What Is the Difference Between Organic Beef and Grass Fed Beef?

Posted by Melissa Batai on July 23, 2014 (1 Comment)

There is a growing movement for more organic food as people recognize that eating food that has been treated with pesticides may not be best for their health.  If you consume organic produce regularly, it only makes sense that you would also like your meat to be organic.

However, if you want the healthiest beef for your body, you likely want it to be organic AND grass fed.

What Does the Label Organic Beef Mean?

Time and time again, people go to the store and choose organic beef thinking they're making the best choices for their health.  To some degree, they are.  When beef is labeled organic, that means that the animal only consumed organic feed, which is better than eating conventional feed that has been treated with pesticides and may contain GMOs.

However, the animal likely still ate corn and other grains that are not natural to his diet.  When the animal consumes grains and corn, the meat contains more omega 6 fats, which can be bad for our health.

In addition, the majority of animals that are fattened up with corn and grains are "finished" in feed lots, where they live in tightly packed quarters.  This is often true for traditional beef and organic beef.

What Does the Label Grass Fed Beef Mean?

If meat is labeled grass fed, that means the cows have only been fed their natural diet of grass and hay, which they are very efficient at eating.  Cows that are fed their natural diet are often healthier and don't suffer from many of the health ailments corn and grain fed cows suffer from.

That, in turn, means that the meat is healthier for us because it is higher in omega 3 fats, which are better for our bodies than the Omega 6 fats.

In addition, the cows are usually put out to pasture to eat and are given ample space in which to live, unlike those fattened up at feed lots.

The next time you're at the supermarket and see organic beef, keep in mind that it is a healthier option than traditional beef.  However, if you want to choose the best beef for your health and the cow's well being, purchase organic, grass fed beef.


Comments (1 Comment)

Actually, the national organic program subsections 205.237 through 205.240 are very specific about grazing conditions and freedom of movement for ruminants.

Source: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=3f34f4c22f9aa8e6d9864cc2683cea02&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title07/7cfr205_main_02.tpl

In addition, the term grass-fed (while more stringent in regards to a ruminant’s diet) doesn’t have any requirements about space. Many grass fed steers are penned in feed lots where they are fed hay for most of the year.

Neither is really better, and ideally you should buy organic, grass fed beef.

Posted by Joshua Gager on August 19, 2014

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