef are a positive consequence of the grasses and natural vegetation these cows consume as their normal evolutionary diet.
2. Effect of growth promotants on the occurrence of endogenous and synthetic steroid hormones on feedlot soils and in runoff from beef cattle feeding operations. Bartelt-Hunt SL, et.al., Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
3. Nutritional Differences between Grass and Grain Fed Beef: Health Implications, By Loren Cordain, Ph.D. Professor © Copyright Loren Cordain, Fort Collins, CO 80528
I submit that the above information provides some very disconcerting “truth” regarding placing the words “naturally raised” and “corn” in the same sentence, when discussing what cows eat. Speaking of truth; on to defining the word “true”:
1 : Honest, just, truthful
2 : In accordance with fact or reality
3 : The quality or state of being accurate
So, according to the real, anthropologically proven, natural diet of cows and the definition of “true”, there seems to be a “Grand Canyon” size chasm between the facts, and this restaurant’s version of the “truth”.
Dear “True Burger” management, does this picture look in any way “Natural” to you?!? Could it be the metal bars above and beside each animal? Does the small space they are crammed into look “natural”? Aside from that inhumane treatment, perhaps it’s the unavoidable diet of corn they have been so forcefully provided?
This was either the most audacious or the most ignorant fast food company I have ever witnessed. It may have been a combination of both, in making the assumption that people are either so dumb or uneducated on this topic, they’ll never notice the massive lie upon which this restaurant is founded.
Perhaps they just figured out that if a real organic farmer, a zoologist, or Chef Jamie Oliver walked by they would just risk the possibility of protest. It’s hard to imagine the investors putting millions of dollars into this thing, and putting it into an international airport terminal without someone at some point checking out the veracity of the companies most elemental and outspoken message. Have none of these people ever heard of Michael Pollen….seriously?
I couldn’t just let this go. At the risk of getting hauled off by security, I made a ruckus in the line up and started yelling. “Hey!…Cows are HERBIVORES and they DO NOT naturally eat corn!” A very overweight but congenial gentleman behind me in the lineup politely interjected, “actually they do eat corn, I know, my family has a farm”. I responded: “the corn we feed these animals is absolutely not a part of a cow’s natural diet. They are meant to wonder around in a field eating grasses. That is why they have rumens – like additional stomachs – to digest the grasses that they eat. They will though, eat corn if you feed it to them. But, in enough quantity, this will cause them to become ill and to become exceedingly fat, negatively changing the nutritional profile of the beef from these cows.” He responded: “I guess they’ll eat it if you grind it up really well…” I responded: “WHAT?!?”
This short conversation only confirmed that regarding why this restaurant would exclaim such nonsense, out of “audacious” or “ignorant” it seemed “audacious” was the winner. Yet, “audacious” was the wrong word to describe the pseudo-risk this company was taking in assuming that many of the public would recognize its outrageous display of bullshit. Nope, this was going to be like taking candy from a baby, they might have well made the little heart-felt quote under their sign state: “All our burgers are made from naturally raised lasagna, Cheezee & Oreo fed beef….”
I really doubt many would notice the difference, given the amount of misinformation the public is given by big agriculture, industry organizations and the restaurant industry. Unfortunately, few of us have the time to discover the facts.
I searched for this companies headquarters or website, but had no luck finding anything. I can only assume this is a food creation of the powers that be at the airport and that is, perhaps why they have been so…Ahum,…”creative” with the truth. That is, they have a captive market and they really don’t care. As an aside, this diatribe is in no way aimed at another “True Burger” which I discovered in California. It looks like those guys got it right and actually serve pastured, grass fed beef – proudly, and righteously so.
The point here: PLEASE! Beware of corporate liars who think they can play us for fools and take our money. If you are going to eat any animal food, try to make certain that the animal was raised responsibly in what is essentially its natural environment, eating its – real, true, zoologically correct – natural, evolutionary foods. For cows, that would mean wandering around in a field eating grass