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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Why should I go for Grass-fed? - 100% Grass-Fed & Grass-Finished Beef VS Grain-Fed Beef (including a Labels Glossary)

If there is one place where going Organic is really important, then it is consuming Organic Meats instead of the chemical, hormone and antibiotic laden non-organic meats.

The choice of eating meat is very personal. With that said people who do eat meat will benefit from eating only Organic meats and will double that benefit when consuming only Grass-fed, Grass-Finished meats. I have been exploring organic in depth throughout my whole #GoOrganic series, and if you have missed the posts (full of information and resources), then make sure to take the time and read these posts (links at the end of this article) to know the risks of consuming non-organic meats.

In this post however, I want to focus on the labels that we see everywhere and most of us don't know what they really mean (check out the Glossary of terms below). I also want to focus on Grass-fed beef, exploring its benefits with you and encouraging you to try it, because this is where flavour takes a full new dimension besides the health and ethical benefits. So read on and enjoy, and please feel free to discuss any of this further, share some resources and ask if you have any questions.
Grass on which OBE Organic Cattle feed

The Difference Between Grain-fed and Grass-fed Beef
Quite simply, Grass-fed beef is just better – better for the cattle and ultimately better for us. There is a much appreciated and almost artisanal quality to grass-fed beef. The farmers ensure the animals are in best condition and are proud of their product, so much so that they ensure the quality to always be of highest standard, as opposed to mass-produced feedlot animals. 

However, because grass-fed* and grass-finished* animals are raised entirely on grass, their maturation process is slower and the end product is therefore slightly more costly as opposed to the more convenient and cheaper mass production of grain-fed animals. Most important to note here is that mass-production comes at a cost too, the countless side effects of consuming confined, sick and stressed animals that live off a continuous supply of antibiotics, growth hormones and suspected carcinogens and whose diets would usually include restaurant waste and animal byproducts, municipal garbage among many other rubbish feeds… making their meat qualify as junk really!

Here are just a few reasons why meat-eaters should go grass-fed:1. Let’s start with the flavor. Grass-fed beef is absolutely more flavoursome than its counterpart, grain-fed beef. When eating grass-fed beef the meat has a completely different flavor palate that is more delicate, yet meaty with hints of grass and earth, it is almost like you can tell what the animal was eating through the flavour of its meat. Grass-fed does not rely on fat for flavor, the meat itself is very tasty and the experience is always more tender meats as these animals have lived a stress-free life, grazing freely. In the case of OBE Organic meats for instance, because the meat is Organic and no preservatives are used, the meat is very fresh and we all know the fresher the product, the better the flavor.

2. Grass-fed beef is nutritionally superior to factory-farmed grain-fed Beef. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, a specialist in sustainable wellness, and based on various researches conducted on the topic, “grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of Beta carotene, Vitamin A, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help keep cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure in check.” Furthermore, grass-fed animal products are also significantly lower in fat, cholesterol and calories, which also helps consumers maintain a healthier diet, especially those who need to watch their cholesterol and fat intake.

3. Grass-fed animals are eating what they are meant to eat and what their bodies are meant to digest ‘Grass’. Unlike feeding the animals carb-laden grains that exhaust their bodies, digestion and cause them many ailments for the treatment of which the use of antibiotics becomes very necessary. Grass-fed animals live stress-free and are usually antibiotic-free.

4. All recent reports are warning against a post-antibiotic era, where important medicines crucial to treating seriously ill people will become ineffective, due to the current irresponsible use of antibiotics in factory-farms and to treat grain-fed animals. Such misuse of antibiotics is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs), which are able to spread, antibiotic resistant, causing infections that are harder to treat and more likely to cause complications and even lead to death at times. This alone is reason enough to go grass-fed.

People who eat this beef regularly are more likely to meet 100% of the RDA for protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. (USDA CSFII 1994-96). 

When we are discussing food products there are many labels to consider, and at times we see many labels and are unsure we understand what they refer to. So to take the guessing out of the label reading here is a glossary of the most commonly used labels in the case of Organic, meat and animal feed:
  • Organic: Produce or products that are Chemical Free. These products are free of carcinogens, pesticides and other chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, GMO or any other unnatural components. Organic animals have to also feed on organic food to be considered organic. It is worthy to mention here, that the label 'Organic' is not enough to show a produce is organic! Unless the 'organic' statement is certified by an authorised authentication for organic (certified 100% Organic), the product is most likely not organic. Therefore, opt for produce that is certified and do not take the word of the merchant or a casual organic label! 
  • GMO: Genetically Modified Organisms
  • Grass-Fed: Fed only on its natural diet, Grass. 
  • Grass-Finished:  Meaning that the cattle are still fed grass all the way up until their slaughter. Often times companies will market their beef as "grass-fed," but will then switch to grain toward the end to fatten the animal up. 
  • Grain-fed: Fed on Grains and other ingredients but no grass. 
  • Free-range: Cattle that gaze freely in a large area of outdoors that provides continuous supply of water and food, shade and sunlight, never confined. are referred to as free-range animals. With that said not all products labeled free-range are truly raised free-range. Some companies refer to animals that get an hour outdoors, mainly in the sun without any shade or access to continuous drink as free-range. Free-range, like organic, has to be certified however the best way to tell if animals are actually raised free-range is to do some research and get to know the producers and see if they really raise their animals free-range. (watch this video and see how free-range animals are raised)
  • Halal: Animals Slaughtered according to Islamic Shariaa to cater for Muslim consumers. Here too the label has to be certified by a specialised authority.


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#GoOrganic

As you may well know, I have worked on this series in collaboration with OBE Organic Beef producers, whose vision and philosophy I respect hugely. And whose products, I have found to be outstanding in their category. As OBE Organic Beef is 100% Organic*, Grass-Fed*, Grass-finished* as well as Halal*. Their meat is delicious and is an excellent source of protein as well as delivers the essential nutrients including iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins. People who eat this beef regularly are more likely to meet 100% of the RDA for protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. (USDA CSFII 1994-96). 
I have always promised you to explore produce, ingredients and producers whom I personally find Outstanding, and in this case this produce and producer are OBE Organic
Furthermore, beef that is grass-fed such as OBE Organic beef is not only lower in overall fat and saturated fat, but it has the added advantage of providing more omega-3 fats. These crucial healthy fats are most plentiful in flaxseeds and fish, and are also found in walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass. OBE Organic's cattle are not only 100% grass-fed, but are also 100% grass-finished, meaning they never eat grain, only grass, which they believe is healthier for the cattle, but ultimately for consumers. OBE Organic grass-fed beef generally has a ratio of 2:1, in contrast to primarily grain-fed beef, which can be as high as 20:1.
You see, what is not to like? 


With that said, I hope that this series had explained to you some of the food issues we are facing today and that it's helped you make better choices when shopping for ingredients to cook your families meals. The transition to Organic, is really easy and better for you, so I hope that you will make that decision and #GoOrganic. Small Change, Big Difference, Endless Benefits.

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