Do you often hear from your trainer, nutritionist or health-conscious friends that you should avoid grain-fed meat and switch to organic grass-fed meat? Do you think it’s all just an expensive fad and don’t really care whether the cow you are having for dinner was fed grass or grains as long as it’s cooked the way you like it? As a devoted meat lover, I didn’t used to care either and ate any meat, any time… until I did my research and found some interesting facts from credible scientific sources. Let me share my findings…
Factory-farmed meat is toxic being full of chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Hormones and antibiotics are given to animals to promote growth and prevent disease and chemicals and pesticides are contained in the grains given to the animals to fatten them up.
Factory-farmed animals are fed grains to fatten them. The meat from grain-fed animals has unnaturally high omega-6 fatty acid levels and extremely low omega-3 fatty acid levels. The meat from wild game and pasture-fed animals has significant quantities of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients, it’s readily satisfying and far more filling than same amounts of grain-fed meat (you will need less to feel full).
Grass-fed beef is higher in B-vitamins, beta-carotene (look for yellow fat), vitamin E, vitamin K, and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Studies show grass feeding results in higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which can prevent cancer, and improves body composition and the development of lean muscle mass. Studies also typically show lower total levels of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats in grass-fed cows, which means lower risk of clogged arteries.
Industrial farms raise so many animals and produce so much manure that the excess often contaminates the earth. The excess of manure can infect wells and other areas with E. coli and other dangerous chemicals. Organic farms raise less livestock and produce just enough manure to rejuvenate and fertilize the soil. Also, because organic animals are fed organic diets, their manure is pure and free from any toxins.
What’s all the fuss about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids?
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are probably the most deficient nutrients in the modern Western diet. They are essential, which means that they can’t be manufactured by the body and must be supplied by the diet. These essential fatty acids in a form of ALA are contained in the cells of plankton, green and leafy plants such as grass and other sources such as walnuts and flaxseeds. When animals eat grass, the ALA is converted via enzymatic processes into its derivative forms: EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA) are required for production of hormones, facilitation of many processes in brain (cognitive and visual function, formation of neuroreceptors for neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine) and formation of cellular membranes. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is contributing or causative factor in weight gain, depression, arthritis, heart disease, allergies, cravings for carbohydrates and sweet cravings, lowered immunity, fatigue, skin disorders and many other health issues.
Omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in grains, legumes and nuts. Although, we also need omega-6 fatty acids and balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is required for optimal health, recent trends in agriculture such as food processing and production of grain-fed meat leads to excessive levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Excessively high levels of Omega-6 and significantly low levels of Omega 3 exacerbate inflammation in human body, which leads to various health issues such as chronic disease and autoimmune disorders. Wild game and exclusively grass fed and finished beef, lamb, venison and buffalo are superb sources of omega-3 fatty acid. It is important that the animals are grass fed and finished as it often happens that beef is grass fed but feedlot-finished on grains, corn and soybeans, eliminating virtually all omega-3 fatty acid content and containing highly imbalanced quantities of omega-6 fatty acids.