Earlier this week CBS News and other national outlets reported cattle deaths in Bastrop related to some cyanide-producing super grass. It’s pretty scary to hear about cows dying from poisonous grass, especially so close to home. We have been in touch with the ranchers who supply Greenling with grass-fed, pastured beef, and none of their pastures or herds have been affected.
Turns out that the grass in question is called Tifton-85 Bermuda Grass. It’s a hybrid that has been in use since the 1980s, and it is not a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) as initially reported. The USDA still isn’t sure what caused the grass to produce cyanide, but the rancher whose cattle was affected uses chemical fertilizers on his pasture. Cyanide is a common ingredient in conventional fertilizers. While it has not been confirmed that this was the source of the poison, you wouldn’t catch us spraying cyanide on our food!
We checked in with rancher Patti Jacobs of Bastrop Cattle Company, one of Greenling Central Texas’ suppliers, this afternoon to get the scoop on how her herd and pastures are doing. Patti confirmed that — like all of Greenling’s cattle producers– none of her pastures contain GMO grass. In her fields you’ll find a salad bar of Bahia, Coastal Bermuda and Tifton grasses that are good for cattle to eat. She has never sprayed any pesticides or chemical fertilizers on these pastures, either, so the cows are safe, sound, and cyanide-free!
As always, if you have any questions at all about your food, or the growing practices of our farmers, lettuce know! We visit each and every local supplier to ensure that they are using sustainable growing practices, and we are always happy to share reports from the fields.