Why Grass Fed?
It's pretty simple. Cattle evolved to eat grass.
Grass comes in more varieties than you can imagine, including red and white clover, millet, bluegrass, plantain, timothy, sweet grass, wild onions, and the many different types of tufted grasses called fescue. Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms in Virginia, a leader in sustainable farming calls it "a salad bar" for cows.
Cattle have a very special and under-appreciated ability to convert grass into quality protein. They do this through a highly evolved digestive organ called the rumen, an organ about the size of a medicine ball. The rumen is basically a fermentation tank filled with bacteria which live on grass. Taking advantage of the cow's incredible ability to convert sunlight into protein makes really good ecological sense. Cows convert carbohydrates into protein more efficiently than any other animals on the planet. Not only that, a cow fed grass grows in a natural way, at a pace nature intended and develops in a way nature intended.
Conventionally raised cattle do get to eat some grass, but only until they’re about six months old. At that point they are switched to grains (mostly corn) which helps fatten them up quickly so they can go to slaughter by 14-18 months old. Once they're on a diet of grain they are generally confined in dirt cattle yards with hundreds of other cattle, in part, to reduce exercise that would burn calories, develop muscle and decrease fat.
Consumers are beginning to demand grass fed meat. Grass fed meat is sustainable, healthier, more nutritious, better for the environment, better for the animal and arguably better tasting. When shopping for beef, it is important that it is labeled 100% grass fed.
Some of the tangible benefits of grass fed meat are:
Less total fat. The average American eats 67 pounds of beef per year. Assuming that rate, switching to grass-fed beef would reduce your annual calorie intake by 16,642 a year. (the equivalent of 4.75 pounds).
More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that is believe to reduce heart disease and cancer risks.
More antioxidant vitamins including Vitamin E
More healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Most studies report at least twice the amount of grain fed beef.
Simple ways you can enjoy the benefits of grass fed beef without putting a strain on your budget.
Reduce the quantity of meat you consume overall, and increase the quality.
Participate in Meatless Monday, an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. A diet of 30% high quality protein, and 70% plant based foods has, among other things, been shown to decrease inflammation and the illnesses associated with it.
Buy in bulk. Meat sold in bulk by sustainable farms is flash frozen to ensure it's full value and flavor, and is available in a wide range of quantities and cuts. Most farms are happy to customize a purchase suited to your needs. Purchase with a friend or friends and share your order.
Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In the CSA model your meat and produce is purchased monthly and either delivered or picked up at a designated location. A CSA, enables better pricing by the farmer because he/she knows the quantities he will sell in advance. You are also guaranteed a set price on that month/s meat purchase allowing easier budgeting.You can find much more information about CSA's and CSA's in your area, right here at Forage & Fable!
Source meat locally. That's not always easy, but it's getting easier! A decade ago, there were only about 50 grass-fed-cattle operations left in the United States. Now, there are thousands and the numbers are growing. You can find Grass-Fed Beef here at the Forage & Fable Resources link.