You Are What You Eat
Navigating the world of protein options can be hectic especially when you consider all of the different options at your local grocer. Grass-fed, grain-fed, organic – what does these labels even mean? Let’s review some of your options and the benefits of choosing local grass-fed beef over what you may find at your weekly grocery shopping trip.
First, it’s important to note that most cows are actually raised on grass for the first year to 15 months of their life. It’s what they’re fed from here that begins the controversy of which meat is “best”.
Most proteins available at your local grocery store are considered “conventional.” This means the cattle are fed on a variety of grasses then transferred to feed lots, with the majority of them having one main goal – to keep the cow from becoming ill and “growing” it as fast as possible.
“Conventional” cattle can be given hormones and antibiotics to promote growth and keep them healthy in the confines of a feedlot. Many of these cows are given a mixed diet of grain, soy and a variety of dried grasses to encourage quick weight gain in muscle and fat. The general principle is to turn the cows over as quickly as possible in order to make more money.
“Organic” is a more common label seen on grocery store shelves. Organic protein generally means that the feed animals were given an organic / non-GMO diet. These animals are not administered hormones or antibiotics and are required to have access to the outdoors, except during inclement weather. You can go here to see the USDA’s organic livestock requirements. (Organic Livestock Requirements.pdf (usda.gov))
“Grass Fed / Grain Finished” is essentially the same as conventional beef considering almost all cows start off with their mothers eating grass. The marketing strategy of labeling them this way can make you think the process of growth was healthier but may be terribly similar to conventionally raised beef. Confirming whether the animals were administered hormones and antibiotics would tell you much more about the quality of the meat.
“Grass Fed / Grass Finished” means the animal was raised on grass its entire life cycle. This animal was not administered hormones or antibiotics and was never fed fillers, grains, grain byproducts or soy. This does not always mean it spent its entire existence in open pasture but confirms the diet of the animal was not tainted to accelerate growth.
So, what are the benefits of choosing local grass-fed beef over the rest? For starters, you are what you eat meaning you are what the food you eat –- eats! Conventionally raised meat can contain traces of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides! These additions not only can alter the quality of the meat but can have a negative impact on the consumers health.
Grass fed proteins require a lot of care to raise which translates into multiple benefits for the individual eating them! You can ensure you won’t be ingesting any trace hormones or their byproducts, no antibodies and no trace pesticides!
Instead, you’ll be consuming a good profile of saturated fats, a great source of polyunsaturated fats and CLAs – known for their impressive antioxidant capabilities and is found in more than DOUBLE the concentration in grass-fed protein vs conventional beef. You’ll also be receiving a significant boost in omega-3 fatty acids as grass-fed protein has also been found to have much higher amounts of other vitamins and minerals – making the saying of “you are what you eat” much more meaningful.
Purchasing and consuming local grass-fed beef allows you to speak directly to the producer and learn about their methods! They’ll easily answer any questions and be able to steer you in the right direction when it comes to what you’re eating. PLUS who doesn’t LOVE supporting local small businesses?
Improve your health AND your local community by purchasing your protein close to home!
Franny is a gym owner and personal fitness coach from The Muscle Cave Bar & Gym in Waco, TX.