Beef: Grass Fed or Corn/Grain Fed? Is There Really a Difference?

Food labeling can be confusing, especially in natural products such as meat. Not all cattle are raised the same way, but does it really make any difference in the way their meat tastes when it hits our plates? The answer is a resounding “yes”.

Massed Produced Conventionally Raised Cattle

  • Enormous agribusinesses rely on cheap quantity over small quality. The USDA’s meat grading system is based on the amount of visible fat, so lots of fat means bigger animals and more money, but with less flavor and nutritional value.
  • “Massed produced” cattle live on corn and other grains that are biologically engineered and sprayed with synthetic pesticides and fungicides, many of which are neurotoxins. These chemicals are then stored in the fat of the animal which, when eaten, are transferred to humans.
  • The long term effects of genetic modification (which is not the same as grafting) are not yet known.
  • Overcrowding means feed-lot cattle are more prone to disease. They’re given antibiotics daily as part of their food, which are then transferred to humans causing antibiotic resistance over time. (This applies to all animal products including milk, eggs, meat, cheese, and butter).

Grass Fed Cattle

Ranchers who raise grass fed and/or organic cattle are committed to producing a healthy animal which is raised humanely in small herds. The USDA Certified label is very expensive, and although many grass fed cattle ranchers are not certified as organic, they employ many of the same principles.

  • Grass fed cattle graze on pastures that are rich in grasses and weeds in a natural ecosystem, creating a flavor profile that’s rich, buttery, and tender.
  • Antibiotics are not used as part of a feeding protocol.
  • There is no supplemental feed with the exception of alfalfa in winter when pastures are low. Otherwise, the animals’ entire diets consist of what they can forage in their pastures.
  • Feed lots are not used. Animals are allowed to graze naturally.
  • Grass is lower in calories but higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.
  • Natural habitats provide sanitary conditions, less stress on animals, and natural resistance to disease because the animals’ immune systems are working properly.
  • Antibiotics are only used when an animal is actually sick.

Grass Fed vs. Organic

According to studies provided by eatwild.com and presented by Topline foods, a healthy animal provides superior nutritious eating. The best choice is to eat organic grass fed beef, with grass fed non-organic beef being the next best.

  • Organic beef is raised without synthetic contaminants, but can be fed organic corn and other grains as the main constituent of their diet.
  • Organically fed cattle graze for a minimum amount of time. Grass fed cattle always graze in natural habitats.
  • Synthetic chemicals are not permitted in organic feed, but grass fed cattle is generally raised chemical free in pastures whose ecosystems provide natural resistance to disease.
  • In both practices, sick animals are separated from the herd and given the proper antibiotic until they’re well. They must remain antibiotic free before they can be used for food.

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