When our grandparents were growing up, mine in Kansas, a majority of the beef in the United States was produced and finished by using grass exclusively. Sadly, the 1950s ushered in large feed lots and subsidized grain-fed techniques became widely popular. The grain-fed movement spread very quickly and by the 1980s, large feed lots were responsible for producing nearly 100% of this country’s beef.
The nation’s switch to grain had a strong rationale. Grain-fed techniques have neutralized many of the unpredictable variables associated with raising cattle (favorable weather, green grass, and steady pricing in the market) and significantly streamlined the nation’s beef supply chain. However, several nutritional experts now believe that this migration to grain-fed beef was not in the best interest of our nation’s long-term health. Rates of heart disease and obesity in the U.S. have increased significantly during the last four decades. Many researchers believe that the timing of these two events is more than a mere coincidence.
Benefits of consuming grass-fed beef include:
- Saturated fats are naturally low
- High in Omega-3’s
- High in Conjugated Lineoleic Acid (CLA)
- Reduced exposure to E. Coli
- Ecologically friendly
Detriment of Grain-fed beef:
- Saturated fat levels are often 3-4 times higher than those found in grass-fed beef
- Limited omega-3 content
- Limited CLA content (CLA comes directly from the grass)
- E. Coli Risks remain a constant and growing concern
- Requires significant use of chemicals, fertilizers and gasoline and is not ecologically friendly