Grass-fed and organic beef — what’s the difference? That’s what we’re going to explore in our latest article.
You’d be forgiven for assuming that they were the same thing, as they’re both produced with a healthier lifestyle in mind. But it’s important to know the differences between the two so you can make an informed decision about which to buy.
We’ll start by defining what each term actually means, then go on to a comparison of the health and economic benefits of each one. Let’s find out more!
What is grass-fed beef?
Just as its name suggests, grass-fed beef comes from animals that are raised on a diet of grass. It’s also known as pasture-raised beef because to achieve this, cattle are given free access to pastures where they roam and graze as they would in the wild.
This is in stark contrast to grain-fed beef, where cattle are offered grain and raised in confined spaces. While this may be better for farmers, as it’s a cheaper method of raising animals and they grow faster, it’s an unnatural lifestyle for the cattle.
It also results in less healthy meat on your plate, as cattle are routinely given hormones to promote growth and antibiotics to stave off the diseases that develop in confined spaces.
What is organic beef?
Defining organic beef is a slightly more complex task. The label organic refers to certain standards in the way cattle are raised and what they are exposed to. This means that:
- They can’t be confined to feedlots for long periods.
- They can’t be kept in unhygienic, overcrowded conditions.
- They can’t be exposed to artificial fertilisers, pesticides, GMOs, hormones, antibiotics or other synthetic contaminants.
- Farming methods must protect the quality of water, air and soil and look after natural habitats too.
- Welfare conditions must be of a high standard, including factors like how the animals are transported to abattoirs.
It’s important to note that organic beef is not necessarily completely free-range or grass-fed.
Cattle may be confined at some stage and may also be fed grain, although the grain should be organic.
While many organic producers do indeed farm pasture-raised grass-fed beef cattle, there’s no guarantee just by looking at the label.
Nutritional content comparison
When comparing the nutritional content of grass-fed versus organic beef, grass-fed comes out with some distinct advantages. That’s because you can’t always know whether organic beef is grain- or grass-fed.
So if you want to guarantee the nutritional benefits we’re going to look at, you need to pick pasture-raised grass-fed beef.
Firstly, grass-fed beef has less total fat than grain-fed beef. It also contains up to three times the amount of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) in comparison to grain-fed beef.
CLAs are ‘good’ fats that have been linked to healthier cholesterol levels and reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Beef that’s guaranteed grass-fed also has five times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. This type of fatty acid has many health benefits, including reducing inflammation in the body and promoting eye and brain health, to name but a few.
You’ll also find higher levels of antioxidants like vitamins A and E in grass-fed beef, compared to grain-fed.
Environmental impact of grass-fed and organic beef
Both types of beef are considered to have a lower environmental impact than conventionally farmed beef.
Of course, organic beef cuts out all those nasty pollutants like chemical fertilisers and added hormones and antibiotics that are used so frequently in traditional intensive farming. But without a doubt, solely grass-fed beef that doesn’t use feedlots or grain at all is better for the environment. Feedlots can contribute to harmful practices such as fossil fuel consumption, water pollution and soil erosion.
By contrast, when cattle are free to roam and graze, soil health is naturally improved, thanks to the addition of their manure. And land is managed better, as cattle will make use of land that isn’t suitable for arable farming. This means that there’s a reduced carbon footprint with solely grass-fed beef production.
Health benefits of organic beef
Organic beef is raised without unnecessary antibiotics, hormones and other artificial additives that can make their way into the food that you eat. This gives you peace of mind, knowing that the meat on your plate is just that — no nasties added!
And whether you go for grass-fed or organic beef, you’re choosing a rich source of protein that’s especially high in vitamin B12, essential for red blood cell and DNA production, and minerals like iron and zinc, which are great for your immunity.
All those antioxidants also help to protect your body from the cellular damage that causes disease.
Health benefits of grass-fed beef
One of the most obvious advantages of grass-fed beef is that the cattle it derives from eat a natural and healthy diet in wide open spaces, as we’ve seen, so no added antibiotics and hormones are necessary. And there’s no need for artificial herbicides that could make their way onto your plate, as the cattle produce manure that acts as a natural fertiliser for their environment.
As well as the artificial additives level being low, we’ve seen previously that grass-fed beef has distinct nutritional benefits too.
Finally, it makes sense that a lot of grass-fed beef is also organic — so it’s a win-win!
Cost comparison of grass-fed and organic beef
It’s useful to know how grass-fed and organic beef shape up when it comes to your budget too.
We know that organic meat is more costly than non-organic meat, but it’s also important to be aware that raising cattle on pasture and grass can be more expensive and time-consuming than raising them in feedlots. So this means that purely grass-fed beef can be the more costly choice. However, consumers who value the highest quality food, raised to exceptional welfare standards, don’t always mind paying a little extra — the choice is a personal one.
Taste the Provenir difference
Both organic and grass-fed beef are healthy choices for a protein, vitamin and mineral rich food that’s great for all the family. But because organic beef may be grain-fed, and often there’s no way to know this for sure, your best bet for health and wellness is going to be grass-fed beef.
That’s exactly and only what we sell here at Provenir. The beef we offer is grass-fed and free-range, so not only do you benefit from its extra nutritional value but you can also rest assured that the animals it’s derived from live the most natural life possible.
We also take care to ensure the highest welfare standards all the way through an animal’s life. That’s why we use mobile abattoirs that travel to farms so that animals are saved from a distressing journey at the end of their life.
Taste the Provenir difference for yourself by having fresh and healthy produce delivered to your home. Check your postcode to find out whether we serve your area, select your products and let us do the rest. You can count on Provenir to deliver only the best grass-fed beef right to your door.