Updated Nov. 1, 2015
Changing your shopping habits to purchasing grass fed beef only is probably one of the best things you can do for your family’s health. I’ve updated this post with some new research and tables to make my point. We live in a culture where beef, chickens and pork are all fed grain, and (especially for beef) grain is not their natural diet. So, why spend the money on grass fed beef? Simple. All the research we were taught about red meat causing heart disease and cancer was based on evaluating data of people in US eating corn fed beef. But, when you look at populations who ONLY eat grass fed beef, they don’t have the same issues with heart disease. Even butter, long thought to be “evil” is actually pretty healthy if you buy “pasture” butter a.k.a. grass fed butter. So, if you are not vegetarian, you CAN enjoy a steak or hamburger and not feel guilty! Want to see more research? Click on links at bottom of this article.
Why you should purchase grass fed beef only.
The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in vitamins and fatty acids we need (beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium); and lower in fatty acids which are inflammatory (omega-6s and saturated fats) and have been linked to heart disease. Basically more good and less bad!
The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at many grocers, farmers’ markets, and community based food co-ops. And look for organic grass fed if you can find it. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher. And if you can find GRASS FED, GRASS FINISHED, even better.
Do your part to support these farmers and purchase grass fed whenever you can!
Finally, if that wasn’t enough to convince you, think about this: In factory farms, animals are switched to an unnatural diet based on corn and soy. But corn and soy are not the only ingredients in their “balanced rations.” Many large-scale dairy farmers and feedlot operators save money by feeding the cows “by-product feedstuffs” as well. In general, this means waste products from the manufacture of human food. In particular, it can mean blood meal, nut shells, and horrific things you’d never eat like sterilized garbage, candy, bubble gum, floor sweepings from plants that manufacture animal food, bakery wastes, potato wastes or even pasta. I’m not suggesting that all beef are fed this, but unless you know EXACTLY where your beef originates, you may not have any idea what it has been fed. If you don’t believe me, here’s the study from the University of WI that proves it. Wouldn’t you rather eat meat that has been raised humanely, on a local farm with the ability to graze, roam and eat its natural diet?
In a report in October 2015, Consumer Reports tested 300 samples of beef purchased at stores across the United States and determined that beef from conventionally raised cows was three times as likely as grass-fed beef to contain bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, posing a food poisoning threat. The report recommended that consumers choose grass-fed organic beef “whenever possible.”
RESEARCH/ARTICLES: Updated Nov. 1, 2015
Astrup A1, Dyerberg J, Elwood P, Hermansen K, Hu FB, Jakobsen MU, Kok FJ, Krauss RM, Lecerf JM, LeGrand P, Nestel P, Risérus U, Sanders T, Sinclair A, Stender S, Tholstrup T, Willett WC., The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;93(4):684-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004622. Epub 2011 Jan 26.
Daley CA1, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S., A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef., Nutr J. 2010 Mar 10;9:10. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-1
Smit, Liesbeth A, Ana Baylin, and Hannia Campos. 2010. Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. READ ARTICLE HERE