Grass-Finished Beef and Lamb: A True Superfood
A few years ago, a friend went paleo and claimed that “red meat is a superfood.”
He explained that red meat contains almost every nutrient we need to live, except for vitamin C, along with healthy chemicals from the plants that animals eat, in a concentrated form. We asked this friend: what plants were concentrated in the meat he ate?
He didn’t know.
The truth is, the diet of livestock determines whether their meat is a superfood or unhealthy. Feedlot cattle are fed corn for months on end, which is like feeding only ice cream to a human: anatomically wrong.*
On the other hoof, cattle and sheep at Spoon Full eat fresh, living green pasture for about 8 months of the year, and organic grass hay over the winter. This living diet includes medicinal plants like alfalfa, clover, yarrow, and plantain - available to you in concentrated form.
Even grass is a superfood. Lush grass contains beta-carotene and vitamin E, as well as healthy Omega-3 fats that benefit your brain, skin, and hair, and reduce inflammation (and may prevent cancer).
But grass is hard to digest -- that’s where ruminant herbivores like cattle come in to work their magic.
* = What’s with “grass-finished” rather than “grass-fed,” you ask? Basically, the USDA stopped regulating the use of the term “Grass-fed,” so the term is now abused by producers whose calves grow up eating grass for six months, only to be finished on grain. Grass-finished means what it sounds like: all grass all the time. That’s how Spoon Full Cattle live and thrive.
The green things that Spoon Full ruminants eat offer you incredible nutrient benefits. Omega-3s are vastly deficient in most American diets, and that has serious health consequences. Beta Carotene is an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer. CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is reputed to regulate blood sugar and bodyweight, boost immunity, and prevent cancer.
The graph on the left shows a lower omega-6 : omega-3 ratio in grass-finished beef (read: more Omega-3). The graph on the right shows dramatically higher CLA levels in grass-finished beef.
“7 Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef”:
As farmers who eat plenty of grass-fed beef, we have felt the health benefits firsthand. So have our meat CSA customers. But data is more convincing than anecdotes - here’s some data for your mind.
Multiple studies show drastic differences in Omega-3 and antioxidant content, between grass-finished and grain-fed beef:
“A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef,” Daley et al., Nutrition Journal, 2010.
“Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health,” Ponnampalam et al., Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006.
“Systematic evaluation on the effectiveness of conjugated linoleic acid in human health",” Fuke and Nornberg, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2016.