You will be glad to know that you don’t have to look at the “end of the digestive line” of grass-fed cows to know that their diet develops healthy cows and, consequently, healthy produce. Good news, right?
But let’s look at why grass-fed is superior. I believe that eating organic, grass-fed and pastured cuts of meat are far better for you than commercially-produced beef (or any other kind of meat for that matter). But what is grass-fed and how is it different from commercially-raised livestock?
The American Grassfed Association defines grass-fed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats and sheep, as “those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth to harvest – all their lives.”
And being raised grass-fed makes a difference in the produce. Grass-fed animal products are higher in beta carotene (Vitamin A) and other antioxidant vitamins, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important to healthy brain function, and in reducing the incidence of “bad” cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and other diseases.
In fact grass-fed animals produce meat products that contain two to four times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in a standard cut of meat. Additionally, the amounts of CLA in grass-fed meat are higher as well. (CLA is another good fat and grass-fed meats contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed standard commercial diets.) The same is true for vitamin E levels in the grass-fed meat; it contains nearly four times the amount of vitamin E than meat that is commercially grown.
Additionally, grass-fed products are lower in unhealthy fats, cholesterol, and calories. In fact meat from grass-fed animals has only about one third the fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal.
Michael Pollan, author of an excellent book titled The Omnivore’s Dilemma says it’s not necessarily our food that’s making us sick, but what we feed our food. Here’s why: commercially raised livestock are raised on corn, pumped full of antibiotics, and fattened as fast as possible to get them to market quickly. Seventy-five years ago, steers were four or five years old when they were led into the slaughter house. The age fell to two or three years in the 1960s. Today, “production” cattle are fattened up in fourteen to sixteen months before being “delivered” into roasts, steaks, and hamburgers.
“A recent study in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the meat of grass-fed livestock not only had substantially less fat than grain-fed meat but that the type of fats found in grass-fed meat were much healthier,” says Pollan. “A growing body of research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef. In the same way ruminants have not evolved to eat grain, humans may not be well adapted to eating grain-fed animals.”
So, you see, grass-fed has much more to offer than commercially-raised livestock. And you don’t have to examine the “issue” further—if you know what I mean!