You are what you eat! I’m sure you’ve heard that line before. In the case of the meat that we eat, there is certainly some truth to that statement. It matters what animals are eating before they are processed for human consumption. “Grass-fed” isn’t just a tag line, or at least it shouldn’t be. I want to explain why eating grass-fed meats is so important and how labeling is sometimes misleading.
Grass-Fed Meat Contains Superior Nutrition
The primary purpose for our eating food is sustenance and nutrition. The problem is that when you pick up traditional store-bought meat you are buying and consuming meat that is very nutrient void. You see, traditional meat is grain-fed and typically fed in feed lots. This means potentially hundreds of thousands of cattle in a very cramped space. The goal of the feed lot is to produce as much weight as possible as quick as possible. The obvious goal is high profit margins with little concern for the product. These cattle are also typically injected with hormones and antibiotics which is then passed along to the consumer through the meat. The grain, hormones, and antibiotics are incredibly harmful to our bodies and lack many of the vital nutrients are bodies need.
Grass-fed cattle, however, are left to graze in open fields similar to their natural habitat. This is great knowing that the animals’ welfare is cared for, but it is also important for the nutrition content in grass-fed cattle. Because these cattle aren’t fed junk, they contain more Omega 3 fatty acids, CLA, trace minerals, and vitamins.
- Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for nerve tissues. In grain-fed cattle, the Omega 3’s are virtually non-existent. Whereas in grass-fed cattle there is a great ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s.
- CLA are brain supporting trans fatty acids which will reduce the risk of cancer and aid in weight loss.
- Trace minerals are essential minerals (magnesium, calcium, & selenium) for the function of the organs within the human body. Much of our food today is void of these all-important trace minerals, grain-fed beef being no exception.
- Vitamins – Grass-fed beef is high in Vitamin K, E, B-vitamins, and beta-carotene.
Not All Grass-Fed is Created Equal
Labels can be misleading. Just because a package claims to be grass-fed doesn’t mean the cattle were fed grass for their entire lives. Many “grass-fed” cattle end up in feed lots for the end of their lives feeding on grains and living in terrible environments. In fact, as Thomas DeLauer explains in his video on grass-fed meats, if a cow eats grass for any minute of its life it can be labeled grass-fed. You should be looking for grass-fed and grass-finished beef. This means the cattle were fed grass for the entirety of their lives and never finished in a feed lot.
Where to Buy Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef is becoming more of a norm in grocery stores. However, as mentioned above, you need to be careful with this beef. It may very well be the same grain-fed beef that is packaged next to it but with a more expensive price tag. Let me note a few of the best ways to purchase grass-fed beef and ensure you are getting the highest quality, nutrient dense meat.
Natural Food Markets
Many of the natural food markets like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Trader Joe’s should sell grass fed & finished beef. You will still want to ask before you purchase to be sure.
The is probably the best means to purchase grass-fed beef. Find a local, reputable farmer, tour the farm, and then purchase directly from the farmer. Typically you will need to buy in bulk, but you will know you are getting high quality meat. Eatwild is one site that could help you find a local farmer. You may also want to check out your local Farmer’s Market.
This is the way my family buys meat and we love it. The internet has made ordering online so easy and there are a number of great sources. Just a few that I am aware of are Alderspring Ranch, US Wellness Meats, and ButcherBox. I personally use ButcherBox and love it. We set-up a monthly box that delivers beef, chicken, and pork every month. There are options to choose only beef, chicken, pork, or a different assortment. The meat is fantastic and tastes much better than any meat we have purchased at the local grocery store. Plus, the prices are similar if not better than the grocery. I highly recommend that you try ButcherBox for yourself. If you sign-up now they are offering free bacon for life. This is the only bacon I have found that is completely sugar-free, which is great for your Keto lifestyle!