GRASS FED MEAT: THE NEW FRONTIER OF SUSTAINABILITY
Aggiornamento: 29 nov 2021
WHAT IS GRASS FED MEAT?
The term "Grass Fed" is typically associated to an animal that primarily eats grasses and forage plants. A type of sustainable farming, very popular in the States, which allows cattle to graze for their entire life cycle - from birth to slaughter.
The animals are not fed with cereals or “supermarket” feed, but in a natural way, allowing them greater freedom and a healthier lifestyle.
In Italy, however, there are still few who have "embraced" this philosophy of life, but our country is constantly evolving and in many regions (such as Tuscany), efforts are being made to create adequate spaces for grass breeding.
For more on this topic you can read the book "The omnivore's dilemma" by Michael Pollan, in which the author explains that cattle by nature need to live in the wild and eat vegetables, without being forced into a lifestyle that does not belong to them.
GRASS-FED VS. GRAIN-FED BEEF — WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
In addition to an ethical issue, numerous differences have also been found on a nutritional level: in grass-fed meat there is a reduced presence of antibiotics, pesticides and chemotherapeutics. Since the animals live outdoors, they have a reduced probability of contracting the typical diseases of intensive farming, mainly caused by the cages that are not very spacious and have poor hygiene conditions.
'grass fed' meat contains:
Greater presence of Omega-3
Greater presence of Vitamin E
Greater presence of Carotenoids
To fully understand the benefits of a nutrition based on grass fed meat, let's try to understand how the nutrients we mentioned above help us.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fats, considered essential as they cannot be synthesised "naturally" by the human body in adequate quantities.
These fatty acids benefits enormously both the cardiovascular and nervous systems (recent studies also show its preventive function against numerous pathologies). In general we can summarise the benefits as follows:
Reduction of triglycerides in the blood;
Anti-inflammatory action to counteract hypertension (typically present during old age);
Increase of the so-called "good" cholesterol (also called HDL, High Density Lipoproteins).
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, accumulated in the liver and absorbed together with dietary fats. Furthermore, it is thermolabile, that is, it tends to reduce with heat, and this is the main reason why it can be found in unprocessed, refined and uncooked foods.
Among its benefits we find:
Antioxidant action, useful for preventing certain types of cancer and reducing the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases;
Strengthens the immune system and has an anti-inflammatory action on the body;
It protects the cardiovascular system as it prevents the oxidation of "bad" cholesterol (called LDL, Low Density Lipoprotein), thus reducing the risk of developing atherosclerotic plaques, heart problems, strokes and heart attacks.
Carotenoids are important nutritional elements that have the ability to act as precursors of vitamin A (helps with immune response and skeletal development).
Among the main benefits of carotenoids (which are divided into Alpha-carotene and Beta-carotene), we find an antioxidant function, a provitamin (which allows protective effects against numerous pathologies) and the neutralisation of free radicals.
IS “GRASS-FED” MEAT MORE COST EFFECTIVE?
The answer is yes.
In addition to providing the right nutrients to those who consume this type of meat, the grass fed system has less environmental impact, since corn and soy (the foods mainly used in intensive farming) require an extremely high amount of water, which contributes to environmental problems such as deforestation and the exploitation of agricultural land.
WHERE TO BUY GRASS-FED MEAT?
While in the United States there are real associations that certify grass-fed products, such as the American Grassfed Association, here in Italy we are still "inexperienced" on this topic.
However, in recent years more and more chains are starting to purchase sustainable meat from non-intensive farmers. Here are some examples:
Nutrition is therefore not only a question of flavour but also of sustainability and quality. Therefore, providing balanced, sustainable and quality food is a reality for Palazzo Fiuggi that you can come and taste.