So what’s this new hype about Grass Finished beef?
Is it better? Is it tastier? Is it healthier?
We reap the benefits, and of course so do the cows.
Let's start with the health benefits for the cow
The cow is not treated solely as a commodity, but rather a contributing partner in the whole farm approach.
Let us explain.
The life of our farm is entirely dependent on the health of our soil. Healthy soil grows nutrient dense food for ourselves and our livestock. When we are healthy, and our livestock are healthy we all win. It is all about give and take, and our animals do their part to give back to the soil.
We will be managing 3 gardens by the summer of 2017. The rotation will work with vegetables, green manure plow-downs, fall grazing, and winter pasture. By doing this, we are building our soil and creating better feed for our cattle.
Vegetable Garden Benefits:
*Cow manure is a bonus fertilizer.
*Hay feeders are moved routinely, to spread out the alfalfa hay that is left behind (perfect balance of carbon to nitrogen by the way) to be worked into the soil the following spring.
*The cows feed on the leftover vegetables (whole corn stalks, carrots, pumpkins, etc.) that are too fibrous to work into the soil.
*Extra vegetables are available for feed ($$ savings)
*Continuous soil building strategies results in highly nutritious feed for the cattle.
* Happy cows that can express their natural behaviours.
*They can breathe fresh air, get exercise and grow at a natural, unstressed rate.
So what makes great beef?
Tenderness, good fat and good flavor are some very important factors, but just as important is knowing where your beef came from and what it ate. Knowing the cattle breed and the farming methods used are ultimately what give you great beef.
Let's talk about fat!
We all need fat. Not just any old fat, we need QUALITY fat. Fat is what fuels our brains, gives us energy, and helps us absorb nutrients. Quality grass fed meat contains increased amounts of healthy Omega 3 fats AND a favorable Omega 6 – Omega 3 ratio. Nearly all chemical communication throughout the body depends at least in part on the correct balance between these 2 essential fatty acids. In other words; Problems will arise when you eat too much of one, because it makes it difficult for the body to process the other. When there is good quality fat, other valuable fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are naturally present, along with higher amounts of phytonutrients. It’s win-win, and it adds to the overall flavor.
We recently had our beef's fatty acid profile tested by Dr. Bazinet at the University of Toronto. The Omega 6:3 ratio measured in at 3:1. Commodity beef measures in at approx. 30:1, industry standard grass finished beef strives to hit a 5:1 ratio. Needless to say, we were delighted with our results. The astounding news is that we were not the only producer to achieve this success, there are many other Alberta grass finished farms doing the exact same thing! These findings will advocate CHANGE in the Alberta beef industry, and we are honoured to be a part of such a project.
What about the flavor?
Fat alone does not equal flavor. Flavor in beef also comes from amino acids and sugars in the muscle. Different amino acids have a difference in flavors like sour, sweet, bitter, salt and umami (savory taste). What your beef tastes like is a direct correlation to what it ate. When it comes to the flavor of your beef, it is our job to master this balance in the form of pasture management. This is where the kale, peas and turnips come in, along with a rotation plan to build the soil.
Healthy soil = Healthy plants = Nutritious Food