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Is Grass-Fed Beef Anti-Inflammatory?

Grass-Fed Basics:

Let's start with a brief overview of what it means to be grass-fed. In an earlier discussion, we talked about how a truly grass-fed cow is one that spends it's entirety of it's life foraging and eating grass. Conversely, conventionally raised cattle may spend some of their lifespan eating grass, while finishing on a grain blend, often soy and corn.

Remember, according to the USDA, the standard for a product being considered "grass-fed" only requires that 50% of it's lifespan be spent grass-fed. A grass-finished cow may have spent a majority of it's life on a grain supplemented diet before spending several months on a grass rotation prior to slaughter. This is important to keep in mind as consumers, because product marketing, and the integrity of the supplier you are purchasing beef from, is incredibly influential in the final product that ends up on your plate - and if you are curious about whether grass or grain fed beef influences your health, this is especially important.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Different from Grain-Fed Beef?

Yes, and while we here at 1875 Beef enjoy the marbling and finished taste of a grass-fed to grain finished cow, there are loads of benefits available to the consumer from eating strictly grass-fed beef. Notably, a richer nutrient panel which provides reduced inflammation, improved heart health, and more.

It makes sense that the quality of the feed cattle graze on would directly influence the finished product that we eat after processing. Ranchers are mindful of their grass profile, often maintaining high levels of education in the maintenance and care of their grazing lands, a crucial component to raising cattle. I have heard great ranchers refer to themselves as grass-growers first, ranchers second, as the perpetuation of the lifecycle of the grass is integral to the overall health of the cattle and the finished product.

Grass-fed cattle possess a unique nutrient profile indicative of the quality of food they themselves consumed. It can be broken down as such:

  • Higher Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Grass-fed beef contains a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef. Omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can help counterbalance the inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids.

  • Increased Antioxidants: Grass-fed beef is rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E and carotenoids, which help neutralize free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress, ultimately reducing inflammation.

  • Optimal Fat Composition: The fat content in grass-fed beef is lower overall, and it has a more favorable ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats, contributing to improved heart health and reduced inflammation.

In addition to these important qualities, grass-fed beef also boasts a higher vitamin and mineral profile compared to grain-fed or conventionally raised cattle, and is a better option for environmentally friendly consumption. Particularly if you are shopping and consuming local product! Local grass-fed beef operations have the power to preserve bio-diversity, improve soil and grass health, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (you heard that right!)

So How do I Know that the Beef I am Purchasing is Quality, Nutrient Dense, and Locally Sourced?

Shop local, get to know the regional ranchers in your community, ask questions, and advocate for yourself and your health. Easier said than done, but many communities, much like Central Oregon, are rich with local farmers and ranchers dedicated to the craft of raising and growing healthy and affordable foods. Support local ranching and farming operations by proposing that our product be on the shelves of YOUR grocery store or corner market. Your advocacy for our efforts is essential in helping us develop too.

We have our community in mind at every step of the process, and are grateful for the opportunity to bring our product to your table whether it be at a Saturday Market, or from the local mercantile. We are proud of what we do - #keepingtradition

Jamie, founder of 1875 Beef pointing to his pastures above Summer Lake, Oregon

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