Is 100 Percent Grass Fed Beef Better?

There’s a growing interest in 100% grass fed beef. Many believe it’s better for you, better for the environment, better for the animals and tastes the way beef was meant to taste.

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.

Better for Business

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!

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From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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7 thoughts on “Is 100 Percent Grass Fed Beef Better?

  1. Absolutely the truth! I have always been an advocate of grass-fed beef! Grass-fed beef is how beef SHOULD be. Grain-fed beef is flat out harmful to us, not to mention what it does to the cows. Yuck!

    Hopefully more and more people wake up to the fact that grass-fed beef is a healthy part of our diet. (well, not too many people…I still want my beef!)

  2. As a cattle producer myself the ideal of “grass fed beef” I guess started with the health craze of a few years back. More lean beef with less intramuscular fat. In some cases it’s a great ideal but will not always work. Back during the late 60’s the meat pathway was started due to cheap grain production in the panhandle of Texas. Cattle can be rasied on grass and mothers milk until weaning then shipped off as yearlings to winter or summer pasture and finally finished at the feedlot through heavy use of grains. This cut the production cycle down considerably. Result…. cheaper beef due to increases quantity. Grass fed beef can be completely thrown off the track by drought and the need for more pasture land (which is covered up more and more eache day by concrete). As our population increases grass fed beef undoubtably will more expensive thus leaving the gate open for imported cheaper beef. I believe we can have both. Feedlots can change their feeding programs to produce leaner beef and in fact they are doing that now due to consumer demand. Bottom line is it’s still all about money and the cattle raiser selling more cattle a year to buyers makes more money and the yearling cattlemen moving more cattle to the feedlot makes money. Grass fed beef is undoubtably here to stay but only those that are succesfull at marketing the beef themselves and the ability to charge more for it are requirments that must be met.

  3. I only eat grass fed beef I like the taste and its lighter carbon foot print, you might also mention that grass fed beef is in fact solar beef. Grass is a solar receptor that converts solar energy into beef and or human food
    Corn or grain production requires heavy fertilizers inputs made of imported oil. Eating grain fed beef is actually eating imported oil. We vote with our dollars more than at the polls.
    If oil was priced at its real cost and not subsidized with our tax dollars, grain fed beef would actually be much more expensive than grass fed beef.
    .Thank you for your blog that has quite a few interesting posts

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