There is a lot of hype around grass fed beef, and for good reason. Grass Fed/Grass Finished beef is more nutrient dense, and isn’t fed feed filled with soy and corn, which are common allergens. These cows also aren’t exposed to hormones or antibiotics, and their diets are richer in micronutrients. It is so important to research where your meat is coming from, because when it comes down to it, as it goes, “you are what you eat, eats.”
Lets break down the different categories of beef.
Conventional beef is what you’ll find at most grocery stores. These cows are generally fed a diet of grains and soy in feed lots, and in most cases are given hormones to increase growth. Because there are so many animals in tight quarters, disease spreads quick. To hopefully prevent the spread of disease cows are generally given antibiotics as a preventative measure. Nutritionally, the vitamin and mineral profile on conventional is pretty much nonexistent.
Organic means that the animals are fed organic, non gmo feed. These animals are not exposed to hormones or antibiotics. Organic is becoming much more accessible and affordable as people become educated on our food system.
Grass Fed/Grain Finished.
Lines get a little blurry here. When you see Grass Fed/Grain Finished on a label it is kind of misleading. This doesn’t distinguish what type of feed is used, or if antibiotics and hormones were. Even conventional cows start out grass fed before taken to feed lots, so I would avoid this one.
Grass Fed/Grass Finished.
Grass Fed/Grass Finished is usually your best option. This means the cows started and ended on grass. They are not fed feed or given hormones or antibiotics. However, these cows are not always freely roaming in open pasture. They also often are fed dried grass. Grass Fed/Grass Finished cows take much longer to grow, hence the higher price tag. The turnover isn’t nearly as great as it is with conventional cows. Grass Fed/Grass Finished meat is higher in Omega-3 Fatty Acids than conventional, has much more vitamins and minerals,
Even with all these options, your best bet is to talk to local farmers, do your own research, visit farmers markets, a local butcher or your local health food store. When you are buying meat, research the farm and make an educated decision.
The choice on which to go with is personal. I would prefer to eat less beef, with a higher nutrient density to make up for the cost difference between Grass Fed/Grass Finished and conventional. If this is not a possibility for you, my second choice would be to ensure your meat is organic and therefore free of antibiotics, hormones, and GMO’s.