Why Is Grass Fed Beef Better?
If you’ve bought meat at your local grocery store you’ve probably noticed a higher-priced beef labeled as “grass-fed”. Like I did before my family started a real food diet, you may have assumed that all cows are grass fed. I mean, we’ve all seen cattle grazing in a pasture, right?
The truth is most cows are fed grass for a time, usually while they are still nursing. At some point, the cow is taken from its mother – and its grassy feast – and sent to a feedlot where it is fed grains, such as corn, to fatten it quickly and make it the right size for turning into cuts of beef.
The lives of cattle in feedlots aren’t those of the cows we see in the countryside peacefully grazing on grass. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t like thinking about it. But suffice it to say, learning about feedlots is enough to turn many folks vegan.
I’m not vegan anymore, but I do want the meat I eat to come from the healthiest (and yes, happiest) animals possible. That means when I eat beef I want it to come from pastured-raised, grass-fed cattle.
It’s important to note that the best version of grass-fed beef is “grass-finished”. Some sellers of grass-fed beef feed the cows grain at the end of their lives in order to fatten them quickly. I prefer beef that has been grass-fed for its whole life, and thus, is grass-finished by default.
Read on to find my six favorite benefits of grass fed beef.
6 Benefits of Grass Fed Beef
Grass Fed Cattle are Healthier, Happier Cattle
Cows weren’t made to eat grains. Cows digest grass easily and their bodies were designed to turn grass into, well, delicious beef. Grain causes problems in a cow’s digestive system causing them to be more susceptible to illness. (source)
Grass Feeding Cattle Eliminates the Need for Antibiotics
A grass-fed cow is a naturally healthy cow. A pastured cow who is given plenty of space to graze on fresh grass doesn’t need antibiotics. (source) When cattle is raised using traditional animal husbandry practices their natural immunity keeps them well. Fewer to no antibiotics in beef means less risk of antibiotic resistance in humans.
Grass Fed Beef is Healthier
The meat of grass-fed cows has a higher ratio of Omega-3s. (source) This is important because most Americans tend toward an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid. The more omega-3s we can get from our food, the better off we are.
Grass Fed Beef is Leaner
The meat of grass-fed cows is lower in fat. Now, if you’ve read my blog for long, you know that I know saturated fat is good. Unfortunately, the fat of feedlot cows can be filled with toxins that I don’t want in my body, so their higher fat content is not appealing.
In addition, I get more meat for the money when I purchase grass fed beef because there isn’t as much fat to count toward the total weight of the cut of beef.
Finally, the amount of fat occurring on the bodies of grass-fed cows is the amount that nature intended. If cows were supposed to be fatter (or more specifically – fatter faster) grass would make them so! (source)
Buying Local Grass Fed Beef Doesn’t Support CAFOs
I don’t want to support vile Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). I won’t go into detail about this one because I don’t want to upset my more tenderhearted readers. Check out the source of my information if you are interested in more details.
Buying Local Grass Fed Beef Supports Local Farmers
I want to support local farmers who understand how Mother Nature works and are good stewards of the bounty that she provides.
It’s far less expensive for me to purchase grass-fed beef from local farmers than it is to purchase it at the grocery store. (See what I get in a quarter of grass fed beef.) This allows me to support my local economy and the farmers who share my beliefs that the animals we eat are to be treated well in return for giving their life for our sustenance.
Want to find a local source of grass-fed beef? Check out EatLocalGrown.