One of the most noteworthy changes most Americans can make to their diet is the switch to Grass Fed Beef. Why is it such a big deal you may wonder? Well for starters, the way cows are fed plays a major role in the nutrient composition of the beef. This means that the nutritional value of your hamburger is completely different if you use grass fed versus conventional beef. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Simply put, it’s not only important what WE eat- it also matters what the foods we eat, ate.
If you are eating animal products, it is much healthier to eat meat from an animal who was healthy and vibrant than from one who was crammed in altogether too small of a space, eating foods (soy and corn, typically) which make them sick and unhealthy, thus requiring lots of antibiotics to ward off horrible diseases, and fed hormones to speed up the process. Sound tasty? I didn’t think so.
Did you know that it has become standard practice for feedlot steers to consume stale gummy bears as part of their diet? Clearly, there is no magical way for them to turn food like this into vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Feeding cattle junk turns them into junk food for people. Ruminant animals are supposed to eat grass- not grains, stale bread, chicken feathers or city garbage (I’m not even kidding people).
Besides the ethics of CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) which are horrendous, there is a lot of compelling nutritional information to make the case of why it is well worth the extra money. Here’s my top five.
- Grass fed beef contains up to 5 times as much Omega 3, and the same amount of Omega 6 as their conventional counterpart, creating the appropriate balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 for the human body to thrive (about 1:3 versus conventional meat’s ratio of 1:25 or higher). Conventional beef contains dramatically higher ratios of Omega 6, which are a huge culprit in the inflammation (aka chronic disease) epidemic we are in the middle of.
- Grass fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef. While I am not directly concerned with keeping a low fat intake, or even a low saturated fat intake (as long as it is from quality sources), it is worth mentioning.
- Grass fed beef contains about twice as much Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is associated with reduced body fat, improved brain function, decreased cancer and osteoporosis risk, preventing heart disease, etc.
- Grass fed beef contains more Vitamin E, Carotenoids (precursors to Vitamin C), and minerals like Phosphorous, Sodium, Iron, Zinc and Potassium.
- Grass fed beef typically does NOT contain the hormones or antibiotics required of CAFO animals because quite simply, they are healthy animals. When we feed cattle their natural diet in an environment where they are not crammed ridiculously close together, they are able to stay healthy and thus do not require antibiotics.
While I don’t intend to dive far into the ethical/environmental factors involved in this comparison, they are also quite dramatic comparisons.