Grass-Fed Beef In A Nutshell

 For generations we've been told that grain-fed beef is better beef. It's a great, natural, healthy food.  

But that rosy picture steadily loses its luster as new scientific discoveries in the fields of human health and nutrition keep advancing.


The August 1998 issue of the Angus Journal included a supplement titled Feeding Options.  In the supplement's first article, written by Troy Smith, there's an interesting line.  “For the ruminant animal, there's nothing more natural than range.”  ("Range" means "large pasture.")  Just think about this for a moment.  

Notice the words “natural” and “range.”  Also, “there's nothing more natural” means that every other situation is less natural.  Probably the least natural cattle feeds are chicken manure; dead animal parts; waste products from food, beverage, and candy factories; silage; and GRAIN.  Yes, grain!


Cattle, like all other ruminants and many other critters, developed on this Earth eating green leafy plants, mostly grass. They ate virtually no grain.  In fact, there isn't a livestock species on this planet that evolved eating grain!  This is important since scientists are reporting that many of America's leading health problems are due to diets top heavy in Omega-6 fatty acids versus the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-6 fatty acids come mainly from grains which are also deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids, and the appropriate balance of Omega-6 fatty acids, come mainly from green leafy plants and some nuts.


The story on the fatty acids is very important.  It started unfolding back in the early 1980s when nutritionists and scientists started making new discoveries about fat and fatty acids.  They knew there were many different fats, but they didn't fully understand the role they played in animal body function.  Also, they begin to figure out that some are crucial for human health.  Some of the most crucial fats are in the list of compounds that make up the membranes for every cell in a human body.  That means some fats are not what we usually associate with the fat we can see on a body.  With more study the dietitians and scientists figured out that the human body needs a very particular balance of certain essential fats in its diet because the body's only source for those fats is food.  Two of the more important essential fats are the families of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.


After isolating these fatty acids scientific experiments determined that if the ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids in cell membranes exceeds 4:1, people develop more health problems.  This is especially meaningful since grain-fed beef can have ratios that exceed 15:1 whereby grass-fed beef is down around 1:1.  (See the accompanying chart that was copied from Jo Robinson's book:  Why Grass-fed Is Best!)  Similar ratios are also found in all grain-fed versus grass-fed livestock products!  Those products include all meats, poultry, dairy, and fish.  For instance skinless chicken breasts are 18:1 and it doesn't matter if the chicken is Tyson, organic, vegetable fed, free range, or grown on the moon chicken.


 The health problems associated with diets high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3 are cancer, heart disease, depression, obesity, insulin resistance, allergies, autoimmune diseases such as lupus and arthritis, diabetes, attention deficit syndrome, and the list goes on. These diseases are not associated with bacterial infections.  They are bodies failing, not from aging, but from improper diets.

We think this makes the positive health story for natural grass-fed beef rather ironclad.

What About the Eating Experience?

Beef “quality” grades (prime, choice, select, and standard) are supposed to compare the “eating experience.”  The grade is based on fat content.  The greater the quantity of intramuscular fat in the meat, the higher the grade.  But everyone knows that sometimes standard grades of beef provide better eating experiences than some prime grades of beef.  So the current grading system is highly flawed.  Yet it's the measure the beef industry uses to sell beef to the consumer.  Since this system is based on saturated fat, it promotes the wrong kind of fat, not the meat or proper balance of nutrients, nor the eating experience.


Unfortunately, what the “industry sells” is not what the consumer actually wants.  The industry wants the fattest grain-fed beef possible because it has been selling Americans on the concept that the fattest beef is the best beef.  Most consumers want healthy, satisfying food.  Of course, some don't really care.

The beef industry's fascination with white saturated fat (which develops when cattle are fed grain) started about a century ago. The feedlot industry then evolved on the back of the grain feeding concept.  And for the past 50 years the modern grain-fed beef industry has been promoting fat as the reason why beef has good flavor, why it is juicy, and why it is tender.  All the while it has been promoting fat the beef industry has had to fight a rearguard action because many “modern” health problems have been linked to eating beef.  But it wasn't until just recently that scientists determined that it wasn't just beef that caused the dramatic increase in health problems in the United States, but the feeding of grain in the production of all meat, poultry, dairy, and fish/shrimp products and the dramatic reduction of Omega-3 fatty acids in the American diet that was the culprit.  To this day the beef industry is still writing off the health problem association as hokum and myth.  But the facts are overwhelming and in time the consumer will learn the truth.

Despite the scientific research and the conclusions being drawn, the beef industry is promoting fat more today than ever before.  The drumbeat is loud and long.  “More fat means higher quality.”  “Higher quality receives higher price.”  “More fat means higher quality.”  “Higher quality receives higher price.”  The beat goes on -- even while they cut off the visible fat and talk "lean meats."

What is really amazing about this whole fat/quality thing is that the beef industry's position on this is pure B.S. from beginning to end. There have been many scientific studies regarding meat.  So the data is well documented.

We know that there is at best a 10% correlation between intramuscular fat and tenderness.

We know that studies comparing tenderness in grain-fed beef versus grass-fed beef have shown no significant differences.  (Grass-fed beef is more inconsistent because it is raised in an uncontrolled environment.)
We know that in grain-fed beef the flavor is in the fat, and that the meat has very little flavor.
We know that beef from cattle that graze lush grasslands definitely has flavor in the meat, plus the visible fat. We know that fat is juicy, but meat can be juicy too, so fat isn't needed for a juicy steak.
We know that nutritionists say people shouldn't eat excessive quantities of saturated fat.  

Yet they say the human body requires a proper balance of the right fats.  

And we know that the proper balance of the right fats comes automatically from livestock grazing lush grasslands.  That's why we can eat their visible fat!

We know that diets high in Omega-6 fatty acids and low in Omega-3 fatty acids are very bad for human health.

We know that grain-fed beef products have high ratios of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids even if they are "extra lean."  (That's because the fatty acids are components of all cell membranes.)

We know that beef from cattle grazing lush grasslands is a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids.  

And, unlike grain-fed beef, it is also high in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), beta carotene, and vitamins A and E.


For a fact the consistency, flavour, look, smell, and texture of grass-fed beef differs from grain-fed beef. Therefore some consumers will have to learn to appreciate the differences if they are going to eat grass-fed beef.  Others will like it immediately because it actually tastes like beef.  Others will gladly learn to like it because it does a body good.

Yes, the time for Thaba Manzi Grass-Fed Beef and our other Grass-Fed livestock, BaPedi Sheep mutton is now.

Grass-Fed Meats, They're What's Best for Dinner!

Beef's Nutritional Ledger
Grain-Fed Beef
Grass-Fed Beef
Added Hormones
Fed Antibiotics
Fed Grain
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-6 Fatty Acid
Beta Carotene
Vitamin E
Vitamin A
Total Fat
High & Saturated
Proper Balance
Original and Bold
All Other Factors
E. coli Danger

Note:  Grassfed Beef should not be confused  with organic or "free-range", because as stated by Jo Robinson, author

of Why Grassfed is Best, “organic meats may be free of chemicals, but does not guarantee the omega-3 rich diet of grass fed animals”.

© Manzi Ranch 2008-2017