Does pasture-fed beef live up to its marketing hype?
From both an ethical and a dietary perspective, yes. Pasture raising has displayed significant advantages in farming.
Pasture-based farming is widely considered a step up from conventional farming methods by animal welfare activists who believe battery farming to be cruel and unethical due to the appalling conditions animals are forced to live in.
Image source: humaneitarian.org
Factory farms are cramped and unsanitary and do not allow animals to behave as they would naturally. Such situation leads to breeders utilizing hormones and excessive antibiotics. In contrast, pastures are comparatively cleaner, thus making the spread of communicable diseases less likely, and allows animals to live out their lives. Antibiotic use is significantly reduced and often limited to when an animal needs veterinary attention.
Moreover, pastures have less of an issue disposing of the animals’ wastes. The wastes in the pasture are allowed to decompose to maintain its fertility.
The diet and behavior of the animals also result in a significant difference in the nutritional content of the meat, milk, and eggs derived from the animals. The meat from pasture-raised cattle, for instance, has less overall fat but has a higher percentage of omega-3 and other beneficial fatty acids, with pasture-fed meat having a more balanced ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s.
Image source: eatwild.com
Due to regional and breed variations, the meat of grass-fed animals would taste slightly different but often comes with herbaceous, mineral-rich flavor frequently absent from factory-farm raised animals.
Geoffrey Morell‘s P.A. Bowen Farmstead raises livestock in pastures, producing high quality meat and dairy products for consumers. For more information, visit the farm’s website.
You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. However, when it comes to animal products, the consumer is often convinced of the opposite. Milk and meat would taste and feel the same no matter what you feed the animals. Right?
Pasture-raised animals are often allowed to roam and graze in a similar way to their wild ancestors, occasionally only eating supplementary food during winter. Due to this significant difference in diet and lifestyle, the physical composition of the animal also changes, thus affecting the texture, flavor, and nutritional content that it produces.
Image source: humaneitarian.org
One challenge though for pasture-raised beef is that it has less overall fat compared to grain-fed beef. Still, pasture-raised meat is full of fat-soluble vitamins and CLA that helps build muscle and protects against cancer. Moreover, it is possible to get good, juicy grass-fed steaks when the right breed is used.
Other differences include the absence of antibiotics and hormones in pasture-raised animals. The regular use of antibiotics in factory farm facilities is made necessary due to the intensive nature of factory farm facilities. These substances in such concentrations could alter the quality of the meat and milk and may even be present in potentially harmful numbers due to bioaccumulation. In pastures, the use of medication is kept to a minimum and restricted to only when an animal is actually sick.
Image source: americangrassfedbeef.com
Another key difference is often in the condition of the tissues of the animal. Pasture-raised animals are often better exercised and thus, have tougher meats if cooked well-done.
Geoffrey Morell promotes healthy eating through the P.A. Bowen Farmstead, which provides high-quality pasture-raised meat and dairy products to consumers. Visit this website for more information on his work on the farmstead.