I can still here my father tell me “Its time to pen up that steer and start feeding it corn”. It was a technique we learned from our neighboring farmer in Iowa. Corn was in plentiful supply, allowing us to pack on pounds economically. The method created a delicious and juicy steak which is what you will find at any well known, high end steak house in Dallas. Americans crave it because we grew up on it. But why then are more and more people seeking grass-finished beef, direct from the farmer?
An article published in the Nutrition Journal by Daley et al, 2010 did a comprehensive scientific review. I thought I would summarize it here.
1. Grass finished beef has Saturated FA but it has a more desirable proportion of neutral (non-cholesterol raising) FA such as stearic acid. There is also less overall intra-muscular fat, important to those trying to reduce fat intake.
2. Grass-finished beef has higher concentrations of trans vaccenic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and omega 3 FA which provides anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-depression and anti-memory loss properties.
3. Grass-finished beef is higher in Beta-carotene, a precursor to Vit A beneficial to eye, skin, respiratory, urinary, intestinal and immune function. Beta-carotene gives the beef fat a more yellow color.
4. Grass-finished beef is 3x higher in alpha-tocopherol, a form of Vit E. It functions as an anti-oxidant for us but it also helps to protect the meat from oxidation. This is what gives grass-finished beef a brighter red color.
5. Grass-finished beef is higher in Glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both functioning as potent anti-oxidants. They quench free radicals and protect against cellular damage.
6. Finally the paper mentioned that taste panel experiments illustrated how people prefer foods they grow up on. By exposing your children and grand-children to grass-finished beef early, they are more likely to consume grass and pasture finished meats when they are older, contributing to better overall health.
REFERENCE: Daley et al., **A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.** Nutrition Journal 2010