Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Extra Step - Grass Fed Protein

So, we are on to Step Three in Phase Two of the "Steps"  - Grass Fed Protein.  There is a very interesting and technical discussion to have on the enormous benefits of grass fed meat.  I would like to start with a couple of questions and random thoughts today and then list several web sites which break down the grass/grain difference.  Read a little, study a little, think a little, learn a little.  Apply principals that you know to be true. 

The first link I have is a wonderfully concise article from Eat Wild

So, to start today - my thoughts: 
  • Is this how meat was raised hundreds of years ago?  
  • Where did "graining" meat at the end come in to our lives?  
  • Who profits from grain fed meat rather than grass fed meat?
  • How is grain fed meat different than grass fed meat?

I would say that, just on the surface, if you were someone raising a cow, a couple of chickens and maybe a sheep or goat say.... 300 years ago.... these animals would have been raised on grass, bugs and a little grain that comes in naturally with grasses.  You, the farmer, would have made a lot of effort to provide the best grasses and herbs for your animals.  You would have moved your animals around quite a bit or you wouldn't have enough available grass for them to survive and thrive.  If you are interested in this type of eating, here are a couple of great pages for you.

From "American Grassfed Beef"  
The health benefits of grass farming.
From "Eat Wild - the #1 site for grass fed Food and Facts

I would suggest that "graining" meat is a process of industrialization.   If you are a large corporation it is probably in your best interests to just feed your cows whatever gets them to market the quickest.  Corn, Soy, Oats and hormones come to mind.  I should note that at least three of these entities are heavily subsidized - I don't know about the oats.  I'm just saying, do the math.

There might also be the idea that the Wall Street business model, taking controlling interest in farm after farm - either willingly or forced - might not be the best way to bring food to the table.  The bottom line is the King and God in this business model and whatever you have to do to get that bottom line up - you do..... or you are out.  So, inhumane treatment of animals, hormones, antibiotics, unnatural feed, foul, filthy conditions, horrible chemicals... all are acceptable, probably quite legal and encouraged.

Also, lest you think political parties, regulations and laws make a difference, they really don't.  The power brokers are the same - administration after administration.  The regulatory agencies that are intertwined with the corporations - the same.  What changes is that it gets harder and harder to legally have a small, local farm.

For a couple of book suggestions, you might try  Jo Robinson's Why Grassfed is Best!  or Tender Grassfed Meat by Stanley FishmanAlso, here is an article by Stanley Fishman and another article by Jo Robinson.

As for the fats,  it is important to understand that once cows and other grass-eating animals are fed grains, they stop producing CLA (conjugated linoleic acid - a fat that reduces the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.) The best source of natural CLA is from 100 percent, exclusively grass-fed animals.

Omega 3s and 6s are essential polyunsaturated fats.  We have to get these from food, our bodies cannot manufacture them from other fats.  Some of the most crucial fats are the compounds that make up the cell walls for the body's cells.  If the ratio of Omega 6 fats to Omega 3 fats exceeds 4:1... more health problems tend to occur.  Grain fed beef can have ratios that exceed 20:1 whereby grass-fed beef is about 3:1.

It is important to have sufficient amounts of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats, and they need to be balanced for normal development.  Because of the rapid change in our diet, Omega 3 fats are diminished.  Our culture switched to modern vegetable oils which are based on oil from seeds rich in Omega 6 fats.  Industrialized agriculture of the meat industry forced production by focusing on aggressive agricultural management techniques.  This is based heavily on an emphasis of grain feeding for livestock.  

As a side issue, green leafy vegetables raised with heavily industrialized techniques tend to have drastically lower Omega 3 levels.  So, it is estimated that generations ago the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio was 1:1 from both meat and vegetable sources.  Today vegetable sources have an estimated omega ratio of 10:1 and a modern diet of factory farmed meat, fish, chicken and vegetable oils has a ratio estimated to be about 20:1

Many scientists believe that a major reason for the high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some forms of cancer is the profound imbalance between our intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Making a switch from grain fed to grass fed meat returns you to a diet of long ago.  This type of diet helps our body systems function a lot better.  Consider purchasing your grass fed products from a local small farmer or raising it yourself.  Learn how to cook these meats - they do taste different and have a different texture.... not bad, just different.

That is all the thoughts I have today.  I am headed out to the garden.  Hopefully we can get some great recipes and cooking tips over the next several days.  Here are some other links for further study.

(He does tend to go off track somewhat, but again, apply what you know to be true.)

Be blessed today