Today’s post is not only about delicious, nutritious food, but it also includes pictures! So sit back, make a cup of tea (now that you know all about it) and get ready to enjoy.
How happy do these calves look? They have their mama, a big open field, and all the grass they can eat. What a life! Sadly, it’s not the life most farm animals enjoy. Most farm animals are raised in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) where they are confined to dirty, shit-filled pens so small they can barely turn around while they are fed a delightful salad of GMO soy, corn, and grains. As you know, a happy tummy is crucial for a happy body, and CAFO animals most definitely have neither. You can bet their meat won’t make your tummy happy, either.
Grassfed meat, on the other hand, will make your tummy and taste buds very happy. Though I admit I will occasionally buy conventional vegetables, I will never compromise on my animal products, including eggs and dairy. Besides avoiding all those endocrine-disrupting hormones CAFOs pump into their animals, grassfed animal products are just so much more nutritious. They are high in beta carotene, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, which has some anti-cancer and weight management properties), and omega-3s, whereas animals fed a diet of grain produce meat with hardly any nutritional value besides omega-6s. Omega-6s can lead to many different inflammatory diseases when there aren’t enough omega-3 to balance them out, and the processed diet of most Americans provides ample amounts of omega-6s. Sources include nuts, seeds, oils, conventional meats, and the infamous, ubiquitous soy. In contrast, omega-3s, found in grassfed beef, have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce diabetes and heart problems. Grassfed meat is also lower in bad fats. What’s not to love?
CAFOs feed their animals grain to fatten them up, but most farm animals were not built to digest grains. Cows were made to eat grass and hay; everything from their saliva to their four stomachs is design to process and break down grass, not grains. Pigs like these eat a little bit of everything, including shrubs, roots, nuts, grubs, even small animals like reptiles and rodents. (Acorns are their favs, and they are plenty of oak trees on GB Farm for these piglets to munch on.) It’s the variety that supplies their nutritional needs, and at GB their diet is supplemented with an additive-free grain mix. That’s because, unlike cows, pigs are omnivores, and their stomachs can digest pretty much anything. Goats are browsers like deer and will eat many different types of plants. (There are goats at GB too, but I haven’t gotten to see that field yet. Most of the livestock graze on leased fields, not on the actual farm.) Free range chickens eat pretty much anything, from grasses to bugs to small animals.
Not only are meat products affected by diet, but all animal products, including milk and eggs. Like grassfed meat, eggs from chickens allowed to peck and forage to their hearts’ content are higher in omega-3s, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Milk and milk products (whole, of course – the fat is where the vitamins are) from grassfed cows has extremely high levels of vitamin D, vitamin A, CLA, and calcium, and the omega levels are more balanced. Besides, did you know that rBGH is made from a combination of bovine DNA and E. coli? And that it not only increases milk production, but the amount of pus in the milk and infections in the cow? Which leads to the overuse of antibiotics, which leads to antibiotic-resistant superviruses like MRSA, which leads to death… Trust me, once you make an omelet with free range eggs and cheese, you’ll never go back.
Just a friendly reminder that although the government does its very best to be open and honest with the public, they don’t always do the best of jobs. Terms like “free range” and “cage free” have very loose definitions, and so it’s quite easy for a lazy farmer looking to profit from the organic movement to let his hens loose on a dirt patch for an hour and call them free range. So please, do your research and know your sources. I try to shop at farmers’ markets or local farms as much as possible, that way I not only buy food with a smaller carbon footprint, but I also have the opportunity to see where my food comes from. Working on a farm helps too!