Grass fed beef, in the last ten years this has become one of those trendy food items. While typically associated as a boujee Whole Food’s only type of product for the wealthy and elite, grass fed beef has made its way into most conventional grocery stores across America. However, many may be wondering what’s the deal with this grass fed beef stuff? Is it worth the extra money? Is it even any healthier? Today I’ll give you a brief overview of why I believe you should be eating grass fed beef if your going to eat beef.
A Brief History of Agricultural in the 21st Century and how it applies to grass fed Beef
To understand why grass fed beef is so important, and why you should be eating it, one must first understand very generally the history of agriculture in the United States. To summarize briefly, towards the end of the industrial revolution the United States began what was the industrialization and commercialization of the agricultural industry. The aim of was to fulfill the public’s demand for more food for less money. In particular the advent of fast food (aka McDonald’s) demanded large amounts of animal products (specifically beef) for cheap to market to the public as delicious quick and cheap. This lead to the industrialization of raising animals in what are known today as CAFO’s or concentrated animal feeding operations. In a nutshell here is what constitutes a CAFO: the animal must be confined for at least 45 days during its growing phase, there is no vegetation, and the it meets certain size thresholds (usually in the 10’s of thousands and up). Prior to this small farmers mainly produced our food and raised animals on pasture allowing them space to roam and live out their lives they way they were supposed to.
Unfortunately, the effects of producing large quantities of cheap meat, was and continues to be one of the most detrimental decisions for American’s health. Here’s why. During the 1950’s it was first discovered, that calves fed a corn based diet (60-80%) gained significantly more weight than their traditionally grass fed brothers and sisters. It was also found that corn fed animals produced higher amounts of intramuscular fat, aka marbling, which what you contributes to the rich moist flavor in a nice piece of beef. The beef industry continued to flourish hitting record numbers in the 1970’s, it was also around this time that taste corn fed beef had become the public’s preference and basically things haven’t changed much since then. Corn feed beef dominates grocery stores in the United States, if you pick up a piece of beef (and any other form of meat for that matter, including fish) you can bet your bottom dollar that the animal you are about to consume consumed corn.
What’s the problem with Corn?
At this point you must be wondering, what’s the issue with corn? Frist let me point out when I say corn, I am not speaking of sweet corn that you eat a bowl of for dinner. We are talking about field corn, which is primarily grown to feed animals, which we then eat. The problem is with feeding animals field corn. Here’s the problem with feeding animals (particularly cows) field corn: animals are not supposed to eat corn!!!! As a result we have meat products that are wreaking havoc on our health. First, understand cows are meant to eat grass and other foraged materials. Cows are not supposed to eat corn, when they do a plethora of things happen. The first is that it makes them sick. Cows fed corn become bloated, are more susceptible to liver abscesses, and e.coli. Also, because Corn is high in phosphorous and low in calcium, cows are susceptible to kidney stones. You must also understand to combat all the damage the corn does to cow, farmers then pump their animals full of drugs to keep them alive long enough to make weight. If all of that wasn’t bad enough cows fed corn produce meat that is less nutritionally dense than traditionally grass fed animals. Red meat in general is high in vitamin b6, b12, iron, selenium and zinc. However, grass fed beef is even more nutritious providing all those health benefits and more including providing bio-available vitamin A and E, selenium, potassium, iron, and sodium, as well as containing OMEGA 3 fatty acids.
The major difference between corn fed and grass fed beef health wise
Here is the major difference between corn fed and grass fed beef. When you feed cows corn their fat content is high in what are called OMEGA 6 fatty acids, when you feed cows what they are meant to eat those cows fat content is high in what are called OMEGA 3 fatty acids. OMEGA 3 and 6 fatty acids are both essential for human health. However, there is meant to be an ideal ratio between OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6’s of 1:1. Due to the nature of the modern diet the typical American’s OMEGA 3 to OMEGA 6 ratio is 1:20! This is extremely bad for health, as the role of OMEGA 6’s is to promote inflammation. While this has value and some inflammation is needed, i.e. to help your blood clot when you get cut, too much inflammation can wreak havoc on your health. In fact inflammation is arguably the main cause of most of our chronic diseases. Some of the diseases related to inflammation:
- Visible signs of aging like wrinkles.
- Susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
- Acid reflux
- Skin conditions like psoriasis and acne.
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Urinary tract infections
If that wasn’t enough…
If all the health reasons to start incorporating grass fed beef weren’t enough, here a few more reasons I recommend to all my clients to eat grass fed beef. CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) are hellish disturbing places with animals crammed together shitting themselves (and that’s why you get e.coli) with no access to vegetation or land to roam. There miserable lives are spent consuming unnatural quantities of corn, sick, diseased, and many times on the verge of death before they are even ready to be slaughtered.
Even, if you don’t have a soft spot for animals like I do, understand that the people who work in these CAFO’s and slaughterhouses are treated horrendous. The majority of these workers are immigrants (many illegal) or people of color (mainly Black and Hispanic). Paid little, working in disgusting, many times illegal conditions, being a worker in the industrialized farming industry raising and killing animals is a unfortunate reality of the modern food industry, a reality you are directly help perpetuate if you are consuming corn fed beef.
Lastly, grass fed beef just tastes better. I know this is mainly a personal preference, but in my opinion and many others, grass fed beef has a richer more “meaty” taste. It tends to be leaner and even has a slightly different texture.
I understand that grass fed beef is more expensive, and I’m not going to lie it is expensive. However, realize the way you choose to spend your money particularity on food is powerful. Your dollars are votes; every time you buy a piece of food you are supporting the process and the ideology behind how that piece of food got to you. Every time you buy corn fed beef you support bad health, short cuts, human rights violations, and tortured animals. The choice is yours.
LETS GET BETTER TOGETHER.
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