4

votes

More CAFO meat vs. less grass-fed?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 17, 2010 at 5:13 AM

I have been thriving on a vlc paleo diet, and I do wholeheartedly believe that the paleo diet is the healthiest that I can offer to my family. I am, however, finding it very hard to keep up my high standards of where my meat comes from, from a financial standpoint.

A little background: I have a potato allergy, and a pretty strong intolerance to starchy foods in general, and I am a bit dairy sensitive (though I can handle cultured/raw dairy somewhat), so I am pretty limited to meat and veggies, plus some fruit in the summer. I am working on recovering from a thyroid imbalance, and have another 5-10% body fat to lose. I am also feeding my two perpetually ravenous sons (3 and 1 years old), and my husband who LOVES his carbs.

So, my question: Is it more nutritious to eat more organic veggies and a smaller amount of organic, grass-fed meat, or a moderate amount of CAFO meat and less veggies? I can definitely start making more sweet potatoes etc., to round out meals for my family, but I am still stuck needing to get a good amount of fat and protein myself to feel well. I am really hesitant to feed my children CAFO meat for health reasons, but I also don't like to eat it myself, as it isn't a food system that I think deserves my money and support.

So, paleo peeps, what would you do?

Df11e66ec4dd4f749eca409633b6a3fb

(595)

on July 01, 2010
at 02:08 PM

There are decent amounts of data supporting both of your main points. Organic veggies aren't significantly more nutritious (about the same, really), and peelable veggies get rid of the vast majority of pesticides.

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 25, 2010
at 06:30 PM

Wild Harvest; they are also the tastiest sardines I have found!

42321851a87415b340d215f629e574dc

(668)

on June 20, 2010
at 08:59 PM

What about the health of the cattle being fed a grain based diet versus a grass fed diet? Their lifespans and quality of life vary greatly.

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on June 19, 2010
at 02:44 PM

No, thank you for the reminder on BPAs! I'm usually more mindful of these things, but somehow I was oblivious to the BPA in the lining of cans, aaargh! Just one more thing to worry about, sometimes it seems like various industries are conspiring to taint every aspect of our food supply. I'll have to do more research on this, but what was the one BPA-free company that you found?

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 19, 2010
at 05:10 AM

Soooo...an evolutionary diet is far superior for humans, but not the animals we eat? Where's the logic?

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 19, 2010
at 05:05 AM

We do eat sardines occasionally, and wild salmon when we can afford it. My trouble with sardines is the BPA in the cans; I have found one BPA-free company, but they're over $3/can. Thanks for the reminder, though!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2010
at 12:09 PM

Haha, your comments are great!

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on June 18, 2010
at 02:13 AM

i was just thinking about how its weird that we eat birds. Will, do you have stats on farmer's market chicken vs CAFO beef? it would be an interesting stat. CAFO cows are not really ruminants in their life since they eat corn and other grain, chemicals + antibiotics. chickens do get grain in their diets even the ones that roam the farm all day eating bugs. however, i stand by farm raised chicken over cafo beef for sure. as i do farmers market eggs which from what i understand usually have a 1-1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. also avoiding grains u prob have wiggle room 4 chicken in your PUFA load.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 18, 2010
at 01:02 AM

There is no mention of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS). They may have lumped the PUFAS in with the monounsaturates, to make the numbers look better for the grain-fed beef. PUFAS can actually lower cholesterol for a short period of time, but not in a healthy way.

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on June 17, 2010
at 11:20 PM

27 men, 6 weeks, not a particularly great data set. Please review how theories develop and how they are falsified http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 17, 2010
at 09:06 PM

"Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles resulting from grass fed beef consumption over standard USDA prime beef." Would love to get some funding for that. Maybe I can take up collections here :)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 17, 2010
at 09:06 PM

http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/06/grain-fed-beef-healthier-than-grass-fed.html

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 09:00 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If the study indicated definite advantages to eating grass fed cattle you would all be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the cattle industry wants to know the nutritional value of their product and commissioned a study? Cattlemen are not the enemy. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My challenge remains. Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles resulting from grass fed beef consumption over standard USDA prime beef.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 08:59 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If this study showed definite advantages to grass fed cattle you would all be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the cattle industry wants to know the nutritional value of their product and commissioned a study? Cattlemen are not the enemy. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My challenge remains. Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles resulting from grass fed beef consumption over standard USDA prime beef.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 08:57 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If this study showed definite advantages to grass fed cattle you would all be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the cattle industry wants to know the nutritional value of their product and commissioned a study? Cattlemen are not the enemy. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My challenge remains. Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles for grass fed beef.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 08:49 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If this study came out and said there were definite advantages to grass fed cattle you all would be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the Cattle industry is interested in the nutrition of their product? Cattlemen are not the enemy, grain farmers are. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My question remains. Show me a study proving your cherished belief that grass fed beef is better than standard beef as far as metabolic indicators and lipid profiles are concerned.

36dd8a49324c45fb49a38765000eca1e

(377)

on June 17, 2010
at 08:26 PM

And of course, the study was funded by the National Cattleman's Beef Association, whose interest lies in CAFO.

F8fa4b0809d3b74fcf0361c0d53b60c1

(911)

on June 17, 2010
at 08:23 PM

You say to avoid CAFO meat because of the fatty acid profile, but then suggest eating chickens? Talk about a PUFA load... Ruminant fatty acid levels are much less responsive to their diet than other animals, even CAFO beef is drastically lower in PUFAs than the freest of free range chickens.

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 17, 2010
at 06:39 PM

As Melissa said, I am much more concerned with contaminants than fat ratios, especially when it comes to my young children (whom many studies show build up toxins/pesticides in their tiny bodies to a frightening extent). Also, I really want to support a food system that gives my kids and grandkids a chance to eat meat in the future. That system is NOT CAFO.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 17, 2010
at 06:02 PM

That study was done from the typical mainsteam anti-saturated fat perspective. I personally don't worry about the ratio in CAFO meat- the total PUFA is low. I would like to see more studies on the hormones and other contaminants.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on June 17, 2010
at 05:27 AM

Great question regarding trade-offs.

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10 Answers

best answer

5
9747ae0ff20a8f4a4a2857c66820b125

(439)

on June 17, 2010
at 06:12 AM

Generally speaking, I go for grass-fed meat and I get regular veggies. I try and wash them really well, and I'm sure there are studies out there on the nutrition of organic veggies vs. pesticide plastered ones, but in my non-educated opinion, the 12-1 ratio (or worse) of CAFO meat is not something that can be "washed off," and I try really hard to avoid that stuff, even if I have to compromise on veggies.

I also try and go for veggies with "thick skins," or stuff I can peel--carrots, onions, avocado. My theory (un-researched) is that the skin itself protects the veggie from pesticides, and that I can get the outside off of other types of veggies. I don't really peeol all that much, though--I'm much more likely just to chuck a carrot in whole rather than peel it.

Df11e66ec4dd4f749eca409633b6a3fb

(595)

on July 01, 2010
at 02:08 PM

There are decent amounts of data supporting both of your main points. Organic veggies aren't significantly more nutritious (about the same, really), and peelable veggies get rid of the vast majority of pesticides.

3
Dfd71315b44a74520ead7d6752e70fc7

(678)

on June 17, 2010
at 11:57 PM

You can make smart decisions with your veggie choices like buying frozen veggies and gobbling up a lot of low cost organic foods. Even at regular supermarkets, organic carrots tend to super cheap so you can make those a regular addition to meal time. Buying out of season produce may not be the most nutritionally sound choice coming from a broken system but for those of us on a budget looking to cut corners, I say work that broken system.

Your cut of meat choices can greatly vary the grocery bill as well. Say you are looking to make a chicken stir fry and you want free range, organic chicken. Well chicken breasts run around $8/pound for that high of quality BUT chicken tights run about half that. There are some recipes that call for the actual breast for shape and what not but if you're dicing the meat up, why spend the extra money? Drumsticks are a great source of cheap protein and fat as well. Put a spicy dry rub on them and bake them in the oven, there is enough natural fat that they will be juicy and tasty without any sugary BBQ sauce.

How adventurous is your husband and kids? Organ meat is always a possibility there. Some, like the heart, are a bit chewy but a good marinade can help with that. Stir fry is a great option for this as well.

As far as saving money on produce, how much space do you have for a garden? Even grabbing a few big pots and growing a tomato and pepper plant or two can give you a TON of fresh produce for pennies on the dollar. I'm holding off on buying my plants another week because I work at a greenhouse and am hoping to snag a few plants for free before they get dumped (hehe) but now is a great time to buy because greenhouses are slashing prices to sell as much stock as they can. I plan on getting a few pepper plants and freezing the extra produce so I will have locally grown, organic peppers for the next few months at no additional charge. My grocery bill should drop during the fall, me thinks.

If you're worried about getting more fat into their diet and you are somewhat dairy tolerable, look into adding more butter and cream into your and your family's diet. I remember growing up with creamed vegetables all the time. If you can make creamed carrots and serve them with your chicken thigh stir fry then you just gave your family a tasty meal on the cheap that doesn't compromise nutritional value.

3
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on June 17, 2010
at 05:41 PM

I was unable to enjoy grass fed beef until fairly recently.
Especially in the winter, my purchases tended to be pork roasts and brisket- I cooked them slow and rendered the fat.
Now, I realize this runs counter to most paleo recommendations, but the skewed fat composition in commercial meat seems to be easier to counter-act than the problems with grains, legumes, and dairy. Cut out the Omega-6s from industrial oils and supplement with fish oils. Animal fat is a mixture- mainly saturated- the whacked out ratio of omegas sounds horrible, but the actual amount isn't that much. We get more Omega-6 fats from chicken fat than we do pork or beef- that's why poultry fat tends to be so soft.

Budget constraints being what they are, not to mention the tendency to cheat when we don't eat enough fat to be satisfied, this approach, while not perfect, did help me become healthier and lose a lot weight.

2
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 17, 2010
at 02:34 PM

I too try and eat only grassfed meat but let me put an idea forth that Kurt Harris i think echoed on his blog a while back. (Putting ethical treatment of animals aside for a moment and focusing on the nutrition of the meat that the OP brings up) I know that the n3s drop a good deal in a CAFO cow compared to a fully pastured healthy super cow. However, the n3s that are indeed dropping only accounted for approximately 3% of the total fat in the meat when it was pastured anyhow. Should a drop from 3% to 1% be something we worry about?

In other words, should we reassess and realize that there is so little actual n3 in beef even in the best of circumstances, that when we lose that little bit when the animal is a poor CAFO critter, perhaps we're barking up the wrong tree? I know im focusing on omegas here, but it seems that you see this in a lot of advertising, and it comes up in conversation quite a bit.

1
7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on June 19, 2010
at 04:48 AM

Have you considered some seafood options as well? Sometimes you can find wild-caught salmon on sale, though I guess it wouldn't be a staple. Canned sardines are great too and I can usually find some for a little over a dollar for ~100g.

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 19, 2010
at 05:05 AM

We do eat sardines occasionally, and wild salmon when we can afford it. My trouble with sardines is the BPA in the cans; I have found one BPA-free company, but they're over $3/can. Thanks for the reminder, though!

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on June 19, 2010
at 02:44 PM

No, thank you for the reminder on BPAs! I'm usually more mindful of these things, but somehow I was oblivious to the BPA in the lining of cans, aaargh! Just one more thing to worry about, sometimes it seems like various industries are conspiring to taint every aspect of our food supply. I'll have to do more research on this, but what was the one BPA-free company that you found?

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 25, 2010
at 06:30 PM

Wild Harvest; they are also the tastiest sardines I have found!

1
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on June 17, 2010
at 12:09 PM

I would say avoid CAFO meat if you can. The fat that they offer isn't really the type of fat you are after. One strategy I employ is going for the more economical cuts of meat or buying in bulk. You may want to save up and do a cow share with a group of friends--you will have a freezer full of grass fed beef and a year supply of food if you do it right. My standby is often the ground beef which is much cheaper than the steaks (and usually comparable in price to super market stuff). You could also go for bigger brisket cuts and things that can feed the family and make left overs. And there there are organ meats which are usually absurdly cheap. Also buy whole roaster chickens which offer a much better deal than individual cuts.

If ever look at the cost per pound of the much trumpeted boneless skinless chicken breast, you get the feeling we've all been conned.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on June 18, 2010
at 02:13 AM

i was just thinking about how its weird that we eat birds. Will, do you have stats on farmer's market chicken vs CAFO beef? it would be an interesting stat. CAFO cows are not really ruminants in their life since they eat corn and other grain, chemicals + antibiotics. chickens do get grain in their diets even the ones that roam the farm all day eating bugs. however, i stand by farm raised chicken over cafo beef for sure. as i do farmers market eggs which from what i understand usually have a 1-1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. also avoiding grains u prob have wiggle room 4 chicken in your PUFA load.

F8fa4b0809d3b74fcf0361c0d53b60c1

(911)

on June 17, 2010
at 08:23 PM

You say to avoid CAFO meat because of the fatty acid profile, but then suggest eating chickens? Talk about a PUFA load... Ruminant fatty acid levels are much less responsive to their diet than other animals, even CAFO beef is drastically lower in PUFAs than the freest of free range chickens.

1
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 17, 2010
at 09:27 AM

I agree w Laura. You will get more pesticide and other chem exposure from CAFO meat than from non-organic veg because pesticides concentrate up the food chain. To make sure you get the least pesticides from the veg/fruit you buy non-organic, just avoid buying the "dirty dozen" - the bottom 12 on this list - http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php

Look for those organic, grow in a garden, avoid and replace or check with your local farmers and farmers market for organic but not labeled as such.

USDA certification is very expensive. Many small farmers grow that way but can't say so. Ask them about their growing practices, or ask if they use pesticides. If they grow organically they will definitely tell you so (but may not use the word because of regs.)

0
C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a

on July 04, 2010
at 06:58 PM

Like you, I need a good amount of protein and fat to feel well. I also can't afford to buy grass-fed. And as much as I'd love to buy from local farmers all the time, I can't do that either. So I buy grocery store meat most of the time, 'supplemented' by local and/or grass-fed from time to time, and also take krill oil and make an effort to add seafood as a side dish whenever I can. A prescription for steak + shrimp or scallops is not so bad :)

I eat less veg, so usually get organic and/or local. If/when I buy any dairy, it's usually organic/local as well. I am more interested in local than organic, really.

I think focusing on what makes you feel best health-wise is paramount. In the long run, eating mainly grocery store meat is not going to lead you down the path to illness. And there's no point in breaking your budget either, if it isn't feasable for you. You have to meet (meat?) yourself where you are.

But... you could look around and see if there are any meat CSA's in your area, or share programs with local farmers, that offer grass-fed. See if you can round up any neighbours to share with!

0
36dd8a49324c45fb49a38765000eca1e

(377)

on June 17, 2010
at 08:25 PM

And of course, the study was funded by the National Cattleman's Beef Association, whose interest lies in CAFO.

-4
08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 02:49 PM

To all those who claim grass fed meat is metabolically advantageous I have one simple question. Where's the beef?

Show me the proof son!

Here, read this and weep --> Study shows ground beef from grain-fed cattle healthier than grass-fed

???There really were no negative effects of feeding ground beef from the pasture-fed cattle,??? Smith said. ???We did see many positive effects in men that consumed ground beef from corn-fed cattle. The ground beef from the USDA Prime cattle increased HDL cholesterol and LDL particle diameter. Both effects are protective against cardiovascular disease. The Prime ground beef also decreased insulin, so it may have some protective effect against type II diabetes.???

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

I think all the elite grass fed meat Nazis out there who denigrate regular USDA cattle, disparagingly call it "poison meat" and turn up their collective noses at the rest of us need to reevaluate their holier than thou positions.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 17, 2010
at 06:02 PM

That study was done from the typical mainsteam anti-saturated fat perspective. I personally don't worry about the ratio in CAFO meat- the total PUFA is low. I would like to see more studies on the hormones and other contaminants.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 17, 2010
at 09:06 PM

http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/06/grain-fed-beef-healthier-than-grass-fed.html

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 18, 2010
at 01:02 AM

There is no mention of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS). They may have lumped the PUFAS in with the monounsaturates, to make the numbers look better for the grain-fed beef. PUFAS can actually lower cholesterol for a short period of time, but not in a healthy way.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2010
at 12:09 PM

Haha, your comments are great!

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 08:57 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If this study showed definite advantages to grass fed cattle you would all be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the cattle industry wants to know the nutritional value of their product and commissioned a study? Cattlemen are not the enemy. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My challenge remains. Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles for grass fed beef.

42321851a87415b340d215f629e574dc

(668)

on June 20, 2010
at 08:59 PM

What about the health of the cattle being fed a grain based diet versus a grass fed diet? Their lifespans and quality of life vary greatly.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 08:49 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If this study came out and said there were definite advantages to grass fed cattle you all would be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the Cattle industry is interested in the nutrition of their product? Cattlemen are not the enemy, grain farmers are. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My question remains. Show me a study proving your cherished belief that grass fed beef is better than standard beef as far as metabolic indicators and lipid profiles are concerned.

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 17, 2010
at 06:39 PM

As Melissa said, I am much more concerned with contaminants than fat ratios, especially when it comes to my young children (whom many studies show build up toxins/pesticides in their tiny bodies to a frightening extent). Also, I really want to support a food system that gives my kids and grandkids a chance to eat meat in the future. That system is NOT CAFO.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 08:59 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If this study showed definite advantages to grass fed cattle you would all be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the cattle industry wants to know the nutritional value of their product and commissioned a study? Cattlemen are not the enemy. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My challenge remains. Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles resulting from grass fed beef consumption over standard USDA prime beef.

9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on June 19, 2010
at 05:10 AM

Soooo...an evolutionary diet is far superior for humans, but not the animals we eat? Where's the logic?

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on June 17, 2010
at 11:20 PM

27 men, 6 weeks, not a particularly great data set. Please review how theories develop and how they are falsified http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 17, 2010
at 09:06 PM

"Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles resulting from grass fed beef consumption over standard USDA prime beef." Would love to get some funding for that. Maybe I can take up collections here :)

36dd8a49324c45fb49a38765000eca1e

(377)

on June 17, 2010
at 08:26 PM

And of course, the study was funded by the National Cattleman's Beef Association, whose interest lies in CAFO.

08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on June 17, 2010
at 09:00 PM

Bunch of hypocrites! If the study indicated definite advantages to eating grass fed cattle you would all be trumpeting the results regardless of the source. FYI, the Beef Association also raises pasture fed cattle. Is it a shock that the cattle industry wants to know the nutritional value of their product and commissioned a study? Cattlemen are not the enemy. Face it, you're all blinded by your ignorant biases. My challenge remains. Show me a study proving improved metabolic indicators and lipid profiles resulting from grass fed beef consumption over standard USDA prime beef.

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