Meat is a challenging topic to tackle when discussing health. Is it good for you? Bad for you? Does it cause heart disease? Are vegetarians protein deficient? Where should it come from? The questions are endless and the answers given to the public are usually confusing. At Our Four Forks, we believe eating meat can be healthful, but its nutrient density is wholly dependent on how the meat was raised. Here are six reasons why grass-fed meat is better for everyone:
1. Animals can move around //
Animals that our ancestors ate (bison, deer, cattle) had a much lower fat content than present day farm animals, largely because they roamed free. Exercise is integral to the health of an animal and prevents them from needing antibiotics or hormones (see number 3).
2. Animals eat food they were meant to eat //
Animals are supposed to eat vegetation. This means grass for cows and grubs, roots, insects and plants for poultry and pigs. Animals were not meant to eat grain, especially not chemically sprayed grain.
3. No antibiotics or hormones used //
Since conventionally raised animals live in close quarters and are force fed, they need antibiotics to prevent infection. Hormones are also used to reach slaughter weight faster. Neither antibiotics or hormones are necessary when an animal is properly raised.
4. Higher in nutrients and lower in saturated fat //
Pastured beef has less saturated fat and more nutrients than conventional beef. Pastured meat is a complete protein source and is high in iron; iron from meat is more usable by the body than any other source. Pastured meat is also high in B vitamins, especially B-12, which is only attainable through meat or fortified foods. Grass-fed or pastured dairy milk is a good source of fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2.
5. Better for the environment //
Pastured animals use a lot less fossil fuel than feedlots. Feedlot animals are fed a diet of dried corn and soy, which are treated with fossil fuel based fertilizers, sprayed with pesticides and then harvested with machines that run on more fossil fuel. Pastured animals fertilize the soil they graze on with their manure, making their environment self-sustaining (for more information, visit the Savory Institute). Feedlots are also concentrated waste areas; built-up excrement is often dumped near lakes and streams, which further pollutes the environment.
6. Better for your community //
Since it is sometimes difficult to find grass-fed or pastured meat at your local supermarket, you may have to buy from your local farmer. This is not a bad thing; the closer you can get to your food, the better for everyone. Grass-fed or pastured meat from local farmers is usually comparable in price to organic meat you’d buy at your supermarket and buying from your local farmer means you know where your meat is coming from. Visit our Love page for resources on how to find locally raised grass-fed meat.