(Our thanks to Dr. Al Sears for his input.)
Profit VS. Quality
The food industry, like any other industry, has always had the goal to sell food with the highest profit margin possible. Unfortunately, modern technology has made it easy to put profit above the quality of products, even the health of those consuming it.
Where have the Grass-fed Animals Gone?
Let’s look at the dairy industry, for example. Before industrial agriculture, dairy cows roamed free to graze on pasture most of the year. In winter, they ate hay (dried grass) or silage (fermented grass).
But today, some commercial farms pack cows into Confined Animal Feeding Operations, (CAFOs). More than 90% of them never eat a blade of grass. They’re given grain and feed full of pesticides, cement dust, candy, chicken manure, brewery waste, cardboard, nut shells, feathers and meat scraps.1
These animals are so crowded they stand in their own waste and they quickly become sick. They are given antibiotics to keep down the disease rates but the pathogens become resistant. The antibiotics become useless and the food from these animals becomes contaminated.
Today we’re seeing more and more foodborne illnesses from CAFO animals, like listeria. This bacteria was rare in dairy but now it’s a high risk in milk and dairy products thanks to antibiotic resistance. It also kills around 260 people every year just in the U.S.
Here is How Nature Does It!
It’s interesting that nature has a way to defend against listeria. Within 30 minutes of consuming, omega-3 fatty acids can neutralize listeria. These fats “switch off” certain genes that allow listeria to cause infection. Unlike antibiotics, the bacteria are just inactivated so they don’t become resistant to omega-3s.2
So what’s the problem? Well, today’s commercial dairy doesn’t have enough omega-3s. Grain-fed cows have 1/2 the omega-3 fat content as grass-fed cows. And they have way too much omega-6 that is linked to chronic inflammation.
When you eat too many omega-6s they displace the healthy omega-3 fats. Then the omega-3s aren’t around to fight off inflammation — or listeria!
Ideally, the omega-6 fats to omega-3s should be a 2-to-1 ratio. But CAFO animals have over 20 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3s. On the other hand grass-fed cows have less than a 2/1 ratio.
In addition, meat and dairy from grass-fed animals have many other benefits. They have 3 to 6 times more vitamin E3, up to four times more beta-carotene and they give you more B vitamins, CoQ10 and zinc.3
Where Do I Find Grass-Fed Cattle?
If you haven’t already, choose to eat grass-fed meat and dairy next time you are in the grocery store. Yes, it costs more, but the quality is well worth it!
Here are some tools to help you find local grass-fed meat and dairy in your area:
US Wellness Meats (grasslandbeef.com) – A resource for naturally produced meat, with videos and insight from experts.
American Grassfed Association (americangrassfed.org) – Certifies farms and ranches around the country, works with the USDA to standardize what pasture-raised means and has news and even recipes.
Local Harvest (localharvest.org) – A complete index of farms near you.
To Your Good Health!
- Robinson, J., Why Grassfed is Best, Vashon Island Press, WA, 2000, pg. 10
- Sternkopf Lillebæk EM., et al. “Antimicrobial medium- and long-chain free fatty acids prevent PrfA-dependent activation of virulence genes in Listeria monocytogenes.” Res Microbiol. 2017 Jul – Aug.
- Prache, S., A. Priolo, et al. “Persistence of carotenoid pigments in the blood of concentrate-finished grazing sheep: its significance for the traceability of grass-feeding.” J Anim Sci. 2003 Feb.