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The Moral and Health Benefits of Grass Fed Beef

So a while back I wrote about how we went in on a whole grass fed beef with my sister. We ended up with about 420 pounds of beef to split between us.

We paid about 3.55/lb net after taking the hanging weight loss into account. Considering the amount of high quality meat we got, it’s a no-brainer.

We’re almost out of our half of the cow, so we’re talking about getting another cow just for our family. Sure, maybe not the best plan if there’s just a couple of you, but with a family our size it’s completely worth it.

Quite a few of you have asked me about just why spend the money on grass fed beef. For us there’s two different factors that come into play … ethics and health

The Ethics of Grass Fed Beef

Our cow didn’t grow up on a feed lot. It didn’t stand shoulder to shoulder for most of its life with other cows. It didn’t walk through manure six inches deep. His body wasn’t caked with manure.

Our cow wasn’t treated with antibiotics, and it ate grass as God intended, not grain to somehow optimize his growth rate and minimize food costs. He was, for all intents and purposes, a cow growing and living as nature intended.

The Health Implications of Grass Fed Beef

Eating grass fed beef has massive health benefits that the major food conglomerates don’t want you to know. A cow that eats grass instead of grain is far healthier during its life, and far healthier for you to eat.

Take fat for example. Your average grain fed cow has about 8.5 grams of fat per 3oz serving. Compare this to chicken, which we all know is a low fat meat, clocking in at a little over 1 gram of fat per 3oz serving. And we all know that buffalo meat is extremely low fat as well, with 2 grams per serving.

Well, grass fed beef has about 2.25 grams of fat per serving. Not bad! It’s amazing the difference that grain vs grass diets makes. As a side benefit of consuming naturally lean meats like this your LDL cholesterol levels go down.

The type of fatty acids in meat are also very important for your health. Without going into too much detail, Omega-3 fatty acids are good, and Omega-6 is bad. The ratio between the two is very important, with anything over a 4:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 being extremely bad. Health problems include cancer, heart disease, depression, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, attention deficit syndrome, and more.

Having a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of cancer, reduces blood pressure, and drops your risk of having a heart attack by 50%. It is also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Grain fed beef has a 15:1 ratio of O-6:O-3 fatty acids. You do the math. And even worse, ALL grain fed meats have similar ratios, including chicken and milk from grain fed dairy cows – and even fish. They say that chicken from the store has an 18:1 ratio!  That’s five or six times the level that is known to cause significant health problems.

Grass fed beef usually has a 1:1 to 1:2 ratio. Which would you prefer?

There’s another good fat called ‘conjugated linoleic acid’ … aka CLA. CLA dramatically reduces your risk of cancer. A study in Finland showed a 60% reduction of the risk for breast cancer by adding CLA to your diet. It will also suppress the growth of cancer cells already in the body.

CLA improves your immune system, prevents obesity and diabetes, and increases your bone density.

Oh by the way … the best source of CLA that we know about is grass fed beef.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, grass fed beef has 5x more Vitamin A, 4x more Vitamin E and twice as much Beta-carotene than grain fed beef. And all that E. coli that’s going around, causing recall after recall by commercial meat packers? Not a risk with grass fed beef.

Anyone still want to eat grain fed beef?

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12 Responses to The Moral and Health Benefits of Grass Fed Beef

  1. This is the way we ate 150 years ago, now we eat more processed foods which gives us 20 times more Omega-6 than we need.

  2. I really enjoyed your recent post on grass fed beef. I am curious about how you went about buying a grass fed cow. How did you know where to go to do this? I live in Ohio.

  3. 150 years ago there were 30 million people in the U.S. Do you really believe we could grass feed enough beef for the 300 million today? This sounds more like a yuppie fad then anything practical. Eat free range chicken, organic vegetables and grass fed beef and drive a Prius. Kind of a feel good philosophy. Look at me I love the earth so much I drive a Prius and eat only grass fed beef.

  4. How funny gonewiththewind. I would never own a prius, think we should be drilling like crazy in the US for oil and will only eat graassfed beef. I do hate the price tag here in the west of over $6 a pound though.

  5. Maria; you are free to eat grassfed beef or not. In general no one would or should care. However if you were to state that somehow not eating grassfed beef means you are destroying the environment or made the lower class beef eaters less deserving then don’t be suprised if people disagree. I happen to prefer french bread still warm out of the oven. It would never occur to me to try to put someone else down because they like wheat bread or bagels. You do understand my post was dripping with sarcasm. The intent was to illustrate the absurdity of the claim in the article. Shop at Winco for good meat prices.

    • GoneWithTheWind, have you ever eaten grassfed beef? There’s no comparison to Winco meat–they are NOT “apples and apples.” The first time we ate grassfed local beef, we realized that it tasted like…beef! It was reminiscent of our childhood. Supermarket meat has lost a lot of flavor over the years. We don’t eat a lot of beef, but when we do we like it to be tasty and nutritious.

      A fad? Many families have been eating grassfed beef for generations.

      At our house we eat free range chicken, organic veggies, and grassfed beef, but I don’t even know what a Prius is. My hubby and I share one practical vehicle that’s several years old.

      • The taste of grassfed beef may truely awesome to you. I don’t question that. And you are welcome to eat that and free range chickens etc. Where I differ is when people make some health claim where there isn’t one. If you don’t get in a car accident or smoke or drink too much then you will probably live as long as your mother and father did. Your lifespan and health is NOT determined by grass fed beef or free range eggs. I find that most of the taste in food, not just meat, comes from how it is prepared and what is used in the preparation. But, again, if you like it I say go for it. I like French bread and cannot pass it up in the supermarket. I don’t think it is free range French bread but it’s all good.

  6. I think it is absurd to claim that grass fed beef is healthy for you. I think it is probably impossible to grow enough grass fed beef to feed our population that is part of the reason farming has evolved to more efficient methods. I think it is elitist to claim that eating grass fed beef will save the world. I don’t think most of the health claims in the article will hold up to scrutiny or additional studies. These kinds of results/claims are generally the result of a selective data dredge where only favorable data is used. Most of the health issues discussed relate to genetic diseases.

    The thing is a vegetarian will find evidence that illnesses are caused by meat. Given the diversity of humans and the poor quality studies usually done at universities they will be able to find something that will support their biases. A excercise nut will conversely find that illnesses are caused by inadequate excercise. A organic food advocate will only discover evidence that supports their bias towards organic food. Someone who believes in laetrile will come up with evidence to “prove” laetrile cures cancer. Vitamin and supplement advocates will only discover evidence that vitamins and supplements guarantee good health.

    Food is food. There really aren’t any bad foods or good foods but there are bad diets. Eat a varied diet and don’t adopt fad diets and you will be eating a healthy diet. We have the best food in the world available to us.
    Most fads are proved wrong but not before the authors of the latest fad book makes their millions. Then they move on to some other scare or empty promise. I take it all with a grain of salt and a teaspoon of HFCS.

  7. I eat grass fed beef alot and I love it. It tastes way better and my health has improved greatly. You have to be careful though as you get to much Tryptophan alone from muscle meats which can cause problems. Try also having free range eggs and dairy. Also if you have problems with gluten and you eat animals that eat gluten containing grains guess what? You still have gluten in your diet.

    • I’m not afraid of tryptophan and see no reason to be.
      If you have a problem with gluten then you should follow a gluten free diet. But don’t make the mistake of thinking gluten somehow survives inside a cow’s body waiting for you so it can cause you trouble. That idea is a little far fetched.