In today’s technology driven world most of Western civilization is disconnected with the food we eat. We are handed a piece of meat (burger) through our car window at the drive-thru and the last thing on our mind is where the meat was sourced. Why should you care? Because there are a number of health implications not only for you but for the animals and the environment.
Difference between Grass Fed and Grain Fed
The majority of beef in North America (around 97%) is from ‘feedlots’. These are, for the most part, gigantic farming operations where cows are contained mostly inside consuming grains (like corn). Grass fed beef on the other hand roam the pasture consuming grass and roughage. Grass fed beef is by far the better choice.
Then why are 97% of cows raised on grain?
Bottom line – it is cheaper and more profitable!
Here are 5 reasons to go with grass:
Cows aren’t designed to eat grains. The cows digestive tract is designed for grass eating. The multiple stomachs (rumen) help digest the cellulose in grass (unlike humans). But – when raised on a grain diet the digestive tract can get irritated and is more susceptible to infection. This is one reason why grain fed cows are more likely to get antibiotics.
Grass fed beef has more good fat. Grain fed beef has more marble (intramuscular fat) which some consumers prefer. However – this is a less healthy choice. Grass fed beef contains higher amounts of omega – 3 fatty acids, vitamin E , and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). These are anti-inflammatory, good for cardiovascular health and may be implicated in lower rates of cancer.
Grass fed is better on the environment. Although both farming methods can be environmentally destructive – grass fed beef is better for the soil, has a lower carbon footprint, and reduces flooding and polluted run-off water.
Grass fed is more humane. Cows that are pastured (in a grass field) are arguably happier (can cows be happy?). Nature intended these animals to be outside grazing freely not cooped up in tight, overcrowded indoor pens. Grass fed cows also live longer before slaughter as they grow slower.
Less drugs in grass fed. Grain fed beef is much more likely to have been given growth hormone and antibiotics.
As you can see – there are many benefits to choosing pastured, grass fed beef. Obviously it is a more expensive alternative to grain fed cattle but you get what you pay for.