Why Grass Fed?

Grass fed cattle produce beef the old fashion way... as nature intended. It is a healthier and more flavorful alternative to the feedlot beef more often found at your local restaurants and supermarkets. To understand the benefits of eating grass fed beef it is helpful to learn the chain of events that lead from a calf’s birth and maturation to the steaks and burgers you consume. Take a look and see why Machado Bros. Grass Fed Beef is better for the the environment, the cow, and the consumer.

A Common Beginning

Most calves are born on family ranches in what is known as a traditional cow-calf operation. For the first six to eight months of their lives these calves graze the ranch consuming nothing but forage from local pastures and their mothers’ milk. The differences between grass fed and feedlot beef arise after the calves have been weened from their mothers. Once a calf has gained its independence and is no longer nursing, cow-calf ranchers will sell nearly all of the calves, retaining a small number only to replace aging mother cows no longer able to reproduce. Most cow-calf operations are prohibited from keeping the calves beyond this point because there is simply not enough open space and grass to permit the survival of multiple generations of offspring on a single plot of land.

The Feedlot Approach

The calves are typically sold to large feedlots where, driven by financial incentives, the feedlot operators attempt to fatten up as many cows as they can, as quickly as possible. An excessive number of cattle are squeezed into inhumanely crowded holding pens, polluting the land with waste, stripping it of its fertility and tarnishing the neighboring terrain with toxic run off. The cows are often given growth hormones in an attempt to get them to fatten up at an unnatural pace. Additionally, because it costs more and takes longer for a cow to gain weight on grass alone, the feedlots introduce the cattle to a foreign diet of grain and other supplements, primarily corn purchased at discounted prices as a result of government subsidies. As we learned long ago in grade school science class, cows are ruminants and have multi-chambered stomachs designed to permit them to digest grass. When they are fed corn and other grains the cows cannot use all of such chambers, leading to sickness as the unused and highly acidic chambers begin to eat away at the cow from the inside. The abnormal acidity levels also leave the cattle prone to harbor harmful bacteria such as E. coli. Feedlot operators attempt to combat the illnesses by administering antibiotics. However, in another attempt to hasten the growth of their cows, the feedlots tend to maintain genetically similar herds once the operators have identified cows that gain weight quicker than others. As a result, antibiotic-resistant strands of bacteria begin to develop and quickly sweep across the holding pens. These bottom-line oriented practices result in fattier meat that is tainted with hormones, antibiotics and potentially life threatening bacteria.

A Step In The Right Direction

Heightened social awareness of the harmful effects of those practices have led to the emergence of new beef suppliers stressing their divergence from the feedlot model. Sustainable ranching has gained more popularity, enabling ranchers to run their land in a strategic manner that promotes both the health of the local ecosystem and the humane treatment of their livestock. Grazing is managed to ensure grass flourishes for future generations, cattle are given ample space to roam at their own will and hormones and antibiotics are eliminated. However, pressure to conform to our current beef grading scale means many of these suppliers limit their advancements to the health of the environment and the happiness of the cows, leaving the consumers to foot the bill. The prevalence of feedlot beef has shaped the current USDA grading system (i.e. Prime, Select, Choice, etc.) to encourage unhealthy beef. The more intramuscular fat (more commonly known as marbling) a steak has, the better the grade. In an effort to obtain a better grading, ranchers making advancements to improve the health of the land and the cow will introduce corn and other grains into their cattle’s diet during the later stages of their lives in an effort to increase the marbling. Even beef that is certified organic may come from cows that were fed corn and other grains in an attempt to increase marbling, provided such grain is organic. However, what is often overlooked is the differences in fat content of cows raised on grain as compared to cows raised on grass. Grain fed cows have an unnaturally high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids, prevalent in corn oils that are key ingredients in the processed foods that have played such an integral role in the obesity related health problems plaguing America. Grass fed cows, on the other hand, have a more equal balance of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and certain nuts. While both are essential to our diets, it is desirable to obtain a roughly equal balance between the two.

The True Alternative

While proponents of corn fed beef will tell you it simply tastes better, we encourage you to question this mentality. We think corn fed beef tastes bland and relies on unhealthy fat to add flavor in the cooking process. In addition to being leaner, having less fat and cholesterol, containing more Vitamin C and beta-carotene, and countless other nutritional benefits, we feel grass fed beef simply tastes better. It is the beef our grandparents ate... prior to the establishment of massive commercial farms that try to force your taste buds to conform to a product that is cheaper for them to produce. Do not limit yourself. Buck the trend and purchase only 100% grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free beef from sustainable local ranches. Machado Bros. Grass Fed Beef fits all these criteria. Our beef comes from a mix of Angus and Hereford cattle that spend their entire lives roaming our California family ranches consuming nothing but local forage and they are never administered hormones or antibiotics. We practice sustainable ranching not only to protect our local environment, but to ensure we will continue to provide you with this extraordinary product for years to come.

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