Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why Grass Fed Beef

We've all heard the saying, "you are what you eat," right? Maybe a more accurate statement is, "you are what your food eats." In the past I have talked about how important healthy organic soil is to grow healthy organic fruits and vegetables. The same is true for the meats we eat. What a cow eats greatly affects the nutritional value of the meat we eat from the cow. The difference between grass fed and grain fed animal products is dramatic.

  • Grass fed products tend to be as much as three times leaner that grain fed fed beef. This means up to 15 fewer calories per ounce than meat from a grain fed cow.

  • Grass fed beef can contain 2-6 times more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3's are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves (and algae) and grass (60% of the fat in grass is omega 3's!). Therefore a diet high in grass, clover and alfalfa is not only the most natural diet for a cow it is also rich in Omega 3's. As soon as a cow is taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fed grain to fatten it up, it starts to lose the valuable stored essential fatty acids

  • Omega 3's help guard against a variety of ailments including high blood pressure, heart attack, depression, schizophrenia, ADD, Alzheimer's disease and reduce the risk of cancer.

  • Grass fed animals contain more beta carotene, vitamin E and folic acid and grain fed animals.
What is not found in grass fed animals is just as important as what is found.
  • Organic grass fed beef means that no hormones or antibiotics were given to the cattle.

  • Grass fed beef contains almost no Omega 6 fatty acids (that's the saturated fat that clogs arteries).

  • Grass fed animals are eating a diet that is natural to their constitution and therefore develop less digestion problems and require no antibiotic treatment. A diet largely consisting of grain is not natural to cattle and causes severe digestive problems (for all 7 of their stomachs...yuck). Conventional cattle is often given doses of antibiotics throughout their lives to lessen the effects that a corn based diet has on the animal.

  • No cases of Mad Cow disease were from grass fed animals. Until 1997 cows were given feed containing "animal by-products". This feed contained ground up bones, blood, feces, feathers and waste products from sheep, chickens and other cows. Feed manufacturers wanted to create cheaper cattle feed and use up piles of waste found in a typical feed lot by blending waste products into food. It is widely accepted that mad cow disease arose because of this unnatural practice.

In San Diego I have found that Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Henry's carry grass fed beef. There are some local ranches and butcher shops that specialize in grass fed beef. Please check out their websites below. Salud!

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