What are the benefits of grass-fed beef?
This is a hotly debated topic not only within the cattle industry, but also among nutritionists, healthcare providers, animal rights activists, and environmentalists. As in many debates about the raising and processing of food, environmental consequences, nutrition, and the impact of diet on health and disease, the various positions taken are based on beliefs, feelings, traditions, and science.
When science is ignored and the debate is about beliefs, feelings, and traditions, the conclusions become rather meaningless because anything goes. But if the focus is on science which is the understanding of the physical world as we know it, then the debate has traction.
This article is only a preliminary introduction to the differences between grain-fed and grass-fed meats. It is geared toward cattlemen more than consumers. For more in-depth studies about the nutritional advantages of grass-fed meats check out Omega-3 Essays and the many peer-reviewed works in the Science Links sections of this Web site.
Have you ever heard a dietitian tell folks to go down to the "Top Notch" Supermarket and stock up on all the USDA Prime beef they can find? That's right, have you heard a dietitian tell folks to buy the fattest meat they can find?
Slanker's critters are NOT raised in feedlots and buildings; they are always raised outside on grass. The reason we keep them on grass is to make sure the critters we raise will always make a perfectly nutritious meal. Since the foundation food for all animal life is the green leaf, the most destructive aspect of the feedlot business is that its primary foodstuff is grain!
When it comes to animal abuse I want to make it perfectly clear that other than being fed grain, most animals are not being abused in feedlots for several reasons. Number one is that all farm animals have a herd instinct. They like being in the company of their peers. It actually gives them great comfort in that they feel more secure being in the herd or flock. Two, all animals love welfare. If they have "sweet" feed and clean water close by day after day, that eliminates their next great concern. Unbeknownst to them, though, is the next benefit. That is healthcare and protection from the environment. Feedlot managers are healthcare fanatics. Every sick animal costs money. Every death represents a total loss. Also, animals in confinement are less vulnerable to the vagaries of nature and predators.