What's Grass-Fed beef and what do we need to know about it? Chef Rob Endelman gives us the scoop in this guest post.
What exactly is Grass-Fed beef? Cows, by nature, are ruminants, which means they have four-chambered stomachs able to digest grass, unlike humans’ stomachs. Grass-fed cows graze on the different varieties of grasses growing in the pastures where they roam. These cows are most likely not administered hormones and antibiotics, as the use of chemicals is counter to the ideals of most grass farmers. Unfortunately, only a small percentage (estimated at five percent) of our beef comes from grass-fed cows, but it is a delicious and nutritious alternative.
What if a cow is not Grass-Fed? Most of the cattle that turn into our beef spend a large part of their lives on commercial feedlots, where they are most likely fed a diet of corn, other grains and animal by-products. Cows grow bigger faster when fed this diet. They are also probably given hormones and antibiotics, which further spur growth. (The equation is straightforward: bigger cows faster = more slaughtering = more money.) In addition, there's a high probability that this corn-based feedis from genetically modified crops laced with pesticides.All of this doesn't sound good, does it?
So why should we eat grass-fed meat, milk, eggs, cheese and butter instead of the more readily available corn-fed variety? Bottom line, grass-fed products are healthier for us than corn-fed. As The New York Times reported last week: