The Pasture-Raised Advantage
What's the difference?
Conventional - animals raised in factory farms are given diets of mostly genetically modified grain and soy that are kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies. To further cut costs, the feed may also contain "by-product feedstuff" such as municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and candy including it's wrappers. These foods increase inflammation and fat content in the animals. These animals are also given growth hormones and antibiotics to unnaturally increase growth/production and to counter the effects of the crowded and low quality standards they are living in.
Free-range - oftenraised without the use of hormones and antibiotics, and cage-free. In the case of poultry they may have access to outdoors but in most instances they do not access it.
Organic - having the same benefits as free-range, they additionally are given feed that is organic. This eliminates the risk of eating animals that have been given genetically modified corn and soy.
Pasture-raised or Grass-fed - the practices used to raise these animals usually include being raised in pasture and having access to grass, plants, and insects as food; also being raised outdoors increases the intake of sunlight to increase vitamin D in the animals that is then passed on to us. In the case of grass-fed meat products they are usually not given grain, although pasture-raised poultry may be supplemented with grain. Pasture-raised or grass-fed does not necessarily mean organic due to certification policies but it is often the most healthy animal products to buy.
I could go into a plethora of reasons why conventionally raised meat practices should be abolished from your diet and this planet. Most of these reasons would make you want to vomit and raise hell. But instead, I want to focus on what the benefits are ofchoosing these foods. If you want to read all the disgusting stuff go here. The majority of the information below was sourced from the eatwild.com website.
Meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories than grain-fed. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, both macro and trace minerals like zinc and magnesium and a number of health-promoting fats, including two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional beef.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) encourages muscle building, promotes weight loss, and prevents cancer. When cows are fed grain this important nutrient disappears. Omega-3s and CLA are more abundant in animals raised on pasture because these beneficial fats are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s.
Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories. As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-fed steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds per year), switching to lean grass-fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year.
The reason grass-fed milk is protective is that it has up to five times more CLA. For decades, we've been told that eating full-fat dairy products increases the risk of heart attack. Now, a study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that the more full-fat dairy products people consume, the lower their risk of heart attack---provided the cows were grass-fed.
The benefits of unconventional farming aren't limited to just beef. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.
Eggs from hens raised outdoors on pasture have from three to six times more vitamin D than eggs from hens raised in confinement. Pasture eggs also have 1/3 less cholesterol than commercial eggs, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 7 times more beta-carotene. Additionally, these eggs contain more folic acid and vitamin B12, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, essential vitamins not found in your multi-vitamin tablet.
All of these products include lean proteins. Lean animal protein lowers your blood LDL cholesterol, increases HDL cholesterol, and provides muscle building branched-chain amino acids. Lean proteins as well as healthy fats are highly satiating thus preventing excessive food consumption and decreasing weight gain.
Organ Meats, cartilage and bones; the most nutritious animal food
Remember, the typical American diet lacks minerals and also high quality fat soluble vitamins. Minerals play an important role in preventing many common conditions, and fat soluble vitamins are crucial in improving immunity. Liver contain large quantities of trace elements and fat-soluble vitamins such a vitamin A and D and essential fatty acids. Consuming organ meats once per week provides a nutritious boost.
Liver and kidneys are rich in B12, an important nutrient in the body for many processes and for preventing anemia.
Chicken, beef and fish stocks contain the minerals of bone, marrow, cartilage, and electrolytes. Using an acidic wine or vinegar in your stock helps to draw out calcium, magnesium, and potassium into the broth.
Gelatin found in stocks aids in digestion, which prevents hyperacidity, and can be healing to the digestive tract.
Cartilage from the bones used in stock provides collagen and is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Broth and stock has also been found to prevent and mitigate infectious diseases and repair the mucous lining of the small intestine.
Grass-fed dairy products are available at the Farmers Markets and Whole Foods Market under the brand name Texas Daily Harvest. The low-temperature pasteurization practices used by Texas Daily Harvest also preserves the health benefits of their products.
Pasture-raised poultry is available at the Farmers Markets and in limited amounts at Whole Foods Market.
Pasture-raised eggs are available at the Farmers Markets and at Whole Foods Market under the brand names Vital Farms and Jeremiah Cunningham's "World's Best Eggs." Central Market sells these under the brand name Pasture Verde.
Grass-fed beef is also sold at the Farmers Markets as well as at Whole Foods Market and in limited options at Central Market. You can also buy directly from Shudde Ranch by ordering online. Also, the link above in the story about Gerry contains a link to all the Texas vendors who sell pasture-raised products.
Dai Due is a wonderful butcher shop that sells at the Farmers Markets all kinds of prepared sausages and charcuterie. Many of the products contain organ meats and all the animal products used in their foods are locally sourced and pasture-raised.
Grass-fed ghee is also available as a great tasting and delicious cooking oil. It's health benefits are numerous. Pure Indian Foods makes a great product.