Grass-Fed Organic Beef Is A Good Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Beef, in general, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are cancer fighting compounds that can also play a role in brain development as well as help reduce the risk of arthritis, obesity and insulin resistance. However, grass-fed beef defers from regular beef in the sense that grass-fed cattle produce beef which is richer in omega-3 than grain-fed cattle because 60% of the fat content of grass is made up of omega-3 fatty acids.
Grass-Fed Organic Beef Contains Lower Levels of Fat
Numerous studies have indicated that grass-fed beef contains lower levels of overall fat, including saturated fat which can contribute to the onset of heart disease. Therefore, its estimated that grass-fed beef has at least 100 calories less per serving than grain fed beef.
Grass-Fed Cattle Are Healthy and Drug Free
Cows have evolved to eat grass. By feeding cows an unnatural diet of corn and soy we have begun to destroy the PH balance of their digestive tract which in turn leads to the presence of such dangerous bacteria as E-coli. As Michael Pollan explains in a 2002 New York Times Magazine article titled Power Steer, “By acidifying a cow’s gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain’s barriers to infections.”
To prevent these cattle from becoming ill, due to the digestive problems they face, they are given a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. The scary reality is that some of these antibiotics are the same ones used in human medicine. Therefore, the overuse of these antibiotics in both humans and animals can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, grass-fed cattle, which roam free in pastures do not need to be medicated in order to stay healthy.
Grass-Fed Organic Cattle Are Treated More Humanely
Ranchers who commit themselves to raising grass-fed beef base their livelihood on a natural and humane approach to sustainable ranching. Thus, the cattle on these ranches are left to roam free on the land while rotationally grazing from pasture to pasture, eating only the best quality grass and other natural feed. This natural diet helps create stronger, healthier and stress free cows that do not need any medications, antibiotics, or growth hormones like the ones routinely given to cows raised in factory farms.
In contrast, factory farming methods are cruel beyond measure. Cattle in factory farms are often crammed in feeding stalls no bigger than their own bodies, forced to stand for months on end in their own manure, and fattened for slaughter as fast as possible through an unusual diet that nearly destroys their natural digestive process.
Grass-Fed Cattle Help Preserve Our Topsoil
In his book “Dirt”, David Montgomery, a geomorphologist at the University of Washington, describes our current agricultural practices as “soil mining” to emphasize that we are using up topsoil much more quickly than the earth’s natural processes can restore it. The National Academy of Sciences agreed with Dr. Montgomery by stating, “cropland in the United States is being eroded at least 10 times faster than the rate at which lost soil can be replaced by natural processes”. So, why do we need to be so concerned about the loss of our topsoil?
Topsoil is a biological miracle that houses communities of microbes, fungi, nutrients and earthworms who collectively help transform rocks and plant detritus into the type of fertile excrement that eventually turns into dirt. Shallow rooted crops such as corn and soy, which are the primary crops used as feed in industrial farms, deplete the topsoil of vital nutrients such as iodine. On the other hand, deep rooted perennial plants, like the ones grass-fed cattle graze on, help pull these nutrients from deep inside the soil to the surface. Thus, planting perennial pastures helps restore the quality and quantity of our topsoil.
Purchasing Grass-Fed Organic Beef Helps Save The Earth
At its core, farming is the practice of working with the earth to produce food. However, modern factory ranching methods work against the earth, thus wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and our health.
These factory farms pump their cattle full of antibiotics and hormones to keep disease to a minimum and production to a maximum. Worst yet, these factory farms are environmental pollutants that rely heavily on subsidized crops such as GMO corn and fossil-fuel intensive methods such as long-distance trucking. To put the amount of fossil fuel it takes to keep these factory farms in business consider this: according to David Pimentel an ecology professor at Cornell University, “to make the fertilizer to grow the corn to feed just one feedlot steer during his short life (14 to 16 months, on average) it takes about 284 gallons of oil, or 1.2 gallons per bushel”. So, if it takes so much fuel to keep these farms functional how is it that the meat coming from these farms costs less? The answer lies in crop subsidies. This is the reason why over the past decade, the federal government has poured more than $50 billion into the corn industry.
But the grass-fed model of farming is different. In the grass-fed model, the cattle fertilize the pastures by spreading their manure over a large area. This natural fertilizer is not a waste management problem or a health concern to the cattle, humans and/or environment. In this natural method of farming there is also no need for expensive irrigation or long distance trucking practices which together help create a self sustaining ranch with healthier cows and a low carbon footprint.
Purchasing Grass-Fed Organic Beef Supports Small Local Ranchers
Farming is both a science and an art form. Raising cattle on pasture requires the kind of knowledge and skill that is often passed down from generation to generation on small, family owned cattle ranches. Unfortunately, these types of skillful ranching practices are in danger of becoming extinct. Thus, they need our support now, more than ever before. Making a conscious effort to eat grass-fed organic beef is an effective way to support responsible farming practices that ensure the welfare of cattle, end environmental degeneration, help small ranchers and farmers make a living from the land, and feed your family the healthiest possible beef. It is a win-win situation for all of us.
Grass-Fed Organic Beef Is More Expensive
I am certain that you’re reading this point with mixed feelings and I must tell you that I also chose to include it in this article with mixed feelings. Please don’t misunderstand my intentions for including this point. I am not implying that purchasing grass-fed and organic meats is a status symbol.
The slightly higher cost of grass-fed organic beef can be just the type of motivation we need to eat a little less red meat. For example, if the average family commits to eating only grass-fed organic beef 5-days a week instead of regular, antibiotic-laden beef 7-days a week because of the higher cost, they will keep their food costs intact while doing the environment and their own overall health a big favor.
Photo courtesy of: robfromamersfoort