Grass-Fed Beef: Actually Healthier or a Price-Gouge?

There’s a reason why choosy carnivores are willing to shell out serious bucks for Wagyu beef or Iberico ham -- and why you should only eat raw fish labeled as "sushi-grade"! When it comes to the meat you eat, quality is everything. But there are certain labels attributed to food products that have made consumers skeptical, such as “organic” and “grass-fed”. Just how healthy is “grass-fed beef” versus cattle that have been fed a diet mainly of grains? We’ll take a closer look at this today, and talk about how this can have an impact on the type of jerky you are purchasing!

How Do You Chow, Brown Cow?

Photo by Ronan Furuta on Unsplash

The diet of cattle actually has a major impact on the composition of the nutrients in their beef. Most cows actually do start their lives on a pasture, drinking milk and eating grass. Then, at around 7 to 9 months, they either continue on their diet — which is what we refer to as "grass-finished", or are shipped to a feedlot to live on a grain-based diet.

What Does "Grass-Fed" Really Mean?

Like the term “organic”, there is no fully accepted definition of what grass-fed meat truly means, so it can be interpreted quite broadly. Just because a cow is largely grass-fed, it doesn’t mean it is pasture-fed or free-range. That being said, cows fed grass-fed diets do differ drastically from cows that eat grain-based diets, which are fed an unnatural assortment of foods based in corn and soy, and given drugs to induce faster growth.

While the industry term "grass-fed" is still up to interpretation, let’s take a look at the real question: how does it impact the quality of our diets?

Photo by Jasper Garratt on Unsplash

Grass-Fed is higher in nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and an important fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that's been tied to improved immunity and anti-inflammation properties.

In addition, grass-fed beef contains roughly 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than standard beef. Grass-fed beef is less likely to have bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. Contrast this with Grain-fed cows, which can be given antibiotics and growth hormones to make them grow faster.

The data has spoken: grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed beef.

How does Grass-fed beef translate into grass fed jerky?

As the jerky curing process retains the qualities of the original meat, healthier beef will make healthier jerky.

The need to mass-produce food led to the current grain-fed diet of cattle. This mass-production mindset has certainly trickled down into the production of what we at Craft Jerky Co think of as the traditional “gas station jerky”, loaded with preservatives, nitrates, sodium, sugars, and a plethora of other unhealthy additives. This jerky is just as unhealthy as any fast food processed snack or candy, so steer clear!

Thankfully, jerky has evolved to become a high quality staple food amongst athletes, health food enthusiasts, and people who are looking to lose weight. These healthier jerky brands are not being created and dominated by large commercial outlets who care more about their bottom dollar, but by jerky artisans who truly take pride in the design of their product and care about their customers' needs and satisfaction.

Here at Craft Jerky Co, we take pride in celebrating the work and products of these small-batch jerky artisans who are truly showcasing the quality of their craft.

If you are like us, and want to support small-batch artisans who take pride in the quality of the meat they use while committing to #EnjoyHealthySnacks -- grab yourself a subscription to Craft Jerky Co for yourself, or as a gift for friends, loved ones, and co-workers.