Grass Fed Meat and Dairy

The Benefits of Grass-Fed Animal Products

Grass-finished animal products are superior in nutritional content compared to the standard mass produced alternatives. Grass fed beef contains substantially more vitamin A and E than commercial beef, and is rich in beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acids, both major cancer inhibitors. Organic “full-fat” yogurts and milks (such as the ones made by Maple Hill) appear to have higher saturated fat content, however the fat content is actually high in omega 3 fatty acids due to the grass diet of their cows. Omega 3’s are beneficial for good our heart and brain health. Omega 3 consumption is associated with lower risk of  high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and possibly even cancer. In contrast, grain-finished animals from feedlots are high in Omega 6’s—the fatty acids that raise cholesterol levels.

Cows, sheep, and other grazing animals are referred to as ruminants, that is they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon (in the case of cows) fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats, that is they can covert grass into food they can digest. Grass is a cow’s natural food. Today the cows we eat are grown by profit-driven corporations which artificially increase the growth cycle of animals in order to achieve the largest size in the shortest possible time span. In order to take a baby calf from the birth weight of 80 pounds to 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year, it takes massive amounts of carbs (corn), protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs and growth hormones.

Unnatural corn and protein supplements cause feedlot bloat and acidosis in cows, which can easily kill the animals. Their immune systems weaken and digestive tracks get disturbed and large amounts of antibiotics are needed to keep them alive. The secondary ingestion of the antibiotic-fed beef is leading to antibiotic resistance and allowing dangerous strains such as MRSA to multiply. Furthermore, E.Coli cases are rampant with feedlot beef, whose digestive tracks get acidic from grain feed and become E.Coli friendly. More strains of E.Coli are being bred in the increasingly acidic intestinal tract of cows, which are becoming more resistant to an acidic environment and thus more dangerous to humans whose acidic stomachs are becoming less able to kill E.Coli when it enters the body.

Luckily, in this information age we are able to learn about these risks and make more informed decisions when we buy our groceries and there are more options now than ever before. In New York, membership of the American Grassfed Association, in which most of the cattle ranchers have 100 head or less, has grown to 27, from 2 in 2005. Many local farms ship their grassfed beef and dairy products directly to their customers’ front doorsteps and delivery services such as Fresh Direct have an expansive organic and locally grown selection. Although organic and locally grown prices are typically higher, producers are refining their selections and becoming more efficient while increasing competition in this market segment will continue to bring prices down to more realistic levels.

Eat Wild has a directory of Farms That Will Ship to You. Also, check out the 50 New York City Greenmarkets that spread out over the city. A record 34 sellers of local, pastured grass-fed livestock were featured this past summer.

Abingdon Square Greenmarket
Eastside of Hudson St. between W. 12 & Bethune Streets
New York City, NY
Valley Shepherd Creamery (NJ)

Columbia Greenmarket
Broadway between 114th and 115th streets
New York City, NY
Raindance Farm

Dag Hammerskjold Plaza Greenmarket
47th & 2d Avenue
Manhattan, NY
Valley Shepherd Creamery (NJ)

Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket
New York City, NY
Flying Pigs Farm (spring and fall)

Greenwich Village
6th & Bleeker
Valley Farmers

Lincoln City Greenmarket
66th & Broadway
Bobolink Dairy (NJ)

Tribeca Greenmarket
New York City, NY
Flying Pigs Farm (spring and fall), Raindance Farm, Valley Shepherd Creamery (NJ)

Union Square GreenMarket
New York City, NY
3-Corner Field Farm, Valley Shepherd Creamery (NJ), Bobolink Dairy (NJ), Sprout Creek Farm

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