Today, many people are becoming more health conscious and are trying to eat a healthier diet. Trouble is, there is a lot of information flying around, some correct and some not-so-much! One fact that is pretty well agreed upon is grass fed beef has a better nutritional profile than typical grain finished beef. So why are we being told not to eat red meat? First a short history lesson! According to Bill Kiernan, director at GAI Research and Insight, “During WWII, farmers produced more corn than the American public was consuming and so, started feeding it to cattle. They soon found that cows eating corn fattened up quicker than cows eating grass. Seventy five years ago it took a cow four to five years to reach a slaughter weight of 1,200 pounds. Today it takes 13-15 months, thanks to corn, antibiotics, growth hormones and protein supplements.” Cattle were not created to eat corn, they are best adapted to forages. Their rumens (stomachs) are not well suited to digest grains. Cattle grazing on pasture have a pH neutral (7) rumen. Feeding grains raises the acidity of the rumen leading to acidosis and ulcers. The infectious bacteria from the ulcers enter the bloodstream, reaching the liver where it causes abscesses. Feed additives such as antibiotics, can offset some of these ailments, but they further compromise the rumen’s microbial ecosystem.
The nutritional difference between grain fed and grass fed beef products is so dramatic it is almost like they don’t come from the same species. Grass fed beef has 1/2 to 1/3 the total fat of grain fed beef. Grass fed beef has the same amount of fat as skinless chicken or wild elk! When meat is this lean, it actually lowers your LDL cholesterol levels, as documented in a 1999 study by Davidson, M.H., D. Hunninghake, et al.
So now that you are convinced of the benefits of grass fed beef, let me tell you all grass fed beef is not the same! In my opinion, the breed of cattle makes a difference. Angus cattle, for instance, have been selectively bred to marble with fat when grain finished. Criollo cattle, those of Spanish origin, have naturally fine muscle fibers as verified by the Warner Bratzler shear force test. The tenderness of this beef comes from the fact that its muscle fibers are fine, and is not related to the amount of fat. The Criollo is the perfect bovine for grass feeding and finishing. Beef from different breeds of cattle can have very different flavor and the types of forage they eat has an effect as well.
For bodacious grass fed, Criollo beef, contact the Broken Horn D Ranch in Prescott at 928-708-9385, www.BHDRanch.com and on Facebook.