Cattle roaming on the open range paints a romantic picture of the American glory days. However, the beef that ends up on our plate is often not raised in such a glorious way. You may have heard the key words grass-fed and grass-finished being thrown around a lot by chefs. But what does this even mean? Today we’re breaking down these terms and explaining why they’re so important to us.
Grass-fed, grass-finished is also known as pasture raised. Which is pretty self explanatory. Once young cows are weaned off of their mother’s milk, they get exercise roaming green fields and naturally enjoy lush vegetation for the rest of their lives. Leads to a healthy cow which leads to nutritious beef.
Grain fed cows, on the other hand, are moved to a feedlot after they are weaned off of their mother’s milk. There, the cows are held in small spaces and fed grains, corn, and soy to fatten them up. This unnatural diet and low activity level generally leads to an increase in illnesses in the cows and, in turn, an increase in antibiotics and cortisol levels (the stress hormone). In addition to diet, hormones such as testosterone and estrogen are often used to boost growth in grain fed cows in order to produce a higher yield of beef.
Grass-fed beef is higher in beta carotene and omega 3 essential fatty acids, richer in vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.
The stress on the cows results in 4x more fat per 3 oz serving of beef in grain fed cows.
We could go on and on listing the stats on both the macro and micro nutrients comparing the two types of beef, but the point is; pasture raised cows fed grass are much healthier, which means a more nutritious beef product for you.
Now here’s where it gets confusing. The term “grass-fed” is unregulated, meaning that the term can be used in any situation where a cow was on a grass-fed diet. In most cases a cow is started on a grass-fed diet, but then (because of cost and convenience) switched to a grain fed diet. While beef labeled “grass-fed” IS more nutritious than “grain-fed” the key word to look out for is “grass-finished.” This means that the cow was allowed to roam and enjoy a natural grass diet for the entirety of their lives. This practice ultimately leads to the most nutrient dense, high quality beef.
The old adage “you are what you eat” really rings true here. A stressed animal full of unnatural hormones and antibiotics has a different effect on you and your body than an animal allowed to grow and eat in their instinctive ways. And THAT’S why we’re so passionate about providing hard working college students with the highest quality meats possible.