Why Grass Fed Beef is Healthier for You and the Environment
Today my friends I would like to discuss the pros and cons of grass-fed meat or actually organic to conventional commercial farming. Sometimes you might be concerned if it is really worth shelling out the extra money just because its better for you? I hope by the time I am finished you will have a better understanding of the difference and be able to make an educated decision on what you feel is the best choice.
Years ago grass-fed meat was considered better and is slowly coming back to be accepted as a better choice due to the superior quality of meat, the health benefits, not to mention the overwhelming benefits to our environment.
Today the commercial agricultural farming facilities that grow mast amounts of beef or even other animals are a production line. The faster the animal grows and fattens up for slaughtering and gets on the shelves of the super market — the more money the farming facility makes. They confine them to small closed area where in less than 2 years normally 1-1/2 years. Presto! the animal is ready to be slaughtered.
If these animals were fed their natural diet of grass and allowed to graze freely in open fields with fresh air and sunshine it would take 4-5 years for the animal to be the at the proper weight and size to butcher.
So let’s discuss what conventional beef or meat is: According to EPA the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations(CAFOs) are agricultural facilities that house and feed a large number of animals in a concentrated area for 45 days or more during any 12-month period. Their diets are modified grains that contain growth hormones and antibiotic to promote rapid growth and weight gain.
What are the consequences of this?
- CAFOs contribute to pollution in air, water, and soil, causing risk to human health and ecological damage.
- Combined, the beef, dairy, pork, and poultry industries generate six to ten times as much waste as humans.
- The major causes associated with the generation and disposal of these wastes include nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous), sediments from runoff, veterinary pharmaceuticals which includes –endocrine disrupting chemicals, arsenic, ivermectin, and antibiotics, pathogenic organisms, and atmospheric emissions of gases and particulates.
- Feedlots are breeding grounds for dangerous strains of E. coli bacteria that thrives in the intestinal grain-fed cattle. E. coli has poisoned many people.
What is Organic?: The USDA organic label must meet the regulations set forth by the National Organic Program.
- Organic diet requires that cattle graze on grass for the entirety of the grazing season which must be at least 120 days yearly. The beef are allowed to use feedlots during no grazing season but they can not be crowded and must accommodate the animals’ natural behaviors, and food is readily available so that they do not have to compete for food and water.
- They are given no antibiotics, growth hormones or enhancers, or any kind of feed additives such as urea and slaughter by-products.
- Organic means a management plan that provides manure recycling to prevent it from becoming a pollutant
Benefits of grass-fed Beef and Organic: According to researchers at California State University’s College of Agriculture who compared samples of meat from grass-fed and grain-fed cattle, and that the diet changes the nature of the animal’s body fat. The results showed that the meat that was grass-fed—
- is lower in saturated fats,
- higher in polyunsaturated fat
- had a better balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids
- the beef that they used the “finishing off effect” for by feeding them grain shortly before slaughtering had nutritional profiles very similar-this added up to about 2/3 of their diet coming from grass and 1/3 from grain
Pros for Organic Grass Fed Beef: Much Healthier and nutritionists for your body, No Environmental Pollutants that Harm Our Environment, Taste Better, Ecological Safety, No poisons or dangerous chemicals added, Humane treatment of the animal
Cons to Organic Beef: Cost More
Okay so now you weight it out? Is it worth it? Do you want to eat or feed your family meat that could make them sick and is loaded with toxic chemicals, hormone enhanced and causes damage to our environment? It might cost more now but in the long run is will cost much less.
I remember as a child that when we grew beef cattle we actually gave them all names, got attached to them and considered them somewhat of a pet because we had them for a 3-5 years depending oh how big they were when we purchased them. They were pasteurized on green meadows until winter and then fed hay with some chop (which is a mixture of different grains ground up that includes all or any of these grains–corn, wheat, barley, oats, rye). Only a small percent of their diet was grain until shortly before they were sent for butchering then the grain was increased. They were never any substance’s such as growth hormones and the only time they would receive antibiotic or any kind of medication is they were sick, which was extremely rare. We felt sad knowing that we would have to send them to the butcher shop, but we knew that was part of farming and our way of life.
Quote of the Day: Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail! – Ralph Waldo Emerson