Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Grass fed what?

We've all heard rumors about grass fed beef.  It's organic, the cows are happier, it's better for you, and the list goes on.  There is certain truth in some of those, but they are not entirely truthful.  

I personally know a lot of people who eat grass fed beef because they are on the huge "I only eat organic things" kick.  Although I agree that eating organic can be good for you, it really depends on what you consider to be organic.  The standard of what is considered organic also varies depending on where you are at.  Essentially, to be considered organic, foods must be free of any synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and are also not processed using industrial solvents or synthetic food additives.  In the case of grass fed beef, most people would consider them to be organic because they are not fed grain like feedlot beef.  There is actually a difference between grass fed beef and organic beef.  Grass fed beef just means that the cattle foraged and grazed for their own food, except for during the winter they may be given a close substitute.  Being told that a steak or something is considered organic beef doesn't do much to tell you how the cow was raised.  It basically lets you know that the cow wasn't confined in a feedlot for it's entire life, wasn't in an overcrowded or unsanitary place, and wasn't exposed to artificial pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, GMO's or any other synthetic contaminants.  Essentially, my point being, just because you are eating grass fed beef doesn't necessarily mean you are eating organic beef.
Another thing that people like to say is that grass fed cattle are happier than cows in a feedlot situation.  I couldn't find much on wether or not cows are actually happier, except for all the animal rights websites telling me how happy a cow can be when it is allowed to be on a range and eat all the grass it's little cow heart desires.  Looking at pictures and comparing what it looks like to me it does appear that the grass fed cattle are happier.  The thing that makes me think is the feedlot cattle don't know anything different than a feedlot.  If something, like a cow, doesn't know that there is a better option, would it really be unhappy?  Or even know that it was unhappy?  Do grass fed cattle appreciate the fact that they spend a lot of time outside when they don't know any better?  It is really hard to put emotions, like happiness, on an animal because we don't know how their brain processes emotions, or if they even have emotions the same way that humans do.
Grass fed beef is better for you!  I can't even put a number on the amount of times I have heard someone say that.  This is true and yes, there are differences between the nutritional value of grass fed and feedlot beef. Grass fed beef has been proven to be leaner than feedlot beef.  It is also a lot higher in CLA's and Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for growth.  This kind of beef can help lower cholesterol as well as lower your risk of developing heart problems and some cancers.  People can go around and say that grass fed is better for you every day of the week, but that wouldn't change the fact that it is expensive and can be hard to find sometimes.  The truth is some people aren't willing to spend the extra money to buy something even it is healthier for you.

So there you have it! A little bit of partially true rumors on grass fed beef


1 comment:

  1. I think the idea of deciding what makes a cow, or any food animal species for that matter, happy is an interesting approach that animal rights activists often utilize. We like to think we know what makes an animal “happy,” but have no idea what is really going on in that animal’s mind. One of the most surprising examples is in the use of farrowing crates in the swine industry. While from a human perspective, we look at a pig in pen only large enough for it to move forward and backwards to be sad, a study that gave the pigs the option to be housed individually or in a group found that the pigs spent most of their time in individual housing. This is just another example of how we really can’t just look at an animal and decide how happy it is.