Grassfed vs Feedlot Meat
Choose your meat wisely because your life depends on it.
Many people I know have chosen to not eat meat and become vegetarians due to the unhealthiness of meat, and the difficulties in finding quality meats. The truth is meat can be extremely healthy and provide life saving nutrition if you make the proper choice from the butcher.
However, meat is extremely unhealthy if you choose it by the cheapest price from the grocery store.
To better understand, we need to look at the differences between grassfed and feedlot meat.
Feedlot is the close confinement raising of animals using the cheapest feed possible -- corn and soy, which has been subsidized by the government to lower the cost. The animals are also fed "by-products" from other industries like, municipal garbage and chicken feathers.
In fact, up until 1997 it was legal to feed cows to cows. Yes, we would use the excess fat and trimmings and add it to feed and give it back to the animals. This is what is believed to have caused Mad Cow Disease.
Cud chewing animals, cows, goats, and sheep are not made to eat grains; they are supposed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs. The result of feeding these animals grain is they get sick, so the animals are given chemical additives and antibiotics. The antibiotics are the same given to humans and when they are over-used, the bacteria become resistant. Then, when we become infected with these new resistant bacteria, the antibiotics do not work for us.
Feedlots are much worse for pen animals such as, chickens, turkeys and pigs. These animals are not allowed to do normal movements that they are naturally accustomed to like, rooting and roosting.
Animals in close confinement are raised in their own excrement and in most cases also sleep in it. Most situations in close confinement, the animals can not all sit down at the same time or even turn around. The result is sick animals and more antibiotics.
Grassfed, also known as pasture raised, allows the animals to live how they were meant to. Animals in this wild-like habitat are constantly moving; by constantly moving, parasites never catch them.
Livestock can choose what they want to eat in this scenario and the basic job of the farmer is to take care of the soil and grow grass. The philosophy is simple, take care of the soil and the animal can take care of itself.
The animals on pasture are not only happier and healthier themselves, but they improve our health and raising animals by this method will improve the health of the earth. Animals know what to eat and what not to eat and will select the right plant that will give them optimal health. I have seen on a number of occasions cows reaching underneath the fence into the natural weed cover to eat and overlooking what is in their pasture.
What does all this mean for our plates?
Secret is in the fat
Fat in meat is where all the vitamins go and also where all the toxins go. So, in grassfed meat all the vitamins and healthy omegas are in the fat. This has also been observed to be higher in animals that have grazed on spring growth grass. In feedlot animals, the fat is full of toxins, antibiotics, and growth hormones and is the cause of a number of ill health conditions in humans.
Fat is less in grassfed animals than in feedlot and as a result offers a different taste that some people complain about. I believe that just like anything else, you just need to learn how to prepare it.
Pay now, or pay at the doctor
The health benefits from grassfed animals is not only available in the meat, but also can be obtained from the milk and eggs of animals raised this way. Choosing products from animals that have been given a life of choice comes with a higher price tag, so the quantity you eat is most likely going to be less than you are accustomed to.
In my opinion, this is how we should eat, mostly fruits and vegetables with occasional animal products. Look at it this way, pay a higher price now and be healthy, or pay a lower price now and pay the doctor bills later.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.