As you are savoring that juicy piece of steak, you probably are not thinking about what the cow ate. However, the debate over corn fed beef versus grass fed beef has become increasingly controversial. Many think that corn fed beef tastes much better, while grass fed beef is better ecologically and ethically. The main concern, however, is which one is better nutritionally and which one is safer to consume.
Corn fed animals are a top choice among farmers because it is more convenient and profitable. Because of this, corn feeding has become much more popular over the years. Studies have shown that corn fed beef (this includes meat and dairy) have lower nutritional value. It often contains more total fat, saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol. At the same time, it has a decreased amount of essential nutrients, such as vitamin E, vitamin c, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Grass fed beef, on the other hand, is lower in fat and calories. It has been shown that grass fed beef can have as much as 1/3rd less fat than corn fed beef. Additionally, it also contains more omega-3 fatty acids, which are the “good” fats. Omega-3 accounts for 60% of the fat found in grass fed beef.
Another concern with corn fed beef is it is considered an unnatural diet. These animals are raised on diets specifically designed to fatten them up, so the farm can boost its productivity. This raises the risk of animal feed containing by -products, that no human wants to consume. Also, because cows are naturally cud-chewing animals that love to chew on grass and plants, they aren’t too happy when they are restricted grass. Corn fed animals can develop problems because of the lack of grass. This can lead to the overuse of antibiotics and chemical additives to help the cow cope. This can then lead to humans consuming cattle that were fed antibiotics, which can result in illness.
Animals on farms that are fed corn and other grains are usually confined to cages. This causes a lot of stress to the animals, for they can not practice their normal animal behaviors. Cages can often become crowded and full of manure. While the farmers clean out the cages as they should, it can become a costly task. Often, to stray away from the expense of removing manure, farmers often dispose of it close to the feedlots. This can result in contaminated and polluted soil and water.
Overall, studies have shown the grass fed animals are much safer to consume. They contain more nutritional value and are raised more ethically. While corn fed beef may be more tender and suit your taste buds more, grass fed beef deserve a grade of A plus.