Wednesday, April 20, 2011
At Circle 5 in Henderson, things were managed on a smaller scale, catering more to prime and finer choice beef and including some natural food programs. But to me, it didn't seem all that much different than the feed lot with more than 20,000 cattle, which also ran a few natural and organic programs but made more money off volume than quality. In the car on the drive back from Grand Island, we compared the two companies with most people siding with Circle 5 (an opinion which may have been influenced in no small way by our cold greeting at the Grand Island feed lot). To me, things were just business--no matter how big you are, you still need to turn a profit.
Alan at Circle 5 was incredibly knowledgeable about beef and the business. He talked about government policy in the '70's that consolidated feed lots under just a few extremely large businesses. Evolving government regulations made it impossibly expensive for small farms to raise and then fatten cattle on their own land, so larger companies took over giving us the barren wasteland of pens that we have today. I can see why the government had to regulate the disposal of waste from farms, but it's easy to forget that everything has a consequence and that these perhaps well-intentioned rules have had a lasting effect on the food industry, whether for the better or worse is for another argument.
We also stopped by Henderson Meat Processors where they slaughter, age (see below) and fabricate meat. It was a great little operation, exactly how things should be where immense care is taken with even the smallest cut. I guess I left the trip with a feeling that meat is something to think about because it's this living breathing animal who dies so people can eat. That's it's purpose and it wouldn't be here if people didn't want to keep them. But we've got this great power over these species to regulate its diet and breed, I just wonder if it's the best idea.