Lee Simmons

Sophia Pathways ENG1020

July 1, 2021

Source Evaluation on “Pass on Grass: Is grass-fed beef better for the environment?” by

Brian Palmer

For my project, I am writing about the ethical concerns related to people eating

meat, focusing on the following thesis statement: For ethical and environmental

reasons, people should limit their beef consumption, and the beef that they do eat

should be humanely raised, locally sourced, and grass-fed. In completing my research, I

found the article “Pass on Grass Is grass-fed beef better for the environment?” by Brian

Palmer at Slate, which was published on December 21, 2010. Though this is not the

most useful source, I do find that it has a place in my research.

Slate is a magazine that is published daily, and was founded in 1996. They

describe themselves as a public-interest publication, and are a part of Graham

Holdings. They publish on a variety of topics and have received several awards,

including the National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online. The author of

this article, Brian Palmer, has written over seven hundred articles for Slate and writes

about science and medicine.

Though Palmer is not himself an expert source, he does cite several in his

source. Palmer references Jude Capper, who is a professor of animal science at

Washington State University as well as Japan’s National Institute of Livestock and

Grassland Science. There is no reference list at the end of the essay, however, and I do

wish I had the opportunity to read over the original sources in order to check on some of

this information, or to learn more about this information.

This article discusses whether there is a way to make beef better for the

environment, by feeding grass instead of grain. Palmer (2010) writes that

“Unfortunately, both grass-fed and corn-fed beef are terrible for the earth—but each in

its own way.” This short article provides data to support the idea that grass-fed isn't

much better for the environment because it takes these animals longer to reach

slaughter weight. During this time period, those cows will continue to produce methane

gas, which is bad for the environment.

This article supports my thesis that people should eat less beef for environmental

reasons. However, it does go against the point in my thesis that beef that people do

consume should be grass-fed. According to Palmer’s article, there is not much

difference between grain-fed and grass-fed. At least, there are disadvantages to each.

However, this may still be a useful course to consider in my counter-arguments.

Though this is a brief source, there is some useful information that I can use in

my research. Although this source is older, I feel it is still relevant to my topic. I will most

likely lean more heavily on more reputable and complete sources where the authors

have more relevant credentials.


Palmer, Brian (2010). “Pass on Grass: Is grass-fed beef better for the environment?”

Slate. Retrieved from https://slate.com/technology/2010/12/is-grass-fed-beef-


Reflection Questions

1. What types of questions did you ask yourself when evaluating the credibility

and usefulness of your source? (2-3 sentences)

As I wrote this essay, I knew I wanted to find a reliable source with credible authors. I do

wish there was more information about Palmer’s background, and a list of his own

references for further study. To determine the usefulness of the source, I thought about

my thesis and purpose for writing, and considered if the content of the source supported

this thesis.

2. How do you feel this evaluation practice will help you as you continue to move

through the research process? (2-3 sentences)

I wasn’t sure how I would evaluate the source, but the two pages were easy to write. It

was actually quite interesting to read about the background of the author and know

more about him and the publication (Slate). I had never considered something like this

before, but I will definitely look for this information in the future. I think taking a close

look at my sources in this way makes sure that I really understand the information and

use useful, relevant sources that fit my topic and purpose.

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