I generally don’t eat a lot of beef. In fact, I limit it to once or twice a week. I prefer to get my protein from healthier sources with less saturated fat, like fish, beans, poultry and plants. However, on the occasion that I do eat meat, it is going to be the grass-fed variety and here’s why.
Let’s start with our friend the cow
The cow’s body was designed to digest and survive on grasses. Many ranchers have switched to feeding cattle corn and grain-based diets because the feed is cheap, available year round and fattens the cattle quickly. Unfortunately, feeding cattle corn creates an acidic environment in the cows’ stomachs, and can make them sick. When you think of a cow in its natural environment, doing what it naturally does, you picture it grazing. Is it grazing on stalks of corn? No, it’s grazing on GRASS. Grass is a cow’s natural food; corn and processed grains are not.
Grass-fed cows have radically different nutritional benefits
When cows eat corn or grains, their body composition changes. These changes include an alteration in the balance of essential fats. Corn makes the meat much fattier, containing higher levels of dangerous saturated fats than grass-fed beef. In contrast, grass-fed beef is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are much healthier for us.
Studies have found that grass-fed beef not only has less fat, but also has 3-5 times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef, showing that grass-fed may be an all-around healthier choice. CLA in its natural form is considered a potential weapon against cancer; it can also inhibit the formation of body fat while preserving muscle tissue. That’s why it is a favorite among body builders.
Isn’t Grass-fed Beef Expensive?
Most of the beef you find in a grocery store comes from corn-fed beef. Unless it is labeled as “grass-fed,” you can be pretty certain that the beef is, indeed, corn-fed. And almost all of that beef comes from somewhere outside of New England, often shipped halfway across the country. So while it might be cheaper than grass-fed beef, think about what you are actually saving.
In contrast, the beef that you get from a local farmer, at either the farmer’s market or in a meat CSA, is much more likely to be grass-fed. Not sure? Just ask your farmer, who is standing right there with you! A meat share is a great way to get grass-fed beef and support a local farmer at the same time. I get a meat share from John Crow Farm and split that share with a neighbor. It’s cost effective, leaner, tastier and healthier. Plus you get a variety of meat cuts, which makes meal planning interesting.
I made this delicious pot roast last weekend. The flavor and texture of the grass-fed beef was definitely superior.
Enjoy and develop a relationship with your local farmer. The cows and your body will thank you!