The Ultimate Guide to Grass Fed Beef Jerky
What’s All This Grass Stuff About Anyways? Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Learning More About Grass Fed Beed Jerky
At Jerky’s Gourmet of San Diego we use grass fed beef to make great tasting beef jerky. Since grass fed is a relatively new term we would like to take you behind the scenes to learn why we believe grass fed is the highest quality and healthiest beef available. If we could raise our own cows and let them out to pasture every morning, we would.
But we love San Diego and want to live our semi-urban life. So our partners in Eugene, Oregon raise pasture-grazing cows and make sure they are on a healthy, grass fed diet, free of antibiotics and the additives that make commercial beef so risky for human consumption. We believe in providing the best because it tastes great and guess what – it’s good for you too! Plus it’s good for our bovine friends. After all, it’s about being the change you want to see, or should I say – being the change you want to eat.
What is corn fed beef? And why is it the norm?
Corn fed beef is just like the name states – beef from cattle that has been fed a diet based on corn. Corn became the feed of choice for the last several decades because it is a highly caloric food that fattens cattle. Combine this habit of calorie dense consumption with growth hormones and you have a recipe for rapid growth. But faster isn’t always better and we are hoping corn-fed beef is a trend that eventually dies out, because it really isn’t worth the cost to our health.
How is corn fed beef different from grass fed in terms of the effect on cows?
Corn fed beef is different from a cow’s natural grass diet because it is much more dense and demands a drastically different feeding environment. According to NPR, in human terms it’s like eating bags of spinach all day vs. dense, calorie-rich oatmeal, albeit oatmeal filled with a chemical bath of hormones and antibiotics.
Cows gain more weight on the heavy corn-based diet and this means more beef produced for human consumption. This, of course, has been the appeal for business interests vested in the status quo.
But that’s not the end of the story. Cattle that are fed corn are also confined to small feeding areas because the whole point of eating corn is to avoid the need for a pasture and to fatten up the cow faster.
And of course there is the obvious ethical issues with this kind of treatment. It’s an old factory model of production gone wrong – after all these are living animals we are talking about. The negative consequences of confining animals to poor living conditions are tremendous for the animals, for humans consuming them and the environment as well! Without a pasture the cows are essentially skipping the gym and don’t get to move around much at all, so they fatten up even faster.
But the lack of movement is because of confinement, not leisure. The feedlot conditions are horrific and it is well documented that factory farms do not respect animal life. As you can see, the corn feed itself is just one piece of a very complicated puzzle that adds up to a faster fattening-up process in conditions that raise profits rather than quality cattle.
How is grass fed beef better for your health?
There are a lot of reasons grass fed beef is a higher quality and healthier than corn fed beef. Grass fed cattle are roaming a pasture and getting their exercise, which typically makes them leaner. This means less fat in the cuts of meat and a leaner meat source. A leaner cut means healthy fat, which is important for the body’s biological functions. Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are also plentiful in grass fed beef.
When cows eat grass they are processing nutrients from natural grasses like wild onion, or cows’ favorite – clover! Humans cannot digest these grasses; cows are able to do this because of their complex digestive process. For example, Beta-carotene, a precursors to the very important vitamin A, is found in plant pigments from natural grasses, but not the grain based corn feed. Omega-3 is probably the most popular and widely discussed health benefit of grass fed beef.
Ideally, your Omega-3’s and Omega’s 6’s are in balance. Increasing your Omega-3 intake is a pretty common need for most Americans and Omega-3 is three times more prevalent in grass-fed beef. Cows are essentially absorbing what they eat and passing it on to us. When they are healthy, so is the meat. By replacing grass with highly caloric but nutrient sparse corn feed, we are losing out on valuable nutrients that cows harness through their natural grazing and digestive processes.
Is grass fed beef better for society?
According to writers at the Food Revolution, the process of feeding grain to cattle is “a protein factory in reverse”.What was started as a way to be more productive and produce more is now causing problems and creating a downward spiral of health problems for cattle and humans alike.
The conditions in which cows are kept in order to feed on corn-based meal is dismal and would not even be possible without antibiotics!Consumers are demanding better quality beef and better conditions for the animals that supply our families with food.
As the old saying goes, your body truly is the sum total of what you put in your mouth. We live in a world filled with pollution and dangerous conditions, why add to that on your dinner table (or your lunchbox)! The enormous subsidies and public policies government has supported in order to get to this “factory in reverse” status quo has sadly supported giant feedlots instead of the small farmer. The good news is that alternatives to these feedlots, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), are proliferating.
The small farmer is back in style with more consumers making health and humane conscious decisions. Demand for grass-fed beef is rising due to consumers like you raising their own awareness and their voice.
That all sounds great! Is there a downside?
Well, from a business perspective I can tell you one thing for sure – the cost of grass-fed beef is higher. And for good reason!
Farmers need to pay for pasture. Pasture raised cattle was the norm until just this last century when factory farming and feedlots became the new norm.
But in recent years consumers wants and needs have started to change, and grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle is the original way to raise beef for consumption.
We are happy to see it return to the way things
should be. Bottom-line is that corn-fed beef is a profit-based process whereas grass-fed beef is about quality of life for both animal and human.
A corn-based diet comes with antibiotics and growth hormones. Grass-fed beef comes with higher Omega-3’s, Vitamin E, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium.
We’re proud to offer a quality, tasty, and healthier product to our customers and are so grateful for all of the support we’ve received in being a part of the grass-fed movement.
Well, from a business perspective I can tell you one thing for sure – the cost of grass-fed beef is higher. And for good reason!Farmers need to pay for pasture. Pasture raised cattle was the norm until just this last century when factory farming and feedlots became the new norm.
But in recent years consumers wants and needs have started to change, and grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle is the original way to raise beef for consumption.We are happy to see it return to the way things should be. Bottom-line is that corn-fed beef is a profit-based process whereas grass-fed beef is about quality of life for both animal and human.
A corn-based diet comes with antibiotics and growth hormones. Grass-fed beef comes with higher Omega-3’s, Vitamin E, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. We’re proud to offer a quality, tasty, and healthier product to our customers and are so grateful for all of the support we’ve received in being a part of the grass-fed movement.
Are there any preservatives in your grass-fed beef jerky?
Our jerky is made with natural preservatives but there are no artificial preservatives or nitrites/nitrates.
How long does your jerky last and stay fresh?
Our jerky typically lasts about 10 months. We put an expiration date on all of our packages. If you don’t finish it within one sitting our jerky is best to be eaten within 7 days of being opened.
The sooner it is eaten after opening the package the fresher it will taste, so enjoy your jerky right away!
What part of the cow do you use for your beef jerky?
Typically, most jerky comes from the leanest part of the cow, coming from a muscle that needs some love with flavoring to make it taste best. We currently use a cut called “Top Round.”
How much beef is needed to make one 3 ounce bag of beef jerky? Why is beef so expensive?
The yield on jerky is typically 50% or less of the amount of beef that you start with. For example:
Start with 1 pound, or 16 oz. of beef = 1/2 pound, or 8 oz. of jerky after it is dried. Therefore, approximately 6 oz. of beef is needed to make one 3 oz. bag of beef jerky.
Add on to that the preparation time (trimming of beef, marinating) and slowly dehydrating over many hours.
Where are the cows raised?
The cows are raised in the Pacific Northwest. We specifically get our beef from a farm in Eugene, Oregon.
How are the cows treated?
They are pasture raised on open land, not putting any extra stress on their animals. It is important to mention that they are 100% grass fed, grass finished cattle.
Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef & Beef Jerky
What are the main benefits of grass-fed beef jerky?
- Grass-fed beef has many more health
benefits than grain-fed beef.
Research shows that grass-feed cattle hold up to 3 times the amount of Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids (beneficial in prevention of coronary disease, cancer and diabetes) as grain-fed cattle.
- Contains 10 times the level of Beta Carotene,
which our bodies convert to Vitamin A
- Grass-fed beef offers more “good” fats and
cholesterol and fewer “bad” fats and cholesterol, becoming richer in antioxidants
- Because the beef is 100% grass-fed, it will not
contain added hormones, antibiotics, or anything else that is given to commercialized cattle
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a good
fatty acid produced in the stomachs of 100% Grass Fed cattle, has been found to slow cancer tumor growth
- Contains Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium
- Overall, grass-fed meats improve fat levels
What should I know about grass-fed jerky before buying it?
Grass-fed beef is far healthier for consumption than grain-fed beef.
It will not contain gluten from grains fed to the animals, and it will be higher in vitamins and antioxidants that are vital to the human body.
It should be pointed out once again that our 100% grass-fed beef jerky contains no hormones, antibiotics or artificial preservatives.