So why should we eat grass-fed meat, milk, eggs, cheese and butter instead of the more readily available corn-fed variety? Bottom line, grass-fed products are healthier for us than corn-fed, which are also full of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.
Let’s focus on cows, which by nature are herbivores (plant-eating) and have four-chambered stomachs that are designed to digest grasses, which the human stomach can’t. However, cows grow bigger faster when fed corn (itself grown with the help of dangerous pesticides), so--principally in the United States--cattlemen provide a diet based mostly on corn and animal by-products. And don’t forget about the hormones administered to further facilitate growth. (The equation is straightforward: bigger cows faster = more slaughtering = more money.)
But that’s not the worst of it. The incorrectly fed cows are also jam-packed into the commercial feedlots. (Imagine 15 people squeezed into the SUV you now wish you hadn’t bought.) They don’t get the exercise or sleep they need, which, combined with improper nutrition and general stress, lead to widespread sickness and disease. Enter the antibiotic, the magic potion which cures all ills. Or does it?
The antibiotics, along with the hormones, pesticides and any diseases in the animal-based portion of the feed, pass directly into our food supply. Could this be the catalyst for our ballooning rate of cancers, heart disease, obesity and allergies?
So, what to do? Start buying grass-fed meat and dairy products, which contain nutrients, vitamins and healthy fats that corn-fed products don’t: vitamin E (lowers risk of heart disease and cancer), conjugated linoleic acid or CLA (a cancer-fighting fat), beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant with far-reaching benefits) and omega-3 fatty acids (a heart-friendly fat with many other pluses). These health advantages emanate from the grass, which the cows eat, digest and turn into edible form for us.
Grass-fed goods are becoming more readily available as the number of farmers producing them increases. Farmers markets in big cities are a great source, as are progressive food stores. Alternatively, click here for a list of grass-fed suppliers, many of whom ship within the United States.
One word of caution: “Organic” is not synonymous with “grass-fed.” Organic means that the product does not contain hormones, antibiotics or feed containing pesticides. However, that feed can be corn, which to reiterate, doesn’t supply the same health benefits as grass. Grass-fed foods will be labeled as such.