Questioning if grass fed beef is more healthy than common beef? Confused about learn labels? Get the information!
Final summer time, I used to be invited to go to a cattle farm and a feedlot with the Ohio Beef Council. I’ll be sincere: My first response was Why on Earth would I wish to go to a feedlot?
Then I rapidly checked myself. As somebody who buys, cooks, and eats beef, I ought to see for myself the place my meals is coming from. And as a dietitian and blogger who fields lots of questions from individuals about what sort of meals to purchase (together with meat), it is sensible for me to know the information.
So I went to the feedlot. And I came upon that some issues I assumed I knew about cattle and beef had been improper, particularly when it got here to grass fed beef. Grass fed beef is one thing I’ve purchased previously from native farmers in bulk. I nonetheless do like shopping for meat in bulk and I nonetheless do like the flavour of grass fed beef. But it surely seems that a few of my considering on the subject was a bit black-and-white.
After the go to, I spent a very long time on the cellphone with Francis Fluharty, PhD, a analysis professor within the Division of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State College, to speak extra about it. This publish isn’t sponsored by anybody, and I wasn’t paid to jot down it. I simply wished to share what I realized in order that should you purchase and eat beef, you might be higher knowledgeable when making selections too.
What You Ought to Know About Grass Fed Beef
Reality: All cows eat grass.
Documentaries like “Meals, Inc.” make it seem to be some cattle spend their complete lives in a pen consuming grain. I’ve additionally learn articles on-line that examine grass-fed cattle to “cattle raised in feedlots”. However for the primary seven months of life, all cattle are “grass fed cows”. They graze on grass, drink their mom’s milk, and spend lots of time in pasture (I took the picture above at a traditional cattle farm right here in Ohio). It’s solely once they’re transferred from the pasture to the feedlot that they’re fed a food plan that’s increased in grain (about 65-70 % corn however nonetheless comprises some hay and different forage) for the final 6-8 months of their lives.
Reality: “Grass Fed Beef” will not be the identical as “Grass Completed Beef”.
All cattle eat grass. If you wish to purchase grass fed beef from cattle which have spent their complete lives consuming solely grass, be sure to’re getting 100% grass-fed beef, generally referred to as “grass completed beef”.
Reality: “Grass Fed” will not be the identical as natural beef.
In contrast to conventionally-raised cattle, 100% grass fed cattle should have entry to pasture their complete lives and be solely pasture- and forage-fed (with no grain). However as with standard, there are not any restrictions on pesticide use on the farm or use of antibiotics. Likewise, beef labeled “natural” might come from cattle that had been grain-fed too. In order for you actually natural, 100% grass-fed meat, you’ll must particularly search for these two labels.
Reality: 100% grass fed beef is tough for a lot of farmers to provide.
Right here in Ohio, farmers want 1-2 acres for each cow/calf pair they’ve. That acreage requirement goes up in different places–in some very dry areas of the Southwest, which may be 25 acres. Whereas cattle which might be additionally grain-fed go to market after simply 13-15 months of life, cattle which might be completely grass fed take 20-24 months to be prepared and end in lighter-weight cattle and fewer meat per animal. That requires an infinite quantity of land and time, one thing that’s not possible for a lot of farmers. And in climates which have harsh winters (like Ohio), it’s inconceivable for cows to graze outdoor all yr lengthy.
Reality: Grass fed beef might not essentially be more healthy.
Is grass fed beef more healthy than common beef? It’s usually cited for being richer in wholesome fat. It’s true that cattle raised solely on grass do produce meat that’s increased in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a fats that’s been studied for attainable coronary heart well being advantages. But CLA is essentially present in fats that many individuals trim off. CLA can also be discovered within the fats that’s marbled all through the meat, however grass-fed beef tends to be leaner, with much less marbling total than standard beef.
Reality: “Meals Inc.” doesn’t signify all farms.
Like most individuals, I watched “Meals, Inc.” and was horrified by what I noticed. However since then, I’ve had the chance to go to a number of totally different sorts of farms (each natural and traditional) and meet the individuals who run them. I’ve additionally been capable of speak candidly with farmers, and so they’re saddened by the best way they’re depicted in that movie and others. There’ll at all times be dangerous apples in each business, however the farmers I’ve talked to care about their animals and wish to present good meals for shoppers. Get extra information: What Is a Manufacturing facility Farm?
The Backside Line on Grass Fed Beef
In the event you purchase beef, purchase the sort which you could afford and that tastes finest to you (grass-fed beef has a barely totally different taste, although I like each). In the event you’re particularly in search of 100% grass fed beef or natural beef, learn labels rigorously.