: Is corn fed beef good for you
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We’re constantly being told that organic produce is best for us and that anything else we stuff in our faces may as well be considered trash. Yes, there is certainly some truth to this – the nutrient content will be greater, for example – but it’s not to say that the ‘trashy’ foods should be completely disregarded.
At least, that’s the opinion of Max Lugavere, an American nutritionist who regularly provides deeper insights into the foods we eat, while also revealing hacks that allow us to find beneficial foods on a budget. This time, he’s taken to Instagram to dispel the myths surrounding “lower quality” foods, and to let us know that there are in fact genuine alternatives to organic produce that still provide the nutritional content we need. For example, if you can’t get your hands on, or afford grass-fed beef, then you’re perfectly fine to buy grain-fed instead.
Why? Max says if you can still find yourself a lean cut of grain-fed beef, then “you can still enjoy the broad nutritional benefits, including its potent nutrient density.” A lean cut of meat is simply a piece of meat without the fat on it, and by trimming it away, you reduce your saturated fat intake and subsequently lower your cholesterol too.
Max admits that grain-fed varieties will likely come with herbicides, so says you should wash them off. While a quick rinse under a tap should do the trick, he adds, “For an even more effective wash, consider soaking for 20 mins in diluted vinegar, salt, or baking soda, each of which has been shown to be even more effective at removing most of the residues from some of the more commonly used pesticides.”
It’s not just red meat he says you can make perfectly acceptable substitutes for either, as eggs, no matter where they come from, are “rich in vitamin B12, choline, and protein.” He also says that farmed fish, while nowhere near as good as fresh, is still better for you that a boxed ready meal. It still provides a great source of protein and essential fats such as omega 3.
So even though there will be plenty of people out there telling you to only eat sustainable foods – or better yet, give up animal products entirely – choosing non-organic produce can not only still provide a number of health benefits, but it will much less of a dent in your bank account too.
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For many of us, the term “Grass-Fed” evokes mental images of happy cattle basking in the beautiful, blue skies of a wide-open range as they graze on verdant pastures. But the benefits of grass-fed meat don’t stop there -- not only is grass-fed beef more nutritious than grain-fed alternatives, but it is also much better for the environment and for the animals themselves.
If you’re a meat connoisseur, you may already know there is a slight difference in taste between grass-fed and grain-fed beef. The root of that flavor discrepancy? It’s all in the fats. Studies show that grass-fed beef has up to 3x more nutrients and up to 6x more omega-3 fatty acids than beef coming from corn-fed cattle because they do not fatten as quickly on a grass-only diet.
Grass-Fed Cattle Are Environmentally-Preferred
Most grain-fed animals live in small, crowded feedlots, which can lead to massive local pollution issues from the sheer output of concentrated waste. When grass-fed cattle are rotated on pastures, the animals trample their manure into the earth, leading to much healthier soil. The nitrogen contained in cow manure can also eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers, thus improving the quality of run-off water. Additionally, when the cattle are able to roam freely, they stimulate the grasses which traps greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide underground, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
Improving Quality of Life for Livestock
Grass-fed cattle that spend their entire lives grazing on a pasture lead significantly better lives than their grain-fed counterparts who are often only given enough room to stand. 100% grass-fed animals have the freedom to wander as they please and socialize with other animals. Meat certifications such as GAP-Rated (which Pressery’s beef has!) require the animals spend at least ¾ of their lives on a range or pasture. These strict animal welfare standards also mean that the cows and calves must be kept together for at least 6 months before being weaned. Cows with better living conditions typically need little to no antibiotics and have more robust immune systems.
Check your labels before you buy. Look for 100% Grass-Fed (as opposed to grass-finished) and buy organic as often as possible to keep livestock, the environment, and your body as well-nourished as possible.
Yellow Beef Fat
Another Advantage of Grass Fed Beef!
Image Credit: JB
"Why is grass fed beef fat yellowish instead of bright white?"
Fat color is a function of what kind of vitamins are present in the cow's diet.
The key ingredient that makes grass fed beef fat look yellow instead of white is beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is a natural form of Vitamin A - an essential nutrient - which the body can convert to Find number location A as needed. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant, important for protecting the body against free-radicals.
Beta-carotene is a naturally-occurring plant pigment. It is what gives many fruits and vegetables their orange or yellow color (like carrots, squash, pumpkins, and grapefruit).
And it occurs naturally in many pasture grasses and legumes (even though most of these are green rather than orange or yellow).
The high beta-carotene content of grass is the reason why cattle finished on a grass-rich diet will have more beta-carotene in their fat, which you will benefit from when you eat their meat.
Yellow Beef Fat Is Healthier And Tastier!
Beta-carotene is fat soluble. When cattle consume beta-carotene-rich foods, it is stored in their fat. And likewise, when we eat beta-carotene-rich foods (like carrots, pumpkins, or beef with beta-carotene stored in the fat) then we transfer that beta-carotene to our own body fat reserves.
Grass contains beta-carotene. Grain does not.
So don't knock the yellowish color of grass fed fat - it's actually a sign that it is good for you!
And not only is it good for you, but it is also one of the contributing micro-nutrients that harvest hope food bank near me grass fed beef fat its superior flavor.
By contrast, cattle finished on grain will not have much beta-carotene in their diet and consequently their fat will also be missing the wonderful yellowish color. The only grain that is an exception to this rule is corn, which contains some beta-carotene, so cattle finished on a high corn diet will also have somewhat yellowish fat, though still not as much as cattle finished on grass.
Natural vitamin sources beat supplements!
The yellowish tint to grass fed beef fat is a signal showing that it is a healthy natural source of beta-carotene for you, which your body can convert to Vitamin A as needed.
Eating beta-carotene-rich grass fed beef is a far healthier way to increase your Vitamin-A intake than popping Vitamin-A supplements to make up for the lack of beta-carotene in grain fed beef. Not only is the natural food source healthier for you, but using Vitamin-A supplement pills may actually be seriously damaging your health.
The BBC Horizon documentary, called The Truth About Vitamins (2004), does a fantastic job of explaining the science behind why vitamin supplements generally don't work and actually may be far more harmful than good (unless they are specifically prescribed by a doctor to address a medical condition).
Here's the YouTube link to watch BBC Horizon - The Truth About Vitamins (the link opens to the YouTube search results - there are generally at least 2 or 3 unofficial uploads of the 49 minute documentary available.
After watching the documentary, our family cheerfully purged our fridge of all vitamin supplements. It also silenced that nagging little voice in the back of my mind that suggested that I wasn't taking good care of my health unless I was popping some kind of vitamin supplements.
However, it has made our family extra keen to choose grass fed beef over grain fed beef since it is a natural food-based source of many vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.
Have you noticed a color difference in your beef fat?
Do you notice a difference in the color and flavor of grass fed versus grain fed beef fat? Does the fat from grass fed beef improve the flavors of your favorite recipes?
Share your comments below! And if you enjoyed this article, please use the social media buttons to share it with your friends!
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by Ethan Book
on 08/29/08 at 12:37 PM
Yesterday I wrote about the rising costs of raising pigs, but what does it cost to raise cattle? Above is a short video from the Wall Street Journal that has been making the rounds this summer. It is only three-and-a-half minutes long, and I really encourage you to watch it if you have the time. Although I don't agree with everything in the video (I do think it is quite possible to profit from grass-fed cattle), there is a lot of great information in there. Keep reading for a few things you must watch for in the video.
Thing #1: Cattle are fed M&M's!? Well, not totally M&M's, but they do sometimes make it into their ration that comes from the candy factory.
Thing #2: They say that the conventional farmer featured in the video makes $20 to $30 per (cow) head. I wonder how many other businessmen would take those profit margins considering the large amount of inputs and facilities needed?
Thing #3: I really think the benefits of grass-fed beef that were mentioned in the video are very important. Cattle were made to eat grass and grass only, so it only stands to reason that they would be most healthy for us to eat if they ate what they were made to eat.
So, if you took the time to watch this short video, what are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever had grass-fed beef? Do you think the taste difference is a deal breaker? I would love to hear from you!
Tagged with: Ethan Book, Farming, News & Gossip
11:27:57 PM on
This video, albeit informative, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "conventionally fed" vs. grass-fed cattle. To discover the whole ugly story about cattle raising in the 21st century, read is corn fed beef good for you Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. Then decide.
09:53:06 PM on
We have gotten to where regular corn-fed beef tastes bland because we very much enjoy grass-fed beef and bison. They are not as tender but have a more intense flavor. It does tend to be leaner, so you do need to take that into account when cooking. We had some ground beef from a Georgia grass fed beef provider we bought at Whole Foods in Birmingham and it was leaner than commercial ground sirloin.
10:06:36 PM on
We used to raise West-Coast Registered Polled Hereford beef.grass-fed, supplemented by oats & other grains. These were the 'haydays' (pun intended) of 'marbled-beef&apos. Mid-west Black Angus beef was a close second (corn-fed)for tenderness and marbling.
Grass-fed beef must be cooked differently than corn-fed, as it tends to be a bit chewier.Slower cooking, even on the BBQ, rather than quickly seared for corn-fed. Grass-fed marinates and slow-cooks nicely too.
We now eat grass-fed Bison (buffalo) meat.lower in cholesterol, very lean and comparable to any beef except perhaps Kobi, and some high $$ mid-west corn-fed. It tends to be a better deal for the $$ too, as we buy it by the 1/2 every year
04:58:02 PM on
I just got some grass-fed beef from a local farm here in Oregon. I haven't cooked the steaks or roasts yet, but a few days ago my mom and I made the most delicious meatballs we've ever tasted. The grass-fed ground beef was very moist and had a very meaty flavor that I've never tasted in the supermarket corn-fed beef. We're hoping the other cuts taste great as well.
02:32:01 PM on
I do believe it is possible to profit raising grassfed beef. We are in the process of beginning to do just that and are learning from many that are doing it as we speak. It is different that is for sure, but it can be done through direct marketing, specialty marketing, and other avenues.
But, that is just my opinion.
02:25:31 PM on
You say that you are sure that it is possible to make a profit with grass fed cattle. On what are you basing that reasoning?
02:22:57 PM on
I get grass fed beef from a local farm in PA. I find it is less tender, less marbled but maybe "beefier" than the kind I used to get from the grocery store. We like it but probably eat beef less often than most other people.
01:43:14 PM on
You are right that there are many variables. I would say that the two biggest would be the genetics of the cattle and the quality of the grasses/forage. There is plenty of is corn fed beef good for you grassfed (their entire lives) beef out there that is grading select and even choice on the USDA scale based on corn-fed beef.
At least they aren't getting chocolate and chips or something like that.
01:37:00 PM on
Grass-fed meat taste takes a little getting used to, but once you get into it, other beef tastes boring. Also, grass-fed beef has omega three fatty acids, which will make you feel healthier about eating bad for you foods!
Because of the lower fat content, I sometimes cook my grass-fed steaks in a pan that has bacon lined on the bottom--really good! :)
12:52:22 PM on
In my limited experience, grass-fed beef has tasted less sweet, more vegetal/oniony, and perhaps "cleaner" (less fatty maybe?), but there were too many variables: "Grass fed" doesn't always mean entirely grass fed for the life of the cow. And fat marbling is an issue, though it is not the only way to add flavor. Then there are issues of: How do you like your meat cooked? Charred or not? Do you add a sauce or marinade? I'm gonna eat some more steak this weekend to continue my lifelong taste test.
Promoters and producers of grass fed beef have made a lot of claims about its nutritional and environmental benefits. One web-based marketer states, “100% grass-fed meats, from any kind of critter, are the most perfect food for man. Grass-fed meats will supply 100% of your body's nutrient requirements in perfect balance. Grass-fed meat is the ONLY food type you can eat exclusively and still have optimal body function.”
Not is corn fed beef good for you of the claims are so sweeping, but they’ll often cite the enhanced presence of conjugated linoleic acid [CLA] in the meat of animals fed exclusively on grass. CLA is reputed to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, and to combat obesity. And environmentalists reason that it’s got to be preferable to keep an animal in the great outdoors to graze on grass, rather than confine it in a feedlot and feed it grain that was raised under intense production systems.
The American Grassfed Association—which supports producers of all livestock and poultry products, not just beef—says on its website that “a variety of research” shows products from grassfed animals are higher in beta carotene, CLA and Omega-3 fatty acids. “Initial research has shown all of these elements to be crucial in reducing cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and other life threatening diseases. Research also shows grassfed products to be lower in fat and cholesterol and less likely to contain harmful E. coli bacteria,” the trade group says.
One problem with these claims is that some of them appear to be contradictory. Daniel Rule, an animal science professor and ruminant nutrition researcher at the University of Wyoming, points out the grass feeders are saying their product’s fat is healthier—but there’s also less of it. He says, “If the consumer is eating lean beef, that means there’s just not that much fat. If there’s not that much fat, and these fatty acids represent a small proportion of the total fat, then the consumption of these fatty acids cannot be that great.” In other words, it’s hard to make health claims for CLA and omega-3 if the amount being consumed is negligible.
Rule’s own research has also found that when lab animals is corn fed beef good for you a diet high in fat but low in cholesterol, the animals’ own blood cholesterol did not increase. Texas A & M University researcher Stephen Smith has conducted similar research with human subjects and has concluded grass-fed beef is not as healthy, nor grain fed beef as harmful, as some reports have suggested. In trials, Smith found that men who ate ground beef made from grain fed cattle had increased high-density lipid or "good" cholesterol, and larger particle diameters of "bad," or low-density lipid cholesterol. Those who ate beef made from heavily finished grain-fed cattle that graded prime also had reduced insulin. Smith noted while there were no negative dietary consequences found in men who ate grass fed beef, the beef itself was higher in saturated trans fat. He also said he received negative feedback from ranchers in the grass fed business from his study, which was funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Researchers from California State University-Chico and the California Cooperative Extension Service examined data from three decades’ worth of nutritional studies comparing grass-fed and grain-fed beef. They said, yes—gram for gram, grass-fed beef has a more desirable saturated fatty acid [SFA] profile, with more cholesterol neutral and less cholesterol elevating SFA, than grain-fed beef. It’s also higher in CLA isomers, trans vaccenic acid—which the body converts into CLA—and omega-3 fatty acids, and in precursors for Vitamin A [like beta carotene] and Vitamin E, and cancer fighting antioxidants.
But, because it also tends to be lower in overall fat content, “grass-fed beef also possesses a distinct grass flavor and unique cooking qualities that should be considered when making the transition from grain-fed beef.” And they said if the meat is lean, “regardless of feeding strategy,” it is just as effective as a dietary means of reducing serum cholesterol as fish or skinless chicken.
As for the ostensible ecological benefits of grass feeding, a study out of Australia suggests lean leg workout at home finished on grain have a smaller carbon footprint than those raised exclusively on pastures. According to researcher Matthias Schulz, meat is produced more efficiently through grain feeding. The report was conducted by the University of New South Wales and commissioned by the Pacific nation's meat export promotion body, but they weren’t defending their own interests; most of Australia's beef is grass fed.
Similarly, a recently completed study of Upper Midwestern production systems concluded feedlot-finished beef products are less resource and emissions-intensive relative to management-intensive pastured beef production. However, the researchers [Pelletier, N., et al], who were sponsored by Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, conceded there were many facets of the respective production systems that were not among the metrics they considered. “We do not consider costs and benefits related to variables like job creation or quality of life, nor do we address a spectrum of proximate ecological considerations, including biodiversity impacts, or concerns such as animal welfare,” they said. In addition, they conceded pasture-based systems may produce greater carbon sequestration and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and said the “average” systems they modeled are not as efficient as optimally managed pasture systems.
Finishing cattle on grass is not as easy, says Andy Larson, as just turning them out onto your existing pastures and watching them fill out. Since 2008, Larson has been coordinator of the Leopold Center’s Grass-Based Livestock Working Group, which meets quarterly for seminars on aspects of grass feeding. Most of the attendees, he says, are “your cow/calf operations, your grass finishers, and your people that are very, very specifically oriented towards being good stewards of your environment, in addition to being efficient producers of cattle.”
And if you’ve never done it before, there’s a lot for a rancher to learn before attempting to finish cattle on grass; Larson ticks off the key points: “If you are willing to be a very good grass farmer—if you’re willing to figure out what species you’ve got present in your pastures, how to improve the mix, how to improve production and intake of those pastures, and have cattle that are going to eat that forage and marble well on it—then, absolutely; you can change your operation from one side to the other. But it’s just not going to be a snap of the fingers kind of thing; it’s a learning process.”
Economics are often a motivation; Larson says most of the inquiries he gets about switching to grass come when corn is in the $4-6 range; cattle producers either don’t want to pay that much for feed, or they’d rather sell their own corn crop and feed their animals something cheaper. But once they’ve made the transition, they rarely switch back. “A lot of the folks that I’ve gotten to know started out as grain oriented beef producers,” he says. “When they switched to grass fed, it was a very conscious choice for a variety of very personal reasons. Sometimes it’s marketing; sometimes, it is wanting to have a specific effect on the pastures or the land that they own.”
If you’re planning to feed cattle on grass, it’s crucial to line up your marketing channels in advance. Larson says, “I’ve gotten calls from guys who say, ‘You know, I’ve got so many grass-finished, organic cattle that are ready to go to market; who do I sell is corn fed beef good for you to?’” That’s the worst-case scenario—the producer has already absorbed the cost of production, but doesn’t know where the revenues will come from. One option is to do your own marketing directly to consumers through farmers markets, web-based sales, accommodating local retailers or buying clubs. There are also companies that contract with producers to add to their branded grass-fed beef line; again, here it’s important to find out whether they’ll buy your beef before you start producing it. “The best advice,” Larson concludes, “is probably to sell those cattle before you even have them on the ground.”
Nor is it necessarily easy to produce palatable, grass-fed beef. Larson says, “I’ve had grass-fed beef that tastes very different…very ‘grassy’. I’ve also had grass-fed beef where I never would have walmart asurion sign in that it wasn’t finished on grain. It really depends on how that producer’s total system works with the is corn fed beef good for you of the cattle and the pastures that they have.” He dismisses the results of taste panels as extremely subjective. “Some people really prefer the grass-fed beef, saying it tastes ‘beefier,’ is corn fed beef good for you that means,” he says. “Others, who are used to corn-fed beef and have been raised on that all their lives, don’t want anything different.”
Larson guesses perhaps 1% of Iowa producers are finishing cattle on grass. There’s a reason for that, says another Iowa State Extension specialist, animal science professor and Iowa Beef Center director Dan Loy.
“Our resource base is primarily crop production,” says Dr. Loy, “and historically the cattle feeding enterprise in Iowa has been a way to market that corn crop.” But grass feeding is more attractive in states with less row crops relative to grassland…and in the South. “Longer growing seasons, more forage production, I think are all advantages for grass-fed beef production,” Is corn fed beef good for you says.
Loy says there are management challenges in both grass and grain feeding. Running a feedlot, he says, “is a very narrow margin business. It requires collecting, and in many cases purchasing, the feedstuffs, ensuring the quality of those feedstuffs, getting them delivered, managing the diets.” Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, “relies a lot more on Mother Nature. It requires moisture for the grass to grow; it requires management of the cattle as well as the growing forage, and matching those needs.
And it costs more per pound to raise grass-fed beef, because the animals don’t finish out to the same size and the rate of gain is lower. In addition, it’s difficult to get them to grade Choice; if they’re marketed through ordinary channels, they’ll bring a discount, so their beef is typically differentiated in the marketplace and sold at a premium to compensate.
But Loy points out the U.S. experience is not uniform worldwide. “Historically, the American consumer has preferred grain-fed beef and that’s how our quality grading system has developed,” he says. “But if you look at other countries where that has not necessarily been an option, South American for examples, Brazil and Argentina consume large quantities of beef which is primarily grass-fed. So it’s a matter of taste, a matter of cost, and a matter of consumer preferences.”
And is it a matter of profit? Andy Larson says, “I don’t see a lot of grass-based producers that are doing it on a very large scale or that are getting rich, necessarily, at it. But I don’t see a lot of conventional grain-fed producers doing either of those, either.”