Is grass-fed beef really better than grain-fed?

By Roy Kim, Jul 15 2014

 

Americans spend less money on food than any other country. In addition to this, today we spend a smaller portion of our income on food than Americans did 100 years ago. This is because during that time we figured out how to produce more food cheaply and one thing that involved was feeding our cows grains instead of its natural diet of grass and legumes. Now some of us question if that was a good choice or not. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the increase in grass-fed beef being sold and produced. Apparently more and more people believe the decision to feed cows grains instead of grass was not a good one. Let’s discuss the differences between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef.

Since grass-fed beef is not confined to small quarters they will be in better shape meaning they will be lower in fat as well as lower in calories by weight. This also means they will not be forced to live in their own filth and manure and live a healthier less stressful lifestyle and less prone to disease. When beef producers are more concerned with feeding costs they resort to feeding their cows garbage and other waste in addition to the cheap grain with significantly less nutritional value if any! This is why grass-fed beef is significantly higher in nutrients and vitamins than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef is a much better source of beta-carotene as well as vitamins A and E. Grass-fed beef is also higher in the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants our diets are much in need of.

All of the benefits I mentioned about grass-fed beef don’t come cheap however. Compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is typically much more expensive if you haven’t noticed. If you are more concerned about saving money than nutrition, grass-fed beef may not be for you. One way to offset the cost of grass-fed beef is to buy in bulk. I have friends who have bought entire cows directly from the source avoiding the middle-man. Others have gone into what is known as a “cowpool” with other friends. This may be a more practical option since buying and storing over 1000 pounds of meat isn’t very convenient. However, with the demand rising, I see the supply rising as well which will make buying grass-fed beef cheaper and easier over time.

In terms of taste and tenderness, fat is the vehicle for flavor. This is why the filet is tastier and more tender than the round. Grass-fed beef having a lower fat content means the meat will tend to be chewier. If you are not careful with how you cook grass-fed beef you may end up with a tough piece of meat and a sore jaw. When you are more concerned with nutrition there will always be a little sacrifice.

So to summarize, grass-fed beef is definitely a more nutritious and healthier choice than grain-fed beef. On the flip side, grain-fed beef is much cheaper and will be more tender. If you are reading this article, I am going to assume you place a higher value on your health and are willing to sacrifice a little for it. So overall, grass-fed beef really is better than grain-fed beef.

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