If you are old enough, you remember the ’80s Wendy’s commercial with the little old lady asking, “Where’s the beef?” The underlying message behind the commercial was to spotlight the significant patty size between Wendy’s and its competition. Today, we can ask ourselves the same question but under much difference circumstances. Perhaps it’s the fear of over-consuming red meat. Perhaps it’s due to the confusion brought about by all the different labels: grass-fed, pasture-raised, grass-finished, and natural. Sometimes it’s just seems easier to avoid it all together. The truth is that beef can be very good for us. But first we must understand why and how to make the best selection.
There’s a familiar saying, “you are what you eat.” When we hear that we think of avoiding processed foods and eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But do we really think about the protein that we eat, like beef, chicken, pork or fish, and what they eat? Do we truly understand the correlation between what those animals eat and the fact that we also consume indirectly what they eat, as well? Or do we look at the packaging and figure that if the butcher at the grocery store put it out that it must be “safe” to eat?
Being safe means different things. Yes, a food item can be safe to eat. It is not rotten, spoiled, or contaminated. But what about the long-term effects of eating something that may be considered safe, yes is filled with unnecessary by-products such as GMOs, growth hormones, arsenic, or copper? Yes, you read that right. Beef that is conventional raised versus grass-fed is exposed to all that. And so are you.
Cattle that are raised in pastures, eating grass rather than processed grains, are nutritionally superior.
- There are higher levels of Vitamin E, Zinc, and B12.
- A much healthier ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (grain fed can have 20:1 and grass fed 3:1; experts recommend between 1:1 and 3:1).
- Antioxidant rich.
- Provides a better source of immune-boosting linoleic acid.
- Less likely to contain bacteria that is responsible for food-poisoning outbreaks.
- Less likely to contain antibiotic resistant superbugs.
So what’s the best choice? Look for beef that is labeled USDA certified grass-fed. You can even go the local route and purchase beef from a farmer you know, like and trust.