Unfortunately, cattle are not always responsibly raised or slaughtered for our consumption in the U.S.
Grass-fed cattle are more environmentally friendly, healthy and humanely treated; however, grass-fed beef is somewhat of a "rarity" in American markets.
So how are grass-fed cattle different than other cattle? Grass is a natural food for cattle; feeding them grain can cause digestive issues - often necessitating antibiotics to maintain their health.
Consequently, cattle that eat only grass rarely need medication and are much healthier in general.
When cattle eat even a little bit of grain, the quality and flavor of the beef begins to decline. Furthermore, grain-fed cattle aren't treated as humanely as grass-fed cattle: they're packed tightly into feedlots, fed steroids, hormones and antibiotics, and live in cramped environments. Grain is even used to produce rapid weight gain in otherwise "grass-fed" cattle before they go to market.
True, 100 percent grass-fed cattle produce healthy and flavorful beef. They are allowed to graze and live in open pastures and use fewer natural resources. They also leave behind less of a carbon footprint than grain-fed cattle. Grass-fed beef is lower in fat and calories and is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids; they also have healthy amounts of beta-carotene.
Without any unnatural chemicals or medications, grass-fed beef is less likely to cause health issues in people and less likely to be linked to cancer and immune disorders.
Photo courtesy of La Cense Beef.