Cattles’ stomachs are designed to eat forages such as grass and legumes. Farmers raising cattle for the beef industry supplement their diet with additional vegetarian feed such as barley, oats and grain (corn) to fatten them up faster than if they just remained on grass.
Cattle raised on grass only need a lot more land to feed on and take twice as long to finish than cattle supplemented with additional vegetarian feeds. This makes grass fed beef more expensive to bring to market and increases the price to consumers.
Is grass fed worth it? Consider these facts from the Tallgrass Beef Company:
Better for you
More Vitamin A Is Better
Beta-Carotene is converted to Vitamin A (retinol) by the human body, and grass fed beef contains 10 times the Beta-Carotene of grain-fed beef. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division, and cell differentiation. Additionally, Vitamin A creates a barrier to bacterial and viral infection, and supports the production and function of white blood cells.
More Vitamin E Is Better
Grass fed beef typically has 3 times the amount of Vitamin E found in conventional grain fed beef. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent or delay coronary heart disease, block the formation of carcinogens formed in the stomach, and protect against cancer development. Vitamin E may also improve eye lens clarity and reduce or prevent the development of cataracts.
The Right Balance of Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids Is Better
The ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids in our diet plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. The American Medical Association and the World Health Organization recommend a ratio of roughly one to four parts Omega-6 to one part Omega-3. However, the cereal grains typically fed to cattle have very low levels of Omega-3 and much higher levels of Omega-6. Feeding grass to cattle increases the Omega-3 content of the meat by 60% and produces a much more favorable Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.
More Dietary Protein Is Better
Grass fed beef is leaner and higher in protein that grain-fed beef. In fact, grass fed beef averages 1.5 times more protein than typical USDA Choice+ grain fed beef. Research indicates that eating lean beef can help lower total, LDL and VLDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol. It can also help lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.
Better for the Animals
Diet Is Better
Grass is the natural diet of cattle. Cattle raised on grass tend to be healthier because it is their natural food. When cattle raised on grain ingest excessive quantities they can develop a digestive tract condition called acidosis, “grain overload”, where their natural pH is thrown off balance causing pain and reduced consumption. The animal must then be given antibiotics in order to prevent infection and death.
Life Is Better
Cattle raised on grass graze the prairie in communal groups, as cattle naturally do. The animals graze completely through one area before moving on to the next; this also helps improve the quality of the grass that grows back.
Better for the Environment
Farmers and ranchers of grass fed beef contribute daily to the reduction of carbonfootprint in our atmosphere through the simple process of growing grass. Grass removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and uses it to grow. The grass above ground is eaten by the cattle, but the CO2 used to grow the roots is held in the soil. This is called “carbon sequestration” and it is the process that produced, through the centuries, the deep, rich soil of the great American Grasslands.
The natural process of cattle grazing on open pasture can be used to clean carbon from the air released from fossil fuel burning, and put it back underground as part of the soil.
Restaurants that offer grass fed beef item(s) are able to appeal to health conscience customers. Promoting the health benefits of grass fed beef on menus provides the advantage of alternative choice. Restaurants who offer grass feed beef as a specialty item may also reap the benefits to be gained from higher menu margins.
Better for Taste?
This is the subjective part. “You are what you eat” as the saying goes and grass fed beef tastes different than grain fed beef. Our palates are generally accustomed to the rich flavor of grain feed beef due to its higher marbling. Grass fed beef is less marbled and would be comparable to USDA Select grades of beef. The lower marbling levels of grass fed beef are offset by a unique and complex natural beef flavor.
When properly aged, grass feed beef is tender and delicious. Some say it is the way beef was meant to taste. Give grass fed beef a try and decide for yourself!