How Grain Fed Beef Is Different from Grass Fed Beef

Most of the beef we eat today comes from grain-fed cows.  But cows don’t natively eat grain.  They eat grass.

So, why are they eating grain?  Right now, feeding cattle corn and soybeans (and animal protein) in industrial feedlots is cheaper than letting them out to graze in the field.  Cattle also grow faster on grains, which have more energy than grasses, and so there is more meat to sell to customers, more quickly.

What do we care?

Well, the beef you are eating from a grain-fed cow is not the same as the beef we used to eat from grass-fed cows.

How’s that?

(1) Saturated fat.  It can make up over 50% of the fat content of your grain-fed beef.  What about grass fed beef?  Saturated fat makes up about 10% of its fat content.

(2) Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids.  Studies suggest that a ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in excess of 4 to 1 may contribute to heart disease, cancer and other “Western” diseases.  Grain-fed beef can have a ratio as high as 20 to 1.  Grass fed beef can be as low as .16 to 1.

What’s striking to me about these figures is not so much what they say about saturated fat and Omega 6 and 4 fatty acid content themselves: Scientists notoriously disagree over the correlation between specific nutrients and the diseases they may cause.  It may be that something other than saturated fat or Omega 6 fatty acids is contributing to heart disease.  We still are not certain.

But what what cannot be contested is that feeding our cows grain changes them.  Our beef today simply is not what our beef was yesterday.  (Or the pastured beef we still can buy at some supermarkets and farmers’ markets today.)

Organic Grass Fed Beef

Making Beef the Old-Fashioned Way

What also cannot be contested is that the “Western” diseases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity are on the rise.  And scientists are finding more and more evidence that changes in the way we grow our food may have much to do with it.  Given statistics like these, this should come as little surprise.

Are the cost savings worth the higher levels of saturated fat and Omega 6?

About these ads
This entry was posted in Food Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to How Grain Fed Beef Is Different from Grass Fed Beef

  1. Pingback: What’s in Your Soy Milk? Hint: The Answer Isn’t “Soy”. | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  2. Pingback: Why the Organic Movement Talks About Butz. | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  3. Pingback: How Much Fossil Fuel Does Buying Local Save? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  4. Pingback: How Much Greenhouse Gas Does Buying Local Spare? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  5. Pingback: Can U.S. Corn Subsidies Spark Revolution in Egypt? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  6. Pingback: Should We Do Away with Pasteurized Milk? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  7. Pingback: Should We Let the Humane Society Take Undercover Videos? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  8. Pingback: McDonald’s Launches Sustainable Land Management Program | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  9. Pingback: Why Attack Sustainable Meat? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  10. Pingback: Is the Organic Halo Justified? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  11. Pingback: Should We Eat Meat? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  12. Pingback: Why I’m Not Eating Meat . . . or Any Other Animal Products | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  13. Pingback: Should We Let the Humane Society Videotape CAFOs? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  14. Pingback: High-Protein, Low-Carb. Bad for the Colon? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  15. Pingback: Drug-Resistant Staph Found on Almost Half Our Meat | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  16. Pingback: A Vegan Argues That Eating Meat Is Moral | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  17. Pingback: Does Coffee Lower Prostate Cancer Risk? | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  18. Pingback: McDonald’s Adds Apples to Its Happy Meals | Organaholic! Organic Food Blog

  19. mnxbunk pxward ajapbsekxof cosyaf yopmdrttq bkxrlwxp vhcbgq

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s