Monday, March 4, 2013

Grass Fed Beef – it’s probably not what you think it is.




Most of what you’ve heard about grass fed beef is, forgive the pun, bullshit. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this. As a meat seller, I should just get some grass fed beef, jump on the bandwagon, jack up prices and merrily push it down the tubes. Unfortunately, I’m also a meat grower and every time I read another missive on how grass fed beef is so great it makes me want to rip out my eyeballs.

Alternative beef has been gaining traction for years now. I think this is a great thing. Just like a booming micro-brew business gives consumers extra choices and brewers increased employment, a plethora of protein options gives us all greater food security and a healthier agricultural economy. But somewhere along the way a few sensationalists jumped into the fray and started a snowball of faulty analysis that has turned into an avalanche of disinformation.

I think the largest contributor to this is the writer Michal Pollan, whose book, “The Omnivore’s Dilema” has become something of a bible for the grass fed beef industry. I have not read the book, I don’t plan on reading the book because maintaining a stable blood pressure is important to me, but I’ve had hundreds of people tell me all about this book so I think I’ve got some idea of what it says. However since I haven’t read it, I’m not going to address the book, rather I’m going to address what I’ve seen as the most common conventional wisdom regarding why grass fed beef is so gosh darned great.
In a nutshell the popular belief seems to be:
1.   Cows in their natural state are grass eaters but
2.   Feedlots confine them and force them to eat corn and then
3.   Their stomachs go haywire so
4.   Feedlots feed them antibiotics which
5.   Create antibiotic resistance in humans if only
6.   We all ate grass fed beef, everything would be peachy.

On the surface, this seems to make a lot of sense. To the layman this is a very logical argument and it has a nice feel good message to it. It’s simple and people love simple problems with simple solutions. But this slippery piece of pseudo-scientific reasoning has more holes than a high-end whorehouse.

The problem is that:

  1. Cows eat all kinds of grasses, grains, stalks, leaves, etc. Cows are amazing in their ability to turn just about any type of cellulose into protein. Cows can get fat at the salad bar, how cool is that? They’ve got these massive rumens, inside of which are a host of bacteria that ferment their forage until it can be absorbed. They even chew it multiple times just to squeeze all the nutrients out.  So to oversimplify a cow’s diet into two fields (ha!), grass or grain, is very misleading. *In case you were wondering, the four stomachs of a cow are the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. If we ever get into a trivia match, I will ask you that question.
  2. You can't force feed a cow anything. Food is put out for them twice a day, hopefully they will eat it all. But if cows aren't happy, they stop eating, don't gain any weight, and that makes farmers sad. Feedlot operators, who are often farmers who buy cows to feed their crops to, get paid by the difference in weight of the cows going out, versus that of the cows coming in. They hope to have an average daily gain of over 3 pounds. To do that they need to have a feed mixture that is balanced with enough energy, protein and roughage. Corn is used as the energy portion but cattle are fed a lot of things other than corn. Another thing on the subject of feedlots, cattle are not crammed into them. There are guidelines regarding how many square feet is needed for one steer or one heifer. But the real limiting factor is the amount of feedbunks. There has to be enough feedbunk space for every animal in the pen to eat or they won’t gain weight. Since the bunks usually run down one side of the pen, that’s how you determine how many animals you can fit in the pen. Huge pens don’t mean anything. Cows are herd animals, you could give them 20 acre each and they’d still all be bunched up together right in the spot that you don’t want them to be.
  3. Their stomachs do occasionally go haywire, the two biggest problems are bloat and acidosis. These can happen on rich grass as well as corn. Feeders don't want this to happen because it makes them go off feed and sometimes die. It is not only possible, but it is actually normal for feedlot cattle to have a very low incidence of both disorders. This is because the feeder does a good job of blending the feed allowing the cattle to slowly grow accustomed to new feed mixes. If the feeder doesn’t do this well, then his cattle don’t gain weight, he doesn’t make any money, and his daughters end up on the pole down at Bubba’s Lusty Longhorn. Feeders don’t want that to happen.
  4. The antibiotics that are used in the beef industry are mostly to influence the flora of the gut to increase feed efficiency. Prophylactic drug use tends to be reserved for high stress times like when cattle have just been moved into a feedlot or when the animal is really sick. It is OK if you read the word prophylactic and sniggered a bit at the thought of steers in condoms. When antibiotics are used for anything other than to promote daily gain, the goal is to get them off the antibiotics as quickly as possible because they are expensive.
  5. There is some risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria crossing over into humans. But it's not been happening and people have been looking for it pretty intensely. Two types of antibiotics make up 70% of those used in food animals; Ionophores at about 28% and Tertracyclines at 42%. Ionophores aren’t used in humans at all. Tetracyclines only make up 1% of the antibiotics used in humans. However one of the uses is to treat Chlamydia, so that’s a bit scary right there, fortunately there are other antibiotics that work better so you’ll be OK if things get a little out of hand at the Kyabakura. (My internet history is currently really sketchy…) If you’ve heard any of the anti-antibiotics mantra, you are probably familiar with the statement that 80% of the antibiotics used in the US are for animal agriculture. That’s a frightening number, but it’s not really news. Antibiotic use in animals has been regulated since the 50’s, and yet the vast majority of the science regarding resistance in humans has firmly pointed to the overuse of antibiotics in humans. This is something that we should keep a close eye on, but it really has next to nothing to do with grass fed beef.
  6. So if you have been using those arguments to solve the dilemma of being an omnivore in a complex food landscape, you might say the points are moot.
In addition to the grass fed movement playing very hard and fast with the facts, there is still not really a hard definition of what grass fed actually means. Nearly all cattle spend a portion of their lives on free range grazing. The typical steer or heifer raised for beef in the US will be slaughtered at 24 months of age. The final finishing portion in which the steer is fed a diet high in corn and other grains is usually for just the last three or four months, up until then, it was almost all grass. Also, inside the feedlot they get fed a lot of hay, so basically any US beef could make a 90% grass fed claim and be pretty honest.

Most places promoting grass fed beef like to call their beefmake 100% grass fed. I have no idea what this means. The USDA does regulate the grass fed claim, this is what they say about it:
Grass (Forage) Fed – Grass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state. Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain, and other roughage sources may also be included as acceptable feed sources. Routine mineral and vitamin supplementation may also be included in the feeding regimen. If incidental supplementation occurs due to inadvertent exposure to non-forage feedstuffs or to ensure the animal’s well being at all times during adverse environmental or physical conditions, the producer must fully document (e.g., receipts, ingredients, and tear tags) the supplementation that occurs including the amount, the frequency, and the supplements provided.
There are a couple holes big enough in that definition to steer a bull through. First, grain crops can be fed in their pre-grain state. So while you can’t harvest corn and then feed them the corn, you can turn cattle out in the corn field and let them eat if off the stalks. Or you can even go out and chop down the corn before the kernels have dried into grains and feed them the silage. Second, the animals need to have access to pasture (I don’t know what size a pen has to be before you start calling it a pasture) during the growing season. Well, where I’m from in Nebraska, the growing season feels like it’s about 6 weeks long but is in fact 123 days. So you could theoretically background on grass all summer and fall, put them in the feedlot and feed them corn silage all winter, slaughter in February and call it grass fed. If you’ve ever had any really tender and juicy grass-fed beef in the US, this was probably what you had. I really don’t get the point. The reason it’s so confusing is because grass fed beef as a market niche has evolved due to a dislocate with reality as a result of some massive consumer confusion and the industry and regulatory bodies are having a very difficult time catching up.
At the moment there are a lot of different products that can make the claim to be grass fed. 
·         There’s beef that comes from cattle that spend all of their lives roaming pastureland and grazing with no supplemental feeding until they are finally captured, killed, and cut-up. This can only come from places that don’t have a severe winter because snow seriously impedes a cow’s ability to graze. Our Australian grass-fed is like this. The problem with this is that it’s very hard to have much consistency. The animals are harvested according to the calander, not according to their size or how fat they are. Sometimes it will be great, sometimes it will be so-so.
·         There’s beef that comes from cattle that graze part of the year and then are supplemented with hay or silage for part of the year. The quality of this beef depends on what breed of cattle it is, what types of grass they are grazing, and what the terminal weight and age of the animal ends up being. There is a huge range of quality in this category with most of it being on the low end.
·         There is beef that comes from animals that are raised in intensive rotational grazing environments on a variety of farmed forages. I got to see some of this in New Zealand (although it’s not the only method there and New Zealand is not the only place that does this) and I thought it was pretty cool. They plant their paddocks, which look a lot like pastures only smaller, with different plants like kale, oats, I even saw chicory, depending on the phase of the growout. Then they turn their steers lose in a small fenced off area until it’s all been consumed and move them to fresh forage every couple of days. This will produce very tasty beef, but considering all of the labor it requires, it really seems like it would be easier to just harvest the crops and then feed the cattle.
·         There is beef that comes from cattle that are in pastures that have feedbunks in them, and into these feedbunks cattle are given feed which is made up of a mixture of hay and cereals that are still “in their vegetative state”. I reckon that from a distance these places would look a lot like a feedlot, but I bet these feeders would get a bit touchy if you called it that. The best looking and tasting grass fed beef that I’ve seen came from places like this.   

“But grass-fed beef tastes better.” If you say that in my presence, and if I think I can get away with it, I will smack you on the back of your head. There are a couple of reasons why grain fed beef has become the standard in the industry. Feeding cattle grain during a final fattening stage called finishing produces a very consistent product with a higher level of marbling than beef that is not grain finished. Marbling is the single most important factor in determining palatability and tenderness. It’s not a matter of personal preference, our taste buds recognize the fats in marbled meat and our palates prefer that fat. In every blind taste test ever done anywhere by anyone anytime in the history of eating cow meat, abundantly marbled beef tastes better than beef with little or no marbling. Corn does a very good job of increasing marbling.

“But what about the Omega 3’s?” Whenever I hear this, my smacking hand starts to get twitchy. First off, you should never make dietary decisions based upon one micronutrient, with the possible exception of Vitamin C because scurvy is a bitch. The studies on this have been very limited and while there is some correlation, that doesn’t mean that it’s a causal relationship. I personally suspect that the formation of Omega 3 fatty acids in beef has more to do with genetics than with feeding. That would explain why Japanese Wagyu, which are more intensively grain fed than any other beef on the planet, is also high in Omega 3. The science of nutrition is still in its infancy, if you want to eat healthily, eat a lot of different things.

“But what about sustainability?” This is fodder for a different posting, but without defining what sustainability means, it’s hard to make any claims. I have yet to see a measurable definition of sustainablitly, but I see the word used a lot to sell things that are definitely not good for the environment.    

My apologies for the exceedingly long post, but I think beef is great, some beef is greater than others, but there’s no reason to denigrate any particular method. There are a number of large challenges facing the beef industry, issues like concentration in the packing industry, reluctance of youth to enter agriculture as a profession, conservation of resources, etc., etc. But grass fed versus conventional is not one of the serious issues of the day and it pains me that so many people think it is. The import take away form all of this is to buy all of your beef from The Meat Guy! Because beef from any other source will cause your hair to fall out and force your female offspring to enter into salacious employment.

62 comments:

Hugo Deslippe said...

You make some valid points but I think that you forget some important points:

feedlot beef are not only fed grains. They are also fed antibiotics (that you mentioned)
Growth hormones and sometimes (well at least up to just a few years ago) dead cows.

Also, according to a CNN article:
"A study by researchers at California State University in Chico examined three decades of research and found that beef from pasture-raised cows fits more closely into goals for a diet lower in saturated fat and higher in "good fats" and other beneficial nutrients."
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/29/grass.grain.beef.cookinglight/index.html

We are not only talking Omega 3 here:
'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.'

Another quote, my last:
'Compared with the bright, white fat of conventional beef, grass-fed fat is often yellower, stemming from the higher levels of beta-carotene.'

If you want to hear a great farmer talk about Grassfed beef, listen to Joel Salatin:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIcfh2UqV8

Thanks for the work.

TheMeatGuy said...

Hi Hugo, thanks for the comments, these are great!

Hormones are used in feedlots, they are also used outside of feedlots so lots of grass fed cattle have been given hormones. Mainly the hormones used in beef production are for increasing feed conversion and they save about $100 worth of feed per head. You'd think that since these implants (the hormones are delivered through a time release capsule that is implanted under the skin, usually in the ear) can help cattle produce more beef with less feed, that the sustainability community would be a huge fan. But they're not. I personally don't like hormone use in beef because there is a trade-off and that is marbling. Implanted cattle produce beef that is less marbled than animals without implants. If you want to avoid hormones, eat beef that is highly marbled, like high USDA Choice or Prime, there's a good chance that those cattle weren't implanted or the implant did't stick. The hormones in beef are naturally occurring, have no efficacy in humans, and residues are usually too small to even be measured. You might want to avoid pork though, Ractopamine is widely used in pork production and is a far nastier drug.
Meat and Bone Meal, which is the "dead cows" that were used as feed was widely used for decades all over the world. Dried, ground up bones worked very well as a calcium supplement and were fed to both pastured and feedlot beef. It turns out this was not a very good idea and has been discontinued.
Regarding matters of nutrition, that's worthy of an entire separate blog post. Anytime I read arguments regarding micro-nutrients, I wonder why we spend some much time on them when we still don't have a very good grasp on "macro" nutrients. We know a lot about the nutritional requirements of chickens, we've raised billions of them and it only takes 6 weeks to grow-out. We know a lot about pig nutrition, and cattle nutrition knowledge is good, but still requires a lot of study. Comparatively, we don't know jack-shit about human nutrition. People live too long, eat too many different things, and get pesky when you try and lock them up in cages for study. Eat a bunch of different stuff, don't smoke and drink too much, exercise.
Joel Salatin has done a great job of getting people interested in where their food comes from. But he's a personality, not a farmer. You can't apply the same management rules for his tiny 550 acre farm to something like the family run 10,000 acre ranch that I grew up on.

Jimmy F said...

I think the main argument of Omnivore's Dilemma was not one against feedlots, grain or anibiotics, but one against the culture of waste and short-sightedness that has come to dominate popular thinking today. Current modes of production and distribution for cattle (and most other foods) are highly energy intensive. They burn through tonnes of non-renewable resources just so that a small group of people on earth can have the luxury of having cheap beef all year. That such practices make monetary sense today is not an indication of continued sustainability, just like how the practice of subprime lending was not sustainable even though it did the economy some good initially. Most people accepts some of the risks we are now taking because they assume that centralized food production is vital to solving the food problem. Pollan simply wanted to point out that more distributed, less resource-hungry options do exist, and that it is at least possible to have high quality beef without resorting to grain and drugs.

Ironically, the term grass-fed has recently been taken advantage of as a means to market more feedlot-produced beef (like how the term organic is being used to market fruits and vegetables), and I can understand your rage at such hypocrisy and nonsense. Nevertheless I feel that the underlying issue of choosing to make sacrifices for the environment is a valid one, and should probably be given more thought considering the high stakes involved.

Jimmy F said...
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Linda Gould said...

It is hard for me to read through your blog post because of the nastiness in your tone and the disrespectful references to women in it. I came to your site to buy meat, I thought it might be interesting to read about grass-fed beef since it is a new product, and then I was assaulted by your regular references to hitting and smacking someone who might disagree with you and insulted by your reference to a whorehouse. Really? You couldn't find any other metaphor? Well, the only thing you convinced me of is that you are misogynistic and to stop buying meat from you. And I'll mention it on my facebook page, too.

Derek Blais said...

Grass fed is better. There is really no sense in arguing about it. Just look at the data. It's not only healthier for the animals and the consumers, but from an environmental perspective, it's much more sustainable, too. See here: http://www.savoryinstitute.com/

Is your Australian beef grass fed? I'm an interested buyer. Thanks.

FitFolks said...

Great post man. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

You mention that a cow "can't be force fed", but documentaries on the subject (notably, Food Inc.) clearly shows a farmer accessing the rumen directly via an imposed opening with the intention, I assume, to plough the cow with feed by the fistful.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkhdGG5pVW8 clip starts at 0:24) Perhaps this is the exception, not the rule, but regardless, he seems quite comfortable and matter-of-factly on the point.

Flavour aside though, would you not agree that ethically and likely, nutritionally, grass-fed AND finished beef would be a superior choice?

And for people requesting grass-fed beef, pay attention, for the very reasons stated here, many butches/suppliers do indeed state that their beef is 'grass-fed', omitting the fact that it is not grass-FINISHED. Much of the so called grass-fed beef is indeed grain-finished.

Mandy Thomas said...

Thanks for laying the facts out! There will always be a disconnect between consumers and producers and unfortunately there will always be people who only believe one side of an issue, even when presented with scientific data.

This next part is really aimed at FitFolks though. The man who was inserting his hand into the rumen of a cow was not doing it so that he could "plough the cow with feed". This was actually a Ruminant Nutritionist (someone who studies ruminant animals such as cattle and sheep) inserting his hand into a cannula (the opening). Researchers use cannulas in ruminants in order to study digestion. They often collect the fluid from the rumen and run tests on gas production as well as determine microbial concentration and how changing the diet can affect digestion. This has helped researchers understand what forages cattle do the best on, as well as provided insight into other areas of nutrition and overall animal management.

mariya simpson said...
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Mase said...

Assuming the cow is happy, and the grain does not affect the digestive tract of the animal and there are no antibiotics or hormones. The profile of fats between grassfed and grain fed beef is significantly different. Grassfed cows have significantly higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids as well as Omega 3 fatty acids. The fat is also distributed differently throughout the animal.

Being grassfed doesn't automatically mean it's going to be better as there are other factors.

However, all things being equal, you are theoretically better off consuming a grass fed cow, and the fact that an animal is grass fed increases the likelyhood that the farmer is aware of the side effects of feeding grain to cows.

I try to eat as much of the animal as possible and the internal organs of a grassfed cow have very little fat surrounding them (especially the liver). There is a distinct taste to grass fed beef (some people don't like it) but it is a different animal.

Obviously if the grass contains pesticides and other toxins it's going to end up in a less healthy meal. Same applies to a grain fed animal.

Jennifer Sugawara said...

Grass-fed is the better choice. All of those grains are GMO. Who wants to poison themselves and their children. I'm glad i didn't go through your blog too closely. The comments alone have turned me away from purchasing meat from you.

Jennifer Sugawara said...

Grass-fed is the better choice. All of those grains are GMO. Who wants to poison themselves and their children. I'm glad i didn't go through your blog too closely. The comments alone have turned me away from purchasing meat from you.

Maja Miyazaki said...

US grains are GMO. Your grass fed beef is it classed as organic?

kenneth eberle said...

I raise my cows on grass all year long. Pasture in the summer, hay cut from my fields in the winter. Not sure what you mean when you say that cows can't be fed grass all year long.

Also, you talk about the impossibility of "force-feeding" cattle. What you fail to point out is that when left with unlimited access to food, a beefer will eat themselves to death, literally.

Finally, I noticed that the concern of cattle being finished on stale candy in the face of rising corn and grain prices was left unaddressed.

I found your post mostly useless, except to point out legal loopholes in in the legislature surrounding the "grass-fed" label. Beef that is pasture raised and grass-finished has a much higher percentage of healthy fats than beef finished on silage and grain, period. This is not debatable.

Dorthy Mantooth said...

I know this is a old post and I generally would never respond to something this old, but holy crap! This nut job really just equated a post about beef to misogyny....LMAO!! Her post is a glimps into why even women now days don't take women's lib seriously. I want to go on a really long rant stating 100 things she could get pissed off about other than "misogyny beef" but I have to go tell my wife to get in the kitchen (to cook some misogyny beef), tell my daughter she can't achieve anything in life because she's not a man, cat call women as they walk by, and pat my secretary on the behind for doing a good job!

Gene McNulty said...

You're writing satire, right? Grains loaded with pesticides, early death for cattle on grains only even if allowed to live out their short lives compared to cattle on grass. You say they eat grains anyway, some, yes, but the grains aren't GMO, aren't loaded with pesticides, and apparently you've been eating too much of your own grain fed frankenfood beef that has skewed your judgment, but the con-game mentality and arrogance toward all us consumers whose judgment is impaired by your semi-psychopathic leanings is a bit much to take. In other words, we should continue eating cattle raised on dung heaps, given antibiotics so they don’t drop dead before reaching the weight desired for maximum return on investment, growth hormones and eating grains loaded with toxic chemicals as if that were inarguable dogma straight from the Meat-God himself. You're problem you're going through mid-life crisis of some sort and cannot accept the fact that our foods are killing us. There is a thing, or was, called mother nature whom many felt knew best, instead we drug people to ripe old ages whose brains are scattered, who truly want to die since their health is not only bad but will only get worse, and as our bodies increase in size and our brains get smaller, a fact by the way, you come along with this ridiculous claim all is well, it’s just in our minds that are the problem. I have no respect for fools, and cannot suffer them gladly, you’re obviously lacking nutritional common sense let along claiming the mainstream beef of today is good stuff, and that anyone who buys into the grass-fed thing are simply being conned. How about beef that is on pasture, finished on pasture, is not give hormones, antibiotics and is an ancient breed? Compare that to dung-heap animals one can view heading south on I-5 in California, but roll up the windows the odor is ruinous to mood and any propensity one might have that all is well in the U.S.A We’re heading for, and I hate to suggest it, doomsday health problems, and of course we have those who believe when the end comes Jesus will save them like he saved the Jews, his people, in Nazi Germany seeming to forget a dead man, if he ever existed couldn’t even save himself from mere executioners who nailed him to a cross. Why the reference to doomsday and Jesus? You advocate unnatural protocols regarding beef and probably other things like processed food, drugs that heal nothing and only hide symptoms. Did I read your entire diatribe, no, just like you and Michael Pollan I knew where you were going the moment I read the first couple of lines. Like traditional trained doctors who can’t break free from the specialist’s syndrome of changing parts, adding drugs and watching their patients sicken and die, you will hold onto your myopic claims protecting and advocating “junk Beef,” as opposed to cattle raised start to finish on pasture. “Big Bertha,” an Ireland milk cow lived to 41 years, she was taken to fairs until she hit 39 or 40 and she was strictly a pasture raised Irish milk cow. You’re protecting a dying method of raising cattle, the sooner the better, which, should you see the truth, your blood pressure might normalize, but that takes a person who isn’t afraid admitting their had it wrong, and you do. By the way my grandfather was a butcher in Tacoma, WA., that was a long time ago.

Frank Sit said...
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Fran Copp said...

Please address the issue of cows fed Gmo corn. What are the long term problems with that re humans ingesting same.

Gene McNulty said...

You're full of growth hormones, get a life, eat grass fed you might return, if possible, to metabolic balances, right now your only goal is to sell your contaminated meat. You call yourself the Meat Guy, actually, you're the bullshit guy. Contrary to nearly everything you've said, my brother in law in Dodson, Montana doesn't know what a growth hormone is, that is, something he uses, he raises a limited number of beef on the hoof, and insofar as your claim that the grass fed thing is a farce, you need to get checked out, psychopaths will do anything to make money, how about it "meat guy," take the test and quit insulting your superiors who actually are ethical, compassionate and still manage to make a living without lying and dispersing propaganda. It's like Stanford University attempted saying organic is no better than commercial produce, but admitted commercial produce had less nutrients and more pesticides. Then it was discovered one of their staff who wrote the ridiculous article was connected to Monsanto, you know, the maniacs who disperse and produce and create living hell for the world, GMO, pesticides and have been for over 70 years. That’s your tribe, and your lies go to prove your desperation, sell you shit meat to a local supermarket, and quit claiming things that aren’t true. For thousands of years nobody fed animals anything, they looked out for themselves, along came some of your tribe, psychopaths, and created chemicals, growth hormones, and other shit designed to do what? Make money, and so they did and were rewarded for having killer mentalities.

Beefeater said...

Meatman, many of your comments are valid but do not tar all meat sales people or producers with the same brush. I to am called 'the meatman' by my customers for truly grass fattened beef, since we started marketing direct after BSE in 2003. I used to hate the term, but you get used to it.. We have known of the natural high Omega 3 content from our grassland husbandry system since getting the Department of Fisheries to test our ground beef in 1996 because Department of Agriculture unwilling to test until 2010. Independent analysis indicates Omega 3 in balance with O6 under 1.5 to 1 when fattened to equivalent of USDA low Choice or Canada AA yield grade 1 or 2 at an average of 220mg/100g in the ground trim. This averages 4,7 times similar grain fattened and yielding beef generally available and can be up to 10 times higher than grain fed tests around the world. The other healthy fat soluable nutrients/vitamins are also correspondingly higher as in Omega 3. All in all truly grass fattened beef, especially if organ meats are included, is the most nutrient dense, healthiest functional food, full of anti cancer and brain health properties. It is truly of the type of how we evolved and developed our brains before we learned to fish, according to the archaeological record.

TheMeatGuy said...

@Beefeater
Thanks for stopping by.

Right up to this point:
>All in all truly grass fattened beef, especially if organ meats are included, is the most nutrient dense

you write gospel. But the same is true of grain finished beef. But when move into this:
>healthiest functional food, full of anti cancer and brain health properties

You move into the realm of pure pseudoscience. I'm sorry but if you call your product "functional" "anti-cancer" and "brain health", you're really starting to bullshit.

William Thomas Ramey said...

I came across this post on your blog after watching the documentary "Steak Revolution" on Netflix. Statements made by a "grass-fed" grower in NY really got my gears turning, particularly his statement as to why he doesn't have his beef USDA graded (he gave marketing tripe dressed up to sound like big business and government are out to get us nonsense).
Thank you so very much for your excellent information on how another fad food marketing phrase used to jack up prices is actually poorly defined, even more poorly understood by the general public, and is primarily just another ploy by slick money makers to take advantage of those with good intentions perhaps, but far more money than intelligence or wisdom. The pathetic part, as evidenced by some of the other comments, is that most with an interest in things like "grain fed" or "organic" are far to emotionally invested to accept any information that contradicts the conclusions they have already reached no matter how much more knowledgeable those with whom they disagree might be. It's that sort of thing that gets my (obviously misogynistic) slapping hand twitching.
BTW, ever notice how folks who will draw drastic conclusions such as accusations of misogyny over a "twitching slapping hand" remark lack any measurable sense of humor?

Nathamsterdam said...

I came here as someone with coeliac disease, and something that has not been discussed here is the lack of recognition/requirements for people where even slight traces of gluten can cause huge immediate harm.

All grains (and their derivatives) are incredibly recent additions on the human evolution food ladder, and we are only just now starting to understand and realise how toxic they can be to many of us, creating a multitude of problems for our physical and mental health.

The simple fact is, we do not have the correct biological makeup to process grains and whilst many of us (in good overall with a strong immune system) can handle and process gluten with few adverse effects, it can equally be argued that many symptoms of ill health, both mentally and physically pass by undetected. Many people simply ignore their conditions and put ongoing ailments down to everyday stresses of life, and yet simply removing all grains from their diet can have profound and life changing effects.

My point is this, we as humans should not be eating grains of any kind because of the toxic 'risk' gluten can bring to a person, both in the short and long term. If this is true for humans, then why do we feed our animals grains? The vast majority of grains are modern food stuffs that are also not part of that animals natural food heritage, and one that we have simply introduced into the animals diet for commercial reasons.

Whilst grain finishing might produce better, more flavoursome beef (subjective) it annoys me as someone with a serious health condition (coeliac reaction to gluten can be fatal in certain circumstances) that I am left totally in the wilderness as to whether or not the meat I purchase either has / has not been exposed to grains / grain derivatives at any stage in its life cycle.

The advise to coeliacs would simply be 'well stop eating meat then, just to be on the safe side'. Whilst this of course is a solution, I do not think it is sound nutritional advice to encourage vegetarianism - humans are not vegetarians. I personally am protein biased nutritionally, and I rely on meat absolutely to maintain a proper balanced and healthy diet.

I just wish that meat producers looked much closer at gluten intolerance in humans and what that actually means / can mean in the long term, and then perhaps understand why feeding their animals grain is not the best approach. Alternative approaches would dramatically lower the risk of people like me becoming more and more sick.

Just my two cents.

Jen said...

I wouldn't normally bother posting to such an old thread, but this propagation of the grain fed mantra kind of burns me up.
Perhaps the meat guy has never actually been on a feed lot- or has only visited a feed lot that was sanitized for the public. Many folks who raise beef cattle will tell you feed lots are pretty unnatural and pretty terrible.
As for force feeding- Some feed lots keep the alternative feed lean, so that the cow is essentially forced to eat the grain offered. Hungry animals eat what is offered. Grain bulks up the beast quickly, even if they aren't consuming loads.
Grass fed is better. Its not popular for the industry because it takes longer and costs more.
Grass fed Cattle are not usually offered huge amounts of grain, they are fed a mix of green grass, dry grass (hay) and lucerne.
My knowledge comes from a family history in both dairy and beef cattle.

TheMeatGuy said...

Hi Jen, thanks for posting. I've seen a lot of feedlots, none of them sanitized. I've rarely ran into anyone who raised beef for a living that thinks feedlots are "unnatural and pretty terrible". Feedlot operators certainly don't adjust rations to make cattle eat more grain, if anything the difficulty is keeping enough roughage in front of them so that they don't founder. Cattle will quickly make themselves sick if presented a ration that is too heavy on grains.

Seth S said...

This article was horrible.

I truly hope this is not the kind of thought process and logic that the cattle industry relies on for representation.
Unfortunately now as I write this I cannot go back and access the article to walk through all the discrepancies. There are many.
The opening misdirecting by the author is telling. He lays out a straw man in his 6 point synopsis of the grass fed philosophy. They are ridiculous and not at all representative. The true issues are issues that need to be dealt with. The problem however is that the invariably these sorts of articles will have an undertone of "production per pound" that they base their bias on. As a cattle owner I totally understand the need for profit. This main issue that needs to be focused on is not economic in nature. It is health. The food issues need to be married to and discussed in light of current health status of those consuming the products. Healthcare and food production are hand in glove. Just focusing on the bottom line will not lead to resolution and favorable change. The grass fed "movement" rose out of a distrust of the food supply and a desire for healthier food. Doesn't that bother you? The folks buying your products don't trust you. So much so that they want something else? These people are not ignorant. While the information age can cause many problem you also need to realize that the consumer has access to information and they are empowering their mind and asking questions and demanding change. They don't trust current practices! Doesn't that bother you?
Also please understand that while you make a good point that there are loopholes where one could finish an animal on grain and call it grass fed or that 90% of animals have had grass in their diet this is not the point. "Grass fed" is a merism. It is a phrase that means more. It means a desire for less chemical intervention. Finished on grass. It means trust back in their food. It means truth not deception.
Also please know fat is a macronutrient. Discussing the quality of the fat produced is important. Moreover it isn't so much about the presence of Omega 3 as it is the reduction of Omega 6 (which leads to inflammation- a precursor for chronic disease) when grain is not fed.
These are glaring errors. Providing a weak stance for the opposition, misrepresenting it, and then beating up on it with your own personal bias doesn't strengthen your position, it weakens it. At least make some valid points, at least point out the actual issues with grass fed beef (there are some) and then propose a working solution or a working dialogue.
Overall…. I thought this article was horrible.

TheMeatGuy said...

@Seth S

Thanks for stopping by, Seth. But your comment was horrible. You repeated attempted to take a moralistic approach without any real justification. But in answer to your questions/accusations:

>The grass fed "movement" rose out of a distrust of the food supply and a desire for healthier food. Doesn't that bother you?

Yes it does bother me immensely that people have a distrust of the food supply. I reckon it's because of the widening gap between consumers and production agriculture combined with a general failing of the educational system in the US. To say that this distrust somehow gives credibility to the rise of the "movement" is a fallacy. This same type of distrust gave rise to the anti vaccer movement, which is also full of shit.

>"Grass fed" is a merism.

I can't believe you actually wrote that. You seem to believe that grass fed means whatever you want it to mean. And then you claim that your stance is about "truth not deception".

Finally you enter the realm of "the implication". Of course no one can just say that the consumption of beef that has been finished on a high energy diet inclusive of grains will give you chronic disease. That would be straight-up deception. But what you can do is spout pseudo scientific bullshit about how it's the lack of certain micronutrients in X product that makes it so much safer for you than Y product. It's all in the implication. I'd never get in a boat with you.

Overall, you've penned a horrible comment.

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hharle said...

Meatguy, Thanks for the informed comments in your article. So much of what is available to read on the internet concerning beef has no basis in fact. Its usually someone regurgitating misinformation they heard or read somewhere else. Next thing you know it becomes the Mantra of the food conspiracy groups. I just had a burger made from Aussie "grass-fed beef" for the first time today. Quite honestly I was disappointed in the total lack of flavor. As you stated (and I already guessed) it has a lot to do with what the beef graze on. Unless you plant specific grasses for the cattle you have no way to gauge the quality of the flavor you can expect in the final product. I don't eat much beef but in the future it will most likely be good ole USDA Prime. If I'm going to pay more for it I want it to at least taste good

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Brian Boatman said...

When I was in Malaysia, the beef tasted amazing and I noticed that the cows were allowed to roam freely, even on the streets but here in America the beef does not come close to tasting like the beef I had in Malaysia, why is that ?

Lanie Dreer said...

Excellent article, loved it and agree totally. Unfortunately, when trying to educate the MASSES less the M about this, they get glazed over eyes and reach for the celery and carrot sticks. They are so brainwashed that they will continue to vote for whoever offers them the most free stuff. And they will continue to believe anything their friends say.

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Jon Mc said...

I have to discredit this entire post because there are no studies cited in reference to any of the statistics given. This is entirely one persons opinion, as far as I am concerned.

I personally prefer to eat (almost exclusively) locally sourced, organic grass-fed beef. I have done enough research that I feel this is the way to go for me and my family. You can exhaust yourself sifting through research biased towards both sides of the argument. There are plenty of studies siding with either. It seems logical to me that the natural diet of any cow would be mostly grasses. I doubt those ancient herds came across many large wild fields of corn. It just seems to make sense, on the most basic and logical level, to eat natural. Our corn is all GMO and laden with who-knows-what. So I avoid it.

My suggestion to anyone else coming across this post is to take it with a grain of salt, do your own research, and make whatever decision you feel comfortable with for you and your family.

Marty said...

I'm hoping someone can help me.
We bought 1/4 of a grass and organic corn fed cow from a local farmer who butchers a few animals each year to sell. We have purchased 1/4 cow for a few years now without any issue.
The farmer butchers it and we package it. This farmer is always very careful about how he handles the cow from beginning to end of the butchering process.
This year, every time I eat the meat, I get very sick with horrible intestinal issues.
The first time I ate the beef and got sick, I explained it away as just coming down with something. However, it's happened several times now and I'm almost positive it's the beef. My husband and daughters have expressed similar issues after eating the beef though not nearly as severe as mine.
It seems like the meat this year is darker but I could be wrong about that.
Does anyone have any idea what might be going on here?

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Beef is an excellent source of coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine. Some of the essential amino acids that beef is rich in play a role in the natural production of human growth hormone.

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Nikki Tammy said...

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Seriously i was flattened when my Husband of 8 years left to be with another woman in Texas. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I couldn't bear it anymore. and i reached out to the Internet for help, until i hit on the real thing, and that is you Dr. Trust. I almost gave up trying to get my Ex Husband back and having a contented family again.. I had tried the whole lot I knew, and with your spells, blessings and extraordinary magical powers, you did all the work, and immediately after 48 hours, my Ex Husband came back to me and he was penitent for everything that he has done. And now my life is balanced and i am happy again. Dr. Trust you do a great service to people, and I don't think many people had known about you. You are the diamond in the rough. Thank you Dr. Trust You are talented and you give off yourself so freely like you did to me. Thank you for weaving your magical love spells for me and Sergio. He is back to me just the way it was when we first met.. from the depths of my soul! I am immensely happy now. Thank you and God bless you so much sir. Now my man is back to me just in 48 hours, as you have said it..wow.. i am fully rewarded. Thank you so much sir, Lots of appreciations.. Here is Dr. Trust Website: website: https://ultimatespellcast3.wixsite.com/dr-trust and his Email: Ultimatespellcast@gmail.com or Ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com call +2348156885231

jeffery richards said...

hello everyone i am little bit ashamed to share this marvelous story about a great spell caster who helped me enlarge my small penis size through his herbal mixture cream,i was heartbroken before because i have a very small penis about 3.5 inches which was so annoying and shameful i could not satisfy my wife in bed ,,my marriage was really breaking and i needed help urgently,i have used pills,vaccines,drugs,surgery but none worked...so one faithful day as i was browsing through the internet i saw few comments on a forum about how Mr MICHAEL PAULSON from USA testified of how he helped him enlarge his penis and also cured his dad diabetes type 2 disease,,i contacted him through his website link http://drharrysolutio.wixsite.com/dr-harry he replied and gave me steps to follow and i did just as he said ,and he sent me the herbal cream to me through UPS and i received it within 4 days and used the herbal cream for just 14 days to my greatest surprise my penis that was 3.5 inches before enlarge to 10 inches long when fully erected ,for just two weeks of using his herbal mixture cream ,,wow my wife loved me more and was so happy that i can satisfy her very well now in bed ,,i even last longer than before thank you so much dr harry for making life a better one to live in ..so if you are out there having similar problems please contact him now on his email drharrysolution@gmail.com or visit his website http://drharrysolutio.wixsite.com/dr-harry or whatsapp him on +2348143240563 thanks
note he also have cure for
DIABETES 1/2,HIV/AIDS,HERPES,CANCER,PREMATURE EJACULATION,WEAK ERECTION,ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION ,PREGNANCY HERBAL MEDICINE ETC.....................///////////////////

Delicia M Gina said...

BEST LOVE SPELL TO GET BACK YOUR EX: URGENT LOVE SPELL CHECK ON DR. TRUST WEB SITE NOW
https://ultimatespellcast3.wixsite.com/dr-trust

My Husband left me and my kids, i was passing though pains, sorrow, heart broke, going crazy,but this is how i restored happiness back in my life by getting my husband back. today with great joy and happiness. I came across a website that suggested that Dr Trust can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he did a spell for me. Two days later, my husband came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. In my heart i want to appreciate Dr Trust for bringing back my lost husband within 48hours after the spell was cast by him. My husband is back to us since Dr. Trust did the love spell. I am so happy that my Ex husband is back again. Once again thank you Dr. Trust, You are truly a great man. I and my family are living together happily again.. He is true to his word and he is here to help mankind. he is the realest of all spell caster online. he is Dr Trust. You can reach him on his email address or website for any help you may need.

Ultimatespellcast@gmail.com or Ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com
Web site: https://ultimatespellcast3.wixsite.com/dr-trust
Call him +2348156885231

Sindy Scot said...

I want the world to know a great man that is well known as Dr Miracle,he has the perfect solution to relationship issues and marriage problems. The main reason why i went to Dr Miracle was for solution on how i can get my husband back because in recent times i have read some testimonies on the internet which some people has written about Dr Miracle and i was so pleased and i decided to seek for assistance from him on his which he did a perfect job by casting a spell on my husband which made him to come back to me and beg for forgiveness.I will not stop publishing his name on the net because of the good work he is doing. I will drop his contact for the usefulness of those that needs his help.His Email Dr miracles,,,,"CONTACT Via Email,,,MIRACLESPELLHOME@YAHOO.COM You can contact him today and get your problem solved Or"Call +2348071398555.." Or You Can Also Contact Him Through his Website http://miraclespellhome.webs.com/

eunice mabel said...

I can’t believe this..I caught genital herpes from my Ex Boyfriend who never never told me he have the virus. I had it for 2 years with so many outbreak,and it affected my life.. People think herpes is really a minor skin irritation herpes has a long term effects on health. The stigma attached to this virus by ignorant people is ridiculous. Most people have herpes in one form or another,i was first taking Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir(Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex), are recommended for treating primary genital herpes outbreaks. This medicine can be taken when an outbreak occurs. It can also be taken every day to help prevent outbreaks,it is not a total cure… I will like to tell everyone who is reading this my testimony on how i get rid of my genital herpes.I was reading a comment on the internet,and i saw a testimony posted by a young lady from uk that she got rid of her herpes with the help of doctor Ihibor,a Traditional Herbalist.So i was so happy when i saw that post,that his herbal medication Cure the virus totally.I quickly copied the herbal doctor email address and i email him within 40 minutes he respond to my mail.I explain things to him he told me not to worry that i should fill his herbal form which i did..The next day he told me that he has prepare the herbal medicine,that i should send him my address that he want to sent his HERBAL MEDICINE to me via UPS or DHL and FED-EX that was how i got the herbal medication and i use it as i was instructed.After a some week i went to see a Medical Doctor who confirmed my herpes was no more.When some of my friend who has herpes saw me they were surprise and i also introduce them to the man and they are also cure from the same Genital herpes today.If you have Genital or Oral herpes,kindly contact HERBALIST IHIBOR via this email;. drihiborherbalhome@gmail.com ; drihiborherbalhome@gmail.com OR call Whats App Number +2349050141449

He also have a herbal cure for Following DISEASES,this is not scam is Real.

-HIV

-JOCK ITCH

– HEPATITIS B

-ALS

-LOWER RESPIRATORY INFECTION

-MRSA(METHICILLIN-RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS

-ZIKA VIRUS

-COPD

-STROKE.

CURE YOUR SELF FROM THAT ILLNESS TODAY,DON’T SPREAD YOUR INFECTION OR DISEASES TO OTHER INNOCENT PEOPLE OUT THERE…

marria gotch said...

I did not believe is possible that HIV can be cured because i have been scammed so many times not until i came across this great man dr agbebaku who helped me at first I never believe all this comment and post about him and I was very sick because i have been infected with HIV for the past seven years,just last year I keep reading the testimony about this man named dr agbebaku they said that the man is so powerful he have cured different type of diseases, I keep monitor the post of some people about this man and I found out that he was real so i decided to give him a try I contacted him for help and he said he was going to help me get my cure that all i needed to do was to send him money to prepare the medication after which it will be sent to me via dhl service which i did to my greatest suprise the medication was sent to me he gave me instructions on how to use it that after three weeks i should go for check up at first i was shocked when the doctor told me that i was hiv negative i ask the doctor to check again and the result was the same that i was now free from hiv at of the shock i decided to come and share my testimony with you for those who think there is no cure for hiv the cure as finally come stop doubting and contact dr agbebaku via email dragbebakuspellsolutiontemple@gmail.com he will help you out you can also wattssap him via +2349053099479 he said he also as cure for DIABETICS,HERPES,INFERTILITY;ALS,ANCE PIMPUS,LUPUS VIRUS AND PENIS AND BREAST ENLARGEMENT