This is an absolutely amazing view of the beef industry from the author of Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan. It was published before he became a household name (I hope not just in our household...), and it tells the story of most beef cattle from birth to market - it is quite a journey. As you'll read, he actually purchased his own steer and followed it through the process.
Of course, we think is another way to raise cattle - one that is not only more humane but produces much healthier and higher quality meat. Ultimately we expect that at scale it will also produce meat at a lower total cost. Despite the scale advantages of the modern beef industry, it is easy to imagine a world in which the heavily subsidized inputs (petroleum & corn) of industrial beef will make it more expensive than locally sourced grass-fed beef.
See the NYTimes article here.