My View From The Country

Eliminating Trans Fats – What This Means For Beef Producers

The food wars continue; this time it’s trans fats that are in the crosshairs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week announced a preliminary ban on trans fats. I don’t have an opinion on how much of a health risk, if any, that trans fats represent. But it’s enlightening to note that, since the attack on trans fats began, consumption has fallen by approximately 80%. 

The marketplace has done a great job of reducing the use of trans fats, largely because of government action. For example, New York City made news by banning trans fat use in restaurants. Americans now consume less than 1 gram of trans fats daily compared to 4.6 grams/day in 2003. 


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Still, many food products still contain trans fats, including things like margarine, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza and coffee creamer. That is a significant portion of my diet. I get that the FDA commissioner called it poison, and many are calling for USDA to institute an absolute ban in school lunch programs. I just hope this isn’t like the elimination of animal fats in the oil McDonald’s used to cook its French fries; I’m not sure I can even remember how much better tasting those fries were than what they have today.

The activists have been all over this issue, and because nutrition has become so politicized it is difficult to determine what is “real” science and what promotes specific agendas. What we do know is that the anti-beef crowd has strong ties to the nutritional activists and we better do our homework, because eventually it won’t just be trans fats and large sodas that are on the hit list of foods they want to ban.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 5

00rancher (not verified)
on Nov 15, 2013

Troy, I'm feeling bad for you. You said "margarine, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza and coffee creamer. That is a significant portion of my diet." They are 0% in mine - better be in yours if you know what is good for you. Use butter, stir pop your popcorn in safflower oil, avoid frozen pizza like the poison it is - make you own from scratch and use real cream - or even better drink your coffee black. We care about you out here - take care of yourself!

W.E. (not verified)
on Nov 15, 2013

Troy, your writings emphasize your love for your children, which is commendable. Everything we do and everything we don't do has consequence. We are what we eat. Our children are what they eat. Our cattle are what they eat. We can ignore the fact that what goes into our bodies (and theirs) affects our health, or we can be conscious of it and do something about it. When you get a little older, perhaps your body will let you know how well it has tolerated the standard American diet of predominantly manufactured industrial food that has high profit, not good health, as its first priority.
We have been raising and direct-marketing grassfed beef since 2003. At about that same time, our son was away at school, eating the standard American diet of fast food, soft drinks and transfats. By the time he graduated and returned to the farm, our son was very sick with the autoimmune disorder termed ulcerative colitis, which runs in my father's family. He looked thin, but didn't tell us he was sick until he had nearly bled to death and had to be hospitalized.
Shortly after that, because our grassfed beef was listed on the website, a free book called The Maker's Diet arrived in the mail. Loosely following what that book advised changed our lives and his life. A more natural diet of grassfed meat and milk products, bread without preservatives, and home-raised fresh vegetables got him off what his doctors predicted would be a lifelong dependence on an expensive pharmaceutical called Remicade. Today he is well, but hasn't been able to get health insurance because of his pre-existing condition.
We aren’t saying that the beef industry must change overnight, but it does need to face the truth. When compared to grainfed beef, the main nutritional advantage of grassfed beef is conjugated linoleic acid, which quickly disappears from beef when cattle no longer have access to grass. The yellow fat in grassfed beef is actually good for our bodies. The white fat of grainfed beef just isn’t.
To this day, people within 100 miles of our farm, many with chronic health problems ranging from cancers to rheumatoid arthritis, seek out our homegrown grassfed beef for its ability to nourish them well without aggravating their health problems. If the mainstream beef industry continues to ignore the need for change, to try to discredit and discourage those of us who try to be independent of it with more stringent labeling and processing requirements that make our job more and more difficult, where will those people turn when they need beef that tailored to their health needs?

Charlie Kraus (not verified)
on Nov 15, 2013

Why is my health important to the FDA?
What stake does Government have in me being healthy?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 17, 2013

No stake at all, as long as you promise never to accept a penny from medicare or medicade. And, if you promise to pay in advance for all of your heath care, and just die if you can't pay in advance, then you shouldn't have to have health insurance either.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 17, 2013

Troy, You admit a lack of scientific knowledge on the subject, then seem to be ready to jump to the conclusion that because something bad for people might be mostly banned, that other foods will be banned at random. Any scientist that points out that your diet is actually harmful is smeared as a nutritional activist, as if that's a bad thing. You could serve the Beef community better if you did your homework and suggested ways that beef could be healthier, rather than publishing paranoid ramblings.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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