Your Real Food Gatekeeper #14: Beef

11.05.2017 13:36 | Nutrition


If you are reading this, you are most likely caring about what you eat and try to select as good as you can foods that are not only good for your body, but also for the farmers, the animals and the planet. So you probably buy organic food.

However, unfortunately the organic label is not necessarily a guarantee anymore that a food does indeed fulfill the above criteria. With the market for organic foods growing double digit, it attracts many players that in their core couldn't care less about the philosophy behind. It's business, pure and simple. Which results in the slow but steady downwatering of the minimum pre-requisites a product needs to fulfill in order to be labeled "bio". It also means lots of black sheep. And it means the same kind of industrially processed foods, just made with organic ingredients. Even if you avoid the worst offenders, it is still not always easy for a normal consumer to find his/her way in the jungle of all those foods being marketed to you.

At Metabolance, I consider myself your personal Real Food gatekeeper, leveraging my interest and education in holistic nutrition to make sure that everything I offer at my shop is truly sustainable AND nourishing. This is why the portfolio in my shop is rather limited. I actually prefer to call it "selected", rather than limited. Having too much choice isn't always a good thing. It can in fact be overwhelming. At Metabolance, you don't have to worry.

There are many products I refuse to sell, even if clients come in and ask for them. There are others, that you cannot find easily elsewhere. I know that many of you are very curious to learn more about the reasoning behind my selection process. So I'll share it with you.

Every month, I explain to you one organic food that I choose to sell (and why) and one organic food that I object to sell (and why).


Product #14 I choose to sell

100% grazing/grass-fed beef

In this article called "grass-fed vs. grain-fed cows" I explain the nuances of grass-fed vs. grain-finished. I really urge you to read this article, so once you are convinced by the advantages of grass-fed meat, you truly understand what that means, and especially why “organic” is not automatically equivalent to “grass-fed”. In fact, the meat I offer is NOT certified organic, because it is not a FARM I get it from. I get my meat from an environmental organization that “uses” big grazers to maintain natural reserves (which per definition are not sprayed with pesticides). The cows freely walk around the reserves and only eat what they find. In winter, they are provided shelter and hay, since vegetation is scarce.

Advantages of grass-fed beef over grain-finished beef:

  • Contains 2-5 times more omega 3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. The omega 3 / omega 6 ratio of grass-fed beef is 1,5 : 1 while the ratio of grain-fed beef is 7,65 : 1.
  • Contains more of the "good" saturated fat than the (potentially) "bad" one.
  • Contains 2-3 times more CLA (conjugated-linoleic acid), a potent anti-oxidant found in meat and milk.
  • Contains much more beta-carotene (antioxidant and pre-cursor to vitamin A) than grain-fed beef (this is why the fat is more yellow).
  • Contains much more vitamin E, glutathione and other important antioxidants. Those also protect the meat itself from damage during transport or cooking.
  • Contains more zinc and iron.
  • Creates less methane gas (cows that eat food not made for their stomachs produce and burp out more of that).
  • The cows are healthier. Grains change the ph of the cow's stomach, making it susceptible for bacterial infections and illness in general.

Additional advantages of the “big grazer” project I get my meat from:

  • Biodiversity: Only rustic breeds, like Galloway or Highlanders are suitable for grazing all year round.
  • Integrating "big grazers" in a sustainable grazing program, helps to reduce climate change.
  • The cows live longer: 4-5 years as opposed to 1.5-2.5 years in conventional and even organic farming.

Click here to order your 100% grass-fed meat.

Product #14 I object to sell

“Organic” beef that is grain-finished and/or grass-fed but kept in the stable most of the time.

For some time, I did offer organic, grain-finished beef parallel to my 100% grass-fed Galloway meat, mainly because for some parts, like steaks, the palatability is higher. However, I decided to no longer do that, because I just don’t feel comfortable knowing about the potential downsides of grain-finishing. Those are:

  • Even if the grains are “organic”, the cows are forced to eat something that nature has not intended them to eat - at least not in such concentration. Cows are herbivores, and their stomachs are meant to transform grass and herbs into valuable proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals easily absorbable for us (we are not able to absorb those directly from the grass/herbs - we need the cow as an intermediate). While even in nature they might end up eating SOME corn or grain (usually in its pre-grain state though, with the grass still on it), if they are fed on those EXCLUSIVELY (like during grain-finishing), the PH in their stomach changes, making them more susceptible to bacterial infections (e.g. E. Coli). They also excrete more methane gas because of a subsequent change in gut flora.
  • Since they cannot metabolize the grains very well, they gain weight (what is desired in this case) and the meat will be marbled. But more fat means more estrogens that we end up eating and that increase our own risk of gaining weight and developing symptoms related to estrogen dominance, incl. infertility.
  • The fat structure is also less beneficial if the cows eat grains (esp. corn or soy) than if they eat grass. Corn and soy contain a lot of linoleic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid that is essential in small quantities, but that we tend to eat more than enough of and that in excess promotes inflammatory processes in the body. Grass on the contrary contains plant-omega 3, which the cow transforms into usable omega 3 for us.
  • Grain-finished meat contains less vitamins and minerals than 100% grass-fed meat (see above). 

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