Grass-fed beef – why all the hype?
Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day ó and it is.
Itís just a shame that (in our house, at least) itís interrupted by me shouting an assortment of desperate instructions up and down the stairs, usually to do with shoes and toothpaste and library books, not to mention the demon bloody recorder that Chloe has taken to playing in the car.
If you see me drive through the wall on Harbour Road at any point, please donít assume itís bad driving. Itís more likely that weíre on the 99th round of Mary Had A Little Lamb and Iíve finally lost the will to live.
The weekends are different, though. Thatís when everyone sits around in their PJs and takes their time. It means I get to roll out something a little more fancy than the usual rotation of toast, cereal, smoothies and waffles. Yesterday, Chloe had organic oatmeal with Linwoodís ground seeds and maple syrup, with a hot cherry and chia compote on the side. I know! Impressive!
Letís overlook that at the same time Belle was eating a yoghurt with a side of Starbursts sheíd discovered in a long-forgotten party bag stash. Ah well, you win some, you lose some. Itís almost impossible to get it right for everyone all of the time!
In Nutrifit, our six-week nutrition programme (which starts again on March 30), I really emphasise that itís what you do most of the time that matters.
Sure, if youíre trying to lose weight or improve body composition then the more you can stick to the plan the better your results will be.
However, if you have a lot to change, then doing everything at once can be overwhelming. The trick is to make small, manageable changes that turn into habits over time.
Going straight from a diet of Johnny Bread and soda to wholefood organics only, might be a bit of a challenge.
Itís helpful then to know where to prioritise.
When it comes to organics or environmentally friendly and more ethical purchases, then I really do recommend making healthy animal products a priority.
This means trying to buy organic chicken and eggs, and grass-fed (pasture-raised) beef and dairy products. Aside from the animal welfare issues, itís because the animalsí diets are so crucial.
You are what you eat, but you are what you eat eats too!
If we focus on beef and dairy, then the big bit of information to grasp is this.
Cows fed their natural diet of grass have a much better ratio of Omega 3 than cows fed a diet of grain. Ideally, in the human body youíd have a balance of about 3:1 Omega 6: Omega 3. Factory farming and a grain-fed approach (designed to produce bigger, fatter cows at a fraction of the cost) has contributed to a massive distortion of that ratio.
Current estimates suggest that our intake is more likely to come in at 10-20:1.
Worryingly, many chronic diseases are linked not just to Omega 3 deficiency, but to the distortion of this ratio specifically.
Earlier this week I met with Ron Joyce, president and CEO of the family run Joyce Farms in the US. Ron admits that he didnít start out in the grass-fed arena, but came to follow humane, grass-only practices as he chased down production of the highest-quality beef possible.
Through talking to him, itís clear heís a genuine believer in the standards he now employs, both in terms of the quality of his products and the ethics involved.
Heís taken a huge interest in the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio of his beef, hoping that some cuts of Joyce Farm beef may even come in with a ratio of 2:1. Weíre waiting for the data on that, so Iíll let you know when we know! In the meantime, Joyce Farms seem to have overcome the metallic taste or heavy flavour that some grass-fed beef brands struggle with by selecting the variety and maturity of grasses carefully.
Their beef is super tender too (sometimes another stumbling block) as they allow their cattle to ďfinishĒ for an additional two months. Thatís just one of the reasons itís more expensive!
Keep on your radar, however, a possible flare-up when it comes to the reputation of grass-fed beef. Some grass-fed farmers are apparently still feeding their cattle some dried distillers grains.
This can dramatically change the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio in the beef, sending it skyrocketing to estimates reaching 55:1.
Thatís not good news and just shows how important it is to know your farmers and be confident in their methods.
Of course, thatís hard for us in Bermuda, but it does mean we need to keep doing our research and asking questions.
In that sense, Iíll try and keep on top of it for you!
At this stage, the Joyce Farms Naked brand (at Supermart, Lindoís and Miles) is your best source of grass-fed beef in Bermuda.
The Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio is great and the cooking quality is right up there too.
In addition, grass-fed beef is higher in conjugated linoleic acid, which improves muscle growth and fat burning. It also tends to be more rich in vitamin A, vitamin E and lower in saturated fats too. So, as long as you pack your diet with veggies too, enjoy!
ēThe advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda.</i>