My BEEF with your beef

       I know I am a little slow with this post.  There have been blog posts and news stories floating around the internet for months criticizing A & W and their new better beef campaign and I may be echoing some of what they say.  My motivation to write this came from a recent trip away with friends.  Although most of them know of my stance towards A & W, we ended up stopping there for burgers to bring home for one of the husbands.  The silence regarding my choice to eat a cookie from my purse instead of a burger made me reflect on how much the general population understands, or even cares about the ‘fear marketing’ that is going on around us at an increasing rate every day.

      I come from a small town in the middle of Saskatchewan, a good 2 hour drive to the nearest Walmart and 100km away from the nearest Tim Horton’s.  Here, the ever increasing in your face marketing from organic food companies and fast food chains isn’t as much of an issue as it is in bigger centers.  A large part of the local population farms, and if you don’t farm you know a farmer and have been to their house, talked about their work and have waved to them in their tractor.  The general consensus locally is that our food is sustainably grown and safe.  This also makes the majority of us oblivious to the food hysteria that is going on in other parts of the country.  I am a farmer.  I read all the emails, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, attend the informational days, agriculture tradeshows, and generally do whatever I can to educate myself about our industry.  Even I only recently became aware of the growing disconnect with the people who grow our food (2%) and the rest of the population (98%).  Sitting smack dab in the middle of our food production chain are companies like A & W with their scare tactic campaigns.  They don’t care what long term effect they have on our food production or public perception of agriculture, as long as they can sell you a burger today. 

              I am not a cattle farmer but I do know a marketing campaign full of BS when I see it.  The cattle farmers really get the short end of the stick when it comes to people understanding the reasons for using hormones in the industry.  So since my ‘BEEF’ is with A & W, let’s take a look at a few of the facts surrounding this campaign.  When you go to their website the first thing you see is; 

 

100% pure beef raised without any added hormones or steroids.

 

      Notice it doesn’t say 100% Canadian beef?  That’s because they import beef from Montana and Australia.  I know lots of local cattle farmers who don’t use hormones.  As an industry, agriculture is adaptive, tell us you want something and we will grow it – A & W doesn’t care about ‘supporting local’.  Next look at the wording ‘raised without any added’.  They have to use this wording because all beef has hormones in it.  There is no such thing as ‘hormone free beef’.  And lastly ‘hormones or steroids’, this is redundant term and the ‘or’ is put in there to make it look like A & W went to extra work to keep BOTH things out of their better beef.   Every single word is a marketing tactic to make you buy their seemingly healthier burgers.

      So why the hype about hormones?  In Canada and the US cattle can be given something called growth promotant early on in their life.  Using growth promotant means less crops are needed to grow the animal and less animal waste is produced because it helps the animal to process the food they eat into muscle tissue.  An implant is given when the animal is young so the hormone has passed through its system long before it goes to market.  Here are some stats from a blog post by Sarah Schultz http://www.nurselovesfarmer.com/2013/09/fear-marketing/;   (she sourced the Beef Cattle Research Council at http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/qa-on-conventional-production-of-canadian-beef/)

 If we did not use growth promotants we would need;

-12% more cattle

-10% more land

-11% more feed

-4% more water

-7% more fuel and fertilizer

to produce the same amount of beef that we do today.  Also the cattle would produce 10% more manure and 10% more greenhouse gasses.  As Sarah points out it is likely that prices would increase and become unaffordable for many people, and our beef would be uncompetitive in the world market.

              This is my favorite part though, because this is where A & W’s marketing really starts to look pointless and unreasonable.  All this work to go hormone free, what levels of hormones are we talking about?  Let’s look at some comparisons I borrowed from Andrew Campbell at; http://www.realagriculture.com/2013/10/im-done-with-fearing-food-and-done-with-aw-andrew-campbell/ , and Wikipedia.

 

 Levels of hormones (estrogen)                        

5 nanograms (ng) – 500g (1.10231 LBS) of ‘hormone free’ beef (like A & W better beef)

7 (ng) – 500g (1.10231 LBS) of beef given the hormone implant

136,000.00 (ng) – produced daily by a man

513,000.00 (ng) – produced daily by a woman

20,000,000.00 (ng) – produced daily by a pregnant woman

300,000.00 (ng) – 500g white bread (so yes the bun has more hormones than the beef, a lot more)

20,000.00 to 50,000.00 (ng) – birth control pill

11,905.00 (ng) – 500g of cabbage

28,773.00 (ng) – 15 ml (1 TBSP) soyabean oil.

555.00 (ng) – eggs (500g)

Shall I keep going? 

 

Image

Picture; (http://nefb.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/whats-the-beef-mms-and-hormones/)

 

      If we want to focus on those 2 extra (ng) of hormones we only have to look as far as Health Canada.  “Generally speaking, in Canada there is zero tolerance for hormone, steroid or antibiotic remnants in beef destined for hungry, human stomachs. Those that can have trace amounts  – known as maximum residue limits – are strictly regulated by Health Canada and are “considered to pose no adverse health effects if ingested daily by humans over a lifetime,” the department website says.” (http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/09/26/canadian-cattle-groups-respond-to-aw-better-beef-campaign/)  There are reasons we have organizations like the FDA, CFIA, Health Canada, WHO, FAO, and many others.  Marketing campaigns that use fear to sell food undermine the real research and actual science that goes into making policy.  Not only does it weaken trust in these organizations but it is an insult to the hard working farmers who labour to grow safe food in a sustainable way.  Companies like A & W want you to believe that the farmers who grow around 95% of the food in Canada are not ethical or sustainable.  Quite the opposite is true and if you look at the statistics, beef with hormone implants are actually more environmentally sustainable then the better beef cattle, especially the ones shipped from other countries.

      So Yes, I realise that my family driving past A & W and going to a different restaurant that sells 100% Canadian beef isn’t going to make the marketing team lose any sleep.  But my hope is if enough people understand how these companies are trying to target us, then maybe they will lose a few customers.  If they lose as many customers as they gain slowly the trend of using fear to market food might stop.  This is exactly what happened with General Mills.  Not long ago they switched some of their cereal brands to Non-GMO.  Cheerios, which is made with oats, was one of them.  There are no GMO oats on the market anywhere in the world so all they were changing was the source of some of the trace ingredients like vitamins, and the marketing.   The new Non-GMO Cheerios ended up being less nutritious with only 2% RDV of riboflavin (vitamin B2) where the original Cheerios had 25% RDV.  It was the same story with Grape Nuts with the Non-GMO version having no vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12 or vitamin B2 (original Grape Nuts had all of these vitamins).  “The company revealed the effort failed to improve the brands performance and it has no plans to reformulate additional products without GMOs”   http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2014/04/General_Mills_defends_GMOs_in.aspx?ID=%7B8EBE8C7A-FA78-4323-BB7F-0AD0D4EE99D7%7D&cck=1.  People didn’t buy it, so they stopped advertising with fear.

      In the end A & W’s better beef is not any better.  I don’t care if you eat it, I don’t care if you don’t eat it.  I just want people to understand that this is not about making better food, it is about manipulating people and unfortunately that is at the expense of a very hardworking industry.  Those of us that try to stand up to marketing bullies with our words and our wallets don’t want to fight, but this time A & W took the first swing.  Hey Canadian cattle farmers I support you and want to buy some beef – I am making homemade teen burgers from now on!

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88 thoughts on “My BEEF with your beef

  1. Omgosh I SO agree with you! I make and market mineral sunscreen, and in doing so I have discovered that the marketing manipulation done by many companies is atrocious. Thanks for the post, I hope it opens many people’s eyes.

    • The sad thing is it is becoming harder and harder to know if a company is using facts or just playing on people’s fear when marketing. Thanks for reading!

    • Virginie

      Hi! Completely off topic, I was wondering what the name of your sunscreen is. I’ve tried a bunch of sunscreen but most of them are too thick and make my face breakout. So I choose not to wear any most often but I know that ages my skin. Thanks!
      virginie.closson@gmail.com

  2. Ramona

    Great article!! 100% correct. I am a beef producer and no longer support A&W because of their campaign. And I do tell people so I hope they listen and understand!! Thanks for wiring this !!!

    • I think it is important to share the truth when it comes to fear marketing, because people who aren’t in the Ag industry don’t always know the facts. I get a lot of ‘eye rolls’ when I point things out but if the producers don’t stand up for themselves who will? Thanks so much for reading!

  3. i didn’t know this, thank you so much for the article. do you know how a person could find a list of canadian restaurants/fast food joints that DO use Canadian/local beef? It always baffles the mind when i hear things like that, that they import beef from USA or AUSTRALIA!? Seriously?

  4. Lorraine

    Thank You for this info I’m totally stunted .I was one of the customers that did believe in AW Thank You Again

  5. Yes, I would be interested in supporting Canadian farmers too.

  6. Kel

    Here’s a fun fact. There is a hamburger plant in Saskatoon that produces burgers for all the major fast food chains in Saskatoon in the local region that includes A&W, McDonalds Burger King Wendy’s and a host of other local burger joints right here in the city. Not to mention of store brand burgers for several of our the grocery stores

    • I did not know that! I did know that some of the fast food chains in the province sourced their meat locally but I could not find that information on any of their webpages. Do you know the name of the plant? Now I am curious how they separate the meat to provide A & W with ‘no added hormones or steroids’. To clarify – A & W’s website states that Montana and Australia are the source of part of the meat they use so I did assume that some is sourced locally. It still is not 100% Canadian, and that is important to some people. Thanks for the info, you learn something every day!

      • Marin

        On a side note – Cargill in Guelph, Ontario processes 90% of the beef in the province in Ontario and is one of the largest suppliers to fast food restaurants. When it comes to differentiating, you get the same effect as you do with the “Angus Beef” branding – if its mainly black than its an Angus (even if it may be a mainly black old Holstein cull cow). The likelihood is no one is differentiating between which meat comes from cattle with or without the use of growth hormones. Its plain and simple a marketing technique.

      • FrankDrakman

        I really don’t know what your problem is. A&W’s campaign is aimed at urban consumers -that’s where their stores are after all – not farmers ‘smack dab in the middle of SK’ as you put it. The stupid urban consumers don’t know “100% Cdn” means “free of added hormones”, and they are also so stupid that they need to be told “free of added steroids or hormones” because if A&W only said one of those, you can be sure some idiot blogger in Toronto or Vancouver would be all over A&W, claiming ‘coverup’ because A&W said one and not the other.

        Or is your complaint that A&W sources some of their meat from the US and Australia? Are you, a farmer, afraid to eat Oz or US beef? AFAIK, they stopped feeding sheep’s brains and spinal cords to cattle years ago, a practice which some Cdn. ranchers continued until the BSE scare a few years back.

        So, please, enlighten this urban consumer – what, exactly, is wrong with A&W’s campaign, which is meant to counter the lefty “pink slime” campaigns (no large burger chain in Canada uses this stuff, but if you ask the typical man in the street in Ottawa or Montreal, they’re convinced that McD’s, for example, uses it to make BOTH burgers and chicken mcnuggets), and the “steroid enhanced/GMO” scare campaigns which also are shoved down our throats? Is it that it isn’t aimed at knowledgeable farmers, but instead at stupid urban consumers who think meat grows on Styrofoam trays? Is it that it doesn’t sing the praises of Cdn. beef? Is it because A&W doesn’t use Cdn beef exclusively, but sources it competitively?

    • Cosmo

      Where is there a burger production facility in Saskatoon? So far as I was aware, McDonald’s closest supplied is in Spruce Grove.

    • Blaine

      I think the plant in Saskatoon closed last year.

    • FrankDrakman;
      I am unsure who the questions in your comment are directed towards because it seems you have replied to Kel’s comment. I also am slightly confused on what the questions actually are. My issue is stated very clearly in the blog; I do not agree with the use of fear to market food. People in both urban and rural communities are unjustly afraid to eat many things because of this type of marketing and the hysteria spreads (like the ‘pink slime’ example you provided yourself).
      I never once called anyone ‘stupid’, everyone in society often takes things at face value, that is why it is so important to be truthful in advertising. I am not afraid to eat beef from Australia or the US but sourcing 100% Canadian beef is important to some and it angers me that A & W is targeting a market that wants to eat healthier and be better to the environment, while they are actually leaving a larger carbon footprint by importing beef. You seem to agree with some of my points but challenge me on others which has left me unsure how to respond. So to address your last question; ‘ what, exactly, is wrong with A&W’s campaign’ – they use the irrational fear of hormones and steroids to portray that their beef is better. Which it is not.
      If you are not satisfied with this response please leave a more detailed to the point question and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner. Thanks for reading!

      • Carl

        They are not fear marketing. They are merely saying our beef has no added hormones or steroids. Where is the fear in that.

  7. lydia chuiko

    its about time someone set the people on the right track about a&w I will never support a&w again

  8. Curious

    Any reason your hormone example only refers to estrogen? I’m assuming there are more hormones out there than just that one.

    • When looking up classifications for the growth promotant implants they were labeled as “Medium Potency Estrogen or Estrogen-like implants” or “Lower potency Estrogen or Estrogen-like implants”. The two major classes of implants registered for use in Canada consist of either estrogenic compounds (estradiol benzoate, estradiol 17B, zeranol) or androgenic compounds (trenbolone acetate (TBA) in combination with estradiol benzoate or estradiol 17ß). To my understanding these are all forms of estrogen, natural and synthetic (except for the trenbolone which is a synthetic form of testosterone). Progesterone is also approved but its use is for suckling calves and it seems that it is not very widely administered. So yes there are 3 hormones approved in Canada; estrogen (estradiol), progesterone, and testosterone and the 3 synthetic forms of the same; zeranol, melengestrol acetate, trenbolone acetate. It seems that the most prominent hormone used in growth promotants is estrogen and because of that fact there is very little in the way of information regarding testosterone that I could find. In any case the maximum residue limit is well below the accepted daily intake for the approved hormones. Thanks for the question, it is a bit confusing for those of us not in the industry, and thanks for reading!

      • El

        There are lots of hormone implants… Synovex is just one… Synovex for Steers is different from Synovex for Heifers. DEpending on the country, depends what’s in the implant…

        SynovexS for Steers in Australia get, oestradiol benzoate 20 mg, progesterone 200 mg
        SynovexS for Steers in Canada, get 200 mg progesterone and 20 mg estradiol benzoate .

        Synovex for Heifers in Australia get, oestradiol benzoate 20 mg, testosterone propionate 200 mg
        SynovexH in Canada get 200 mg Testosterone propionate and 20 mg Estradiol benzoate.

        They may be implanted more than once on a feedlot. If they are reimplanted it has to be a minimum of 70 days after the previous implantation.

        Not sure what the difference in the hormones are and if or why one is any different from the other. US use the same products we do. Funny thing is… US import our cattle, they are one of our biggest customers because they can’t produce enough, so they finish them, process them, then sell the meat back to us. Kinda like our oil. Talk about selling out…but that’s a whole other topic. :)

  9. ronrein

    I too refuse to eat at A&W since they started their “hormone free beef” campaign.
    I guess it is within a company’s rights to market their product however they choose. But I can’t help feeling annoyed at companies who help perpetuate the fear-mongering surrounding food production practices.

    It’s interesting to note that, following the mad cow crisis a decade ago, when it became patriotic to eat Canadian-produced beef, A&W proudly promoted their beef as being “100% Canadian”.
    Now, when the current trend is to buy into the irrational fear-mongering of hormones in beef, A&W is happy to import Australian beef, just so they can proudly claim it is “hormone free”.

  10. ronrein

    Thanks for writing your blog. I enjoy finding blogs that paint a realistic portrayal of Canadian agriculture.

  11. Mayson Maerz

    Thank-you Angela for this great summary. My customers no longer receive A&W field meals for this reason…I do miss their onion rings, but I will not buy in to their fear marketing. Regards, Mayson.

  12. Deryck

    the GMO feed that is fed to the cattle is my concern..

  13. ronrein

    The funny thing is, if people are really concerned about their health, they shouldn’t be eating at A&W anyway.
    They seem to ignore the advice of the medical community when they eagerly consume their greasy food and sugar-laden soft drinks. But they get irrationally worried over an insignificantly small amount of a hormone.

  14. I agree! ‘Healthier’ fast food burgers just seems silly to me.

  15. Shirley.

    It would have been an added bonus if you could tell us where to purchase burgers that are made with all Canadian beef.

    • I do not know which places serve 100% Canadian beef 100% of the time (other than MacDonald’s which I stated in an earlier comment) but this information is often available on the company websites. We are in the full swing of spring on our farm so I do not have the spare time to dig into this and find you an answer right now. If I find the time I will post an update to this blog, I would like to know too.

  16. ronrein

    Fear of GMOs in the cattle feed is just as irrational as the fear of hormones in the beef, in my opinion.

    After nearly 20 years, and hundreds of independent studies, there is still no valid evidence of harm to human health from GMOs.

  17. Steve W.

    Is it possible that A&W’s concern about hormones is not entirely that change in the beef we eat, but also the increased hormones excreted into the environment. Your post doesn’t address the impact upon the water quality and other parts of the ecosystem dependent on water — both commercial and natural / wild.

    • You are right I did not address this issue in my blog, it was long enough already!
      “AAFC has characterized, by means of chemical, bioassay, and radioisotope methodologies, the persistence of natural (e.g. 17B-estradiol, estrone) and synthetic (e.g., 17a-ethynylestradiol, 4-nonylphenol) hormones in soils. Research to date indicates that both natural and synthetic hormones under study rapidly degrade in soil and on this basis do not pose a significant risk to surface and ground water quality”
      “Residue reports are posted as a source of information for the public, media, industry groups and scientific community. All of the information is available on the CFIA website at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/microchem/resid/reside.shtml”
      http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_203_e_28939.html
      Organic farming is heavily dependent on manure as fertilizer; if this is a concern for you maybe you should consider purchasing non organic food. Thanks for reading!

  18. daniel wurz

    There’s more and more of this all the time. The general public has no idea about such things they need to be educated on it. Thanks for the posting let’s all re-tweet it. The people should go look at some of the kitchens where there food is cooked they will totally forget about hormones.

  19. daniel wurz

    I think if A & W want Canadians to consume their products they should be buying canadian meat in fact they should be buying direct locale.

  20. Matt M

    Land and Feed crops

    The argument is that hormones are needed to reduce the land needed to raise the cows as well as to grow their food. Reduce the cows by treating them as important food sources and pay the farmers a more realistic value for them. This reduces the land needed for both the cows and their food crops. Fast food is stupid. It wastes valuable food resources, fills garbage dumps, etc. It creates health problems in the forms of obesity, lack of proper nutrients, too much salt and sugar intake, etc. This costs us billions a year in taxes that we don’t need to spend. It also creates an unsustainable meat market that must then use chemicals and horrible animal treatment to keep up. That’s the problem that has to be fixed, not the ability for cows to grow, they already do that on their own just fine. Hormones are the solution to a fake and very destructive and realistically damaging problem.

    Waste produced by the fast food industry: http://www.nofreerefills.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/NoFreeRefillsReport.pdf
    Wiki page on the negative affects of fast food (note that wiki provides references, follow them for more information): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_fast_food#Negative_effects_of_fast_food

    Here’s a really fun one. In a US study they found that males born to mothers that ate beef had sperm counts that went down the more beef the mother consumed: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559233

    “Sperm concentration was inversely related to mothers’ beef meals per week (P = 0.041). In sons of ‘high beef consumers’ (> 7 beef meals/week), sperm concentration was 24.3% lower (P = 0.014) and the proportion of men with sperm concentration below 20 × 106/ml was three times higher (17.7 versus 5.7%, P = 0.002) than in men whose mothers ate less beef.”

    “These data suggest that maternal beef consumption, and possibly xenobiotics in beef, may alter a man’s testicular development in utero and adversely affect his reproductive capacity”

    Such is the effect of feeding estrogen to boys. Might not affect grown men so much but wee little babies that haven’t even been born yet don’t need much of anything to cause lifelong negative changes.

    Environment

    Obviously reduction of consumption from junk food to important and respected food source would reduce environmental impact but then again, innovation also steps up:

    http://www.greenmountainpower.com/innovative/cow/

    That’s Vermont’s power company, or at least one of them. They put machines on cow farmers lots that turn the methane into electricity. This means that the farms use less electricity from the grid thus reducing their actual environmental impact. That’s just one way to use cow power and innovation will think of a lot more than that.

    The blog is a justification of the status quo. The sustainability they speak of is that of the current model which devalues farmers and treats cows like poop, it has nothing to do with a sustainable food source. Basically hormones are the only way they can keep making money in the industry as is. Hormones are not the only or ideal or even a smart solution, they are the easy one.

    There is a lot more information out there regarding fast food and waste, health impacts and costs, etc. We just ignore it. Prove me wrong, that’s the great thing about science, it’s just observation, being wrong is a great thing as it opens the door to further questions and research.

    Good job boycotting A & W. Boycott the rest and convince your friends and not only will you no longer need the hormones you’ll also have immensely reduced taxes due to healthier people not needing as much in treatment.

    • Kevin

      Don’t p values have to be >0.05 to be considered scientifically significant? If that’s the case none of those studies showed any significance….
      Also as a cattle producer I take pride in my cattle. You have to remember producers make their pay cheque from raising good quality, safe, and humanly raised beef. A healthy cow produces more beef on her own. Yes there are people that treat cattle terrible. But they are very few and far between. If you want to play that game there are plenty of pet owners that mis-treat their pets, does that make every pet mis-treated? Raising cattle is my livelihood, taking pride in what I produce is what I work for, and educating consumers with fact based, un-biased information is important for the health of everyone involved. As a Canadian beef producer I can honestly tell you, we have some of the best, safest meat in the world, and we should be honored to have to opportunity to choose what we eat.
      As for the A&W marketing campaign it is only to manipulate consumers, it was done strictly for financial reasons, (Austrailian beef is cheaper to produce) and they are just trying to put a positive spin on changing their source.

      • Laura

        P 0.05); however, most scientists will agree that P < 0.10 is at least a tendency if not significant.

      • Laura E, PhD

        IDK what happened with my previous response… but P < 0.05 is significant; however most scientists will agree that P < 0.10 is a tendency if not significant.

    • Janis U

      Well said. Thank you for this reply. I realize the author of this blog is sincere, however, she’s looking at it as a farmer and from a biased perspective. Couldn’t agree more about this being a justification of the status quo.

  21. Laura

    I don’t know. I feel like there’s truth to both sides here. I am all-for trying to raise beef as “nature’s way” as possible, but do roll my eyes at places like A&W who take one TINY thing and use it to masquerade around as “healthier” (like, for example, the BUN like you said! And what else, really, is in the burger patty, etc.) and exploit the fears of those who don’t really understand the bigger picture.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating a fast-food burger on occasion, honestly. I also understand the need that current cattle farmers feel to make beef grow faster, and to produce MORE with LESS.

    But I can’t help thinking that if we ate less beef, maybe we wouldn’t feel so rushed in making mass amounts of it available, and we’d be able to raise them slowly and respectfully…and eat locally with deeper appreciation! It’s the dream, I guess.

    • blake

      no one seems to respect food these days just expect it infront of them and in large amounts

    • I honestly believe that in the near future we are going to have no choice but to eat less meat. As the 3rd world countries become more financially stable, the global population is increasing it’s consumption of meat. We do not have enough cropable land to supply the demand of the future. I think we all need to eat with a deeper appreciation, and be mindful of those around the world that do not have the luxury of the food choices we have here.

  22. I have not graced an A&W since they have come up with this ridiculous ” hormone free beef” campaign. I still get mad when I see their ads on TV. They are deceiving the public and to many people, perception is reality.

  23. Greg Service

    Very well written with lots of facts. I’m a 3rd generation cow calf operation. Also operate a grain farm here in west central Alberta. Every where I look I see cows. However I’m not as offended by A&W and their hormone free campaign as a lot of my neighbours are. Since the BSE crisis in 2002 there hasn’t been much profit in cattle and fundamentally there has been an oversupply of product. Doesn’t adding a growth promoting hormone fly in the face of economics? Also the general public when they hear “steroids” or “hormones” think of all the scandals in sports and believe they are bad. Talk about confusing on one hand big Pharma and farmers saying it’s safe and I know it is science and testing shoes there isn’t any in the meat. On the other side of the ledger baseball players are being vilified for using Hormones. A&W has found a niche and if it is successful the entity that will suffer will be big Pharma and then the consuming public, as beef producers if they find the commodity they are offering isn’t acceptable will quickly quit implanting and demand for the hormones will drop and there will be less beef available too.

  24. As a restaurant owner in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, we take great pride in using ONLY AAA Canadian beef! Our burgers are made fresh daily with no added fillers and hand packed, our steaks are aged and cut fresh, never frozen. You still can find good food out there, but certainly NOT at a fast food joint! Stop by for a tasty burger or a great steak sometime! The Rockin’ Horse Cookhouse & Bar, 103 Maple Street, Maple Creek, Sask. Proudly Saskatchewan and Canadian! And the beer is cold! Cheers!

  25. Reblogged this on jasonagronomy.

  26. Tracy

    There is nothing natural about the way cattle are raised. You’re basically doing the same thing as A&W, only worse as you are just defending yourself against what they say is better. You aren’t really giving the full story on all the unnatural, cruel things that are done to the animals we eat. If we can’t keep up with the demand for beef in a natural, humane manner maybe people should just eat less. Ever wonder why so many people are dying of cancer, have asthma, allergies to everything?…Most things we eat were not meant to be processed and eaten the way we process and eat them…including beef!

    • There is no doubt that animal cruelty exists on farms but just because an activist groups circulates a video or a documentary which shows some footage does not mean that it is the norm. I have visited many cattle operations and have never witnessed anything but respect and care for the animals. Why don’t you visit a livestock farm Tracy? You might find that your belief about the way cattle are raised does not match the reality. Thanks for reading!

      • Tracy

        Respect and care for the animals…until slaughter time! Also, the animals aren’t allowed to grow naturally, you said because they would need more cattle, more land, etc…it’s disgusting and sad. The entire way that cattle are raised is NOT NATURAL…it doesn’t matter what kind of spin you try to put on it.

    • So AB cow/calf producer

      I bet you have never even been on a farm, have you? And if you have its from your little glass house city girl perspective which is animals are our babies to be carried around with you in your purse and slept with at night. You know nothing about calving cows or helping a newborn calf nurse for the first time at -30*C or colder because if it doesn’t it dies and its cold and wet and you’re freezing… Farming and raising cows are seen at a very great distance by ppl like you who think animals are mistreated. Well they are not. We love our cows and do all we can to raise healthy calves…and we personally do not use any hormones, ever. The majority of cow calf producers feel the same way I do…but I’m not saying come out and have a look, because you couldn’t handle a look, because you take one aspect of raising cattle and magnify it to be unnatural and cruel. And you don’t have a clue.

  27. blake

    fuck your post and the canadian farmers who use any hormones or other nonsense i dont care about A & W but i dont enjoy supporting any food that wasnt made as natural as possible
    id rather work harder pay more and eat more proper serving sizes then have my animals screwd with and abused i dont trust most farmers in america or canada after all the crazyness that goes on at farms

    • Jim

      Blake; You need to grow up and get educated — about a lot of things. One would be manners. Two grammar, spelling and punctuation. Your post confirms you are ignorant in too many ways to describe.

      By the way, if it weren’t for farms of all types, shapes and sizes you wouldn’t exist.

  28. Reblogged this on Focus Mortgage Solution's Blog and commented:
    A&W is deceiving us!! Their “Beef” is full of “B.S.” READ AND REPOST!!

    Hey Everyone! I hope your Wednesday is going as good as mine! Just wanted to send out this little Blog Share…be warned – it has NOTHING to do with Mortgages…rather its a good “exposé” about those Bastards over at A&W and their recent Fear Marketing Campaign surrounding their “Beef” claims, and the danger it is creating for our Canadian Farmers!

    Did you know they don’t use Canadian Beef…right here in CANADA?!
    Do your part and repost this – there is power in numbers and if enough people get the word out – it will help out our Canadian Farmers (who, by the way, make up 2% of the population and feed themselves and the other 98% of the population!)

    Thanks everyone – and keep on being Awesome!

  29. I enjoyed this thoughtfully written article. I would also be interested in reading more about your opinion of GMO feed as I have some opinions on that myself. To respond to ronrein’s comment, there is actually quite a bit of information coming abut in regards to the long term effects of genetically modified organisms and their place in our diet. I am also interested to know more about the difference between the “added hormones” allowed in Canada vs. the USA. I believe there is quite a difference, but I could be wrong. Is Bovine Growth Hormone the same as the one discussed in this article?

    • I am always up for a respectful and fact oriented discussion about my opinions on the issues that directly affect our industry. I will not be very prompt on my responses though as I am having a hard time finding time to get on my computer this time of the year! My opinion on GMO feed would be much to lengthy to discuss on this forum, but to put it simply I have not found any credible, peer reviewed evidence to say that GMO feed for cattle is harmful. I actually think if we removed GMO feed for cattle we would quickly see food shortages across the country. There is a difference in hormone approvals on each side of the border; the bovine growth hormone – sometimes referred to as Bovine Somatotropin (rBST) you asked about is not approved in Canada and to my understanding (please cattle farmers correct me if I’m wrong) that is used to increase milk production. I linked a few of the many reports directly relating to long term studies done on GMO feed for animals in a comment below. Thank you for your respectful comment and sorry I didn’t reply sooner.

  30. Awesome info, thank you!

  31. b gliege

    How about you try to realize that A&W is outsourcing a majority of the beef they use through Canadian farmers. The problem lies in the fact that many of the farmers aren’t willing to change over their practices to meet the strict guidelines set by the company. It’s so ridiculous when an angry person spews their terrible opinion on something that has absolutely no validity or completely misinforms the sheep they are writing too.

    You can compare hormone levels all you want, but the fact is hormone and steroid fee meat is producing more work for a loyal and long standing industry. Need more land? We have it. More people to work? We have them. More food to feed animals? We can make it, creating more jobs and a more stable economy.

    You go on a crazy rant about this yet allergy, diabetes, heart disease and various other health related problems are at an all time high. If you can cut even a small amount of these levels in something millions of people enjoy, some on a daily basis, we will be helping the health of the public whilst creating thousands of more jobs also allowing the government to spend money on more important issues than Joe Blows latest heart problems.

    In my opinion, get a life. If you don’t like A&W then don’t write about it, just stay far far away, because honestly you’re misinformed and very ignorant opinion on a company that is trying to do something better for a market that needs some attention when it comes to quality of food, is only appreciate by those who’s minds are void of any real thought. Go outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get the hell of the internet.

    Thanks.

    • SF

      “the fact is hormone and steroid fee meat is producing more work for a loyal and long standing industry. Need more land? We have it. More people to work? We have them. More food to feed animals? We can make it, creating more jobs and a more stable economy.”

      I guess you are a fan of inefficiency and waste. Maybe we should do everything the way it was done 100 years ago so we could have full employment!

      “You go on a crazy rant about this yet allergy, diabetes, heart disease and various other health related problems are at an all time high.”

      This appears to be a far more angry rant than anything in the original post. It’s also completely off-topic.

      “If you don’t like A&W then don’t write about it, just stay far far away, because honestly you’re misinformed and very ignorant opinion on a company that is trying to do something better for a market that needs some attention when it comes to quality of food, is only appreciate by those who’s minds are void of any real thought.”

      What in this post was misinformed? Can you explain what A&W is doing better and support it with actual facts (i.e. not just “hormones bad, organic good”)?

      I saw far more research in the post than anything in your angry, self-righteous response.

      “Go outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get the hell of the internet.”

      I don’t understand what you are so angry about, but perhaps you should take your own advice.

      • Thank you SF, I have been hit with a ton of comments while we are out in the field doing our spring work and I have not had time to reply! (I now know not to post a blog during the busy season!) I find so many of the people that are fighting against farming methods today don’t understand the global impact that our agricultural industry has. Some people actually believe that we have unlimited land and resources and that things like GMOs and hormones can be tossed in the trash with no effects on the food supply. b gliege; correlation does not equal causation and there was diabetes, heart disease, and cancer 50 years ago, and your view of our agricultural economy is very simplistic. The point of my blog was to focus on the current trend of fear to sell food. It isn’t helping anyone, only confusing the majority of people on what is ‘healthy’ and it is hurting the producers. And there are plenty of Canadian farmers that could supply A & W with ‘better beef’ but they are simply not big enough for A & W, so it is easier for them to source meat from other countries. To your point of getting fresh air, I was outside working for 14 hours yesterday getting my hands dirty and growing the food that feeds many so I did get some fresh air. Thanks for the advice though, and thanks for reading!

  32. Kanglan

    I am impressed with your scientific knowledge of all subjects related to everything which matters or not. Being a farmer, that must be an accomplishment and worth going to Guiness records :)

    I am also quite impressed with your hatred with one company that is A&W and your love with McDonalds who for your information are cooking up their markting strategy to bring their own version of bettre beef in 2016.

    • Kanglan, It might just surprise you the amount of scientific knowledge that most farmers have. Many of them have received university degrees before they come back to the farm. So by no means will I make it into the Guiness records :( and you are right, this issue of hormones just doesn’t matter (that is sort of the point of my blog). I do not have hatred towards A & W, just disappointment with their fear marketing, and I do not have a love for McDonalds, I only mentioned it because they are the only fast food place that I know of that serves 100% Canadian beef. I didn’t add that in my original post because I did not want to promote any company or fast food chain. If McDonalds follows suit with fear marketing in the future they will not receive my business either. Thanks for reading!

  33. Lillian

    I agree with most of the stuff written but not everything. I think the “hysteria” about food in bigger centers is people looking for that better connection to the growers which isn’t a bad thing. The problem is relying on the marketing campaigns to satisfy that desire to know what goes into your food. Your article is a great example of education which is wonderful. It lets people know what things actually means instead of whitewashing the facts with acceptable wording. It’s the same as people switching to gluten free diets without understanding what gluten is or why some people need it. Because the term “gluten free” is on more packaging it must mean gluten is bad. (Sarcasm included)
    As a fellow Saskatchewan girl raised in a farming family I get that the farmers there are great. I’m really happy that people want to be more invested in their food, I just wish they would have a conversation with a farmer so they can see how much knowledge there is and have explanations of the touchy issues like hormones and steroids.
    Since I’ve moved down to the US hormones and steroids are a way bigger concern. There is nothing freakier then going into the grocery store and seeing one chicken breast being the size of both of my hands put together. I think some of the info Canada gets is stuff that floats over the border. Let me say that the Canada Food Health and Safety Board is way more strict then in the US. By all means do your research if you are concerned by what goes into your food but do “your” research and don’t let companies dictate your education.

    • Thanks for the comment Lillian, you are right that people seem to want a better connection to the growers, and we want that too! There is a great group in the US called Common Ground. They are a bunch of farming women who are giving their time to answer question, provide information, organize farm tours etc. Many farms have an ‘open door’ policy and they will give tours or let people come see the operation.
      My fear is that people are not taking the opportunity to connect with the farmers and they are getting information from radical blog pages that greatly exaggerate any sort of danger with our food production. Even when the science says otherwise. This is actually creating a huge divide between the farmers and the rest of the population (case in point; March Against Monsanto taking place this Saturday). People think they are fighting big faceless companies but they are actually fighting against the family farmer.
      I agree with you whole heartedly on the gluten free, but this is another issue we face. If you label it people assume it is bad for you. So many people are shouting ‘just label everything’ when in fact this will not help anyone figure out what it healthy nutritious food. We are lucky in Canada, the CFIA is painfully strict. Thanks for visiting my blog from a fellow Saskatchewan girl!

  34. Nathan

    When I saw A&W’s campaign I shrugged. There’s not a lot of evidence published to show that these have any effect on human health. What I would support is someone using antibiotic free beef. Overuse if antibiotics in raising livestock increases the rate of antibiotic resistance. There is a lot of literature pointing to this as a major threat to public health.

  35. Adam

    In response to Christie with her “not so good” comment, the article you reference once again uses the term “pink slime” referring to the product called Finely Textured Beef. First of all, the pictures on the internet of a pink silly putty looking blob are not what FTB looks like. The misinformation about the product has lead to more food waste and higher costs of beef in many markets. For people wondering what FTB really is and how its made, and how it is good for our society in an effort to waste less food, here is a website with more information:

    http://www.groundbeefanswers.com/

    I have also seen almost every product for McDonalds being produced, and there is nothing sinister going on. I may not agree that fast food in general is healthy or better than making fresh food at home, but I also don’t buy into the fear mongering going on either.

    Here is the link to McDonald’s behind the scenes videos:

    http://www.mcdonalds.ca/ca/en/food/all-access_moms.html

  36. revnantdream

    Nice to pick up the growers side for once. I’m sick to death of this endless con game the greens have made up. Nice post , let some fresh air ventilate the lies we hear all day long from ad agencies or luddites.

  37. Jason

    A&W’s marketing strategy is not about fear mongering it’s about giving consumers what they’re asking for. Beef that is raised as naturally and ethically as possible. You’re defending the status quo where the only way to raise cattle is to use added hormones and steroids. Does it not make sense to eat food that is as natural as possible? Does it not make sense to use more sustainable and environmentally friendly forms of farming? There is a huge shift in perception going on right now of where our food comes from and what we eat. If you put two burgers in front of people and tell them one has no added hormones and steroids and was raised on a farm that is environmentally friendly and that the other burger has added hormones, steroids and was raised on a conventional farm the overwhelming number of people will pick the first burger. People want body healthy and earth healthy food options and A&W is trying to provide that. It’s that simple. Whether you like it or not many people are looking for an alternative to the food industry status quo. As demand grows we will continue to see a change in this industry just as we have seen the change in other industries like cars making the move to hybrid and electric. Companies and industries that recognize this and are willing to change are the ones that will survive and thrive.

  38. Jason, first of all thanks for commenting, you are entitled to your opinion and I respect that we all have different points of view. But I am going to hold you to a little higher standard on this blog page. Do you have any links or published references to support your statement that A & W is providing ‘body healthy and earth healthy food options’? You obviously feel passionate about this but did you read any of the links I provided? Have you researched the issue? My point is that from the studies that have been conducted, conventionally raised beef is actually better for the environment. It is misinformed consumers that choose the A & W burger at face value because of marketing that concerns me. Did you read the part in my blog about how A & W’s ‘better beef’ actually leaves a bigger carbon footprint? If A & W cared about being earth friendly they would source their meat locally even if it is from small farmers and a little less convenient for the company. A & W is trying to make money selling burgers. It’s that simple.
    I am not at all saying that the only way to raise cattle is to use hormones (I actually know quite a few farmers that don’t, and we don’t use them in our livestock either) but I am pointing out that the science says that beef with hormone implants is nutritionally equivalent to beef without them AND I am saying that the beef A & W is selling is actually worse for the environment. Often all a company has to do is throw in a few buzz words and people fall into this mindset of ‘body healthy earth healthy’ without even understanding what it really means. In the end they are making a choice that hurts the farmers and hurts the environment and profits a large company. Using fear to market food is my issue.
    I am 100% aware of the shift in perception that is going on, as are most people who are employed in this industry. I am glad that people are starting to care about where their food comes from and how it is grown/raised. With only 2% of us feeding 98%, we wish people would invest more time in learning how and why we do what we do. I really would prefer that the average person receive their information from someone in the agriculture industry or a credible source, but most get it from marketing campaigns or propaganda. The issue we have in Agriculture today is that many people feel if they don’t agree with a farming practice then it should be banned, when often they just don’t understand why it is used and why it is important. It absolutely makes sense to use a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of farming and as farmers and scientists every day we get out of bed we try and achieve that while feeding the 7.5 billion people on the planet.

    • jason

      Compared to advertising by Chipotle, I don’t find A&W is using fear tactics. They’re saying what their beef is. That’s all. If people want to try and read between the lines and think they’re saying something else that’s their choice. That’s always an issue with advertising, books, religion, art, movies etc. People interpret things how they want to. The fact here is A&W is offering beef free of hormones and steroids and they’re choosing ranchers they believe are doing environmentally friendly ranching. They’re not saying anything else. They’re offering consumers a choice. Consumers tastes change all the time. A&W and ranchers can’t control that. What they can do and are doing is respond to that. As consumers we all want choice. No one wants to have only one choice for something especially when it comes to food. Why should A&W and their ranchers be vilified for offering choice?

      The key word I used is trying. A&W is trying to provide body healthy and earth healthy options. When compared to other fast food chains I’d saying they’re doing a pretty good job or at least making an attempt. Which is more than I can say for most fast food chains. I only have the information you have about A&W. I’ve looked at the websites of the ranchers they use and they seem like people who are passionate about raising cattle naturally and using innovative ways to make their ranches as “green” as possible. I believe the facts you posted about steroid/hormone fed cattle having benefits for the environment, but that’s only half of the issue. A lot of people want both a steroid/hormone free beef and for it be as environmentally friendly as possible. Based on the info you provided we’re not there yet, but if we stick with the status quo and the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality we’ll never get there. Why can’t we have beef that is hormone/steroid free and is as environmentally friendly or better than non hormone/steroid free beef?

      Unfortunately, ranchers who don’t want to respond to changing consumer tastes have an uphill battle. It’s going to be very hard to convince the general public that beef with added hormones and steroids is as good for them as beef without it. Whether there’s a difference or not the perception is there. The industry can choose to fight this perception or take a glass half full approach and ask “OK, people want this kind of beef, what can we do to make this a win,win for them and us?”

      • Well I don’t disagree with the fact that A & W aren’t nearly as bad as Chipotle, and farmers do have to be willing to adapt with the market demand. It still greatly concerns me though that when a myth about our food production gets started, companies are quick to jump on the bandwagon with their marketing in order to make sales. Global food security is a huge issue going forward so installing a false belief in the population can have long lasting and far reaching effects. You do have me on one point; I will defend the fact that we have food choices in this country until the very end. I do not believe a choice should be taken away just because someone else disagrees with it. So A & W is giving the consumers a choice. I am glad that we both have the right to choose, and I know what my choice will be! Thanks for your thoughts.

  39. Thank you Angela for writing this. We need more people who actually understand modern high yield agriculture to speak up. For too many years those of us who understand have yielded the floor to those who only spread fear and misinformation. It was easier, we knew we were right and most of us never thought the public would be stupid enough to believe that crap that was being spread. We were wrong.

    In the last five years I have seen a steadily increasing number of intelligent people who understand agriculture who are stepping into the debate and countering fear with facts. Posts like yours are just one example. It will take a long time to stop the runaway train of misinformation and outright lies but I have confidence that we will stop it eventually.

  40. Thank you Bob. For a long time I just sat back and watched thinking it was very easy to see through the misinformation people like the ‘Food Babe’ (and many others) spread. Until I started having more and more conversations with people who were preaching these urban myths as the truth. I am still on the fence about the people who really understand the science and safety behind modern agriculture being able to rein in this hysteria. Hopefully more people jump in and help the cause!

  41. Shae shark

    I work at a&w
    and you have a couple of you “facts” wrong
    one: we only have three farms
    one is in Alberta
    the second is in Manitoba
    and the third is in Australia
    the reason we have these farms is so we know that when they are calfs NO hormones or steroids are being added

    • I did get my ‘facts’ directly from the A & W webpage but I wouldn’t ever claim that I don’t make mistakes. If you could please point out exactly what I got wrong I will gladly change or edit my post. I did say that I was aware some beef was sourced in Canada, as well as Australia and Montana, as the webpage states.

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