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The average American eats 66.5 pounds of beef per year! That evidence alone alerts us to the fact that beef is a big industry. But you already knew that. What some may not know is the grass-fed & finished side of this industry.
Why all the grass-fed / grass-finished talk?
"Cows, sheep and other grazing animals have the ability to convert grasses, which those of us with only one stomach cannot digest, into food that we can digest. Traditionally, all beef was grass-fed, but in the United States today what beef is commercially available is almost all fattened and finished on corn in feedlots. The reason? It's faster, and therefore more profitable. Seventy-five years ago, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are 14 or 16 months. You can't take a calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones.
Switching a cow from grass to grain is so disturbing to the animal's digestive system that it can kill the animal if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics. These animals are designed to forage, but we make them eat grain, primarily corn, in order to fatten them as fast as possible. All this is not only unnatural and dangerous for the cows, but it also has profound consequences for us. Feedlot beef as we know it today would be impossible if it weren't for the routine and continual feeding of antibiotics to these animals. This leads directly and inexorably to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These are the new "superbugs" that are increasingly rendering our miracle drugs ineffective.
Furthermore, it is the commercial meat industry's practice of keeping cattle in feedlots and feeding them grain that is responsible for the heightened prevalence of E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. When cattle are grainfed, their intestinal tracts become far more acidic, which favors the growth of pathogenic E. coli bacteria, which, in turn, sickens or can kill people who eat undercooked hamburger."
Excerpted from The Food Revolution by John Robbins. http://www.foodrevolution.org/grassfedbeef.htm
Let's take a quick look at a few benefits of grass-fed & finished beef:
A 6oz. grass-fed & finished beef steak has 100 fewer calories than the same size grain-fed steak.
Grass-fed & finished beef has significantly lower amounts of LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol.
Grass-fed & finished beef has 2 to 6 times more Omega-3 fatty acids.
Consuming increased levels of Omega-3 fats helps your body in the following ways:
decreases blood pressure
decreases the chances of an irregular heart beat
decreases the risk of a heart attack by 50%!
decreases depressive mental disorders
decreases the risk of Alzheimer's Disease
significantly lowers the risk of cancer
Why does grass-fed & finished beef have more Omega-3 fats than beef finished on grains and corn? It simply goes back to what we have been saying on the nutrition pages and what you read above... ruminants, like cattle, were meant to eat grasses! Let's be a bit more specific:
Omega-3s are formed in green leaves and grasses, specifically the chloroplasts in those leaves and grasses. 60% of the fat content contained in these plants is an Omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Alpha-linolenic acid is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid, which means it is needed for normal human growth and development.
Cattle that have been consuming grains and corn consistently lose significant amounts of ALA, as well as two other essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. After only 60 days on grains and corn, the levels of ALA is reduced to only 0.2% and DHA is reduced to only 0.4%. EPA is completely gone.
The CLA Bonus
Many people are steering away from red meat due to the negative press on saturated fats. Your customers will be happy to hear that a very powerful fatty acid primarily found in grass-fed & finished beef and dairy products has been linked to long-term weight management and optimal health. This potent nutrient is called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. Some of the best possible sources of CLA are grass-fed beef and dairy products that come from grass-fed cattle.
Cattle that roam outdoors and feed on natural diets of grass produce high levels of CLA. These animals are a far cry from the traditional, factory-farmed, grain-fed animals whose meat and milk contain only a-fifth to a-third of the CLA found with grass-fed cattle. We understand not everyone has the pasture available to raise cattle this way. However, growing grasses in one of our AFS units to feed your cattle, especially at finishing time, provides all these health benefits and more!
CLA is one of the most well-known and potent defenses against cancer! Animal studies show that as little as 0.5 percent CLA in your diet could reduce tumors by over 50 percent, including the following types of cancer:
Breast (A Finnish study proved that breast cancer risks decreased 60% when patients were taken off of grain-fed beef and dairy products and switched to grass-fed & finished products!)
Since CLA cannot be manufactured in the human body, you must get it from your diet by consuming high-quality dietary sources such as grass-fed & finished beef. If you consumed 1 glass of grass-fed & finished whole milk, 1 ounce of cheese made with grass-fed & finished milk, and 1 serving of grass-fed & finished beef everyday, experts agree that the health benefits would be astounding. You'd have to consume FIVE TIMES that amount of grain-fed beef to get the same level of health protection and benefits! That's some health insurance we can stand behind!
Grass-fed & finished beef is also very high in vitamin E. As a matter of fact, it is 4 times higher than beef finished on grain and corn. It is even 2 times higher than beef finished on grain and corn and fed a vitamin E supplement! Vitamin E is linked to lower risks of heart disease and cancer.
Since you are what you eat, the beneficial effects of eating grass-fed & finished beef and dairy products with the proper balance of fatty acids are translated into health benefits for you. These foods are rich in all the fats now proven to be health-enhancing, and low in the fats that have been linked with disease.
Since meat from grass-fed & finished beef is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, this means that it is lower in calories as well. By switching to lean grass-fed beef, it is estimated that the average person in the U.S. could reduce intake up to 17,000 calories a year, which is equal to losing about six pounds!