Grass-fed beef offers an important option for those who want to make informed choices about daily diet and smart nutrition. The difference between typical supermarket beef and pasture-raised, naturally-grown beef is more than just language that sounds good and is currently cool. There are remarkable nutritional advantages for those who add quality beef to their diets.
It’s not surprising that the beef industry adapted to increasing demand in the 1950s by expanding feed lots and boosting market weights by adding grains to the diets of cattle. These days awareness of how that practice diminished the nutritional value and added unnecessary fats to beef is growing. And so, returning to a more natural method, which results in higher quality protein, is of great interest to those who want the most and best for their money.
There are important reasons people seek out a more local, responsibly and naturally raised beef supply. Cattle raised on grass pasture and, if needed, fed grass hay during the winter have meat that is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins known to promote health and well-being. A dollar spent on grass-fed beef returns a high value per calorie, as opposed to what are known as ’empty calories’ and low values from foods like chips. And, typical supermarket beef falls short of the vitamins and minerals contained in grass-fed beef.
Those who are looking for sustainable and humane conditions in the raising of the food they buy also appreciate the philosophy and practice of raising beef on grass pasture. Cattle on these kinds of ranches are free to graze and browse over acres which is their natural behavior. They have free access to water and live their lives under peaceful conditions.
Natural and grass-fed and pasture-raised are terms used by ranchers who intend to offer high quality beef. It is important to learn how the cattle are medicated and whether or not growth hormones are used. Grass fed beef can mean that cattle are fed grass only briefly, but 100% grass fed beef means that the cattle have lived their lives roaming the grassy fields and pastures. Many operations raise their cattle with only necessary medications, absolutely no hormones and free-range access to grass pasture for 100% of their food. This is the highest quality beef, but may not be called organic. The term organic is a legally-specific label and can only be used after an expensive licensing procedure. Organic only refers to the food provided to the cattle, not the access to pasture or life experience.