Is it worth the extra cost? Is it really healthier?
Did you know that Grass fed beef has 22-39% less cholesterol than conventional?!….
I was vegan for years and vegetarian for longer. I had watched a documentary about the way animals were handled and couldn’t bare to put it into my body or support the awful treatment of not only the animals but our earth. I felt great at first but then my energy levels, iron levels, b12 levels dropped and I realized that with my athletic lifestyle I was not adequately nourishing my body. So I slowly added eggs, than fish, then venison, then other meats back into my diet. But I didn’t do this without research. I found out about MSC which clearly lists fish that is considered “sustainable and in harmony with the environment.” I did research on what labels to look for and vowed to only eat quality meats and eggs. I still I am not always perfect but I try to be as often as I can. I do this not only for the environment but in effort to improve my health and manage my weight.
Read on to see what you think. Does it make a difference not only in the health of the animal but your health? Is it worth the extra cost?
Meat from Grass fed cows has a variety of health benefits that grain, soy, corn fed animals do not have. According to WH Foods Grass Fed Beef has the following benefits.
Greater amounts of Omega 3 (ALA, EPA, & DHA).
Greater amounts of Lutein and Beta Carotene.
Less Cholesterol. In fact they claim 22-39% less.
Greater amounts of CLA. In some studies up to three times more! If you didn’t already know, CLA is Conjugated Linoleic Acid. It is a very beneficial fatty acid. It has been associated with increased immunity, bone mass, blood sugar regulation, reduced body fat, reduced risk of heart attack, and maintenance of lean body mass.
These health benefits are just the one of the benefits of grass fed beef. Cows are meant to eat grass. They have a special digestive system that is specifically adapted for this. Cows are not able to digest corn and wheat. A cow eating a diet of corn will most likely develop acidosis, a kind of bovine heartburn. According to an article in Food Revolution, this can cause “diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system that leaves the animal vulnerable to everything from pneumonia to feedlot polio.” This diet and cramped feedlots is causing the further use of antibiotics. This is creating a condition perfect for Ecoli and other strains of microbes to get into our food system and harm us. So it’s not good for us and it’s not good for the animal.
Barry Estabrook’s research for his book Pig Tales has shown us just how terrible the production of pork in this country is.
97% of all the pigs in this country spend their entire lives in metal cages so small they can’t even turn around. It’s dark. The stench in this barn is so wretched. It’s coming from manure held in vats directly below the pigs’ cages. He describes the smell in this dark barn as “like nothing I’d ever smelled.” The question is how do they stay alive in such wretched conditions? They are kept alive just long enough to reach slaughter weight. In the mean time they “are fed a constant, low level antibiotic just to prevent them from getting sick.”
The manure causes an array of human and environmental problems in addition damaging the health of the pigs.
The amount of manure is so massive, and they have to dispose of it some how. The manure pools, which they call “lagoons”, fill up. These farmers then spray it up into the air over fields as fertilizer. This manure rain does not always stay in the fields of the farms. A woman said that she can’t hang her laundry out or sit on her porch because of the manure rain. This is such a disgusting mental picture.
The workers suffer from respiratory illness, diminished lung capacity, and chronic coughing. An asthmatic could never work in this type of environment because they’d have a seizure. The workers are exposed to deadly bacterias that are resistant to antibiotics due to the constant use of antibiotics on the pigs. Many studies show that MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), is present in the pork at supermarkets. If properly cooked this bacteria would disappear. However this bacteria can be carried by wind, dust, and clothing!
So is this what you want to eat?
According to an article in the SFGate, two studies from Pennsylvania State and Mother Earth News both found Cage Free/Pastured Eggs to have numerous health benefits that conventionally caged birds do not have.
They have considerably less saturated fat and less cholesterol! The amounts ranged in each of the studies. But about 34% less cholesterol. I feel like this is expected since they were not done in the same area.
They have more Vitamin E and more Vitamin A! The studies ranged from 47% more and double the amounts.
More Omega 3’s! The two studies showed a minimum of two times the amount of Omega 3’s when compared to caged.
I don’t want to focus on it too much but I also would like to point out the animal wellfare perspective on this issue too. Would you rather eat eggs from a farm where the birds are able to roam, eat naturally, and get sunshine? In comparison to eggs from birds that have been confined in dark warehouses, in small cages, fed grains which is not their natural diet?
Without any doubt in my mind say YES it is worth the extra costs or the extra trip to a different grocery store. It is so important not to eat factory farmed, antibiotic ridden, nutritionally void foods! What our food eats is what we eat. The health of our food is our health. We can’t expect to get healthy from inflamed, diseased, bacteria ridden, disgusting animals. Think about it, if our food has more omega 3’s, more CLA’s, less cholesterol, less saturated fat, and more vitamins then we will have less inflammation, better energy, better weight maintenance, and better health!
So what should we buy?
The best option is to get these products from the farmer at the farmers market. You can ask the source; how was it raised, what was it fed or allowed to eat?
Keywords to look for:
Grass Fed Beef
Free Range Eggs. Otherwise look for Cage-Free eggs at the supermarket. Natural means nothing, and organic doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been able to roam.
Grain Finished is a term you may see or have seen. This means that for the majority of the cows life it has been allowed to eat grass but in the last 60-90 days it is fed grain to fatten it up. This is better than conventional beef but grass finished or pastured is best.
Natural means nothing so please just stop using this as a healthy label. It has no value!
Whole foods has the The 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating Standards. This is a system that I trust in choosing what to purchase.
If you have any insights to share, places to shop, or keywords to look for, then please share!