Grass-Fed Beef and Austrian Economics

Saturday, November 24, 2012
Posted in category Paleo/Primal

The agents of low-fat are going to die a slow, painful death. Meat is in again. And we don’t have to use the word “lean” prior to using the word beef. Beef is beef now. All beef cuts are good. While grain-fed beef is better than no beef, the industrial food machine’s processed-plasticized beef (like the kind found in cans or frozen dinners) is rotten to the core.

Even FOX News gets it: the demand for grass-fed beef is flying high. Cash cows. Headline story. The media bobble heads like to talk about how long it takes to raise a grass-fed cow as vs. a grain-fed cow. It’s about twice as long. The roundabout methods of production apply here. If you read up on Austrian economics, you’ll note a term from Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk in his book Capital and Interest: roundaboutness. Here’s a snippet from G. Stolyarov II:

Böhm-Bawerk’s discovery can be aptly illustrated with a hypothetical case study. Suppose Robinson Crusoe, in his quest to attain fish, is faced with an alternative. He can use his bare hands for an hour to obtain 10 fish. Or he can invest an hour into producing a spear which will enable him to catch 100 fish during the next hour, after which the spear will break down from wear. The creation of the spear for later use in fishing is the more roundabout method of production. The act of creating the spear does not directly catch fish, but it furnishes Crusoe with a valuable capital good for this purpose. In one hour Crusoe will be able to use the spear to catch fish—hence, creating the spear temporally advances Crusoe to his desired goal: a greater quantity of fish.

Grass-fed farmers must be practitioners of the roundabout methods of production in order for them to reduce manual labor and bring capital and labor costs under control for the long term. They are all Austrian economists in the field, in their budgeting and planning, and in their mindset. All of the farmers I work with to obtain my food are libertarians in mindset. Next time you enjoy a grass-fed or pastured anything, thank Joel Salatin for planting the intellectual seeds of this glorious revolution, which has allowed the masses to understand their alternatives and embrace quality choices. Joel Salatin is a fan of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. So no, we don’t just preach to the choir.

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7 Responses to Grass-Fed Beef and Austrian Economics

  1. George says:

    November 24th, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Switching to mostly meat with leafy greens has made it eating so much more enjoyable. Healthier and better tasting: there oughta be a law against it.

  2. Pam Maltzman says:

    November 24th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Right now I can’t afford to buy grass-fed beef. However, we have several brands of poultry here in So. California which are more or less “locally” raised. After Thanksgiving, I typically pick up a couple of the smaller turkeys at a discount and pop them in the freezer. I don’t like Butterball, or anything pre-brined or injected. I buy fresh turkeys. Even the cats love turkey. I have a teen mama cat and 2 of her daughters from her second litter. I have been cutting up and giving them the heart and part of the liver. If you like chicken liver, well, fresh turkey liver is a treat. Historically I eat the giblets for breakfast on any day when I cook turkey, but I’m willing to share!

  3. Wade says:

    November 25th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I’ve been eating natural, grass-fed, locally grown meat for a little over a year now, and in addition to being better for you, the thing I’ve noticed is how much better it tastes…the ribeye steaks that I buy have a wonderful flavor, and the chickens are almost sweet tasting…and I smoked a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving, which turned really good

  4. Pam Maltzman says:

    November 27th, 2012 at 2:48 am

    I have noticed the difference in poultry, but haven’t yet gotten around to tasting grass-fed beef. I do try to avoid the “pink slime” they are selling in place of regular hamburger these days.

  5. DavidBrennan says:

    November 29th, 2012 at 1:24 am

    This article touches on one aspect of the paleo community that nags at me, and that is the gripe (from both the critics and even within the group) that it’s not “sustainable”.

    I know nothing about raising and feeding cattle. But based upon the entire history of the market, I know that if the market demand for something increases, the businessmen will compete with each other to find more efficient ways of achieving this and, in doing so, will necessarily consume fewer resources in the production to save money (on a per unit basis).

    The greatest historical example of this is the hilarious Simon-Ehrlich Wager, in which “overpopulation” zealot Paul Ehrlich warned everybody that his dear Mother Earth was going to run out of resources. His ideological progeny are now saying that paleo diet is going to do the same thing. When put to the test, Ehrlich’s predictions were colossally, hilariously off. The same is true for those who claim grass fed beef is “unsustainable”. Like Ehrlich, they use dumb linear extrapolation for current trends, not grasping that market forces will totally change the inputs as the trend progresses.

    (Incidentally, I’ve noticed that the current wave of overpopulation zealots have re-branded the Simon-Ehrlich Wager as meaningless. Then they should put their money where their mouth is again.)

  6. Karen De Coster says:

    November 29th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    David – the current industrial CAFO system is not ‘survivable.’ Unsustainable.

  7. David says:

    November 30th, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Ha ha. That’s true.

    However, these modern Western, self-hating sociopaths aren’t interested in the survival of our species (and certainly not our race). They’re just talking about “the planet” and how it’s unsustainable for her/it.

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