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Health Hack #13 - Why Our Beef Products Are Grass-Fed

A Quick Backstory

The concept for Real Food Eatery was hatched in late 2014. Though we didn’t open our first store until July 2016, we spent a full year developing the concept before any construction began. During this phase, we spent a lot of time conversing with potential vendors and trying to nail down a respectable supply chain. Surprisingly for us, we had the hardest time sourcing a beef product that met our standards. Everything else came fairly easy. It was an interesting exploration for us, as it lent insights into some misconceptions that still prevail today.

There was a distinct conversation with a vendor at a local wholesaler that was particularly interesting. Our goal was to source a Grass-fed Sirloin, or a cut that closely resembled sirloin. We visited their location to purchase some samples. Despite the butcher having plenty of grass-fed cuts available – all of which cost significantly more than their conventional equivalent - we were aggressively steered in another direction. “Why would you want grass-fed? It doesn’t taste as good, it’s much more expensive, it’s tougher to cook with, and there are no peer-to-peer reviewed studies showing that it’s nutritionally superior.” We decided to leave and go elsewhere.

Things have certainly changed some since 2014, and in this case for the better. Awareness has increased and consumers are much more conscientious about tracing their food sources. While the science certainly existed in 2014, it exists in more abundance now, displaying a clear portrait that grass-fed beef is indeed a superior choice. And humans in general have become much more tuned into both environmental and animal cruelty concerns, neither of which played any role in the recommendation of that misinformed butcher.

The Benefits of Grass-Fed vs. Conventional

A common theme that prevails on our menu and in our writing is the importance of limiting the adulteration of food as much as possible. Real Food Eatery. Mother Nature knows best, and we’re in great hands when she’s left to her own devices. We, like the animals we consume, evolved to eat a particular diet. When this diet set is altered significantly in a short period of time (from an evolutionary perspective), you can rest assured that the transition will be lengthy and painful.

“Conventional beef”, as opposed to “Grass-fed beef”, is a process that was initiated to meet a rising demand in beef consumption while simultaneously maximizing profits. It takes a lot of land and a lot of work to allow cows to graze on pasture, in comparison to keeping them in a confined area and feeding them commercially produced grain-based feed (namely soy and corn). As a field of grass is consumed, the cows must then shift to another area. And there is time and money involved in restoring that now barren plot back to edible grazing turf. So it’s fairly easy to see the motivation, but only if you blind yourself to the merits of keeping things old school.

Animal Welfare

This is a fairly obvious case, but worth touching on. Animals were neither intended to be crammed like sardines nor fed a diet inconsistent with one they’ve long found organically in nature. If we want to respect what truly nourishes and sustains us (food), then we should provide the animals we consume with as much opportunity to live an unadulterated, natural life as possible.

Enhanced Nutritional Value

As many of you will recall from the last two weeks where we’ve documented the benefits of fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acids (which are precursors to EPA and DHA) are vital for overall good health. Grass is robust in these Omega-3’s. We as humans evolved away from consuming grass due to its caloric inefficiency. We simply did not have the time to consume the volumes of grass needed to achieve a proper caloric load, which would mean grazing for hours and hours per day. Were us humans to consume grass these days, the vast majority would be indigestible and the Omega 3’s would not be bioavailable. And so, an elegant solution arose. Cows eat the grass, they obtain the Omega-3’s, and we then consume the cows, thereby acquiring these vital micronutrients.

Additionally, it should be known that all forms of beef contain an array of vitamins and minerals. However, when choosing grass-fed, you’re consuming increased quantities of Vitamin A and Vitamin E, as well as other antioxidants. And so, too, is one consuming elevated levels of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which is a fatty acid with a host of benefits.


Quality products need only natural, simplified seasonings. If you’ve sought out a reputable grass-fed product for home cooking, then you’ll know full well that it can taste amazing. And at the risk of tooting our own horn – if you disagree with this premise, then PLEASE try our beef.

What if I have to eat or order beef, but there aren't any grass-fed options?

It’s not an uncommon dilemma to be in a position to consume beef without much control over cuts and quality. Maybe you’re at a steakhouse and don’t see any grass-fed cuts on the menu, but you generally exercise diligence in seeking out the highest quality everything. Fortunately, it’s not the end of the world. The amino acid profile of conventional versus grass-fed beef is nearly identical. Essential amino acids are found primarily in the protein we consume, while toxins are found predominantly in the fat. Therefore, if you’re needing to select a conventional beef product for lack of a better option, consider a leaner cut. Maybe 90/10 ground beef rather than 85/15. And in the world of steaks, a filet would be a much leaner cut than a ribeye. When you’re opting for these leaner cuts, the gap between the nutritional quality of conventional beef versus grass-fed beef becomes much smaller.