Nutritional Differences of Grass-fed Beef and Conventional Beef

Check out this photo that was snapped with a side-by-side view of ground meat. One is store-bought, conventionally grown beef and the other is from a grass-fed farm purchased beef share. Which is which? What other observations can you make just by sight? Which one would you rather eat?

Without even getting into the economics, environmental aspects and politics of grass-fed beef vs. conventional grain-fed beef, or mentioning the living conditions and what they actually do eat, let us strictly talk nutrition.

Probably one of the most important differences is the ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6 in each type of meat. These two fats are important to keep in balance in our bodies. Both grain-fed and grass-fed beef have about an equal amount of Omega-6, but with a lack of greenery in the diet conventionally grown meat has next to no Omega-3s, while grass-fed beef has sometimes four times the amount of Omega-3s in conventional beef. If you cannot afford to purchase grass-fed beef, it’s a good idea to supplement your diet with extra fatty types of fish or fish oils to keep proportions in your body in balance.

Studies have also shown that grass-fed meat is 3 to 5 times higher in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) than grain-fed meat. CLA is thought to be one of the most important cancer defenses and is known as the “good” naturally occurring trans fat.

Besides these two above grass-fed beef is higher in B vitamins, vitamin K, and Vitamin E and trace minerals like selenium, magnesium, and calcium. This vitamin and mineral boost is attributed to the variety of wild forage, grasses and shrubs that a pastured cow munches on, which are grown in good soils that have been organically and sustainably fertilized, resulting in an optimal nutritional profile. We are only really scratching the surface of the health benefits of grass-fed beef here, not to mention the taste difference.

Availability of Grass-fed Beef

It seems easier to acquire conventional grain-fed beef. Simply get in your car and drive to the nearest market. It won’t hurt your wallet too much at an average cost of $3 per pound either. Grass-fed beef is easier to come by than you might realize and, if you’re smart about it, you won’t have to pay upwards of $10 a pound either.

  • Search for a local farmer’s market, CSA, or buying club nearby that offers grass-fed beef. If you contact the farm directly, you can sometimes work out a discount by purchasing in bulk. It may require a bit of research on your part, but a good detective often finds a fantastic source that is within their budget.
  • Wait for grass-fed beef to go on sale at your local markets and stock up! This may seem the most convenient, but you will end up paying more than the other options.
  • Search for and buy direct from a local farm. To save even more, get several friends together and split a whole beef share. This option will save you the most money. Again, there is a research aspect to it and it may require more effort and organization, but it is, in my opinion, the most affordable option for acquiring grass-fed beef.
  • Purchase from a reputable online family farm vendor and have your meat delivered directly to your doorstep. You can’t get more convenient than that! This option offers both convenience and cost effectiveness for the prudent and busy consumer. For the most savings, wait for a sale and purchase in bulk.

In reality, research goes a long way and there are always affordable options. There was a family that thought they would never be able to afford grass-fed beef for everyday consumption, but were looking around for an option to purchase at least some pastured meat. During their research, they found a farmer who would deliver meat locally and would end up costing around $4 per pound for a half beef share. Needless to say, they were surprised to be able to find such a deal. Now all of the beef they consume is grass-fed.

If large shares are not an option to save money, purchasing cheaper cuts of meat such as bones, organ meats, osso bucco, short ribs, ground and shanks will provide your family with all the benefits of pastured meat at a fraction of the price. These cuts make wonderful enzyme rich broths, soups, sauces and other inexpensive meals that will nourish.

It is understandable that many feel as though grass-fed meat is out of their reach and so opt to consume conventional meat. Grass-fed beef raised by farmers who are good stewards of the animals and the land they are raised on is the best option on several levels. Next, grain-fed or mixed fed meat raised by farmers with sustainable and humane practices would be next. After that, store-bought, conventionally raised beef. Bottom line is to purchase the best quality meat you can afford.

What are your experiences with grass-fed beef vs. grain-fed beef?

Photo Credit: arsel

21 Tips to Avoid Plastic for Real Food Kitchen Storage

avoid plastic food storageHave you seen this article about BPA plastic simply being replaced by its cousin BPS?

It seems more important than ever to learn how to keep our kitchens and food as plastic free as possible. The problem is that plastic products have become so convenient and second-nature that many of us don’t have any clue as to how to store our food without it. With that in mind, I came up with this list of 21 ways to avoid plastic when storing food in your real food kitchen. Most are ways to store your food completely plastic free and others are hacks for how to store your food in plastic if it becomes necessarily.

  1. Use mason jars to freeze solid foods like beans, rice, meat, fruits and veggies. Don’t fill to the top to avoid the food touching your reusable lids. After food is frozen solid, add about 1/4″ of water on top of the food to keep more air out.
  2. Freeze meals in food-safe Pyrex dishes without a lid. After food is solid add about 1/4″ of water on top of the food. Place a tight fitting lid, or top first with parchment paper or butcher’s paper and then cover tightly with aluminum foil (you can reuse the aluminum foil many times!).
  3. Wrap breads, waffles, pancakes, muffins and other dry foods carefully with parchment paper or butcher’s paper (trying to get as much air as possible out) and tape closed with freezer tape. Then wrap tightly in aluminum foil to keep air out (you can reuse the aluminum foil many times!). Do not use waxed paper as most are waxed with paraffin.
  4. Freeze foods that are purees, soft, or liquid by first freezing in mini muffin or regular sized muffin tins. Pop out of tins and store them in mason jars or a cheap plastic freezer container lined with parchment paper.
  5. Freeze soft, pureed or liquids directly in pint freezer-safe mason jars. Leave extra head space and add 1/4″ of water on top once frozen.
  6. Wrap fresh meat for the freezer in butcher paper and freezer tape. Then, wrap tightly with aluminum foil to seal out air. (Reuse that aluminum foil!)
  7. Line freezer safe ziplock bags with parchment paper before filing with food of choice.
  8. Line and wrap food with parchment paper before placing in a plastic storage container to freeze.
  9. Of course, if you have the cash you could always try these stainless steel containers or even the glass storage containers to freeze your goods.
  10. Make your own waxed boxes to freeze or refrigerate food in by brushing a thin layer of melted bee’s wax on the inside of used gift boxes. Allow to dry. Fill with food and seal edges with freezer tape to keep air out. Carefully wash them to reuse by using cold water and mild soap on a rag on the inside. Rinse with cool water on a rag and allow to air dry. Another option for waxed boxes would be to purchase some paper clam-shell type to go boxes like these and wax them with bees wax. Again, always with the intention of reusing them as many times as possible.
  11. Make  your own reusable waxed fabric to wrap cheese, leftovers, and baked goods in. My friend Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS does this to age and store her cheese in.
  12. Make your own reusable waxed fabric bags to store food in the refrigerator or room temperature.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers in mason jars or reclaimed jars.
  14. Short-term store leftovers in the refrigerator in the stainless steel pot the were cooked in with the lid on.
  15. If really pressed for a container to store in, use a glass or stainless mixing bowl with a plate on top for a lid. If you want to keep more air out, use a layer of plastic under the plate and be sure that the food is low enough not to touch the plastic.
  16. Store food in Chinese take out boxes (I would personally rewax the inside with bees wax to avoid parafin). They can be reused several times by washing with mild soap and water and allowing to dry. You can freeze  (even liquids) in them by sealing all the openings  on top and bottom with freezer tape. Or check out these cute silicone versions.
  17. For packed lunches, nothing beats these divided stainless steel lunch boxes or a paper bag with the waxed fabric bags mentioned above.
  18. Store beverages in glass jars, glass carafes, or reclaimed glass milk jugs.
  19. Store fresh fruits and veggies in paper bags, cardboard boxes, baskets or in mason jars with some water. Read this post from My Plastic Free-Life for a more complete list of how to store specific fruits and veggies without plastic.
  20. Store dry foods in the pantry in stainless steel canisters or (you guessed it!) mason jars or other salvaged glass containers.
  21. Spices and seasonings store well in 8oz mason jars or these stainless steel spice tins (which mount nicely on your refrigerator with magnets.

I am sure this is not a complete list. What are some ways you have avoided using plastic in your kitchen. Share your tips and ideas with us in the comments!

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesdays and Homemaking Link-Up