Why Grass fed, pastured meat is best

by | Aug 7, 2020 | nutrition

Growing up in Iowa, I remember the family purchasing a “whole beef” every year and dividing up the various cuts of meat to store in our deep freeze. Whenever we needed beef, we didn’t go to the local store, rather we shopped our own stash in the basement. We knew the farmer, we knew the butcher and we trusted the entire process to provide a safe, healthy product for our family.

Fast forward 25 years: living in Germany with a tiny freezer about the size of a glove box, we learned quickly how to meal plan and shop at the local butcher several times a week. We were keenly aware of the fresh quality of the meat and as with many small-scale meat processors, they went to extreme lengths to ensure a clean butchering environment and observed the highest safety protocols.

Now, living in northern Virginia I’ve begun to make connections with farmers in the area to once again know my farmer and the product. Beyond the obvious difference in the taste and smell of the fresh beef and pork products, I thought I’d share some of the lesser known benefits of consuming grass-fed, pastured beef.

  • First, conventionally raised cattle are:
    • raised in crowded feedlots
    • fattened on corn (a cheaper method of getting to market weight quickly)
    • contain higher amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fats
  • Grass-fed cattle:
    • Allowed to forage on grass as the primary lifelong dietary food source
      • this reduces e-coli bacterial growth and salmonella
      • produces a healthier animal
    • Feast on grasses to produce a product that reflects the variety and richness of the soil, grasses and climate.  
    • More nutrient dense:  especially antioxidant vitamins A and E
    • Deeper flavor —little need for adding gobs of marinade, sugar or salt 
    • Different odor to the meat –not a smelly manure odor
    • Lower in calories due to the lower fat content compared to grain fed and contains more anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats. In fact, grass-fed IS heart healthy for people with high cholesterol because of the superior omega 3s.
  • A few considerations:
  • Some supermarket beef is labeled “grass fed” when they are actually feedlot animals given grass pellets!  This is why it’s good to know your farmer!
  • Grass-fed & pastured can be more expensive — however the benefits far outweigh the cost and you’re supporting local economy by helping your farmer!
  • Grass-fed meat cooks more quickly due to the lower fat content -watch your temperatures!

 Get out to the market and start asking your farmer about their products!


    • Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10. Published 2010 Mar 10. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10
    • Cholewski M, Tomczykowa M, Tomczyk M. A Comprehensive Review of Chemistry, Sources and Bioavailability of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1662. Published 2018 Nov 4. doi:10.3390/nu10111662
    • Alpert K. Here’s Why you should make the switch to grass-fed beef today. June 3, 2019.