You are currently looking at a fluffy coo (as the Scottish say so well) or cow as the rest of us know them. You can see that he or she is standing in pasture and it is highly likely that the moment after this image was taken, fluffy coo bent down to have a nibble on the grass.
Over recent years, you may have noted that some of the meat and dairy products we buy are labelled as grass fed. There has certainly been media coverage about grass fed and grain fed animals and the positive benefits of one and the negative impact of the other.
Despite this, for the wider population the differences between grass fed and grain fed animals are most likely not at the top of the list of priorities when it comes to purchasing and choosing food.
To be honest, delving into the world of grass fed and grain fed animals has been relatively recent for me too. Let’s not forget that what we don’t know, we don’t know.
The Green, Green Grass of Home
In the world today, the vast majority of animals bred for food are not feeding on the land at all but are kept segregated and fed on subsidised grain, manure and industrial food waste. Of course, this has a significant impact on the nutritional quality of the animal.
Both herbivores such as cattle and sheep and omnivores including pigs, turkeys, ducks and chicken are natural grazers too and thrive when grass fed.
Grass Fed Nutrition
Just like humans, how animals are raised and whether they are grass fed or grain fed directly impacts the nutritional quality of that food.
In comparison to foods from grain fed animals, those from grass fed animals are known to provide the following benefits:
- Lower levels of total fat (including saturated fat) and as a result fewer calories
- Healthier levels of omega 3 fatty acids (the ones your heart loves)
- Healthier ratios of omega 6 (the balance of these with omega 3 is important to your heart health)
- Rich in caretenoid’s including lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene (those antioxidants that mop up those damaging free radicals in your body)
- Higher levels of Vitamin E (handy helper for our immunity and heart health)
- Higher levels of the fatty acid Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Aside from the nutritional superiority of grass fed foods, grazing animals and grasses have an important place in regenerative farming too. The environmental impact of growing crops to feed grain to animals is huge and directly affects our land, our resources and our ability to feed the human population too.
Regenerative farming systems, which utilise animals to graze on grasses can actually remove carbon from the atmosphere. This means a return to the soil where it belongs, potentially reversing the impacts of climate change. This is just the beginning.
Once you start looking – there is just SO much to learn about grass fed vs. grain fed animals. If like me, you are keen to learn more just click here for an enlightening read.
Buying Grass Fed
I am always on the look out for producers that are growing food that is sustainable, nutritious and environmentally friendly.
In Western Australia, Wide Open Agriculture is one of them. They are doing marvellous things including selling regeneratively raised grass fed beef and lamb through their food brand Dirty Clean Food
These guys are all about nurturing soil and regenerating our land and I like that. A lot.
Animal welfare and minimising stress is at the forefront of how they rear their beef and lamb too. Tick.
Dirty Clean Food is currently producing grass fed beef and lamb for the West Australian market and are available online (a big sorry to those who are not residing in the Sandgroper state). Watch this space.
It Is Your Choice
I know that some of you reading this are either vegetarian or vegan and I respect your choice. I love eating plant based food too.
There are many things we can all do to improve our world, including what we choose to eat and how it is produced.
Choosing a way of eating that includes both animal and plant based food or solely plant based food is your choice. Let’s respect each others choices and acknowledge that there is more than one way of nourishing our bodies.
Being mindful and curious about where our food comes from and choosing wisely as a result is one thing we can all do regardless of what that food is.