When it comes to buying meats, many of us are choosing organic for healthier food, better quality, and surprisingly improved taste.
You may have been buying organic beef, but if you’re not buying grass fed beef, you are missing an opportunity to have even more healthy and tasty beef.
Traditionally, beef cattle were allowed to graze in the pasture, and their diets were supplemented with hay, silage and other grasses or dried forage products, in keeping with their natural diet.
However, farmers soon found that supplementing the natural diet of cows with things like corn, protein, and soy would cause the cattle to put on more weight more quickly. This means a shorter period of time waiting for your investment to pay off, and consequently, more profit.
Unfortunately, these types of feed are very hard for the cow to digest. This means these cattle are often in poor health and require regular antibiotics and other medications. All of this affects the quality and flavor of the beef, as well as the chemicals it contains which are ultimately consumed by those who eat the beef.
When cattle are fed a natural diet of grass, they produce beef that has less fat. Their beef also has greater amounts of zinc and vitamins B12 and E. There are also larger amounts of essential fatty acids omega 3 and CLA.
For beef to be certified organic, it has to receive only organic feed, receive no injections of antibiotics or hormones, and have access to the outdoors every day. Notice that the requirement is for organic “feed” and not grass specifically.
Even organic beef may have been fed a diet of organic corn during its last several months to increase its weight. While “organic” does not ensure “grass fed,” neither does “grass fed,” ensure that the grasses being used as food sources where not chemically treated. For the best quality beef, look for labels that specify both “organic” AND “grass fed.”
You can sometimes find grass fed organic beef in your local natural foods store or a quality butcher shop, or you can shop online if you cannot find a local source.
Hopefully as more consumers become aware of this healthier and tastier beef, it will become more widely available. As consumers demand healthier products, hopefully farmers will go back to feeding cows a more natural diet.