Benefits of Grass Fed Beef

We are very happy to be able to finally say we are now buying grass fed beef! Friday, Jon picked up our first order of 1/16 of a cow. Just how much is 1/16 of a cow? It is this much.

25 Pounds Doesn’t Look Like Much

We found a local farm/dealer, Grassfed Greensboro, that we could buy direct from. Here is the breakdown of what they offer.

100 pounds
50 pounds
25 pounds

An example of 1/8th is 25 pounds of 1-pound portions of ground beef, and 25 pounds of miscellaneous roasts, steaks and ribs. Each person gets one small bag of bones and one .5 pound of liver (more available if interested).

That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. We started with 1/16th so that we could try it out and work with them for the first time on a small order as we have never done business with them before. Normally, we do mostly ground beef in our house with the occasional beef tips or roast. We would love to high steaks and roasts more often, but they are just so expensive. Just buying ground beef at the grocery store is expensive. If you attempt to get leaner beef it will cost more. If you attempt to find grass fed beef in a store like Whole Foods you will pay even more. Based on the mix of ground beef and other cuts we believed $5/pound was fair.

So just what is the big deal about grass fed beef anyway?

Grass fed beef has lower levels of saturated fat, total fat, and calories yet it provides larger amounts of vitamins and healthy fats. There are little and usually no antibiotics used and needed because the cattle are not so closely confined in feed lots. Just like caged chickens, large quantities of cows contained in a small confined space leads to more infection. Additionally, the cheap grain feed tends to breed E. coli bacteria easier in the cow’s stomachs than a grass based diet.

Health Advantages of Grass Fed Beef

  • Leaner
  • Lower in omega 6-fats – linked to heart disease
  • Higher in omega 3 fats  – reduced risk of heart disease
  • Higher conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) – reduced risk of heart disease and cancer
  • Higher levels of vitamins C and E
  • No antibiotics
  • Less food poisoning from E. coli

Other Advantages of Grass Fed Beef

  • More flavorful beef
  • Better quality of life for cattle
  • More nutritious meat and dairy products
  • Reduced flooding and soil erosion (pasture versus grain fields)
  • Increased groundwater recharge
  • More sustainable manure management
  • More fertile soil therefore more nutritious forages
  • More diverse and healthier ecosystems
  • Reduced use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow unsustainable corn and soy

Disadvantages of Grass Fed Beef

  • May be more difficult to find
  • May be more expensive
  • Cattle matures slower, increasing the production time

To us it is clear that the advantages far out way the disadvantages.

How to Find Grass Fed Beef

Unfortunately, it varies. There is no clear cut answer. Some retailers like Whole Foods carry grass fed beef, but it will be at a higher cost. The most economical route will be to find a local producer/provider in your area. Below are a couple of websites with listings by state to find producer/providers.

American Grass Fed Producer Profiles
Eatwild Grassfed Directory (US, Canada, International)

These are some pretty good directories of providers. However, they still are incomplete. The provider that we purchased from, Grassfed Greensboro, is not listed on either of these directories. You may still have to do a little bit of research in your area.

For more information of grass fed bed check out:
Mother Earth News
American Grassfed
Women’s Health