To err is human…
Some people are fortunate to live in places where the cows still graze in great rolling pastures. The cows, whether they’re grazing or lying in the grass ruminating, look stupid, healthy and placid, the way cows are supposed to look.
…To forgive, bovine
On the other hand, we know that millions of cows are crammed on feed lots and munch from troughs filled with cracked corn, soybean and other grains. Corn, grains and soybeans are cheap and plentiful, but they’re not good for cattle because their digestive systems haven’t evolve to digest the stuff. This, plus the overcrowding in the lots, leave the cows looking stupid and stressed. But is there a difference in their meat?
There is actually a difference in the beef of cattle that have been grass-fed and those that are fed on grain. By the way, grass-fed means a cow that’s fed grass throughout its admittedly short life and isn’t even “finished” on corn or other grains.
So what’s the beef?
The meat of grass-fed cattle is leaner than those fed on grains. There’s less marbling. People who love steak adore marbling because it makes the meat tender and juicy, but it’s not always as good for a person depending on their needs.
The meat of grass fed cattle is also higher in the good types of fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are famous for helping to remove cholesterol from the arteries, which means that they’re important in the health of the heart. The meat also has more linoleic acid, another type of fatty acid that helps with the cardiovascular system and is believed to lower the risk for certain types of cancer. Grass-fed beef also has more antioxidants like Vitamin E. These are substances that neutralize ravenous free radical molecules. These molecules are oxygen molecules that have an unpaired electron and will do anything to steal another electron. They will even steal electrons from your DNA and damage it. An antioxidant happily gives away one of its electrons to a free radical, which makes it less dangerous.
Grass-fed beef also has fewer pathogens like e. coli bacteria. Grain creates a cozy environment for them in the bovine gut, and grass doesn’t.
So go ahead and enjoy your grass-fed steak! I know I will 🙂
And while you’re at it, check out these marvelous meaty recipes: Beef Brilliance
Patrice Elston says
While I love meat, I lived a vegetarian lifestyle for 9+ years back in the ’90s after reading Diet For A Small Planet and watching video of the horrors of the industrial beef, chicken, and pork industries. I became severely anemic (even with careful food combining) and it took two naturopaths and an acupuncturist — all saying I needed to eat “blood meat” — to finally convince me to go back to it.
In those days, it was extremely difficult to find grass-fed beef, unless you knew or could find a farmer. Three years ago we got a knock on the door from a company here in Ontario called Nutrafarms, and we’ve never turned back!
Thank you, Jamie, for reminding people that there are significant physical (as well as mental/emotional) health reasons to eat humanely-raised meat. It is still more expensive, but like everything, as the demand increases, I believe the price will come down.
To our health! 🙂
Your biggest pizza-crust fan,
If anyone hunts (or knows someone who hunts) you know the effect that stress hormones have on the taste of meat (that’s why it is so important to take a deer down in 1 shot). Imagine if an animal is raised with NOTHING but stress! I firmly believe you can taste the freedom and happiness in free-range, grass-fed beef!
Patrice Elston says
I completely agree with you, Mari. 🙂
We have 2 cows like the one shown above near me. I have been thinking it was a Beefalo. They do raise Beefalo around here. Was gonna make a comment to that affect on here.
But I did some research first. (Glad I did). This is actually a Highland Cattle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_cattle Interesting!!
I had thought it was a cross between a buffalo & a long horn. Wrong!
Thanks for posting that so I would go look it up! And thanks for the internet where I can find so much info.