Certainly many people are aware that grass fed beef is better than grain fed beef for human health. Here are six reasons why.
1. Grass fed beef is much higher in nutrient levels. Beta carotene levels are higher in grass fed beef and that has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Grass fed beef is a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a very healthy fat that protects against many kinds of cancers. Additionally, vitamin E levels are up to four times higher in grass fed beef. Grass fed beef is up to six times higher in Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for heart health and reduce the risk of arthritis, obesity, insulin resistance, allergies and autoimmune diseases. While omega 3 fats are higher, saturated fats are lower and thus there are about 100 calories less per serving than grain fed beef.
2. Grass fed beef is better for the animals. Ranchers who raise grass fed beef are committed to a natural and humane approach to sustainable ranching. Animals raised through grass fed practices are allowed to roam free on the land while rotationally grazing from pasture to pasture, eating only the best quality forage on a daily basis. This traditional method imitates how buffalo grazed across the North American Plains for centuries. This diet makes for a stronger, stress free, and healthier cow that does not need any medications, antibiotics, or growth promoters which are routinely given to conventional cows.
3. Grass fed beef is better for the ecosystem. In the grass fed model, the cows fertilize the pastures by spreading their manure over a large area. It becomes a natural fertilizer not a waste management problem with costly complications. With the rotational pasture grazing method, there is no need for expensive irrigation. This model creates a ranch that is self sustaining, breeding healthier animals and healthier land.
4. Grass fed beef supports local farming science. Raising livestock on pasture requires knowledge and skill. These ranchers are considered “grass farmers” because the key to high quality animal products is rich and fertile pasture land. There is a science to this as well. For example, in order for this beef to be tender and succulent the cattle need to be foraging on high quality grasses and legumes in the months before slaughter.
5. Grass fed animals are healthy and drug-free. The conventional method we have today of factory farming beef cattle requires three to four months of grain feeding in confinement before slaughter, in order to fatten the cattle and reap the most profits. Cows fed grain suffer digestive problems because grain is not their natural diet and is not digested properly. This often results in the need for antibiotics and other medications. Not only that, their manure is full of pathogens that pollute the land and surrounding waterways as runoff. Grass fed animals have none of these problems.
6. Grass fed techniques are a better alternative to the industrial model. Industrial grain-based feedlot operations foul the environment, expose cattle to terribly inhumane conditions, requires intensive consumption of fossil fuels and produces high levels of environmental pollutants. Additionally, the diet of grain is genetically modified corn and soy (kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies). The feed may also contain “by-product feedstuff” which may be composed of stale pastry, chicken feathers and candy.
Sustainable ranching management practices on grass fed ranches help keep cattle, air, land, and water healthy without interventions. When you switch to products from animals raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of these creatures, helping to end environmental degeneration, helping small ranchers and farmers make a living from the land, supporting sustainable local, rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It is a triumph for all. Become a part of this opportunity. Buy from grass fed farmers.
Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker