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Health Tips

Why grass-fed organic beef is important for your health

Brittany Carlson

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I’m a big fan of eating organic and grass-fed meat. Here are some of the health benefits:

1. It is high in good fat (CLA), which affects your metabolism and body temperature, and keeps blood sugar in balance. CLA can also reduce risks of heart disease (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2010).
2. It does not contain added hormones and antibiotics.
3. It is high in antioxidant rich vitamins like A, B, C and E.
4. Grass-fed beef contains important minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium— think strong bones!
5. Contains B12, which is essential for your digestion and energy levels.

"But does it really matter?” you ask me. The answer is yes— eating meat from organic grass- fed versus conventionally-raised cows does really matter! How the animals are raised: what they eat, their living conditions, the diseases and bacteria that they are exposed to; these are all of the things that impact the quality of meat on your plate.

Grass-fed cows live a nourished life compared to cows that are raised conventionally. They roam the land freely and eat when they please, feed on grass and other plants in their pasture— sometimes cabbage, kale, spinach— whatever is growing on the land. The cows life is about 24 to 28 months.

In contrast, after one year of pasture, conventionally-raised cows are moved to a feedlot where they have only approximately 20 to 25 feet of space to roam. These cows are primarily fed corn, soy and even candy which fattens them up in a short amount of time. A farmer at White Oak Pastures in Georgia said, “The high-carbohydrate corn and soy diet causes cattle to become unnaturally obese creatures that would never exist in nature.” The cows life is typically 14 to 18 months.

Conventionally-raised cows are given antibiotics as well as hormones to keep them growing fast and to prevent disease that comes of this extremely fast-paced life. Because cows have a hard time digesting high starch foods such as corn and soy, they often develop ulcers and infections in their digestive tracts, resulting in more bacteria in their manure (ie., E. Coli). This creates a perfect environment for illness.

In an effort to kill toxic bacteria, antibiotics are used. The problem, as we all know, is that all of us have overused antibiotics, and as a result many of the bacteria are now resistant to it. It is no longer a sure way to destroy bacteria.

Tests completed by Consumer Reports indicated that we are still susceptible to harmful bacteria even if meat is completely cooked! Consumer Reports tested 300 packages of ground beef from around the United States for common strains of bacteria. They found that over 40% contained staph aureus, about 20% contained c. perfingens, and a majority of the meat contained super-bug bacteria. Super-bug bacteria are resistant to three or more kinds of antibiotics. That means, if you get sick, it can be extremely difficult to get better.

Consumer Reports most significant finding was that organic and grass-fed beef is three times less likely to have super-bug bacteria.

Want more fuel for change? According to a study at California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef contains 3 times more CLA— a healthy fat that promotes weight loss and is associated with decreased risk of heart disease-- than grain-fed beef.

So there a couple different options for moving forward. You can go to your local grocery store and purchase grass-fed organic meat and enjoy your burgers at home, or you can ask your restaurant servers. If they don’t know, you can assume it’s not organic or grass-fed, since most restaurants will use this as a selling point if applicable.