Hormones all around us
THERE is increasing concern, it seems, about the hormones in our meat and milk, but what about the hormones associated with kissing? Have we fully considered that risk?
The science is now there.
Researchers from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania have found that locking lips actually sparks an increase of hormones to the brain. Through a series of complex chemical processes, those involved in kissing were found to experience a combination of relaxation and excitement.
So, if, as some claim, hormones are not good for us in any way, shape or form, then perhaps for our own safety, kissing must not be allowed to happen.
Not surprisingly, most of the conversations I regularly get involved in as I travel around the country are about hormones in food. People think they want hormone-free everything, yet let us not forget that anything hormone free is not alive.
Misinformation and misunderstanding of the value of hormones to our everyday life have perpetuated the concern over hormones. Some of that has certainly been the result of activists and those attempting to remove technology and efficiency from the food production system. However, some also has been the result of misleading messages from a few in our own industry.
I recently received a note from a rancher in central Montana who was critical of me for publicly presenting the difference between natural and conventional beef. His point was that grass-fed, organic or natural beef are better because they don't have hormones.
The fact of the matter, though, is that a three-ounce serving of beef from an animal that has never been given estrogen-based hormones contains 1.39 nanograms (ng) of estrogen compared with 1.89 ng of estrogen in the same amount of conventionally produced beef from steers that have had two doses of estrogen-based hormones. The differences are basically insignificant.
The greater point for me is that hormone levels in beef and milk are actually considerably lower than some plant-based food sources, yet consumers don't seem at all concerned about that. Take, for example, a tablespoon of soybean oil, which contains 28,000 ng of estrogen. Four ounces of raw cabbage has 2,700 ng of estrogen, and four ounces of raw peas have 454 ng of estrogen.
So, I ask, how can we in animal agriculture continue to complain about the "misinformed" consumer when far too often, people within our own industry are guilty of supplying bad information? I would hope it is a matter of them simply being misinformed and that they are not knowingly putting the entire industry at risk for their personal financial gain.
While it is human nature to want to avoid chemicals and hormones and things we don't truly understand, it is also not wise to do so without the factual knowledge that there is any associated risk.
The researchers from Lafayette College have shown us yet another way hormones regularly improve our lives. That is straight from my lips to yours. Now, take it from your lips to consumers you encounter along the way each day.
It is important to recognize that many common foods naturally contain estrogen (or phytoestrogen in plants) at levels hundreds or thousands of times higher than the levels in dairy or beef products that come from animals given estrogen hormones.
In addition, estrogen levels in dairy and beef products from hormone-treated animals are essentially the same as products from untreated animals.
The following are some such comparisons:
* 4 ounces of beef from steer given hormones: 1.6 ng of estrogen
* 4 ounces of beef from untreated steer: 1.2 ng of estrogen
* 4 ounces of beef from non-pregnant heifer: 1.5 ng of estrogen
* 4 ounces of raw cabbage: 2,700 ng of estrogen
* 4 ounces of raw peas: 454 ng of estrogen
* 3 ounces of soybean oil: 168,000 ng of estrogen
* 3.5 ounces of soy protein concentrate: 102,000 ng of estrogen
* 3 ounces of milk from cow given recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST): 11 ng of estrogen
* 3 ounces of milk from non-rbST-treated cow: 11 ng of estrogen* Average level in a woman of childbearing age: 480,000 ng of estrogen