What exactly is "grass-fed" beef?
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What is “grass-fed” beef?
To keep it simple, grass-fed beef implies that the animal’s primary source of nourishment comes from grass. Organic grass-fed beef ensures that animals are:
- Free of hormones, antibiotics, and GMO’s
- Raised in open grass environments
- Prohibited from living in confined spaces
A true grass-fed system will keep cattle on pastures for their entire lives. Not only are cows eating how they’re meant to eat, this kind of system also aids our environment. Farmers that partake in grass-fed systems use fewer resources that greatly help the climate change crisis.
Nutrients in grass-fed beef
Organic grass-fed beef contains valuable nutrients that factory-raised meat does not. The meat that comes from cattle that only consume grass contains higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins. There are also two to three times the amount of CLA’s, conjugated linoleic acids, in grass-fed beef. CLA’s have been associated with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and cholesterol levels. Healthier ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids can also be found in organic grass-fed meat.
Watch out for misleading labels
Above all, it’s crucial to know what these labels really entail. Just because a label claims to be grass-fed, free range, pasture-raised, does not mean that the animal consumed grass it’s entire life. There are loopholes in the system and because of this, one shouldn’t assume that grass-fed means 100 percent grass-fed. Back in January of 2016, the USDA dropped the definition of what makes a product “grass-fed,” thus leaving it open to various interpretations. Establishments are cheating the system and using dishonest marketing techniques to lure consumers. If you are interested in purchasing organic grass-fed meat, here are a few packaging labels that you should watch out for:
- American Grassfed Association (AGA)
- USDA Organic
- Global Animal Partnership
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Certified Humane
- Food Alliance Certified
Don’t be tricked by the “free-range” or “pasture-raised” labels. The USDA label for “free-range” only means that animals have access to the outdoors. How much access is given, is never fully clarified. The “pasture-raised” label means absolutely nothing considering the fact that there is no legal U.S. definition for the word. Animals may roam and graze but they may also be switched to confined living spaces after some time.
All in all, there are greater and better nutrients that are delivered to your belly when you buy organic grass-fed meat. There’s a lot to gain when you learn how to read labels on packaging. At the end of the day, the decision is ultimately yours. Buying organic grass-fed meat is better for your well-being but it can also be higher in price. We hope this article helps!
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