I was born and raised in a mid-size town in the Midwest near the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The area in which I grew up is considered part of the Corn Belt.. Most people have heard the saying "There's more than corn in Indiana!", but I have to admit it doesn't seem like much of a true statement given corn is the leading crop grown in Indiana. Majority of the corn grown is given to livestock as feed, and as we know most animals fed corn are considered commercially raised and not treated humanely. These two industries are tightly woven together like an ugly but lovingly made sweater given to you by your great Aunt Gertrude over the holidays as a child. Growing up I never liked eating beef much and I didn't really acquire the taste unless it was slowly cooked in stew, chili or soup. I remember hating nights when my mom was planning to make patty melts, burgers or steaks for dinner as a child. You would think being a Midwest girl that I would have loved beef...that wasn't the case. I have memories as a child crying/whining at the dinner table where I was told to finish my dinner, and in most cases it was almost always beef left on my plate that the mere thought of eating made me want to gag. Often my parents would take us on long country drives on Sundays, and you would see farms with over crowded cows where the smell was wretched...maybe that's where my aversion to beef began.
Commercial Grain Fed Feed Lot
No Grass, Exercise or Freedom in site...
Fast forward to just after my 22nd birthday and I am living out on the west coast near San Francisco.
My Aunt Pam introduced me to some amazing types of cuisine and really had a huge hand in refining my palate with food and wine in my 20s. It wasn't until I was around the age of 24 did I start thinking about where my food was coming from and the importance of eating healthy to feel & look great. A friend of mine introduced me to the world of being vegetarian, and I started thinking this has to be healthy. At the age of 19 I was told I had high cholesterol put on lipitor by my Dr, and my Dietician told me to avoid eating meat, cheese and salt to avoid increasing my chances of heart disease. So my journey with being a vegetarian and eating healthy (so I thought) started and I ate this way off and on for over 8 yrs.
Edo and I took a holiday to Argentina and Chile in March 2010, and I wasn't left with a lot of choices at the time to eat healthy vegetarian food while on the trip. I got disgusted at the thought of eating another bowl of pasta with tomato or cream sauce.
One day towards the end of our trip I snapped and tried a bite of my husband's steak that had these delectable dipping sauces below. The red one at the top is chimichurri, middle is provencal and the bottom is a tomato/jalapeno type salsa. The Provencal is what we call chimichurri in the states.
Edo enjoying one of his many Grass Fed Steaks
It was absolutely delicious and yes I felt a bit guilty eating it, but I did it because my body obviously needed the protein after loading myself the entire trip full of processed crappy white carbohydrates. Argentina is known for their grass fed beef, and I admit it tasted great.
Over the coming months I started thinking about eating meat again but told my husband for me to incorporate beef or meat for that matter into my diet we would need to support a local CSA where the cows were treated humanely and grass fed from start to finish. We did some research and ended up choosing Tara Firma Farms out of Petaluma. We actually had an "interview" with them asking questions about how the animals are treated, raised, what they are fed and they ensured us 100% grass fed free range cows (they also have pasture raised chickens, turkeys, pork & eggs), and they are happy most of their lives with just one bad day. It seriously felt like an episode of Portlandia...if you haven't seen that show I suggest watching. It's hilarious! Here is a link to the scene on youtube if you would like to take a gander - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2LBICPEK6w
Let's get down to business and see what the main differences are between Commercially Grain Fed Feedlot Cows and 100% Grass Fed or Pastured Cows.
Grass Fed Beef Benefits compared to Grain Fed Beef:
Photo from Mother Earth News
- Research shows that grass fed beef helps lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL, it is naturally leaner and lower in total fat.
- 3-4x more Omega 3 fats
- Essential fatty acids that the body can't create on it's own.
- O3 helps reduce inflammation in the body and may help lower your chances of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes just to name a few.
- It's important to keep the proper ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. O3s reduce the inflammatory response in the body, and O6 tends to increase inflammation in the body opening our bodies up to illness.
- The standard American diet tends to err on the side of a higher O6 ratio in the diet. This is partially due to consuming commercially raised grain fed feedlot beef. "Grain-fed beef can have an omega 6:3 ratio higher than 20:1"-- J. Anim. Sci. 2000. 78:2849-2855
- 4-5x Higher in CLA
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid - linked to long term health and weight management. The best sources are grass fed beef & raw grass fed dairy products.
- Helps combat high cholesterol & triglycerides, high blood pressure, cancer, cardio vascular disease, inflammation, and more.
- Potential weight loss due to higher content of CLA in grass fed beef
- Higher in Vitamins A(beta-carotene), B(thiamin & riboflavin), and E(alpha-tocopherol)
- Higher in minerals, calcium, magnesium & potassium
- Lower in saturated fats
- Lower in total calories
- One 6 ounce Grain Fed steak is over 100 calories more than a comparable Grass Fed steak
- NO synthetic hormones or antibiotics
- Animals are free to roam in open pastures eating various types of grasses, bushes, leaves - all the while staying healthy and creating all the nutritional benefits above for you the consumer to enjoy.
- Virtually void of Mad Cow Disease & eColi.
After hearing all the health benefits above, are you ready to give grass fed beef a try?
Photo from http://www.greenerbiener.com
Photo from - http://www.ayearinacar.com/
I often hear from others they don't think they can find grass fed beef in their area.
- Eat Wild
- US Wellness Meats
If price is a concern a good thing to keep in mind is...your health is your wealth. If we don't have this, what do we have? It's better to be proactive with our health rather than reactive. It's never to late to start being the healthy version of you.
Thank you for reading my blog. If you ever have any questions please feel free to contact me directly for nutritional guidance.
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