We are often asked: what does grass-fed, grass-finished mean? With all the testing we’ve done recently around the levels of nutrition in our meat, we felt it was a good time to discuss this topic further.
Labels can be confusing across meat producers. For example, grass-fed can mean that confined animals in feedlots can be fed grass at any point. It does not mean they only eat grass, and most often they are also fed grain to fatten them up. However, with transparency being a pillar of our business, our labels have no surprises. When we say our cattle are grass-fed and grass-finished, we mean grass is the only thing they eat.
Our cattle are raised on pasture where they enjoy fresh air, sunlight and room to roam. This leads to healthy and happy animals that have high levels of important nutrients - which is better for those consuming it. Grass-fed and grass-finished beef is the only kind that contains conjugated linoleic acid which has been shown to help prevent weight gain. This kind of beef also has more antioxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin K2 which is vital for getting calcium into your bones and away from your arteries where it can cause plaques and heart attacks.
In addition, all grass-fed and finished beef has better levels of good fats and a healthy ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Part of the nutrient testing we did this year was focused around our beef and the results for our meat back up the existing data. Our 90% lean grass-fed ground beef had 200mg of total Omega 3 per 100g serving compared to 36mg for conventional beef. Why is this important to you? Well Omega 3 is something most of us are deficient in. Our modern diets are lacking in this and have caused a switch in the balance for most people. Yet, Omega 3 is vital for so many aspects of our health: brain development both during pregnancy and childhood, and brain health in later life, eye health and a reduced risk of both metabolic disorders and heart disease.
The interesting thing about these Omega 3 levels is that without grass-feeding this just doesn’t happen. Cows are rumens and have a tendency to have lower polyunsaturated fatty acids including Omega 3. As a result, Omega 3 levels in conventional beef tend to be very low and non-existent for long chain Omega 3 like EPA and DHA. A diet rich in Omega 3 dense grasses increases this in beef over time. Meaning, watch your labels - if it isn’t grass-fed and grass-finished, much of the health benefits just aren’t there.
At Grass Roots we raise our animals this way for a number of reasons: it’s better for the animal, better for our health and better for the environment!