The benefits of pasture raised meat, including free range pastured chickens, have shown up in varied news sources the last few years. Is there really a benefit to these meats, especially given that they generally cost more?
Why do they cost more? Pastured meats take longer to mature to the harvest point with a significantly larger acre per animal ratio. These cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, lambs are out in pastures moving around freely in the grass and eating a natural diet, free of hormones that speed up maturity. They aren’t in exercise-limiting, very cramped pens or buildings fed a fattening, unnatural diet. Without confinement, they also don’t need antibiotics as they are significantly less prone to illness. In drought, the import of organic hay from many states away also raises expenses.
What are the benefits? Web MD published an article “The Truth about Red Meat” in 2011. Click here to read the article. The report states, “Some red meats are high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease… Grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, which makes it lower in total fat and saturated fat. Grass-fed beef also contains more omega-3 fatty acids,” while acknowledging all red meat is much lower in omega-3 fatty acids than other sources.
The article goes on to explain that lean red meat eaten in moderation has protein, iron, and other benefits. Loin and extra lean cuts or ground meat should be the meat of choice. These are readily available from the Coppell FM ranchers. Meat cooking methods are also crucial for good health. The Web MD article explains the health importance of preventing flare and charring when grilling and cooking. Again, leaner meats will minimize these risks. Both Rehoboth Ranch and Livestock First Ranch websites give recipes for peak preparation of grass-fed, lower fat meats.
The Coppell FM committee members visit the ranchers to ensure meats sold at our market are humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free, fed a natural diet in pesticide free pastures out in the open air. The importance of this is a decision each family must make.
Looking for a certain cut of meat? A processed animal yields a certain percentage of loin cuts, chops, steaks, roasts, or ground meat. So while a rancher may have beef for sale, he may not have brought enough of a cut to the market or be temporarily sold out of the cut you want until the next animals are ready and processed. Just as flexibility is needed when a produce item is gone, so must our meat choices be flexible while waiting for that special choice to be available again. Pre-ordering through the rancher will usually prevent disappointment if quantities are limited.