GRASSFED FOR HEALTH
“You are what you eat,” goes the saying. But when it comes to meat it’s truer to say you are what your animals eat. Their diets can have a big effect on our health. Please visit the PFLA website to read about the health benefits of Pasture for Life meat; click here.
- An excellent source of vitamin B3, B6 and B12 – which helps with the normal functioning of the nervous system, normal psychological function and to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, amongst other things
- High in selenium – which plays a part in normal hair, nails and thyroid function, and to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
- A good source of zinc – which has a role in normal fertility, immunological function and eyesight
- High in phosphorous – which contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, as well as normal cell membrane function
- A source of pantothenic acid – which helps with normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and some neurotransmitters and is known to contribute to normal mental performance
Each plants type adds its own distinctive flavour to the meat. Along with the breed of animal, the local climate and the soil type, all have an effect on taste and eating quality. Foodies who know their meat enjoy the subtle flavours of grassfed foods in the same way that wine buffs enjoy fine wine.
BEST FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
Evolution has adapted animals like cattle and sheep for grazing lush, herb-rich grasslands. They are known as “ruminant” animals and cannot easily digest grain. When made to do so they often develop metabolic disorders such as lameness or fatty liver. Even so, many cattle are routinely fed grain as a way of speeding up the fattening process. It’s also a useful way of using up the grain surpluses produced by intensive, chemical-based crop growing.
At Chalk Valley all our cattle and sheep are raised on grass throughout their lives.
They spend most of their time roaming freely on chemical-free pastures. Periods of housing are kept to a minimum, but when these are unavoidable the animals are fed solely on forage crops such as hay and silage. Grain, grain by-products and concentrate feeds are never used. All our suppliers are required to sign up to the strict standards of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.
Our pasture-based production system ensures high welfare standards for our livestock. Cattle and sheep eat their natural foods and are free to express their natural behaviour. This means their stress levels are minimal. The same high-welfare standards apply to Chalk Valley pigs and poultry, too. Unlike ruminant animals, they are adapted to cereal-based diets. Even so at Chalk Valley they are free to explore their natural environment with ready access of herb-rich pastures. Which means they, too, are able to express their natural behaviour. For us high animal welfare comes as standard.
MAKING THE WORLD A LITTLE BETTER
Grazing animals like cattle and sheep often get a bad press. This is because they burp methane gas – produced naturally by ruminant animals. This is a greenhouse gas and is said to cause climate change. But this theory ignores the vital role grazing plays in the opposite process – taking carbon out of the atmosphere and locking it up in the soil. It’s a process known as “sequestration”. In well managed grassland it far outweighs methane emissions. Environmentalist Allan Savory argues that only the wide-scale use of grazing animals can prevent large areas of the world turning into desert.
Millions of years ago, when vast herds of wild grazing animals roamed the world’s great natural grassland, greenhouse gases were at a relatively low level. With the emergence of mankind and the development of industrial societies, huge amounts of stored carbon were lost to the atmosphere. Modern crop production methods, using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, made things worse. But grazing with cattle and sheep can reverse the process, returning much of the lost carbon to the soil.
When you buy grassfed meat you’re helping to make this happen. By dedicating land to pasture farming we’re building up soil carbon and long-term fertility. This will make our food supply more secure and proof against weather extremes such as deluges and droughts. It will also encourage wildlife. Birds, wild flowers, insects, small mammals and reptiles all flourish on our farms. Which means you can relax and enjoy the tastiest burgers around knowing that you’re helping to create a better environment for all of us.
OUR GRASSFED NATION
Back in the 1950s many of the everyday foods our parents and grandparents ate came from grazing animals. Much of their meat was from cattle and sheep grazing on herb-rich pastures. Their milk and dairy foods were from grassfed cows. Even the eggs and poultry meat of the time were mostly from birds with access to pasture. And it’s hardly surprising. Throughout history the people of these islands – rich and poor alike – have obtained their finest, healthiest foods from grasslands.
Today these time-honoured methods are under attack. Economic pressures have encouraged many farmers to speed things up by feeding starchy cereal grains to their cattle. The animals spend only part of their lives grazing fresh pasture. They are then shut up in sheds for long periods to be “finished” on high-energy cereal grains.
As pasture-land has been cut back more of the British countryside is now sown to high-input (chemical) grain production. Much of this cheap grain is then fed to pigs and poultry shut up in intensive fattening units. Today we’re all eating a lot more grain-fed meat than our parents and grandparents did. So our diets have become higher in Omega 6 fatty acids. The countryside has changed too. The landscape of grassfed foods has changed to one of large-scale, mechanised crop production. For our nation’s future it’s time `to go back to our roots – grassroots!
References for omega-3 and CLA content of grass-fed livestock products:
Aryaeian N, Shahram F, Djalali M, Eshragian MR, Djazayeri A, Sarrafnejad A, et al. 2008. Effect of conjugated linoleic acid, vitamin E and their combination on lipid profiles and blood pressure of Iranian adults with active rheumatoid arthritis. Vascular Health Risk Management 4(6):1423–32.
Daley, Abbott, Doyle, Nader and Larson 2010 “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.” Nutrition Journal DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-10
Dewhurst, R.J., Shingfield, K.J., Lee, M.R.F., and Scollan, N.D. 2006. Increasing the concentrations of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids in milk produced by dairy cows in high-forage systems. Animal Feed Science and Technology 131:168–206. Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. 1999. “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” Journal of Dairy Science 82(10): 2146-56.
Dhiman, T.R., “Conjugated linoleic acid: a food for cancer prevention.” Proceedings from the 2000 Intermountain Nutrition Conference, pages 103-121.
Duckett, S. K., D. G. Wagner, et al. 1993. “Effects of time on feed on beef nutrient composition.” Journal of Animal Science 71(8): 2079-88. Kraft J., Kramer J. K. G., Schoene F., Chambers J. R., and Jahreis G. 2008. Extensive Analysis of Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, CLA, trans- 18:1 Isomers, and Plasmalogenic Lipids in Different Retail Beef Types. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 56:4775-4782.
McAfee, McSorley, Cuskelly, Fearon, Moss, Beattie, Wallace, Bonham and Strain. 2011. “Red meat from animals offered a grass diet increases plasma and platelet N-3 PUFA in healthy consumers British” Journal of Nutrition. Volume 105, pages 80-89. DOI:10.1017/S0007114510003090
Scollan, N., Hocquette, J., Nuernberg, K., Dannenberger, D., Richardson, I., and Moloney, A. 2006. Innovations in beef production systems that enhance the nutritional and health value of beef lipids and their relationship with meat quality. Meat Science 74:17–33.
Ponnammpalam E N, Mann N J and Sinclair A J. 2006. Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 15(1):21-9
Yang, B., Chen, H., Stanton, C., Ross, R. P., Zhang, H., Chen, Y. Q., et al. 2015. Review of the roles of conjugated linoleic acid in health and disease. Journal of Functional Food , 15, 314-325 Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
References for vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content for grass fed meat:
Choe and Min. 2009. “Mechanisms of antioxidants in the oxidation of foods” Institute of Food Technologists, Vol. 8, DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-4337.2009.00085.x
Daley, Abbott, Doyle, Nader and Larson. 2010. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef”. Nutrition Journal DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-10
Realini C E, Duckett S K, Brito G W, Dalla Rizza M and De Mattos D. 2003. Effect of pasture vs. concentrate feeding with or without antioxidants on carcass characteristics, fatty acid composition, and quality of Uruguayan beef. Meat Science 66 (2004) 567–577
Smith, G.C. “Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets.” Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171
Leheska, Thompson, Howe, Hentges, Boyce, Brooks, Shriver, Hoover, and Miller. 2008. “Effects of conventional and grass-feeding systems on the nutrient composition of beef”. Journal of Animal Science 2008 86: 12: 3575- 3585 DOI:10.2527/jas.2007-0565
Yang, A., Brewster, M. J., Lanari, M. C., & Tume, R. K. 2002. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on a-tocopherol and b-carotene concentrations in tissues from pasture- and grain-fed cattle. Meat Science , 60, 35-40