My knowledge about organic and grass fed meats began when I took my first nutrition class in chiropractic school. Having lived in Ithaca/ Seneca Falls for about 5 years at this point, I had noticed that Wegmans (the local grocery store) had a section of meats that were different from the rest, and much more expensive (but up until this point I never thought about spending more for a steak and getting less, it just didn't make sense). My nutrition teacher began by telling us about how the meat composition is completely changed when an animal is fed grain vs. grass. The biggest change is that the fat in the grain-fed meat is full of omega-6 fatty acids instead of the usual omega-3 fatty acids (which are found in grass fed meats).
I am sure that you have all heard about how good omega-3 fats are for you and how you should take fish oil supplements (this is about where most people's knowledge of fats ends). Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids, meaning that they are both necessary to sustain life, but the typical American diet is unbalanced, with our diets consisting heavily of omega-6s and deficient in omega-3s. When this occurs, the likelihood for heart disease, plaque buildup in arteries and heart attacks is increased heavily. You can check out this site that has more information about the differences between the two fatty acids and links to some research articles. Another source of information is the DVD, Food inc., which is a documentary about the large beef and poultry companies (warning, after watching this film you may never go back to eating Tyson chicken or buying a McDonald’s burger).
So now that you know why grass fed beef is so much better for you, then why do grocery stores, restaurants and food chains continue to sell us grain-fed meat. Like so many other issues with our nation, it comes down to the all mighty dollar. It is cheaper to feed cows and chickens grain because the animals get fatter faster and therefor are ready for slaughter sooner. Also don't forget that it is more expensive to let animals graze, since they need more land per animal. Now add in growth hormones and pack them into tight quarters to optimize production and you have yourself a definite money maker. I could write another entire post about the use of growth hormones in our food (and maybe I will tomorrow), but for now I simply want people to understand the differences between grass-fed and grain fed and why the cost for the meat is more expensive.
So now that you understand the nutrition and costs behind grass fed beef, let me end by saying that grass-fed beef simply tastes better than grain-fed. The meat is more tender and flavorful and is sure to satisfy you more than grain-fed. If you don't believe me, simply do a taste test of your own. Buy two steaks, one grass fed and free range and one grain-fed (that you usually buy). Grill them the same (I would recommend lightly sprinkling some salt and pepper on them so you can really let the taste of the steak shine through), and see if you can taste the difference. You will be amazed at the difference!
The following two pictures were takin from the internet from actual feed lots (one grass fed and the other grain fed. Some of the comments made in my post are my own opinion while others are supported by scientific studies. I am not here to tell you what to do, only to give you advice that might start you to question your food selection. Do your own research and make informed decisions on what you eat!
-Free to graze
-Better nutritional value