Is the grass really greener on the other side, or rather the question should be, what is grass fed beef really, and is it important? The reality is there is a vast difference in the quality of your beef, depending on how it was raised.
The Lot in Life
Let’s have a look at the options starting with conventionally raised beef, which is currently the most common option. Feed lots dot the American landscape concentrated mostly in the Mid West, where the goal is to fatten ’em up in the shortest time possible, taking up the least amount of space. Calves are fed from a very young age on a ‘super slurry’ of milk proteins, lard, lactose and added vitamins and minerals.
Usually they will spend some time in a pasture of sorts, supplemented by feed, before being fed exclusively a supplemented feed, and gain in three to four months the weight a grass fed cow would take a year to achieve. This feed probably consists of a base food of corn and soy byproducts, spent distillers and brewers grains, and other cereals, most certainly from GMO sources. This can also include foods that just don’t sound appropriate to be feed, like cotton byproducts, beet and citrus pulp, peanut shells, barley by products, low grade durum wheat, chick peas, oats and occasionally potatoes.
The issue with this grain based diet is it is not the natural diet for the cow and lowers the pH in the animal’s rumen (stomach), making it more susceptible to disease and necessitating administering antibiotics. Due to the crowded feed lot conditions, excess manure and rampant disease, more antibiotics are given, along with the toxins the animal consumed all affecting the quality and end result of the beef.
Shades of Green..
The next is a rather sketchy area, with ranchers raising cattle in pastures, with access to feed bins. Depending on the volume and quality of the feed, this would be a better option than conventionally raised beef, the beef may have an ‘organic’ sticker, but could still be mostly grain fed. The bottom line is to know the source and conditions the beef was raised under.
The Greener Side
Finally true grass fed beef is when the cows got to graze the way they where intended to eating a nutritious diet of grasses, shrubs and herbs, which may include hay and silage; much more natural, healthy and humane. The benefit is in the end result, beef which is naturally much leaner and higher in all the good fats, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition grass fed beef is higher in antioxidant vitamins, minerals, beta carotene (Vitamin A), and the best part, no exposure to antibiotics and toxins.
We are fortunate to have a farmer in our area who is going to great lengths to reclaim the soil, and ensure pastures of the highest integrity for his animals to graze on.
Mr Terry Ingold of Ingold Farms http://ingoldfarms.webs.com/ nearAsheboro,North Carolinauses a unique mixture of fish emulsion, molasses and kelp to fertilize and mineralize the soil. The pastures are treated with a nourishing compost tea, and the cattle ‘mob craze’, smaller lots grazed for a shorter time, and then allowed to recover, ensuring nutritious greens.
The beef is slaughtered to exact standards and allowed to dry age, his motto is ‘tasting is believing’ and believe me, you won’t be disappointed! I order with confidence from Ingold Farms, and have made several delicious dishes with the beef, including bone for mineral rich bone broth, the base to all good soups and stocks!
Last week for my presentation of ‘Good Fats, Bad Fats’, Terry Ingold kindly donated a generous amount of his flat iron steaks which I used to make a wonderful Thai Beef Salad, lucky those who attended and got to sample the beef in this delicious recipe!Print
In Health and Wellness,