Why Invest In Grass Fed Free Range Meats?

"Do you know how much Grass Fed Free Range meats are?"

…a common question or statement I receive from people when I suggest investing in the quality meat. I understand there is an immediate sticker shock ($8lb for grass fed free range beef vs. $4 for standard beef for example). If you understand what is not in your grass fed free range meats, you will appreciate the quality. What are our "standard" steer fed on a daily basis before becoming our burgers or steak?

Corn and cow fats from previous steers are part of the standard diet of a steer today. (Keep in mind, a cow is an herbivore. Corn and steer fats are not what a steer is evolved to consume). Michael Pollan writes, "The economic logic behind corn is unassailable. Calories are calories, and corn is the cheapest, most convenient source of calories on the market. Of course, it was the same industrial logic-protein is protein- that made feeding rendered cow parts back to cows seem like a sensible thing to do, until scientists figured out that this practice was spreading bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease. Rendered bovine meat and bone meal represented the cheapest, most convenient way of satisfying a cow's protein requirement (never mind these animals were herbivores by evolution) and so appeared on the daily menus of most other feed yards until the FDA banned the practice in 1997."

In other words, prior to 1997, cows were fed the remnants of other cows on a daily basis, specifically cow proteins. Because of this practice, mad cow disease formed and the practice was banned in 1997.

Pollan explains further, "Though the industrial logic that made feeding cattle to cattle seem like a good idea has been thrown into doubt by mad cow disease, I was surprised to learn it hadn't been discarded. The FDA ban on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants makes an exception for blood products and fat; my steer will probably dine on beef tallow recycled from the very slaughterhouse he's heading to in June. ("Fat is fat," the feedlot manager shrugged when I raised an eyebrow.) The rules still permit feedlots to feed non-ruminant animal protein to ruminants. Feather meal and chicken litter (that is, bedding, feces, and discarded bits of feed) are accepted cattle feeds, as are chicken, fish, and pig meal. Some public health experts worry that since the bovine meat and bone meal that cows used to eat is now being fed to chickens, pigs, and fish, infectious prions could find their way back into cattle when they're fed the protein of the animals that have been eating them."

What does this mean?

When we slaughtered a steer, the industry became inventive and creative as to how to utilize every part of the steer. The discards of the steer, the parts they did not know what to do with, were fed back to the steers spreading mad cow disease. Prior to 1997, you can be confident you had consumed in your burger or steak. However in a post 1997 FDA ban, there are loopholes. Steers are still eating beef tallow (a rendered cooking fat made from the fat of a cow) as well as the parts of chickens, fish, and pigs which we would normally discard. The same happens for the chicken who consumes steer, fish, and pig parts. Here is the cycle. The steer ruminant proteins are fed to chickens. The chicken ruminant proteins are fed back to the cows. Neither the steer nor the chicken evolved to consume each other. Because of this current practice, we are 1 step removed from "mad cow disease."

What are you to do?

Invest in grass-fed free range meats. Understand that steers evolved into grazing on grass, not steer fat or chicken or any other animal. Steers are herbivores by nature and should not be consuming meats. Because of past practices, we created mad cow disease. Who knows what else is brewing because of our "cheap" diet to our animals. Yes, grass-fed free range meats are more expensive. Grass-fed free range steer roamed around for approx 5 years eating grass unlike our standard steer who lived for fourteen to sixteen months. The cheaper ground beef you think is more affordable, dined on other animal discards as well as its own fat. Now that is just gross!


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

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