By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Most of the people I know eat factory meat. When I encourage them to try grassfed, they have two major objections.
The first objection is the belief that grassfed meat is “tough.” Grassfed meat is exquisitely tender when cooked properly. But grassfed meat must be cooked differently than factory meat, because it is a very different product. That is why I wrote Tender Grassfed Meat, which contains detailed instructions on the proper cooking of this wonderful food.
But the biggest objection, the one that convinces most people not to buy it, is the price. Grassfed meat costs more per pound than most factory meat. That is a fact. But price is not everything. Grassfed meat is worth the additional price to me. Why?
- Grassfed meat is almost always raised without artificial hormones and regular doses of antibiotics, unlike factory meat;
- Grassfed meat is not fattened in a feedlot on foods unnatural to cattle;
- Grassfed meat is the meat humanity has been eating for tens of thousands of years, with factory meat being created in the last century;
- Grassfed meat is far more nutrient-dense than factory meat, having the nutrient profile are bodies have evolved to use;
- Grassfed meat shrinks much less in cooking, so you are buying more meat and less water;
- Grassfed meat satisfies the appetite;
- Grassfed meat tastes much better.
Grassfed Meat Is Raised Without Artificial Growth Hormones
Most factory beef is given artificial growth hormones, and given regular doses of antibiotics. Both of these practices result in the factory steer growing and fattening much faster than a grassfed steer. While this increases profits, concerns have been raised about the effect of these practices, which are not natural. Many countries ban the use of these hormones. The medical profession and many scientists have objected to the regular feeding of antibiotics to cattle, stating that it could cause the growth of bacteria that is antibiotic-resistant.
Every grassfed meat producer I know makes a point out of the fact that they do not use artificial growth hormones or regular doses of antibiotics.
Grassfed Meat Is Not Fattened in a Feedlot
Factory cattle spend the last 90 to 180 days of their lives crowded together in a feedlot, eating foods that are inappropriate for cattle, such as GMO soy and GMO corn, and many other unnatural foods. This changes the natural balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids dramatically (see this fine article at EatWild.com Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products), deprives the cattle of the nutrients that are present only in green, living grass, and results in meat that is spongy and full of water.
True grassfed cattle are out on the pasture where they belong, eating the foods they have evolved to eat, and have a perfect balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and many other nutrients that are depleted or missing in feedlot cattle.
Grassfed Meat Is the Food Humanity Has Been Eating for Tens of Thousands of Years
The meat and fat from grassfed animals is one of the oldest human foods. Humans have been eating this meat for tens of thousands of years, maybe much longer. Our bodies have evolved to eat, digest, and process this food, and need the nutrients in the fat, meat, and organs.
Factory meat was invented in the last century, and has been eaten widely for less than 60 years. Our bodies have no meaningful experience with it, in evolutionary terms.
Grassfed Meat Is Far More Nutrient-Dense Than Factory Meat
Credible studies have shown that grassfed meat gives you far more important nutrients than factory meat. This includes far more omega-3 fatty acids, in an ideal ratio to omega-6 fatty acids, much more CLA (a nutrient that helps the body maintain normal weight and cell structure), and many other vital nutrients (see Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products).
Factory meat has a huge imbalance of too much omega- 6 fatty acids, far less CLA, and less of the other nutrients.
Grassfed Meat Shrinks Much Less in Cooking
Factory meat may be cheaper on a per pound basis, but much of the cheaper meat you are buying is water. Factory meat will often release much water into a pan when cooked, and will shrink dramatically when cooked. That is why cooking with really high heat is so popular when cooking factory meat—the high heat is needed to deal with the water. This applies to every form of cooking, including roasting, grilling, and sautéing.
Grassfed meat will shrink very little when roasted, grilled, or sautéed, and does not release water into the pan.
Grassfed Meat Satisfies the Appetite
I find that I eat about half as much meat now. This is because I switched to grassfed meat, and grassfed meat is so nutrient-dense that I am satisfied with much less meat. After I have eaten a nice serving of grassfed meat and fat, my hunger ends, and I am satisfied.
I was never satisfied when eating factory meat. No matter how much I ate, my body was still hungry for something that was not there.
The natural balance of nutrients in grassfed meat and fat gives our bodies exactly what they need, and hunger ends.
Grassfed Meat Tastes Much Better
Americans have been marketed into believing that the dull, flavorless taste of factory beef is what they like. All factory beef tastes pretty much the same. No wonder most people cover the meat in catsup and other condiments.
Grassfed meat has a richness and depth of flavor that is wonderful to experience. The taste of grassfed meat will vary, depending on the breed, grass condition, age, aging process, actual plants eaten, and other factors. The wide variety in delicious tastes is something I enjoy. Grassfed meat must be properly cooked to have these flavors released, but the taste is so much better. Grassfed meat does not need much in the way of seasoning to be terrific, and a simple combination of traditional ingredients is all that is needed. Tender Grassfed Meat is full of recipes that demonstrate this delicious fact.
After years of eating grassfed only, I experimented with some factory meat. This factory meat was free of hormones and antibiotics, but came from a feedlot. I cooked it with one of my favorite pre-grassfed period recipes. It could not begin to compare with the taste, texture, and joy of eating grassfed meat.
Grassfed meat is worth the extra per pound price. There are a number of ways to greatly reduce the price, such as looking for the frequent specials, and buying a quarter, half, or even a whole steer. Grassfed is worth it.
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