Grass-fed beef, as its name indicates, comes from animals who have eaten grass all of their lives. In contrast, grain fed beef is what is typically sold at our local supermarkets. Conventionally raised cows begin life eating grass but spend the majority of it feeding on corn and other grains in a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).
So, what is the difference? Isn’t a cow a cow and when butchered, isn’t ground beef from a grass-fed cow the same as ground beef from a CAFO cow? Sadly, no. They are not the same and the differences may surprise you!
1. Antibiotics– Grass-fed cows graze lazily on grass in wide open pasture. CAFO cows are housed on very close feed lots and have little room to move. Moreover, they are fed grains, a diet they are not naturally suited to digest. Between the close quarters and unnatural diets, CAFO cows tend to be sick a great part of their lives. To combat this, they are given antibiotics at every feeding. In fact, CAFO livestock are given so many antibiotics that in the end they consume 80% of the antibiotics produced. And most of those, 83% in fact, are given to healthy animals, not to treat sick ones.
So when you eat CAFO meat, be it pork or beef, you are eating a great number of antibiotics as well.
Conversely, grass-fed animals are only given antibiotics when they are sick and for a limited amount of time. Many of these animals are healthy their whole lives and are never treated with drugs.
Healthier animals produce healthier food.
2. Lower in total fat– Cows are designed to eat grass, which means they process it and maintain a healthy digestive system. Feedlot cows eat a grain diet, mainly GMO corn and soy, and are given hormones which makes for quick weight gain and a higher percentage of fat in the tissue.
Because grass-fed cows are not given artificial hormones and eat a natural diet, they are more lean than their feedlot counterparts, usually about 25% lower in fat.
3. Higher in essential vitamins and minerals– Because grass-fed cows are eating fresh green grass all day, the meat they produce is also much higher in vitamins and minerals than grain-fed cattle. The meat is higher in beta-carotene, Vitamin E, the B-vitamins, and the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium.
4. The correct ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3– While Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are important individually, they also work in tandem and the ratio is critical. According to a 2008 study, a typical Western diet can be excessively heavy on the Omega 6s- up to a 30:1 ratio- when the ideal is closer to 1:1. While the body requires some Omega 6, an excess can foster cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, which are suppressed by Omega 3s. The proper ratio can reduce the risk of those and other chronic illnesses.
Grass-fed beef is naturally rich in both Omega 6 and Omega 3 and are present in the meat in the correct ratio while the CAFO produced beef has a much higher concentration on Omega 6.
5. The animals are happier and healthier– Grass-fed beef production practices are better for the animals. Farmers who raise grass-fed beef are committed to a natural and humane approach to sustainable farming. Animals are allowed to roam free on the land while eating only the best quality forage every day. This diet makes for stranger, stress free, and healthier animals.
6. Better for the ecosystem– In the grass-fed model of farming, the cows fertilize the pastures by spreading their manure over a large area. It becomes natural fertilizer not a waste management problem with costly complications that is found at CAFOs because grain-fed cow manure is toxic to the land.
Although it does take effort to purchase grass-fed beef as it is not typically sold at supermarkets, you will find it is well worth it in the end!
Elwin is also the Founder of Complete Detox Academy, Taoist Health Academy, the Health Coaching Institute and High Energy Academy, as well as the author of 'the Easy Exhaustion Cure' and 'the 4 Step Safe and Effective Detox Action Plan'.
Elwin is highly Enthusiastic about empowering people to feel Energized, Joyful and Alive, Naturally and Sustainably, and has worked over 5 years with over 1000 clients towards this goal. Elwin is particularly passionate about working with clients who are highly committed to reaching high levels of Health, Energy and Wellbeing, by natural and sustainable means.
Elwin has always been interested in Health since childhood. With a mother who had cancer 4 times, and a father with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Elwin is determined to get to the Root Causes of what really creates Disease, and what it really takes to have Outstanding Health and Wellbeing. After suffering from Health Challenges all his life, Elwin became determined, in 2007, to 'Get his Energy back or Die Trying', and, with this level of Resolve, made rapid progress, after a few false starts, which led him naturally, organically, after many requests, to dedicate himself full time to helping others get the kind of Results that he had achieved.