Is Grass-Fed Meat for the Elite?


By MetroFarm

Saturday Mornings 9:00-10:00 AM PDT

Before World War II, all beef cattle were raised on a diet of grasses. Today, cattle are started out on a diet of grasses, then finished off on a diet of grains like corn and soy, antibiotics, and other nutritional supplements.

There are advantages to the modern way: Cattle gain weight faster and can be produced year-round; are easier and more cost-effective to produce, and thus are less expensive; and produce a richer flavor.

Nevertheless, some say the old ways of grass-fed are best. A study commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation offers the following nutritional comparison:

Grass-fed beef has almost double the beta-carotene, which is converted by the human body to vitamin A, which is important for vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and differentiation.

Grass-fed beef has almost three times the natural vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against the free radicals that may lead to chronic health problems like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Grass-fed beef have approximately 60 percent more omega-3 fatty acids that grain fed beef, and have a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega 6 fatty acids, thus protecting against inflammation, blood clotting, and tumor growth.

Grass-fed beef have approximately two and a half times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain fed beef, thus protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. CLA has been found to be so important that many grain-feeders are now supplementing with it.

The benefits of grass-feeding, however, come at a cost. Grass fed beef is more expensive to produce, and hence more expensive to consume. This leads us to ask…

Is grass-fed meat for the elite? (Food Chain Radio #736)

RELATED: Not All Meat Is Created Equal

14 responses to “Is Grass-Fed Meat for the Elite?

  1. Pingback: Is Grass-Fed Meat for the Elite? | Food Freedom | Organic Food Home Delivery

  2. This is an interesting question, that I have also seen applied to other animal production systems like free range eggs, and indeed to agricultural systems in general, for example the equivalent question regarding the price of “organic” food. The specific question of grass fed beef and the general question about agricultural systems have the same answer: No, real food is not “for the elite”. Real food- food that is tasty, nutrient dense, free from xenobiotic contamination and the product of ethical, sustainable production systems- is the right of every human being. If everyday people cannot afford real food (bear in mind a great many people cannot afford enough food of any sort to even sustain themselves), the problem is in the economic situation, not the food. I would turn this question the other way and say that industrial agriculture and industrial food and food marketing are an integral part of a globalised socio-economic system that serves the interests of a very small elite at the expense of the interests of the vast majority of humanity.

  3. @ earthfamer, you are correct. I eat this ‘elite’ food because I grow it. I know its better, so I cut out the middle-men and do the work myself.

  4. NOT AT ALL. Unemployed artist and all I eat is GRASSFED. It’s called eating less but better meat. So not grassfed is not for the elite and I absolutely take offense to the claim.

    • Word. Every bite consumed should be pure and ethically produced as possible. We eat less meat but it’s pastured and has a better flavor.

  5. I am fortunate, the grass fed beef farm is under 3 miles from my house. There are benefits to living in rural amerika. I prefer to give my hard earned earnings to a local farmer than to owe my life to pharma of another kind! My 1st ever garden is producing wonderfully, and I am thankful to have been ‘woken’ up by the likes of this blog how important REAL food is. My health has improved unbelieveably in the last 2 years! NO GMOS for me! If the ‘elites’ are us, that have woke up, so be it!

  6. If “for the elite” means it’s bloody expensive, then yes, I guess so. But it’s the only kind of beef I’ll eat. It just tastes much better in addition to being better for you… but b/c it’s expensive I eat it sparingly.

  7. Grass fed beef tastes much better than grain fed. Also , many cattle farms feed their cows protein supplements which is believed to be how mad cow diesease started and spread. Eating grass fed beef is safer in that regard too.What’s more, store-bought ground beef contains flesh from multiple animals, including old dairy cows. And it’s the older animals that are most likely to have BSE. So what’s a meat-lover to do? “The combination of organic and grass-fed cattle has the lowest risk of BSE than cattle raised by any other method,” . “They are fed nothing but grasses and stored forage; they never ingest any animal protein.

  8. the claims of expense for grass fed is nutso, sure they take a bit longer to grow, cos they arent jammed in and inserted with antibiotic/hormone pellets to grow. tjhing is all the shipping the yards the labour etc all add up.
    while pasture is damn near free food, if maintained and rockdust etc used. grain fed. wont touch it.

  9. Here’s the question I have after reading this….Is beef a good source of CLAs, omega 3, beta carotene? How much is in a serving of grain fed beef? How much should a person consume in a day? Is the difference significant, or are the levels of these nutrients low in beef anyway? See what I’m saying?

  10. Earthfarmer, a fabulous response.
    Iafarmwife, I see your point when it comes to those specific ‘nutrients’. However, there is much more involved when we look at the difference between grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free cows, and your average supermarket cows who live in stalls full of fecal matter, fungus, filth and other dead animals, are injected with antibiotics because otherwise they will die from their environment, injected with growth hormones, all of which are passed onto the person eating it, esp. when eaten rare. (ew) BTW, many cows in that situation are fed the remains of other dead animals. The corn/grain they are fed are genetically modified and chock full of Roundup Ready toxic carcinogens which are sprayed around the plant to kill weeds. The animal eats that when it’s chow time as well.

    Watch the movie, “Food, Inc.”

  11. Krittz, you really need to come visit my farm, or at least, my blog.

  12. The only reason that grassfed is more expensive is because of government agricultural subsidies on the grain. The government is subsidising the unhealthy alternative. In Australia, grass fed beef is much cheaper than grain fed- all the cow has to do is eat grass in a paddock! Grain feeding requires harvesting and then feeding the cow, it is more expensive.

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