Grass-Fed vs Grass-Finished
I’m sure you’ve all heard the term “grass fed". One doesn’t have to be a genius to realize it means the animals were well… you know.. fed grass. Maybe you’ve already caught on to what seems like a granola eating, tree huggers trend, and know the importance of buying meat that is “grass-fed” AND “grass-finished”.. but what does that really mean anyway?
Well for starters this may be a common trend you hear about but the truth is, it’s not a new fad. It’s a lifestyle. One that is responsible to yourself, the animals, and our environment.
Grass-finished means these animals were fed grass (and forage) throughout their ENTIRE life. I know what you might be thinking. If its grass-fed doesn’t that mean the same thing? Sadly, the answer is NO. There are big nutritional and ethical differences between the two. And if food labels don’t specify grass-finished, it means it was grain-finished. But first let’s talk about what grass fed and grain fed really means.
Grain-fed refers to a diet that mainly consists of grains. Most of the grains fed to the cattle in Canada are Corn, Barley, and Soy. They may also add highly processed oils like canola and vegetable oil to make it more appealing. +98% of beef consumed in Canada is grain-fed. Most of the cattle that is grain-fed are pumped with antibiotics and hormones to bulk them up at a very young age and they can live in uncomfortable, tight conditions. In many parts of north America, expired food like pastries, candies, and even animal feces are given to the cattle to quickly fatten them up. Sadly, animals have become the industrial food waste disposal system.
Grass-fed means the animal has been raised primarily eating grass. Unfortunately, this does not mean it was fed grass for its entire lifespan. Not all grass-fed cows can graze outdoors. When you’re shopping, keep in mind that buying grass-fed beef products doesn’t necessarily mean it was also pasture raised. The sad reality is, if it doesn’t specify grass-finished it means they can feed the cattle grains and/or expired food for the last months of its life to fatten it up as much as they can before slaughter, and still claim it as only “grass-fed” (see the sneaky deception within our food system!).