From the producers: "Did you know that most Americans had never eaten grain-fed beef before the 1950s? It didn't take long for things to change. Today, the vast majority of beef sold in grocery stores is conventional grain-fed. Of course, it's easier and cheaper to raise animals on grain. That certainly doesn't make it better. A factory can make a lot of food in a short amount of time, but it takes considerable effort to grow your own veggies or raise cattle on grass. When it comes to quality, flavor and nutrition, the effort is well worth it. A garden ripened heirloom tomato is a stark contrast to one that finishes ripening in a truck. Likewise, a grass-fed, grass-finished beef steak is far superior in nutrition and flavor than a conventional beef steak from a factory farm.
Let us talk about nutrition. Both grass-fed and grain-fed beef contain concentrated sources of nutrients. Beef is packed with iron, selenium, and zinc. It is also a great source of vitamins B12, B3, and B6.
Vitamin B12: Works to keep the body’s blood and nerve cells healthy.
Vitamin B3: An essential nutrient that EVERY part of your body needs to function properly.
Vitamin B6: Benefits the nervous system, and is involved in producing the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
When comparing the two, grass-fed beef has higher concentrations of nutrients and is leaner than the grain-fed alternative. Grass-fed beef is more abundant in antioxidants, has higher levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin E, and is an essential source of amino acids. It is also rich in Omega-3s and has two to three times the amount of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef.
What is CLA? CLA is produced naturally in a cow’s body and is passed on to you when you eat grass-fed meat. Research has shown that a diet rich in CLA can help reduce a person’s risk of cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin that is important for organ function and the immune system.
Vitamin E: Prevents heart disease, supports immune function and has anti-aging properties.
Omega-3s: These fatty acids are essential for a well-functioning body. Omega-3s is where grass-fed meat shows off its benefits. Grass-fed beef has up to five times as many omega-3s as grain-fed cattle.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Another fatty acid that is associated with many health benefits including reducing cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
Looking at grain-fed beef, we see lower amounts of these nutrients.
The bottom line is a grain-fed diet for cattle is not a species-appropriate diet. Grain-fed cows have higher levels of monounsaturated fats and similar levels of Omega-6s. Despite having a higher amount of fat overall, grain-fed beef has a lower concentration of healthy fats such as heart-healthy Omega-3s: more fat but fewer benefits.
Monounsaturated Fats: Much better for you than saturated or trans fats, but should be eaten in moderation.
Omega-6s: Both grass-fed and grain-fed have similar amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids. When eaten in moderation Omega-6 fatty acids can be useful for heart health.
THE DIFFERENCE IN PRICE
When comparing grain-fed and grass-fed beef, there is a noticeable difference in price.
The average cost for grain-fed, conventional meat is $4.95/pound, while the average price for grass-fed, grass-finished beef is $7.38/pound.
This noticeable difference leaves consumers asking why the amount is an average of $2.50 higher for grass-fed?
The answer lies in the vast differences in the raising of grass-fed animals compared to their grain-fed counterparts. As mentioned before, the process for grass-fed animals is much slower with animals living up to a year longer than grain-fed cattle. These farmers are providing care for each animal much longer than the conventional farms, which includes tending to the cattle’s grass, labor for rotating grazing, and making sure the animals are healthy.
At the end of this process, grass-fed cows are often smaller than grain-fed because they are free from antibiotics and hormones. These farmers are going the extra mile to provide care for the animals and sustainable meat for consumers, but the result is less meat to sell.
These husbandry practices are specialized to create exact nutritional content – and the higher price reflects this specialization.