Get the facts behind the grass-fed beef hype!
When it comes to animal products, it matters what your food was eating. Just as your diet should be healthy and clean, so too should be the diet of the meat that ends up on your table.
Enter grass-fed beef.
Grass-fed has quickly become a household name over the last few years, and for good reason. Proponents point out a variety of health and flavour benefits. Yet, the sudden surge of interest has also brought out a good deal of questionable information leaving confusion on both sides of the fence.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at grass-fed beef, highlight the facts driving the hype and demonstrate why the grass is truly greener on the grass-fed side.
What is “Grass Fed Beef”
Grass Fed Beef refers to cattle that spend the vast majority of their life consuming grass – their natural food source – as their primary diet.
This stands in stark contrast to conventional grain-fed beef farming, in which a cow’s typical diet consists of often genetically modified grains like corn as well as soy. None of these are natural food sources for cattle, yet – along with subtherapeutic antibiotic use – their consumption encourages quick weight gain.
What Are the Benefits of Grass Fed Beef?
1) It’s More Nutritious
Grass holds many important nutrients, yet is unable to be digested directly by the human digestive tract. A cow’s digestive system, on the other hand, utilizes 4 stomach compartments which are built specifically to break down grasses.By feeding cows grass – their natural food source – humans are able to reap the benefits of nutrients locked within grass, in the form of beef.
Grass-fed beef is richer in Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K (important in the development of strengthened bones and a robust immune system).
2) It Has Less Saturated Fats
A typical, conventionally raised cow’s diets consist of inexpensive, often genetically modified grains which include corn along with soy. Subtherapeutic dosages of antibiotics are also commonly used. Feeding cows an unnatural diet of grains influences quick weight gain – in the form of fats, including saturated fat – giving the farmers an advantage for higher yield.
The grass-fed, natural diet promotes a leaner beef which is lower in both calories and saturated fats. Grass-fed meats are also richer in healthy fats such as CLA, which may offer anti-cancer benefits.
3) It Offers More Omega 3 Fats
While the human body can naturally produce many of the enzymes and vitamins needed for optimal health, some essential nutrients – like omega 3 fats – must be obtained through the diet. Grass-fed beef is contains more omega fats than traditional grain-fed beef.
4) It’s More Humane
Much of a grass-fed cow’s life is spent outdoors, on pasture, where their food source is naturally abundant. They are active, get plenty of exercise, and are more closely tied to the natural cycles of their environment.
The majority of conventionally raised cows experience little of such life. Instead, they are crowded into dense feedlots with little fresh air, exercise or access to pasture. This increases their chance for illness, contributing to the excessive use of antibiotics in conventional farming, which may pushing us closer toward a dangerous post-antibiotic.
5) It’s More Eco-Friendly
Grass-fed cows subsist on foods grown naturally in abundance – right where they live. Their manure, which is spread evenly through the process of grazing, helps nourish the soil in which their forage is grown. It’s a beautiful cycle, when managed properly – and grass-fed farmers have every incentive to do so.
The soy and corn used in conventional beef production, on the other hand, contributes to rainforest destruction in regions like the Amazon, while the global transportation of such foods contributes significantly to carbon emissions. The density in feedlots also creates a waste management problem, thanks to the tremendous amounts of manure generated on comparatively small parcels of land. This waste can lead to spills and run-off into nearby waterways.
6) It Yields Healthier Manure for Farmers
We tend not to think of it, but the byproduct of livestock production – manure – plays an important role in both farming and gardening. Manure is one of the most popular soil enhancement products, employed to nourish the soil we use for food and plant cultivation.
If our cows are being fed antibiotics and GMO feed, then their feces are going to contain those components. This leads to suboptimal soil conditions, and on a larger scale, to antibiotic runoff into nearby watersheds.
The Grass Truly Is Greener on the Grass-Fed Side
Better nutrition, more humane conditions and improved sustainability make grass-fed beef the clear better option for individuals looking to include beef in their diet. Fortunately, increasing awareness of these benefits – combined with an increasing number of local, smaller scale farmers following the traditional grass-fed method – mean that there are more options than ever.
We invite you to come into the store and experience the grass-fed difference for yourself. In fact, you can discover them all alongside a registered holistic nutritionist on a free store tour!
Thinking of Going Grass-Fed? We Can Help!
We carry a variety of grass-fed beef in-store, from fresh to frozen, steaks to ground beef. One of our favourites comes from Heritage Cattle Co. They’re a local farm located just outside of Peterborough, raising cattle, pigs and chickens the old-fashioned way. Their product is 100% grass-fed and grass-finished. You can learn more about Heritage Cattle Co. here: http://www.heritagenaturalbeef.com/