How and Why to Eat Grass-Fed and Pasture-Finished Beef

Key health reasons why every person should be buying and eating grass-fed and grass-finished beef rather than the typical supermarket, industrial beef.

Stop buying your beef from your local supermarket.

What's the beef? The average American eats more than 60 pounds of beef annually... and, sadly, most of it is the wrong kind of beef. Wrong kind of beef? Read on.

Beef has gotten a bad name for decades -- not because beef is inherently bad; in fact, the right kind of beef is inherently good for your health. Beef has gotten a bad name for decades because the vast majority of what people eat involves industrial, GMO corn-fed and grain-fed , feedlot beef -- which is indeed BAD for you... these cows have too much bad saturated fat, increased levels of stress hormones, and are overfed and pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals. This type of beef is simply BAD for you.

And guess what? Almost ALL the beef you find in your typical local grocery store (Safeway, Kroger, SaveMart, Giant, Walmart, etc.) comes from cows that have been raised on a grain/corn diet -- and finished in a disgusting feedlot with hundreds or thousands of other cows crammed into a small space (and treated with antibiotics since they are literally living in filth). Cows are grazers, not grain-eaters, but many ranchers have over time changed how they raise cattle because grain-fed cattle get big and fat faster -- which means more money, faster. Decades ago, the average age of a slaughtered cow was 4-5 years; today, it is about 14-16 months -- and the only way to fatten a cow that quickly is through artificial methods.

Truly grass-fed beef -- meaning cows that have been raised properly in pastures on an ALL grass diet -- are leaner and have GOOD fat... and are perhaps the best source of protein. This type of beef has multiple health benefits. Grass-fed beef is higher in antioxidants, minerals (including iron, zinc, selenium), vitamins (A and E, as well as B6 and B12), Omega-3 fatty acids, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)... all leading to improved immunity and anti-inflammation benefits. CLA has been shown to help fight cancer, discourage weight gain, and build muscle.

Health Benefits From Truly Grass-fed, Grass-finished, Pastured Cattle

1. Builds stronger muscle and cartilage tissue, while preventing sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that develops from a deficiency in protein over time.

2. Helps cells fight off damage that can lead to serious diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's Disease.

3. Reduces the risk of heart disease.

4. Reduces bad cholesterol, which has all kinds of health benefits.

5. Helps prevent autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Only Guaranteed Source of 100% Grass-Fed Beef? Buying Local... or Through Reputable Online Sources

If you're not already aware of this fact, I might as well break the news to you that food labeling in the United States is misleading -- and food marketers love it because they can use labels that sound good, such as "natural" and "healthy" -- but which mean nothing.

Even the "grass-fed" label means next to nothing, unless certified by the American Grassfed Association. For all the commercial meat you find in your grocery store, "grass-fed" simply means at some point in its life, the cow ate grass... so, technically, almost all industrial, feedlot beef could contain that label. Even beef that may have been grass-fed as calves still gets finished with grains, which eliminates the health benefits.

While some "natural" grocery stores (Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, etc.) carry some pastured meats, the only true solution is buying from your local rancher -- which has multiple benefits, including supporting a "neighbor" -- or from one of the growing number of online companies that are selling truly grass-everything, pastured beef.

I prefer buying directly from a local rancher... you can call and make an appointment to view the cattle operations. Buying directly from your local rancher not only guarantees fresh and grass-fed beef, but also supports a strong local community. Some ranchers, with bigger operations, sell individual cuts of beef, but one of the hardships for many consumers is that smaller ranchers only sell shares (typically a quarter, half, or whole) of beef, which means a higher out-of-pocket and a need for a standalone freezer for all the meat. But you can find a way around that by bringing some friends and neighbors together to make the purchase.

Search online for providers in your area. EatWild and the American Grassfed Association are good starting points. Visiting your local farmer's market is also a great idea.

National providers of grass-fed and grass-finished beef include Butcher BoxThrive MarketUS Wellness MeatsFarmersCart, and CrowdCow.

I personally love Marx Foods, because they sell a wide variety of meats, poultry, and seafood -- most from sustainable and high-quality sources.

Final Thoughts on Grass-Everything Beef

First, of course, you should be consuming everything in moderation. As with any food, eating too much beef can lead to negative consequences... the goal here is a balanced diet of meats (pastured beef, pork, chicken), fish (wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, cod, lake trout, striped bass, Arctic Char), vegetables (organic), and fruits (organic).

Finally, check out these additional resources on grass-fed beef:

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