In today's fast paced, social media-soaked world, one might get the impression that eating grass fed beef is simply the only responsible way to eat beef. If this is something you've thought about, hopefully this post will help you relax a little.
Is grass fed beef better?
That all depends on what you mean by "better". On the surface, you might assume grass fed beef is better by how the term "grass fed" sounds. Terms like "farm fresh", "free range", "organic" and "natural" all sound better.
However, when we dig a little deeper, we often find the terms to be more marketing than substance.
Based upon my reading, education and direct interviews, here are some things to think about in order to make the best decision for you and your family regarding grass fed beef.
Although there are many exceptions, we are a nation of meat eaters. I suspect this is not going to change anytime soon.
The first thing people look for in meat is taste. Grass fed beef can sometimes offer a less desirable taste when compared to beef fed with a mix of grass and grains.
If you don't like the taste, does anything else matter?
The cost of grass fed is significantly higher than grain fed beef. Many people purchase grass fed and end up regretting the decision. They feel as though the extra money was not worth it.
Additionally, consumers are frustrated upon learning that the vast majority of grass fed beef is actually "finished" on grain for months prior to being processed. In other words, consumers pay for grass fed thinking they are getting 100% grass fed. This is not the case most of the time.
Grass fed vs. Corporate Farms and Feed lots
The thing that seems to come out quickly in articles and conversations about grass fed beef, is the comparison to corporate beef feed-lot practices. These practices include high numbers of animals crowded into a relatively small area being fed a diet of grains, antibiotics and hormones to optimize the growing and processing supply chain. However, the alternative to corporate farming is not necessarily grass fed beef. The more appropriate alternative is small, local family farms that use feeding methods dating back centuries. Farmers have been using grain and some grass to feed livestock for a very, very long time.
It is true that grass fed beef is slightly more nutritious than grain fed beef. The comparison articles I found were all comparisons between grass fed and corporate beef feed-lot beef. This comparison is not ideal when we have small family farm beef available. The bottom line is that while slightly better from a nutrition standpoint, the price of grass fed beef doesn't seem to be worth it.
Here are 3 suggestions to help you reduce the drama:
1. Eat locally raised and processed meats
2. Know "the story" about your meat supply chain
3. Don't buy-in to the hype so prevalent in social media
As with everything we do for our family, each of us needs to decide for ourselves what is best.
Mid-Michigan Meats, LLC