7

votes

Is it worth it? (grain-fed meat)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

I often wonder whether it's worth eating meat if it's grain fed. I can't realistically afford grass fed meats, and so it's either grain fed or nothing.

So: with the option of either eating grain fed meat or very little meat, which is the preferable choice?

If you would be so kind, I'd really appreciate suggestions on the least-bad grain fed options. Currently I try to eat lamb, because I hear it's sometimes grass-fed.

Thanks in advance.

Medium avatar

(0)

on June 02, 2014
at 11:12 AM

So are you saying that grass-fed animals are basically the same quality as industrial animals?

I was wondering about this, too: how is it good to eat industrial meat, with all the toxins and all - if one knows just a little bit about the process of how those animals are raised and butchered, it will take away one's appetite for eating meat, for good.

My main reason for hesitating to try paleo.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 21, 2011
at 12:27 PM

Fat soluble toxins do concentrate in fat. But then they concentrate in the fat of grass-fed animals just as much.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on October 21, 2011
at 11:11 AM

i never thought to cut off the fat, where toxins accumulate. is that true? interesting.

F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 07, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Your protein needs actually vary widely depending on your lean mass and your activity level. If someone's got a good amount of muscle and is very active, yes they *do* need more meat. Ideally you want more than just the muscle meat though; there's some danger of unbalancing your amino acids if you never have any other part of the critter. Gelatin (i.e., bone broth) is definitely your friend.

F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 07, 2011
at 11:26 PM

I'd watch those walnuts. Walnut oil isn't very stable and has a bad habit of going rancid. I don't know how stable it remains inside the nut--could be OK, but might not be.

F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 07, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I've seen the numbers on PUFA or omega-6 specifically, the content on grass-finished versus grain-finished beef, and the numbers aren't that dramatically different. A grain-fed cow actually loses less of its good fatty acid profile than a feedlot bison does. (Yes, I'm sorry to say, there are feedlot bison.)

58cc17a77bca6e503dcf6bf6471b76a1

(478)

on February 22, 2011
at 08:27 PM

Same with me. I buy the leanest conventional meat cut (chicken breasts, beef stew or top round, pork loin - trimmed off all visible fat) and get my fat from grassfed ghee (kerrygold butter), avocado oil and unrefined extra virgin coconut oil as my healthy fat source

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 01, 2010
at 10:27 PM

hey thanks for that link! im not usually a WFM shopper but i think ill hit the NYC one on Friday. $4/lb? Hell yes.

C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7

(2269)

on August 25, 2010
at 11:23 PM

God I miss Wegmans... there's nothing like them in the Boston area. I'd shop at Weg's over Whole Foods any day, esp. one like the Mega Wegs in Pittsford. I used to live in Rochester.

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on August 25, 2010
at 05:11 PM

Ground bison is around $5/pound here in the supermarkets, very affordable.

C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a

on July 07, 2010
at 04:10 PM

'Should be'? Not to this gal. I usually eat one meal a day, and more than a measly 4-5 ounces of meat at that meal. Also, meat does not cost the same everywhere in the world. I can buy ONE grass-fed steak, or THREE grain-finished steaks, for the same price. I save my splurges for interesting stuff, like wild boar at the farmer's market :)

Ae011d9f1c8654ea66854ca2a977c397

(1165)

on June 09, 2010
at 08:23 PM

I agree, I eat between 1-3 lbs of meat a day. Im allergic to eggs and dont eat dairy so its all meat for protein

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 11, 2010
at 07:47 PM

Ok, that makes more sense, but micronutrients are pretty important, no? =) It's like saying "The only bad thing about grain-fed meat is that it's completely different from grass-fed meat."

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 10, 2010
at 11:24 PM

I have a nutritional need for an 8-10 oz steak twice a day. I eat only meat, and not the lean stuff. I don't eat too much. Maybe you are overgeneralizing a tad?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2010
at 08:12 PM

Crap, sorry - I meant "micronutrients" not macro. Edited

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 10, 2010
at 06:19 PM

"The only bad thing..." I disagree with this. Grain-fed meat has a different CLA content. The animals are deficient in vitamin D and other key micronutrients. They may have been injected with hormones and antibiotics. The difference in the quality of the meat goes far beyond omega-6 content and macronutrients.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 10, 2010
at 06:15 PM

Might be clearer for the newbies if you write "to balance out the high omega-6" in your second parenthesis. Incidentally, Robb Wolf recommends this solution (eat grain-fed meat and supplement with fish oil) if you cannot afford grass-fed meat. It is definitely better than nothing, although not as ideal as avoiding the excess omega-6 in the first place.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 10, 2010
at 05:12 PM

I'll have a giraffe steak please :)

2ac40062935f569c9a86493f7177d2a0

(233)

on May 10, 2010
at 04:07 PM

Ruminating mammals include cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, bison, yaks, water buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas, llamas, wildebeest, antelope, pronghorn, and nilgai.

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18 Answers

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12
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 10, 2010
at 02:04 PM

I believe that on gi blog Dr Harris said that if you can not afford grass fed meat, then eat only ruminants. A ruminant animal has multiple stomachs and is less affected by the feed on their omega balance. It will still not be as favorable as grass fed but it will be okay. Supplement with some o3 and you'll be fine. I'll try to find and post the blog post link later.

Personally I eat mostly beef and very little grass fed. I don't have access to a cowpool and I don't hve money to pay out my A for storebought grassfed. I'm doing alright.

2ac40062935f569c9a86493f7177d2a0

(233)

on May 10, 2010
at 04:07 PM

Ruminating mammals include cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, bison, yaks, water buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas, llamas, wildebeest, antelope, pronghorn, and nilgai.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 10, 2010
at 05:12 PM

I'll have a giraffe steak please :)

F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 07, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I've seen the numbers on PUFA or omega-6 specifically, the content on grass-finished versus grain-finished beef, and the numbers aren't that dramatically different. A grain-fed cow actually loses less of its good fatty acid profile than a feedlot bison does. (Yes, I'm sorry to say, there are feedlot bison.)

6
3e88219ad76dbcdb3d96d2a0788b83a0

(155)

on May 10, 2010
at 01:32 PM

We've been in the same situation. I'd be interested in hearing others views as well. All beef is grass fed until they are put in the feedlots, where they are fed grain and who knows what else. When we eat "industrial" beef, we just make sure to cut off the fat (where the toxins tend to accumulate) and take some fish oil (High O-6). It's still better to eat meat than not.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 10, 2010
at 06:15 PM

Might be clearer for the newbies if you write "to balance out the high omega-6" in your second parenthesis. Incidentally, Robb Wolf recommends this solution (eat grain-fed meat and supplement with fish oil) if you cannot afford grass-fed meat. It is definitely better than nothing, although not as ideal as avoiding the excess omega-6 in the first place.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on October 21, 2011
at 11:11 AM

i never thought to cut off the fat, where toxins accumulate. is that true? interesting.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 21, 2011
at 12:27 PM

Fat soluble toxins do concentrate in fat. But then they concentrate in the fat of grass-fed animals just as much.

4
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2010
at 02:40 PM

The only bad thing about grain-fed meat is the micronutrient contents and the Omega-3 / Omega-6 ratios.

That's it. If you are already taking supplements (multivitamin? fish oil?) then you're completely fine with grain fed meat. If you're eating only grassfed, then you probably won't need the supplements.

That said, it's VERY important to "vote with your fork" and try to change the modern farming practices. Even if you're not buying grassfed beef all the time, try to buy from local farmers, not the big industrial CAFOs

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 10, 2010
at 06:19 PM

"The only bad thing..." I disagree with this. Grain-fed meat has a different CLA content. The animals are deficient in vitamin D and other key micronutrients. They may have been injected with hormones and antibiotics. The difference in the quality of the meat goes far beyond omega-6 content and macronutrients.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2010
at 08:12 PM

Crap, sorry - I meant "micronutrients" not macro. Edited

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 11, 2010
at 07:47 PM

Ok, that makes more sense, but micronutrients are pretty important, no? =) It's like saying "The only bad thing about grain-fed meat is that it's completely different from grass-fed meat."

3
628978d2e1ae51dd97afd9c35f699b75

on May 10, 2010
at 02:58 PM

IMO, @Jeannie did a pretty good job of summing up what Dr. Cordain's view would be. It would be better to avoid the Omega 6's off the bat as opposed to taking in a lot of them and compensating with Omega 3 supplements. If money is the issue, the cost of the fish oil will eat into your "savings" by getting grain fed meat as opposed to grass fed.

With that said, I can only get grass fed ground beef from Trader Joe's, so when using grain fed cuts, I stick with the leaner pieces of meat and get my fat from salmon, tuna, sardines, and walnuts to help even out the O6-O3 ratio.

F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 07, 2011
at 11:26 PM

I'd watch those walnuts. Walnut oil isn't very stable and has a bad habit of going rancid. I don't know how stable it remains inside the nut--could be OK, but might not be.

2
8254c4e4d1f2aedd09cb9608b8777654

on August 25, 2010
at 05:02 PM

I'm a little surprised no one has suggested buying a freezer and purchasing halves or quarters of grassfed beef and whole lamb. A freezer will pay for itself very quickly with the money you save by buying in larger quantity, especially if you eat meat regularly. Do the math for your case. Another benefit of buying a freezer--mine is 9 cubic feet and can hold a whole lamb, quarter beef, 10 whole chickens as well as frozen fruit and vegetables--is that when you buy beef, butchers or farmers, at least in my experience, will always throw in the bones free of charge. Use the bones to make the best soup or roast the marrow, also delicious. Make sure you give the butcher cutting instructions before picking up your meat. Do you want more or less ground beef, do you prefer roasts and what size? It makes a big difference depending on how many people you are feeding and how big your crock pot is. Another thing regarding cutting instructions: butchers trim way too much fat off the cuts; not only is there great flavor in the fat, but with grassfed/pastured animals the fat is healthy. You might as well get what you pay for.

2
Eb6bfe929604b87fa24cdab687e606c7

on May 10, 2010
at 10:42 PM

I'm in your situation. I'm a college student and cannot afford grass-fed meat, and I really don't have access to it, as the only grocery store around here is King Soopers.

Since I have to go with grain-fed meats, I just go with the lean cuts. I do a lot of ground turkey. To get my fat in, I supplement with coconut oil, avocado, and a handful of nuts here and there. Works well for me.

58cc17a77bca6e503dcf6bf6471b76a1

(478)

on February 22, 2011
at 08:27 PM

Same with me. I buy the leanest conventional meat cut (chicken breasts, beef stew or top round, pork loin - trimmed off all visible fat) and get my fat from grassfed ghee (kerrygold butter), avocado oil and unrefined extra virgin coconut oil as my healthy fat source

2
Bcb2f5436d11467e89123680c046b858

(1356)

on May 10, 2010
at 06:26 PM

Grass-fed ground beef and stew beef chunks are not expensive. Try to find a farmer to buy meat from directly - buying in a store is way more expensive. eatwild.com and localharvest.com are two sites that can help you find farmers and farmer's markets. If you don't have someone in your area, take a drive and stock up. You might not be able to eat grass-fed steak every night, but there's nothing wrong with good ol' burger.

1
22fd82abf435768244f8d074430cd1e6

(590)

on October 21, 2011
at 07:43 AM

Robb Wolf's post concerning money issue and paleo:

http://robbwolf.com/2011/09/21/paleo-is-expensive/

1
D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on September 01, 2010
at 09:07 PM

Whole Foods just sent an email that they are doing $3.99/lb. GRASS-FINISHED (woo!) ground beef on Friday, September 03, 2010 only.

http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2010/08/sale-on-grass-fed-ground-beef-93-only/

Jump on it!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 01, 2010
at 10:27 PM

hey thanks for that link! im not usually a WFM shopper but i think ill hit the NYC one on Friday. $4/lb? Hell yes.

1
0210bd0cc382bc98b71abf790bf61ee1

(10)

on August 25, 2010
at 08:26 PM

If you're that concerned, eat canned wild-caught salmon. Very healthy, cheaper than grassfed beef (though not cheaper than supermarket beef), and no Omega 6 at all.

0
95ab15c8ef50ff0daf87ccbdd52cd3b8

(2384)

on August 25, 2010
at 07:00 PM

I'm with Richard: http://freetheanimal.com/2010/08/so-you-think-you-cant-cook.html

Long story short: The "risks" of grain-fed meats may well be overstated by paleo folk. Read the comments for a lively discussion of both sides.

0
9ede249a740a4918c6d88c49846feb07

(20)

on August 25, 2010
at 06:52 PM

In the past year we have seen rapid growth of farms converted to grass fed, pesticide/antibiotic free and organic-only farms. Consequently the cost of grass fed has dropped with increased demand. Even the Wegmans store is carrying organic beef-all cuts.

Yesterday I picked up T-bone steaks for $8 lb.The same price Wegmans charges fro grain-fed commercial beef. Organic free range chicken is $3/lb and delicious.

We do not live in a trendy area (western NY) so maybe this is the sign of better things to come.

C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7

(2269)

on August 25, 2010
at 11:23 PM

God I miss Wegmans... there's nothing like them in the Boston area. I'd shop at Weg's over Whole Foods any day, esp. one like the Mega Wegs in Pittsford. I used to live in Rochester.

0
89985542ffc00c296552951369fe809a

on May 11, 2010
at 03:01 AM

Elk - if you want to eat a red meat that's not necessarily fed just grass, elk is where it's at. Seriously!

To be honest though... other than elk... I wouldn't touch any other red meat that was fed grain! Yikes.

0
9cf46db81eadfffb6464228079e12875

on May 10, 2010
at 10:56 PM

Great question - I'd explore your options. If you have a local co-op or organic store, ask them for options. Your local Farmer's Market may have grass=fed beef where it's much cheaper. Check with a meat locker as well to see if they have any grass fed options. Visit http://eatwild.com and see if that helps as well.

I'm with Paleotron - eating regular beef and supplementing with omega 3's does nothing to diminish the offset of omega-6's you're already getting. Stats suggest the normal SAD has a 30:1 ratio of omega6/omega 3's. Way off kilter which impacts inflammation and many conditions/syndromes.

Is it worth it? I think the answer is yes. Look at your healthcare costs. IF they are higher than normal, then you have your answer in that scenario as well. Let's hope they aren't too high, but you get what I'm saying.

IF grass-fed is still not an option - everyone else has said what I'd also recommend - low fat cuts since the toxins animals ingest go to the fat areas.

0
99ac392257e444e014be6d4da6a900e4

(1036)

on May 10, 2010
at 08:48 PM

When people say grassfed beef is too expensive, I think they're forgetting that a serving of protein should be in the range of 4-5 oz pre-cooked weight. Grassfed ground beef can be bought for $5-6/pound. That's $1.25-$1.50 per serving. Sirloin is usually under $10/lb. That's $2.50 per serving. The biggest problem is people at too much. There is no nutritional NEED to eat an 8-10 oz steak...it's just that that's what we're all used to.

If grassfed is unavailable, I'd go with lean cuts of meat and supplement a little extra fish oil with those meals.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 10, 2010
at 11:24 PM

I have a nutritional need for an 8-10 oz steak twice a day. I eat only meat, and not the lean stuff. I don't eat too much. Maybe you are overgeneralizing a tad?

Ae011d9f1c8654ea66854ca2a977c397

(1165)

on June 09, 2010
at 08:23 PM

I agree, I eat between 1-3 lbs of meat a day. Im allergic to eggs and dont eat dairy so its all meat for protein

C1fb8666b1ae085507a76a4c494e4f0a

on July 07, 2010
at 04:10 PM

'Should be'? Not to this gal. I usually eat one meal a day, and more than a measly 4-5 ounces of meat at that meal. Also, meat does not cost the same everywhere in the world. I can buy ONE grass-fed steak, or THREE grain-finished steaks, for the same price. I save my splurges for interesting stuff, like wild boar at the farmer's market :)

F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on March 07, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Your protein needs actually vary widely depending on your lean mass and your activity level. If someone's got a good amount of muscle and is very active, yes they *do* need more meat. Ideally you want more than just the muscle meat though; there's some danger of unbalancing your amino acids if you never have any other part of the critter. Gelatin (i.e., bone broth) is definitely your friend.

0
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on May 10, 2010
at 05:35 PM

If its REAL grass fed- it is totally worth it. Lower your intake of Omega 6s and its deadly estrogen production in the body is worth any cost. One of the KEY things Paelo/Low Carb/IF lifestyle has given me besides better health is that I eat a whole lot less and buy nearly no supps anymore- a huge cost savings. Buying better food still saves me money inthe long run and I'm healthier for it.

0
55a04c56b579b2b488d4e3581a4c1d3c

on May 10, 2010
at 02:57 PM

IMO, @Jeannie did a pretty good job of summing up what Dr. Cordain's view would be. It would be better to avoid the Omega 6's off the bat as opposed to taking in a lot of them and compensating with Omega 3 supplements. If money is the issue, the cost of the fish oil will eat into your "savings" by getting grain fed meat as opposed to grass fed.

With that said, I can only get grass fed ground beef from Trader Joe's, so when using grain fed cuts, I stick with the leaner pieces of meat and get my fat from salmon, tuna, sardines, and walnuts to help even out the O6-O3 ratio.

0
5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on May 10, 2010
at 01:40 PM

"Eating very little meat" I can't see that being an option! You don't say where you live so it's hard to recommend where you might go. If all you can get is grain fed you can correct the high omega-6/3 ratio by increasing your omega-3 consumption via fish oil, cod liver oil or krill supplements.

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