You might wonder why a "hard core bbq nut" like myself cares about stuff like this, but in the interest of fair bbq reporting and in making you more aware of "healthy beef alternatives" I feel I must share some research I've been reading this week.
Studies have shown that grass fed beef is lower in fat than grain fed beef, but there are other reasons you should consider buying grass fed beef rather than grain fed beef when chosing your next brisket.
Cattle have a difficult time digesting grains. Their digestive system is much more adaptable grasses. Consider that grain fed beef can cause acidosis in cattle and produce E. coli bacteria known as E. coli 0157:H7. This particular strain of E. coli can cause severe illness, kidney damage, or even death. Not to mention that feedlots that hold the grain fed cattle create secondary contamination caused by run-off into water-ways, streams, rivers, and produce fields (i.e. lettuce, spinach, strawberries, etc.).
Cattle do not naturally eat grains. Their natural food source is grass. Real beef = grass fed beef. Grain fed beef is unnatural. In fact, there aren't many animals that eat grains as a "natural" food source. If the diet of cattle is not supplemented with antibiotics, feeding them grain can actually harm the animal.
Grass fed beef also has less saturated fat and is healthier to eat than grain fed beef. If you want to eat healthier, but love beef, grass fed beef is a viable solution.
If you'd like to read about this subject in more detail and do your own research before you make the switch to grass fed beef, here are some sources of additional information.
The Omnivores Dilemma
University of California Extension Service
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