There’s good beef, bad beef and some really ugly beef out there. In America, the average person eats 66.5 pounds a year predominantly from ugly beef which is a huge problem. Why? Well, let’s break it down in Beef: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
(My main resource for the following info comes from the investigative journalist Jo Robinson whose written extensively on the benefits of pasture raised animals and the detriments of conventionally raised animals on both our health and the health of the environment.)
There’s a saying that goes, “you are what you eat,” but there’s another saying, that I prefer, that goes, “you are what you eat – eats!”
Good beef comes from cows who’ve happily roamed and grazed on grass and greens on a pasture – their natural diet. Grass fed and pasture-raised meats contain very high amounts of the following 5 nutrients:
- Omega 3’s – Grass and the other greens that cows eat have fat in them. In fact 60% of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s! Omega 3’s are what are know as anti-inflammatories. They’re involved in so many bodily functions for optimal health and also in the prevention of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, ADHD, Alzheimers, depression and obesity.
- CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – Grass fed beef contains some of the highest amounts of CLA from any food source. CLA is involved in cancer and diabetes prevention, muscle building and fat metabolism. Avoid supplemental CLA – it’s not the same thing.
- Stearic acid – It’s another healthy fat that’s also found in chocolate. It’s know to get your cholesterol ratios in good balance.
- Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene – Two very powerful anti-oxidants that protect our cells from environmental damage.
Marinating your beef before grilling or sautéing them in herbs, heathy oils and spices can significantly diminish those nasty compounds. Marinades made from ingredients such as garlic, onions, lime juice, vinegar, yogurt and other herbs, fruits and vegetables provide a protective barrier between the fire and the flesh, and provide you with much needed antioxidants.
“Studies have shown that in some cases, even briefly marinating foods can reduce HCAs by as much as 92% to 99%, according to the American Institute for Cancer.”
Looking for a good marinade? I found this post here really useful.
My definition of “Ugly Beef” is simple – any meat that comes from the CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feedlot Operations), which are essentially factory farms.
Why is this this ugly meat? Here are 4 four reasons you should completely avoid conventionally raised CAFO beef:
- Too high in Pro-Inflammatory Omega 6’s, herbicides and pesticides. That’s because animals in these feedlots are fed an unnatural diet of high of omega 6 – GMO (genetically modified Organisms) corn and soy ladened with herbicides and pesticides. Research has proven that when your Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio gets out of whack to favor higher omega 6’s over omega 3’s, your risk for chronic disease like cancer, heart disease and diabetes increase significantly.
- Injected with hormones and anti-biotics, which end up in the meat we eat making us (humans) antibiotic resistant to medications, depressing our immune systems, cause cancerous tumors to grow, activate fat storing hormones, and overpopulate our guts with bad bacteria.
- Raised by farming methods that pollute the air, land and water. Over 168 gases are emitted from CAFO waste, including hazardous chemicals such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane.
- Working environments of the people working on these CAFO’s are horrible
I’ve promoted documentaries and written extensively about the importance of eating pastured raised grass fed beef and dairy foods. The great thing is that grass fed pasture raised beef and dairy are becoming more and more available, especially at farmers markets and butcher shops near you. On the foodie side of things, there’s this myth that conventionally raised beef is tastier because it’s fattier. Au contraire – as shown here by my favorite Chef Dan Barber in his post on Instagram:
Tasty food and healthy food are not mutually exclusive