When asking ourselves whether grass-fed beef is worth paying extra money for, it is important to set straight what grass-fed beef actually is.
As per an analysis on BuiltLean, the following categorisation is agriculturally how the cattle are raised and on what diet:
Phase 1: extends from birth, when the animal lives solely on milk, until 7-9 months of age, when some grass is consumed in the pasture.
Phase 2: comprises about half of the grass-fed debate and extends from phase 1 until shortly before harvest (when the cattle are slaughtered). The cattle spend most of their life in this period feeding on either grains or grass.
Phase 3: the notorious finishing period -- this is the other half of the grass-fed debate. It is a period of rapid growth immediately prior to harvest; some animals are grass-fed but finished on grains. Since a disproportionate amount of weight is gained during the finishing period, some in the pro-grass-fed crowd argue that this is the most important time to be grass-fed.
What are the health differences?
In 2008, researchers compared 100 percent grass-fed to 100 percent grain-fed beef using samples obtained on three separate occasions from farms across the US. The most significant finding was there was a significantly lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats (9.6 vs. 2.45), which suggest that grass-fed beef might be more "anti-inflammatory" than conventional grain-fed beef.
An alternative study fed participants either grass-finished or grain-finished beef for four weeks, then analysed their blood. The grass-fed beef had considerably improved levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, and most importantly, higher levels of "DHA" (docosahexaenoic acid; one of the quintessential fatty acids responsible for fish oil's "anti-inflammatory" effect as well as one of the reasons nutritionists recommend eating more fish. Basically, it is very good for you).
In more statistical terms, beef that is grass-fed is:
- Two to four times richer in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Higher in "good" unsaturated fats and lower in "bad" saturated fats.
- Three to five times higher in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) content.
- Loaded with over 400% more of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and E.
Where can I buy grass-fed beef in Hong Kong?
We recently were sent some sample meat from a company selling lamb and beef that comes direct from the one of the owner's family member's farms in Australia. Farmer's Kitchen delivers Black Angus beef and succulent lamb across Hong Kong. The meat is chilled, never previously frozen, 100% grass-fed and hormone free. And it tastes out of this world. It tastes easily better than other meat we have bought in this city, and we suggest it is the only company worth buying from if quality and sustainability are two causes cared for in your household.
The lamb was full of tasty fats without being heavy; the beef decidedly more 'of the earth' flavoured but not gamey. Because the cattle are raised by farmers who care and do not thus use hormones, there is an element of peace that accompanies putting wholesome and nutrient-dense protein on the dinner table.
Farmer's Kitchen delivers to homes on Hong Kong Island, in the New Territories and on Lantau five days a week. Orders placed before noon on a weekday are guaranteed to be delivered the next day. There is no minimum order fee and any order over HK$500 is delivered free. For smaller orders, a HK$50 service fee is charged.
Emma Pike; 9301 7445; email@example.com