Why 100% grass fed
A lot gets written and talked about the health and environmental benefits of sustainable food production. Farming is as old as the hills but the way in which our food has been produced changed dramatically with the advent of mechanised, industrial farming on a large-scale in the nineteenth century. Industrialised food production has brought some pretty adverse consequences to our environment and wildlife and, most likely, our health.
Put simply, eating 100% grass-fed (or pasture fed), outdoor-reared, free-range meat, poultry and game is better for us, the animals and helps to support a more biodiverse, natural, ecology.
Better for us
We are what we eat.
Perversely, we would advocate eating less meat, but when we do, we need to ensure it’s of the highest quality and is produced in a way that respects nature, the environment and the animal.
Eating meat from animals that themselves have only eaten a natural diet of grass, wildflowers, clovers and legumes, rich in essential vitamins and minerals and untainted by chemicals and pesticides, makes a whole lot of sense. It’s a healthy choice to make. Reputable studies have shown that grass-fed beef has a better ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6, is high in antioxidants such as vitamin E, and contains higher vitamin and mineral levels. Grain-fed animals that have shorter lives and are rushed to finish convert the carbohydrate to sugar and fat. Which is not good for us.
100% grass-fed animals that are reared in a natural, outdoor environment surrounded by bugs and germs, develop better immune systems and, because they are free to roam and therefore work their muscles more, produce less saturated fat. Which is, in turn, good for us. Livestock, be they cattle, pigs or chickens that are crowded into pens and never see sunlight, are more susceptible to disease that may require antibiotic intervention.
Better for livestock
Grass has been the principal source of food for cattle and sheep for centuries and most cows eat grass at some point in their lives. However, the economics of industrial production have required large-scale farmers to grow and finish their animals faster which can only really be done through introducing high-energy livestock feed. Basically, cereals and soybean, much of it imported. If you think about it, slow-growing an animal naturally by only feeding them grasses and herbs, without bulking them up with grains, and allowing them to live outdoors, can only be a good thing. A naturally reared animal is less likely to get ill.
Cattle and sheep are ruminants. The word “ruminant” comes from the Latin ruminare, which means “to chew over again”. Ruminant animals have complex digestive systems that enable them to extract all the natural goodness from their diet of grass, wildflowers and clover free from pesticides and fertiliser. Clever stuff. But by giving a ruminant animal starchy, grain-based feed to hasten the growing process, we are interfering with mother nature.
Better for biodiversity and the environment
Our beef and lamb eat only grass, wildflowers and clovers from pastures, or lays, that are free from the chemicals that impair and compromise soil fertility. A natural, permanent pastureland improves the structure and stability of the soil, whilst its deep roots extract the mineral goodness that lies deeper below. Pasturelands extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which nourishes the roots and helps with river systems by preventing soil erosion and run-off.
It’s a sobering thought but over 97% of wildflower meadows in the United Kingdom have been lost since the 1930s. That’s a startling 7.5 million acres! As we have ploughed and sprayed, these wonderful, natural environments have been lost. Species-rich grassland now covers a mere 1% of the United Kingdom’s land area.
Pasturelands are crucial habitats with over 150 different species of flower and grass that support a myriad of insects from bees and beetles to grasshoppers and butterflies, which in turn support many small animals and birds. Grassland can contain up to 40 species per square metre. Think of the poor old bumblebee. As they rely entirely on flowers for food, it is hardly surprising that their populations began to rapidly decline in the UK as mechanised farming has intensified.
This natural, biodiverse environment that supports grass-fed animals is alive with hedge and ground-nesting birds and small mammals seeking cover from predatory birds, the rich wildflowers and clovers providing a wonderful habitat for an array of insects.
Nature in balance.