Grass-fed meats are best for many reasons
Why should I eat grass-fed beef and other grass-fed animals, as opposed to corn-fed or grain-fed?
Grass-fed meat is better for the consumer
Eating grass-fed beef and other meats lower your risk of a number of diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Grass-fed meat has two to four times more omega-3s, the so-called "good fat."
They're an important building-block in every cell of your body. People with enough omega-3 are less likely to have heart problems. In fact, they're 50% less likely to suffer heart attacks. They're also less likely to suffer from depression, attention deficit disorder and Alzheimer's disease.
Grass-fed meat is better for the environment
Imagine the impact on the environment of confined stockyard beef operations with mountains of manure vs. cattle roaming in the field spreading their manure naturally.
Ones pollutes the environment, the other returns nutrients to the soil.
Grass-fed meat is better for the animals
They live a better, more humane life. They are herbivores, of course. Sure they like grain, just as your kids like sugar. But it's not good for them. Their stomachs aren't built to process anything but grass. A lot of the drugs pumped into cows are just to overcome the effects of the grain they're fed. So the animals thrive in what comes naturally.
Cows, sheep, and other grazing animals are endowed with the ability to convert grasses, which those of us who possess only one stomach cannot digest, into food that we can digest. They can do this because they are ruminants, which is to say that they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon (in the case of cows) fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.
Switching a cow from grass to grain is so disturbing to the animal's digestive system that it can kill the animal if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics. These animals are designed to forage, but we make them eat grain, primarily corn, in order to make them as fat as possible as quick as possible.
As well, it is the commercial meat industry's practice of keeping cattle in feedlots and feeding them grain that is responsible for the heightened prevalence of E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. When cattle are grain-fed, their intestinal tracts become far more acidic, which favors the growth of pathogenic E. coli bacteria, which in turn kills people who eat under cooked hamburger.
Many of us think of "corn-fed" beef as nutritionally superior, but it isn't. A corn-fed cow does develop well-marbled flesh, but this is simply saturated fat that can't be trimmed off. Grass-fed meat, on the other hand, is lower both in overall fat and in artery-clogging saturated fat. A sirloin steak from a grain-fed feedlot steer has more than double the total fat of a similar cut from a grass-fed steer. In its less-than-infinite wisdom, however, the USDA continues to grade beef in a way that rewards marbling with intra-muscular fat.
From a humanitarian perspective, there is yet another advantage to pastured animal products. The animals themselves are not forced to live in confinement. The cruelties of modern factory farming are so severe that you don't have to be a vegetarian or an animal rights activist to find the conditions to be intolerable, and a violation of the human-animal bond. Pastured livestock are not forced to endure the miseries of factory farming. They are not cooped up in cages barely larger than their own bodies, or packed together like sardines for months on end standing knee deep in their own manure.
Hope you enjoyed reading this educational blog post.
- The Nectar Hills farm Team