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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grass Fed Beef

In order to be healthier and more environmentally friendly, Marisa and I have decided that we want to start eating meat that is grass fed as opposed to meat from mass feedlots. This is a sacrifice for us since grass fed meat is more expensive. However, we also decided that our meat portions are too large so maybe if we eat smaller portions it will offset the higher cost of meat. It is also worth spending a little more since there are many benefits to those who are willing to pay extra for

Grass Fed Beef is Healthier

In 2009 researchers at Clemson University did a comprehensive comparison of grass fed beef to grain fed beef and made the following conclusions. Grass fed beef is:

  1. Lower in total fat
  2. Higher in beta-carotene
  3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  6. Higher in total omega-3s
  7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

Keep in mind that these benefits don’t even take into account the benefits that grass fed beef has on the environment or the increased quality of life for the animals themselves.

For those of you that are interested in buying grass fed meat it can be economical to buy in bulk. There are many small farms and ranches that will allow you to buy one fourth ore on half of a cow. I found this great website that you can use to find local farmers that are willing to sell you their grass fed products. Click on the link and then click on your state and you will find local farmers that you can support. This website also has some great literature on the benefits of pasture based farms.

Mike Johnson


aubryz said...

We decided to go the same route with our meats too! And you know what? It was cheaper to buy grassfed organic beef than the conventional hamburger from costco! T-bones, sirloin, all the wonderful stuff for 2$ a pound! We bought half a cow and have been eating like kinds for a fraction of the cost! Pork too, only 2.25 a pound for a ton of bacon, sausage, chops, ect! We went with a small farmer who doesn't certify organic due to costs. We went to their farm, met them and met our meat. What a wonderful life and wonderful way to buy food. Check on craigslist too, there are so many small farmers who use good practices but are too small to be well known.

fullfreezer said...

We, too, bought a half a cow (grassfed) from a wonderful Amish farmer last January. Nearly a year later, we're still working on it. Really, by the time you figure out how much you pay per pound, it isn't really that bad since you are paying the same price for t-bone steaks as for hamburger. And the taste is definitely worth it! There's no going back for us now.

Michelle said...

I really want to make the switch too. I need to hurry up and do it!

Dale Johnson said...

I have a great job working as a farm management specialist for the University of Maryland. One of my projects is the Maryland Grazer Network. It involves connecting experience beef grazer mentors with farmers who want to start raising grass fed beef. The experienced farmers teach the less experienced farmers better methods in producing grass beef. It is a fun project. Next year I hope to start raising beef on our backyard farm. With the pasture broilers we produce we will then be producing most of our own meat on our pastures

I would like to point out a bit of hypocrisy. I see many people including myself eat good wholesome food - most of the time. But the rest of the time these people including myself, eat junk food that negates the benefits of that good wholesome food.

So it is good to try to switch to grass feed beef and fresh local vegetables and other good foods. But we should try to maintain that habit all of the time.

Even as I write this, I am scarfing down a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. What a hypocrite I am.

Kate and Crew said...

I think this is a GREAT post. Our local grocery store offers a "green" beef/chicken, but the prices are so high that we honestly cannot afford it. I wish we could though. We eat as much organic as we can and we eat our own chicken eggs, but the beef/chicken is just out of our budget. We live outside of a major city and from that link you sent me we don't have any farms super-close, but there is one that's do-able. I'll look into it next week once the christmas rush is over. THANK YOU so much for the link. I am extremely excited to look into this. It's something my family has discussed many times but never had the link to follow though!

Merry Christmas!

and Dale Johnson - I'm not sure you're a hypocrit for eating ice cream. I think if you try your best to eat food that comes from animals that are humanely treated, it's a huge step in the right direction. You might be a hypocrit if you were eating a McD's burger though!

-Sydney- said...

We made the switch too and we live in a rural area so it is thankfully easy to find grass-fed beef direct from the farmer. None of the farmers we bought from are on the eat wild list, so don't give up hope. If there is a local meat processor in your area you can ask them if they know of any farmers that have beef who might be willing to sell. Finding free-range chicken hasn't been as easy though so we've just sort of given it up and are toying with the idea of raising some broilers.

Wendy said...

Buying part of a cow is a great idea. We've been doing this for several years, now. It's a lot of money up front (from $300 to $600 for a quarter cow), but the savings per pound overall is actually quite significant. We spend about $2.50 per pound for all cuts, and $2.50 per pound for hamburg is probably a lot, but $2.50 per pound for top sirloin or a rib roast is a really good deal.

We just purchased some stuff to make our own sausage and hotdogs, and we're going to use part of the ground beef to make all beef bratwurst, polish sausage, and our own (chemical-free) hotdogs :).

One other thing about the grass-fed beef versus the grain-finished is that there is significantly less fat in the ground meat. I've had to add a bit of olive oil to the pan when I'm making things like hamburgers or browning ground meat for tacos or chili, because the meat is so lean it sticks to the pan :). I never have to drain my meat, which is pretty cool.

@ Sydney - we raise broilers each year. I live on a quarter acre, suburban lot ;). It's wicked easy, and there's just nothing comparable. If you're thinking about it, you have the space, and there are no restrictions keeping you from doing it, I say, Go for it!

-Sydney- said...

Honestly the primary reason we haven't done the broilers is that I'm not very keen on doing the butchering myself. We have several processors that do deer, beef, lamb, hogs, etc but no one does chickens.

Judy's Square Foot Garden said...

In early 2009, we purchased 2 baby steers from a friend of ours who has gotten into cattle farming. They are black angus :-) We primarily grazed them with a little supplemental feeding of grain through the summer. Now that it is winter, we're feeding them lots of hay with a supplemental feeding of grain.

Most of the pre-packaged "fresh beef" you find in the grocery stores (like WalMart for example) come from 'feed lots' where cattle are shipped. There are a couple of articles online about how these beef cows are injected with hormones and vaccinations once they arrive there. Also, it's just a horrible thing to see and smell - I don't know if you've ever driven by one of the 'feed lots' but it's not a pretty site to say the least. Also, what they feed them - you just wouldn't believe! They actually feed them garbage. Anything that is cheap that they can find to get the fat content up. It's just really unbelievable once you start checking into all of it. And the "gassing" of the meat to keep it cherry red, UG!

At first I was worried about how I would feel about eating our steers (with names, of course!). But, after reading and doing some research, I know that I can't eat the meat from the big box stores any longer! Now we're also looking at the possibility of raising meat chickens too -- something else everyone needs to research is how meat chickens are raised and processed (and particularly what they are fed!)

marisa said...


That is just awesome! So inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope that sometime soon my husband and I can get enough land to raise our own beef as well.

LOSER PAUL said...

Hello! :)

Mad Bush Farm said...

I read this post with much interest. I've noticed a push now in the USA for grass fed beef. I'm in New Zealand and grain feeding beef isn't really heard about much here. Virtually all of our beef cattle are grass fed in NZ. We're so used it we tend to take it for granted. I'm on a farm so we raise our own for the freezer. Just a word of advice for anyone thinking of keeping their won. Don't name them or when it comes to that time you won't be able to bring yourself make that decision. Guilty as charged. This time none have names.

Love this blog always great posts

Happy New Year
Liz NZ

marisa said...

Liz in NZ, quit taking it for granted, thank your lucky stars! How nice would that be to not have to worry about what the steak you are eating was raised on?

Sumas Mountain Farms said...

I enjoyed your post. If I may, I would like to suggest my farm web site.

Sumas Mountain Farms is the only producer of 100% certified-organic, lifetime grass-fed & finished beef in the Lower Mainland of BC (near Vancouver,
Canada). We also offer chicken, eggs, pepperoni, jerky, salami, sausage, farmer sausage, steak and more.

Because our beef is 100% grass-fed & finished, the quality of the meat is exceptional, and the flavor is unsurpassed. Plus, it is more nutrient-dense and packed with healthful Omega-3's than conventional beef, which is healthier for you, your family, and the planet.

Please visit http://www.sumasmountainfarms.ca/ for more information! We have plenty of recipes for you to try.