If you’ve ever driven through parts of the Southwest USA, cattle farms there are shocking!
1000’s of animals crammed under man-made awnings trying to escape the harsh desert heat and not a blade of green grass in sight.
Unfortunately, these poor animals make up the bulk of our beef supply.
Luckily, the grass fed beef movement is gaining market share and hopefully those corn fed desert cattle lots will soon be a thing of the past.
What’s Wrong with Corn Fed Beef?
The simple answer is that cattle were not designed to eat corn, but grasses. When cattle eat a diet rich in corn some nasty things happen to their bodies.
- Their meat is higher in fat and cholesterol.
- Their intestines produce harmful strains of E. coli bacteria.
- Corn fed beef are prone to disease, so they must be treated with antibiotics.
Additionally, most commercial corn fed beef cattle are fed hormones to make them ready for slaughter sooner. These hormones are passed along to the consumer in the meat.
What’s the advantage of corn fed beef?
The meat is cheaper and faster to produce, so therefore, cheaper for the consumer.
Grass Fed Beef On the Other Hand….
12 years ago there were about 50 grass fed beef ranches in the USA, but today there are 1000’s and growing. So, the movement is catching on and here’s why.
Earlier I described an awful desert cattle feed lot, now picture this.
In the rolling green hills of Montana you drive by La Cense Ranch an 88,000 acre space where cattle are free to graze on grass with plenty of room to walk and enjoy the countryside. These happy cows grow at their natural rate, don’t ingest pesticides, and are for the most part disease free.
La Cense Grass Fed Beef is…
Lower in Calories
An 85% lean grass fed burger (60oz/170 g) has 240 calories, while the same type/amount of corn fed beef has 408 calories.
Lower in fat than traditional beef.
An 85% lean grass fed burger (60oz/170 g) has 10 grams of fat (4.5 grams saturated), while the same type/amount of corn fed beef has 24 grams of fat. (10 grams saturated)
Higher in omega 3
Grass fed beef typically has twice the amount of omega 3 fatty acids than corn fed beef (some even more). This is only about 35mg/serving, but still a dramatic improvement.
Less at risk for E. coli contamination
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma studied this and found that grass fed cattle do not contain harmful strains of acid resistant E. coli in their stomachs and intestines. (see video)
The Ethical Dilema
Of course, there are so many other issues here besides the nutritional aspect.
- How should human’s treat the animals in their meat supply?
- What environmental impact does corn fed beef have on the planet?
- Is saving money really worth everything involved with producing commercial corn fed beef?
I personally believe that if humans want to eat beef, they should do so in a manner that is the most respectful to the animal and best for their health.
What do you think about the grass fed beef movement?