Sophia Pathways ENG1020
July 1, 2021
Source Evaluation on “Pass on Grass: Is grass-fed beef better for the environment?” by
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-
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
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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