Hello everyone! I wanted to share this post we did recently on grass-fed vs grass-finished beef. The term grass-fed is thrown around a lot, but it’s important to know that not all grass-fed beef is created equal! We ask our partner farmers to adhere to the higher standard of grass-finishing all of their animals. Would love to hear your thoughts!
When shopping for beef, the term “grass-fed” is used liberally, and for good reason! There are innumerable benefits to cows eating grass out on pasture. At Walden, we like to make the distinction of grass-finished. Why? The beef that Walden offers is 100% grass-finished, meaning our cattle are never fed things that are unnatural to their diet, like corn. The true difference here is allowing cows to live as they’re meant to: out on pasture. This way of raising cattle is significantly harder, but we believe it’s ultimately better for the animals, the environment, and for our diets.
Raising and finishing cattle on pasture has a variety of advantages. Firstly, cattle living in an open field are at a reduced risk of disease when compared to crowded feedlots. Also ruminants, which include cattle, did not biologically evolve in nature to consume corn as most of their diet. In many cases, to keep cord-fed feedlot cattle healthy, large amounts of antibiotics are mixed into their feed. Not only is this bad for the cow, but it produces meat that is less healthy for you as well.
Grazing cattle on Nicolas Baric’s farm in Hebron, New York
The way we raise grass-finished beef through sustainable grazing practices fosters healthy soil, sequesters carbon from the atmosphere helps contribute to a healthier pasture and planet. This is achieved through a process called “rotational grazing”, where animals are continually moved around so the grass has a chance to grow back. Traditional US beef systems often destroy pastures by letting animals graze the fields until the grass is not just dead, but fully uprooted. The crowded feedlots have too many animals walking on the soil, compacting it so nothing has a chance to recover. Since the cattle in grain fed operations start by eating grass, companies can still label them as “grass-fed,” even after they’ve moved them from the dead pastures to massive feedlots where they’re brought up to weight on corn and concentrated grain mixed with antibiotics and fat supplements1. You can read more about the importance of sustainable grazing practices on our blog!
Grass-finished meat has a denser nutritional content, and even contains some nutrients that don’t exist at all in feedlot cattle. One of these nutrients is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a fatty acid that might help reduce weight. It also has less saturated fats, more polyunsaturated fats, and a ratio closer to 1:1 of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids (an imbalanced ratio of these fatty acids can lead to heart disease)2.
When your Walden grass-finished beef comes to your door, you are getting an all-around tastier, healthier product with a smaller carbon footprint than industrially produced beef. This quality is no accident — it’s our mission and our purpose. With your support, we can continue implementing more sustainable farming practices that make better food for a better world.
See you at the dinner table!
– All of us at Walden
1 What 'Grass-Fed' Labels on Beef Actually Mean
1 How rampant mislabeling puts America's grass-fed beef producers out of business
2 Pollan, M. (2007b). The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Penguin.