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Are Grass-Fed Beef and Lamb the Answer?

Background of cows eating grass with blog title


And so we’re told - Red meat is destroying our environment and our bodies. Furthermore, animal husbandry is unethical and we are dedicating too many resources to propping up this proverbial house of cards that must eventually crash… right? I mean this narrative is shoved down our throats repeatedly. It shows up on our news feeds and on social media infographics. Most of our doctors and scientists are programmed to regurgitate the same jargon back to us. BUT. But, there are a few big fat elephants crammed into this amphitheater that are screaming out to be addressed.

The quality of the meat you eat is determined by genetics, as well as how the animal was raised, how it was processed and where you bought it. At CarniStore, we’re committed to delivering high-quality beef and lamb to our customers, and it starts with the animals.

The Grain Problem

Most beef and lamb in the world today is predominantly grain fed. And let’s be clear, by grain we mean corn and some cereals. Worse yet, this feed is applied using the space saving technique of feedlots.

These are essentially fancy outdoor cages that limit the movement of the animal, therefore tenderizing its meat while at the same time saving on acreage by confining animals to small cubicles.

Without access to grass, these animals are reliant on a 100% grain diet for their nutrition. This excessive grain spikes insulin and causes many cows to acquire diabetes and a slew of other diseases. They often die immobile, vastly overweight and extremely malnourished.

It is a wonder to us how producers love to brag about how long they leave their cows on feedlot grain at the end of their lives. A basic minimum requirement to produce buttery marbled beef may be a grain program of around 150 days. For the last 20 years, however, consumers have been enamored with gigantic sized steaks with enough intramuscular marbling to make the meat look like a decorative work of art (blame wagyu).

To oblige said demand, producers in Australia and the US have been increasing grain programs to 250 and sometimes upwards of 300 days. The famed wagyu programs go between 500 and 900 days. And what does this all mean for us? Fatty, juicy and tender steaks that melt in the mouth while flooding our systems with excess omega 6 fats, coating our tongues with a pleasant oily sensation, and absolutely obliterating our top soil.

And what does this mean for our cows? As mentioned before, illness. Antibiotics are used extensively to keep the cows alive. In a grain feedlot, most cows get really fat and don’t move for the last few months of their lives, increasing the size of the carcass to almost double that of a pastured animal.

This vastly increases profits for all parties; the farmer, producer, exporter and retailer. Perhaps the worst part of this horror story is that this excessive grain feeding is leading to more and more monocropping (more on this later), destroying our top soil and encouraging more genetic modification and chemical additives. 

And What About Grass?

Well for hundreds of thousands of years, cows and sheep have been a very important part of our ecosystem and the balance of nature in general. Their numbers are great and they make somewhat of an easy meal for many of the world’s canine and feline predators.

Cows are ruminants, which means they process, regurgitate and reprocess grass through several stomachs (4 to be exact) before digesting through their intestinal tracts. Why is this important? Because cows poop… A lot! And their feces happen to be incredibly rich in bacteria that our earth loves.

So the cows graze on grasslands, fertilize the soil, and the grasslands grow back even richer. The richer grass sequesters the carbon from the atmosphere (literally sucks it up) making this process a carbon neutral one. So the earth is happy, as are the cows. So why isn’t all beef and lamb more heavily grass-fed?

A Question of Taste

As you can probably deduce from the above 2 paragraphs, most consumers prefer the buttery, fatty texture of grain fed beef.

And since grain feeding caters exclusively to these tastes, farmers use the best combination of genetics available for these cows; Tajima, Black Angus, Hereford etc… Most grass feeding programs however, use plain old dairy cows.

These cows live long lives, giving a lot of dairy to the world. Their meat is known to be tough and most of the off cuts from their carcass go into the grinds of your fast food burgers.

This ironically makes your fast food burger a healthier beef source, although the end product isn’t great due to the extensive processing.

We digress, the point here is to say that grass fed beef has a reputation for being healthier in a bad way. Tougher, leaner, a more pronounced beefy flavor as opposed to the subtle butteriness of grain fed. 

The CarniStore Solution

And this is the point in the plot where after the problem has been introduced, the superhero comes into the fold.Enter CarniStore and our exclusive “Graze” program.

We are one of the few global retail providers of healthy, ethically sourced meats that happen to be doggone delicious! How do we do this? Our main mandate is to source from ethical feed programs that use luxury genetics; namely Black Angus, Hereford and Perendale. This allows us to have the best of both worlds really.

An extensive grass feeding program with many of the benefits of grain feeding without any of the drawbacks. Furthermore, the health benefits of grass in a cow’s diet are plentiful.

Not only does the beef have all 9 essential amino acids necessary for sustenance of life, (making it one of the only perfect foods available to humans) but grass fed means up to 5 times the amount of omega 3’s as equivalent heavily grain fed cattle. Cows with heavier grass influence also have a deeper, satisfying beefy flavor, and are much lighter on the stomach. 

The secret here is our infatuation with regenerative farming. We look for farms that produce everything. They have ruminants to regenerate the soil and press the seeds in with their hooves instead of industrial tilling.

These farms move the herds from paddock to paddock to allow grasslands and other crops to grow. They spread out the herd to not overcrowd the farm. They have bees for natural pollination, birds as natural insecticides, multiple organic crops as byproducts. They eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and this is what we call holistic agriculture.

We then come in and seek to specify a genetic program to ensure tenderness and marbling, as well as a longer feed program to ensure the cattle get to a good size and live a fuller life. 

So let's recap the benefits:

  • Grass-fed beef can contain up to six times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef.
  • Grass-fed beef has fewer calories; If you eat around 30 kgs of beef a year; by switching to grass-fed beef, you can reduce your caloric intake by up to 16,000 calories.
  • Beef from grass-fed cows contains electrolytes. This is particularly helpful for people on a keto based diet, as it helps prevent keto flu.