The fat from grass-grazed animals, either in the form of milk or meat, is one of the most efficient sources of these good fatty acids. Grass-fed beef is no exception: besides being higher in CLAs, you’ll notice in the color alone the mineralization of the meat, which is the result of a more mature animal that has enjoyed a diet entirely from pasture.
Traditionally, beef in America is raised with two guiding principles: get fat, and quickly, too. They are fed corn and soybeans, often exclusively. Corn is a carbohydrate, which helps create fat and marbling in the meat (think of feed corn as a candy bar.) Soybeans are a protein source, and in most situations feedlots buy “stockers” from sale barns/auctions and fatten the cattle out on beans and corn. Their feed rations are calculated for a certain percentage of protein for a programmable growth rate. For those who don’t know what a feedlot is, just google it. They are large, high-density operations where cattle are often mechanically fed.
In grocery stores, the beef described above can be considered ‘all natural.’ The requirement there is that the product you buy – such as ground beef – contains no synthetic ingredients, food colorings, artificial flavorings, or preservatives. That’s not hard to do.
But once you understand the bovine digestive tract, all natural might mean something else. This is the definition I believe in. Beef by nature are considered ruminant animals. For the simplest explanation, cattle – like sheep and goats – have a four-chambered stomach. The first part, the rumen, is essentially a large fermentation vat that holds the grass and forage and allows enzymes and bacteria to help break down cellulose (plant based fibers), which allows the digestive tract to extract more nutrients. The remaining parts are a series of muscles that further process the forage, similar to a true stomach.
So by nature, a steer or heifer is designed to live entirely off of grass. And Mother Nature gives us sunshine, rain, grass and even weeds. With patience and dedication to our pasture programs, we can fatten cattle entirely on grass – a more healthy and sustainable approach.
We feature only 100% grass-fed beef. There are so many more specifics about how to do this, including our specific breeding program, pasture management techniques, and rotation. For us, grass-fed beef cattle take between 24 and 30 months to finish, where the commercial industry can fatten cattle on a feedlot in 16 to 18 months with less land and less labor. Their bottom line drives their decision process, but I prefer to stick with my values in raising our animals the way they should be raised.