Grass fed beef vs. grain feed beef

What is organic beef?
Grass fed beef with strict restrictions
 The USDA sets those strict restrictions and they are as follows
Cattle may not be given certain vitamins and minerals
Cattle are never given antibiotics or growth hormones
Cannot use conventional pesticides, fertilizers, or bio-engineering
Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where food is
Must use certified companies that handle and process food
Organic cattle must have access to pasture but most cattle in the
US regardless of how they are raised, meet this criterion
What is natural beef?
Natural beef does not have an official standardized definition
 The USDA sets only 3 restrictions
1. The product must be minimally processed
2. The product cannot contain any artificial ingredients
3. The product cannot contain any preservations
The USDA has no specific restrictions on management
 Yet it sells for $.25 - $16 more per cwt on a live animal basis
 The owner sets the restrictions
 Consumers may feel they are getting a higher-quality local
product, but is not always the case
What is conventional beef?
AKA Grain finished beef
 Cattle spend most of their lives in range pasture conditions
feeding on forages (grass).
 At 12-18 months of age are moved to the feed yard where
they receive a carefully balanced diet
 Typically spend between 120-200 days in the feed yard to get
cattle to optimal weight right around 1,300lbs.
 Corn is #1 grain used
 Corn fed beef adds tenderness and rich flavor
 Can also be considered natural as long as it reaches USDA’s 3
 85% of all beef in U.S. is conventionally raised
Nutritional Value
Animal Welfare
World Sustainability
Hormone Scare
Nutritional Value
Organic doesn’t necesarily mean healthier
The USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or
more nutritious than conventionally produced food
Through 50 years of research there has been no evidence that organic
farming is healthier
New research from Texas A&M University found that men who
consumed corn-fed beef improved their cholesterol levels while men who
consumed grass-fed beef experienced no change.
You will pay more for a typically smaller steak that is usually less
marbled than conventional beef.
Animal Welfare
For both organic and conventional beef producers, animal welfare is a
A conventional farmer checks their cattle everyday to assure health
throughout the herd
Antibiotics are used in conventional herds to treat only sick animals;
just like you would treat your sick children
Cattle like eating grain and get nutrients from it that cannot be found
in grass alone
Animal Welfare continued
Grain fed cows also have access to pasture and forages as well
People believe every calf is raised in a caged factory but according to
the US Census, 97% of farms in the US are family owned
When you see cattle “crowded” pictures it is usually at the bunk at
feeding time where they all come up and eat at the same time. Just
like if you go to a school at lunch time in the cafeteria and all the
students are sitting shoulder to shoulder eating their lunch. The
picture cuts out all the space behind the bunk.
Cattle are natural herders so in most cases they have more room than
required and simply would rather be around one another.
World Sustainability
By 2050 the world population is projected to grow to over 9 Billion
Most cattle the aren’t fed in a feedlot require 226 days longer to finish
To Grass feed a calf it requires 2-20 acres. So let’s give 10 acres for
every cow in the United States (100,000,000) that would cover nearly
half of the nation.
According to NASS and data from the U.S. Census Bureau, between
1960 and 2007 the number of U.S. farms declined by more than 1.7
million, yet the U.S. population increased by 64 percent. In 1960, there
were 3.9 million farms feeding a U.S. population of 183 million. In
2007, there were 2.2 million farms feeding an estimated population of
301 million.
A recent U of I study found that grass fed cattle produce more
methane than grain fed cattle
Hormones Scare
All meat has hormones
There have been 0 cases of sickness in humans due to cattle that have
received antibiotics or growth hormones
The FDA has strict guidelines that cattle producers follow when using
antibiotics and growth hormones including a rest period to get it out of
their system
In beef, the implanted animals will produce meat that contains slightly
more of the hormone estrogen (1.9 versus 1.3 nanograms per 3 ounce
When hormones are eaten, they are digested, broken down and largely
A child’s body produces 50,000 nanograms of estrogen per day and an
adult female (non-pregnant) will produce 480,000 nanograms of estrogen
per day
There are 520 nanograms of estrogen in ice cream
It is human nature to be fearful of things we aren’t familiar with. So it is
advisable to do some research before believing everything you hear or
Organic beef typically is leaner but that also means less marbling
which is what gives beef its flavor
Organic beef can have a good taste as all beef can, but follow careful
cooking directions
Ground beef from grass fed cattle naturally contains more omega-3
fatty acids than from grain-fed cattle (three times as much), but is
higher in saturated and trans fat according to a Texas A&M study.
Neither is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids compared to fish
though (Salmon contain 35 times more than beef).
A recent review did find that organic produce had fewer pesticide
residues than conventional farming. However, there is no evidence
that these low levels of pesticides present any health risk. The
review found: The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide
residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk
difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for
exceeding maximum allowed limits were small.
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