Today CNN posted an article tilted “The grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef debate.”

The article was written in consumer friendly mumbo jumbo and probably has as much misinformation as it does good information.  For instance CNN’s cooking suggestions ranged from doing it correctly to totally destroying a meat cut.  It cooked roasts low and slow and steaks quickly.  As we all know, grass-fed steaks must be cooked low and slow too and anything past medium rare for a grass-fed steak is over cooked.

For an absolute fact CNN’s nutritional message for grass-fed meats was lost by mixing comments from knowledgeable people with those of idiots with professional degrees.  For instance I’ll quote three paragraphs.

Grass-fed beef is lower in calories, contains more healthy omega-3 fats, more vitamins A and E, higher levels of antioxidants, and up to seven times the beta-carotene.  Skeptics such as Chris Raines, a professor of meat science at Penn State, say the benefits of the different fat profiles are overblown:

“Some people get very excited about the fatty-acid profile of grass-fed beef.  Then, in the same breath, they’ll talk about how wonderfully lean it is.  We’re talking up the good fats that aren’t really there.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which says it supports all forms of beef production, echoes this much-ado-about-not-much theme.  Shalene McNeill, who has a Ph.D. in human nutrition and is executive director for human nutrition research at the association, acknowledges that “if you feed (cows) grass, you can slightly increase the omega-3 content, but if you look at it in terms of a whole diet, it’s not a significant advantage to human health.”

The first sentence is correct.  The rest of the verbiage is bald-faced illustrations of idiots in motion – or opinions from people who live and work in denial with obvious conflicts of interest.  Those of us in the actual grass-fed meat industry do not emphasize lean for starters.  We love the fat and eat it.  Our ground beef products are 10% and 22% fat.  We also sell packages of just fat!

In addition, the all important essential fatty acids (EFAs) are in the membranes of cells not just in the visible fat on a carcass.  To say that the EFAs do not exist because there is very little intramuscular fat is ignorance at best and deliberately misleading at its worst.  It is correct to say that eating grass-fed meats (and even wild fish) in addition to the regular American grain-based foods will not improve one’s health.

BUT, when one eats grass-fed meats and eliminates grains, concocted grain-based foods, grain-fed livestock products, nuts, and high glycemic foods one will improve body function by a huge degree.  This is the point whenever nutrition is introduced into the food equation.  If we want to eat foods that cure chronic disease and maintain good health, then we must eat The Real Diet of Man.  Grass-fed meats are only one part of the solution.  If we look at food as a form of entertainment, as CNN did in its article, then who cares what we eat?  Why even think in terms of nutrients and such?  Let’s just eat and let the health care costs soar.

So once again a huge media business puts out information that does not inform.  It had a chance to provide good solid nutritional information that could help millions of people.  Instead, it painted the proponents of grass-fed meat and peer-reviewed nutritional science as con artists.

Yes, CNN said:  As for nutrition, we put fat-content claims to the test by sending some of our finest grass-fed steaks for nutritional analysis, along with supermarket and specialty grain-fed cuts.  But it did not release those statistics.  Why?  And I’m sure if it did, it would not have indicated the importance of a balanced EFA profile.

So once again a major media outfit reports on a simple topic and misses the mark by no less than hundreds of miles.  It makes you shudder when you think we are relying on these same media outlets for information on other important topics such as economics, politics, and even on what’s going on down the street.

As I close this comment, I want to emphasize that the only reason for anyone to have an interest in grass-fed meats is for improving one’s health and well being.  But it will not work if one continues to eat the traditional American grain-based and high glycemic foods.  Grass-fed meats are all about nutrition.  They are all about following The Real Diet of Man.  They are not about flavor, humane treatment of animals, the environment, cost, tradition, organic, or any of the other miscellaneous reasons given by members of the mob.

Ted Slanker

Tuesday, March 29, 2011