Grain Fed Beef vs. Grass Fed Beef?
Why is beef from cattle who have grazed grass their whole lives better than those that have been finished on grain?
Get the best nutrition
Well there are a number of reasons. From a nutrition value of the beef point of view, it’s mainly to do with the fatty acids that are contained in beef. We need fatty acids from our diet because our bodies cannot produce them on their own. And the ideal diet requires an Omega- 6 to Omega- 3 fatty acid ratio of 4:1. Consuming meat with this correct ratio helps reduce the risk of heart disease, and improves the brain’s cognitive and behavioural functioning.
So its not hard to understand that Grass Fed Beef, with its 3:1Omega- 6 to Omega- 3 ratio is far better for you and your families health, with its healthy balance of the fatty acids, than grain fed beef, which contains Omega- 6 and Omega- 3 at a ratio of 20:1. While the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in grain fed beef is worse than the ratio in grass-fed beef, it’s not because the omega-6 content of beef fat skyrockets with grain feeding; it’s because the omega-3 content is basically non-existent. The absolute totals of omega-6 in grass-fed and grain-fed are roughly similar. To top up on Omega 3 you'll have to supplement your diet with fish oil. I know what I'd rather be eating!
Grass-fed beef is also higher in B-vitamins, beta-carotene (look for yellow fat), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin K, and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Studies show grass feeding results in higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid, the “good” naturally occurring trans fat. Studies also typically show lower total levels of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats in grass-fed cattle, but that’s just looking at the trimmed cuts. If you look at the whole carcass post-slaughter, you’ll find it’s encased in a thick shell of saturated animal fat that gets removed because consumers are scared of it. The crux of the story is: grass-fed beef has plenty of fat, it’s just distributed differently. More subtle marbling and more subcutaneous deposition.
The micronutrient profile of grass fed beef is far superior to grain fed beef for one simple reason. Grass-fed cows get more nutritious food. Remember: they aren’t munching on starchy monoculture grains. They’re eating a wide variety of (often indigenous) grasses, legumes, shrubs, forbs and other and herbage, each with its own nutrient profile. And grasslands are among the most species rich plant communities in Australia. Of course, how nutritious the feed available to our cattle are depends on the quality of the soil, the diversity of the species and the management of those pastures.
'We are what what we eat eats'....think about that for a second. The diet of the animals we eat has a direct bearing on the nutritional quality, and healthfulness, of the food itself. Grass-fed isn't just miraculously higher in micronutrients because of some magic process; it’s higher because grass grown in good, well managed soil patrolled by plenty of mobile, self-perpetuating organic fertilizer machines (cattle) contains more micronutrients than grains grown on nutrient deficient land.
Intensive feedlotting v Free range grazing
From an ethical point of view, cattle are animals that have evolved to graze grass in the open landscape, free to roam and obtain the nutrients they need (and they know exactly what they need and when) from the diverse pasture available. Farmers have of course put up fences and are responsible for their cattles access to feed and water. Some farmers do this well, some not so well. We believe we do this very well, and the taste and eating quality of our beef will attest to that.
Its pretty simple. Birds eat grain, cattle shouldn't eat grain. And they do best when not confined to small intense feedlot yards with hundreds of other cattle, surrounded by many many other yards, containing hundreds of other cattle, with no access to their preferred and essential feed-grass.
City communities supporting their country cousins
Sadly many beef producers are left with little choice but to sell their younger grass fed cattle to feedlots, without having either the time or grass to finish those animals themselves. And one way that you, the discerning consumer, can help all cattle farmers is to ask for grass fed beef where ever you go. That's right, any butchershop, and restaurant, simply ask the waiter of shop assistant, "Is it grass fed or grain fed?" My experience is that they don't usually know. Most say they have never been asked that before! . Simply ask them to find out for you, ask them to ask the head chef, or the head butcher. Every now and again you'll find someone who does know, and they usually proudly say "Well its grain fed of course". In which case, as I do, order the lamb or pork! They soon get the message.......The more demand there is for grass fed beef, the better meat you will have to choice from, and the more you will be directly supporting farmers and farming communities.
Remember: Always ask for Grass fed, and even better, ask for Charlie Arnott Natural Grass Fed Beef! You know you want it...........
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