Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grass Fed Beef: A Small Step to a Healthier Life

Recently, I've been becoming more and more interested in finding ways to feed my family that are both nutritionally sound and more natural. For instance, when Lily made the transition to whole milk, we seriously discussed the possible dangers of "regular" milk, which can be full of antibiotics like Bovine Growth Hormone. To avoid any unknown dangers, we chose to spend a few extra dollars each time we bought a gallon of milk to provide her with organic, and antibiotic free, milk.

However, the more research I do, the more I realize that antibiotics are rampant in our food. It is in milk, chicken, pork, eggs, beef, etc. .and, as a result, humans are ingesting more antibiotics than many of us realize, creating "superbugs" that are immune to traditional antibiotic treatment. I have made every effort that I can to buy organic milk, eggs laid by chickens given vegetarian diets with no antibiotics, antibiotic free chicken, and the like; however, it has been especially difficult to find beef that is free of antibiotics.

Why is this? It is because most beef is corn fed (which, with genetically engineered corn, can be even more unhealthy for humans). Cattle are fed corn because their owners would like them to be slaughtered at much younger ages. Therefore, in order to fatten them up faster, ranchers and feed-lot owners literally have to change the cow's digestive habits. To do this, cattle have to continually be fed antibiotics to avoid feed-lot bloat and acidosis.

Not only is corn-fed beef filled with antibiotics, it is also more fattening than grass-fed, "natural" beef. While the USDA might grade beef based on marbling with intramuscular fat, the fact that this beef is worse for humans and loaded with saturated fat goes unnoticed. Grass fed beef is lower in saturated fat and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, making it more heart healthy and leaner than corn-fed beef.

We have decided, then, that we are going to start buying grass fed beef from a local vendor. We feel that, it is not only a healthier decision, it is also more environmentally friendly (pastured cattle are less polluting, since waste goes back into the land) and more humanitarian (cattle are not forced to live in confinement or feed lots). Because we cannot, at this point, commit to becoming vegetarians (we do love meat!), we feel this is one of the healthier alternatives.

1 comment:

Prairie Freethinker said...

Good decision, but you know my feelings in general on meat and dairy! ;)

It's worth noting that the rate of having twins in mothers who drink typical cow's milk (the milk with not only antibiotics, but also growth hormone)--about 3 times the rate of mothers who don't--is virtually identical to the "twinning rate" found in mother cows fed growth hormone compared to those who aren't. Coincidence? Possibly. But...