Grassfed Health Benefits
Cattle fed on grass produce beef that is lower in overall fat and saturated fat, calories and cholesterol than grain fed beef. A steak from a grain fed feedlot cattle has more than double the fat of a similar cut from grassfed cattle.
Grassfed beef also contains higher levels of beneficial vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin E, beta carotene, and vitamin C; and is also richer in healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Research shows these elements are crucial in reducing cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and other life threatening diseases. When cattle are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be finished on grain, they immediately begin losing omega-3 levels. The animal’s body chemistry also changes and there are differences in the fatty composition that often contribute to the “off” or“gamey” flavor of the meat. So if you want to avoid that flavor, be sure the beef you purchase is grassfed.
Another reason the American consumer is seeking more grassfed products are for the numerous health benefits. Grassfed products contain higher levels of beneficial vitamins and nutrients; and have less total fat, saturated fat and calories. It is also richer in healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, a proven anti-carcinogen. Their cattle are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
“One of the things we see at the market, and in particular at the Southern Pines market, is that consumers are very educated—they know what they want,” Sharon explains. “We have folks who come because they want to know what they are feeding their families. They actually thank us for raising grassfed beef and bringing it to the market so they have access to it. It’s really very gratifying.”
Kate Black of Southern Pines visits the Thompson’s booth every Saturday. “If folks want to come to dinner at my house I tell them to wait until Saturday so I can get the best beef in town,” she laughs while picking up her weekly order.
Black, who has two small children, had never tried grassfed beef until she moved here earlier this year. “I’m pretty fussy over the kid’s food and make a lot of it myself, so I am interested in knowing what is in our food and how it is handled.”
Of great importance to the Thompson’s is how their animals are treated. They are one of only a few family farms in the region that are Animal Welfare Approved. These standards are the most rigorous and progressive animal care requirements in the nation, as recognized by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
A USDA-approved processor located in Taylorsville, NC cuts the meat in popular store cuts, vacuum seals the beef, then labels and flash freezes the product. The Thompsons pick up the meat and store it at their farm until it goes to market.