All cattle start their lives being grass fed. After 6 months, the beef industry steps in to rush the natural process along. They want to fatten the cattle up as quickly as possible to bring it to America’s dinner table. During the process, the health of the cattle and ultimately the consumer suffers. As I mentioned before, cattle spend the first 6 months of life eating a natural diet of grass and allowed to freely roam about. Grain fed cattle, for the next 6-8 months, are confined in animal feeding operations or CAFOs. They are fed a diet of grains, growth hormones and antibiotics. Here are some startling statistics for you: According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 70% of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to livestock. They are given 6 different types of growth hormones of which 3 are natural and 3 are made in a laboratory. The food they are fed consists of corn, soybeans and other grains. Eighty-six percent of the corn planted in 2010 in the U.S. was genetically modified to resist pests and herbicides. Ninety four percent of the soy grown in our country is also genetically modified. The saying “You are what you eat” goes for animals too. The diet and living conditions of a animal has a direct impact on the nutritional value of the meat from that animal.
Now let’s look at the life of grass fed cattle who are allowed to freely roam about green pastures. They feed on a diet of grass, legumes and plants. They are not force fed grain to reach weight. They are not confined in tight quarters together. This allows for the livestock to mimic their natural migratory behavior and works with nature. Our modern agricultural practices cause the loss of CO2 into the atmosphere adding to the problem of global warming. Raising livestock as grass fed helps to replace the lost CO2 back into the soil increasing the soil’s fertility. This sounds like a better life for the cattle, better for the consumer plus it benefits the environment.
So why aren’t all cattle raised grass fed? Grass fed cattle take nearly two years to reach weight for market and then our dinner table. The beef industry doesn’t want to wait that long to make a profit. So what are the health benefits of grass versus grain fed beef? Grass fed beef is lower in fat thus lower in calories. The average American will consume roughly 67 pounds of beef this year. A 6 ounce grass fed steak has 100 fewer calories than grain fed saving you approximately 18,000 calories in a year. Grass fed is higher in the good Omega 3 fatty acids by as much as 60 percent helping you to balance your Omega 3-6 ratio. Elevated amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids in our body has been linked to increased risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity and autoimmune disorders. It is also higher in vitamins and minerals which help to fight cancer and it is one of the best sources for CLA or conjugated linoleic acid which has been proven to help reduce cancer growths. Lastly, it tastes better! Now that you know some of the differences between the two which one sounds better to you? Remember every time you eat you have the opportunity to feed your body healthy, nutritious food. Why would you want to eat anything less?