Home Diet How to Choose Quality Red Meat

How to Choose Quality Red Meat

29 min read

So you need to eat “better” when it comes to pink meat however the place to begin? Start right here with our tips for How to Choose Quality Red Meat!

Welcome to the primary submit in our Real Food 101 Series the place we speak about how to select high quality pink meat. You is perhaps shocked to see dietitians skipping the kale and going straight to the cow, however we’ve bought a great motive. Red meat is likely one of the most vilified meals within the American weight loss plan and has been for years thanks partly to scary headlines about ldl cholesterol and extra just lately, stories that elevating cattle goes to be the undoing of the earth. Because of the complexity of each points – nutrition and environmentalism – we’re not going to dive deep into both of them right here proper now. Instead, we’re providing you with the “highlight reel” and distilling a big physique of data into one thing that’s straightforward to digest and put into motion in your personal kitchen straight away.

After all, we all know you’re busy and we all know that you just look to us as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, to wade via the science and sensational headlines and provide the straight scoop. So right here it’s, our tackle how to select high quality pink meat and why it’s higher on your health and extra.

What Does “Quality” Even Mean?

The time period “quality” is a reasonably obscure time period identical to the time period “natural” is, so for all intents and functions of this submit and all the ones to observe in our Real Food 101 Series, let’s check out our definition of Real Food as a result of that is what we use to assist decide our definition of “quality” when speaking about how to select high quality pink meat on this submit:

“To us, Real Food is more than just organic – it is food that nourishes the body, is minimally processed, maintains its natural integrity and respects the dignity and health of the humans who produce it, protects animal welfare and is environmentally sustainable.”
– Jessica Beacom & Stacie Hassing, The Real Food Dietitians

What Is Grass-Fed?

The time period “grass-fed” implies that a cow (or lamb, within the case of pink meat) grazed on grasses throughout its lifetime. But that’s about all that it tells you. It doesn’t let you know how lengthy they had been fed grass as all cattle, even grain-fed cattle, begin their lives on grass pasture, or in the event that they had been then “finished” with grain to fatten them earlier than processing, it doesn’t let you know in the event that they had been allowed to roam freely outside in grassy pastures or whether or not they got dried grasses and hay (forage) and saved in shut confinement or how humanely they had been handled from start to loss of life. Basically, it simply says that the cow ate grass sooner or later.

However, earlier than you throw your fingers within the air and suppose it’s not price choosing grass-fed pink meat, hear us out. There are methods to know which grass-fed pink meat is best (and even finest) and which of them to be cautious of, however it takes some sleuthing in your half. Hopefully, by the top of this submit, you’ll have the instruments you want to make the choice as to whether or not consuming grass-fed pink meat is for you and in that case, how to discover it. But first, let’s have a look at the the reason why you may select grass-fed pink meat over its conventionally raised counterparts.

Why Choose Grass-Fed?

Choosing 100% grass-fed (and “grass-finished” or “grass-pastured”) and humanely raised pink meat over grain fed-meat provides a number of health advantages together with:1

  • 2-4 occasions extra omega-3 fatty acids
  • Up to 3 occasions extra conjugated linoleic acid (a particular kind of omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties)
  • Lower complete fats and saturated fats
  • More favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fat
  • More B nutritional vitamins
  • More antioxidants (vitamin E and beta carotene)

Beyond the advantages to you, the eater, grass-fed animals take pleasure in vital health advantages too since they’re pure herbivores whose pure weight loss plan is grass (not grains). When ruminant animals (comparable to cows, goats, and sheep) are fed grains their health suffers they usually’re at elevated danger for an infection, most notably E. coli. Adding to that’s the truth that most corn and soy (until the meat has been produced organically) are genetically modified which in case you’re shopping for natural produce to keep away from GMOs, you’ll need to take a more in-depth have a look at the meat you eat as nicely.

In addition to your health and the health of the cows, pasture-based administration of animals (i.e. grass-feeding, grass-finishing together with ample entry to pasture to roam) is best for the setting for just a few causes:

  • Animals raised in confined feeding operations are topic to overcrowding, unnatural situations (extreme waste build-up, concrete slabs, no true out of doors entry or room to transfer). These overcrowded situations coupled with elevated susceptibility to an infection necessitate the widespread use of antibiotics.
  • Concentrated areas of animal waste aren’t allowed to naturally decompose due to lack of daylight, healthy soil microbes and bugs and the truth that there’s simply an excessive amount of in a single small space. Rather than being dispersed and allowed to decompose because it does in a pasture, this waste (and the antibiotics contained in it) can leach into the soil contaminating groundwater and create poisonous streams of runoff that pollutes rivers, lakes, streams and sure, even consuming water.
  • Artificial progress hormones are given to animals to promote quicker progress, quicker turnover in feedlots and the larger, fattier cuts of meats that buyers demand on the lowest value potential.

Is Grass-Fed Better?

Unfortunately, we will’t make that decision for you. Only you possibly can resolve, primarily based on what you now know. We definitely really feel that grass-fed and grass-finished pink meat is the way in which to go and it’s the selection we make each time we make grocery purchases. Considering the big and ever-growing physique of analysis on the market associated to the advantages to people, the animals, and the setting, it’s no surprise that the demand for grass-fed has elevated 25-30% yearly over the previous decade.2

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

We’re not saying that to be healthy you HAVE to eat grass-fed meat, we’re suggesting an alternate to conventionally raised, grain-fed meat. If you’re on board, nice! Let’s rapidly speak about labels and the way to select high quality pink meat when on the retailer, ordering on-line or rubbing elbows together with your native farmer down on the farmer’s market.

What about Organic?

Seeing the “USDA Organic” label in your meat is nice, however it solely tells a part of the story. Under natural requirements, meat might be labeled natural if the animal acquired no less than 30% of its weight loss plan from grass or dried forage. The remaining a part of the weight loss plan, if comprised of grains, would have had to have been natural grains. Also, to be thought of natural, the animal should not have acquired progress hormones or antibiotics (observe: antibiotics are utilized in natural farming however solely when completely vital to save the lifetime of a sick animal whom, after therapy, would not qualify as natural).

So, is natural dangerous then?

Absolutely not! It’s only one a part of the story. Quality pink meat might be each natural and grass-fed or simply grass-fed as you’ll see subsequent.

Labeling: What to Look for When Buying Grass-Fed Meat

Sadly, there isn’t any one label, seal or stamp of approval that exists but to provide help to simply discern which meat is from animals who had been fed and completed on grass and/or humanely-raised. Don’t despair, there are nonetheless methods to get the data you want to make your best option together with:

  • Read the package deal label for data. Look on the labels it does include and skim the positive print. A couple of labels which can be price searching for embody the “Certified Grass-Fed” stamp from the American Grassfed Association and the 100% Grass-Fed Certification from PCO Organic. Both are unbiased third-party certifiers since there are presently no authorities requirements for grass-fed.
  • Ask questions. Whether that’s face to face or over the telephone with an area farmer or in search of out data on sourcing and manufacturing from the corporate’s web site (strive their FAQ or About pages, drop them an electronic mail or give them a name). The questions you don’t ask will stay unanswered. And within the case of many small farms and producers, they could be doing all of it proper, however can’t afford the certification course of to get the stamp for his or her label.

Not positive what to ask your native farmer? Try a few of these questions to get the dialog began:

  1. Can you inform me about how the animals are raised, what they’re fed, what they eat in the course of the winter months?
  2. When the animals aren’t grazing on grass, what kind of feed/forage or grains are given and in that case, how a lot of the weight loss plan is grass vs. grains?
  3. Are your animals consuming solely grass all through their lifetime, proper up till processing?
  4. Can the animals freely entry the outside each time they please? If so, how a lot house have they got to roam? Acres? Square toes?
  5. Ask about natural feed if that’s a priority for you (and we predict it needs to be) or if pesticides are used on the grasses or forage they eat. A superb query can be, “Are the forage and grain (if any) that you just feed licensed natural or grown organically, however with out an official certification?
  6. Can you inform me in regards to the health of the herd and whether or not antibiotics are used frequently or solely when it’s a matter of saving or bettering the lifetime of an animal?

And don’t be afraid to ask to go to the farm. A farmer or rancher with blissful, nicely cared for, healthy animals with good dwelling situations will likely be glad to present you round. 

  • Find a trusted on-line supply. While the concept of shopping for meat on-line moderately than from the shop could appear loopy, it’s really a great way to get the product you need for a good value and in a handy manner. Of course, we’d love for you to purchase native, however generally it’s not an choice. The good factor is that many on-line meat supply companies are already sourcing their meat from small household farms. So whereas they might not be native to you per se, they’re native to somebody and people farmers – together with the whole community of small and natural farms – profit each time you “vote” together with your grocery {dollars}. In case you’re questioning, our go-to for grass-fed, humanely raised beef is Butcher Box. They make it straightforward to select high quality pink meat.

Grass-Fed on a Budget

So now you recognize the advantages of grass-fed meat and what to search for when shopping for it. You in all probability already knew coming into this that together with the advantages comes a better price ticket. We know, it may be arduous to swallow while you examine the worth of grass-fed to standard side-by-side, however lots goes into higher high quality meat and higher therapy of animals. While we perceive that this is usually a barrier for some, we now have just a few tips to assist ease the squeeze in your pocketbook when it comes to selecting high quality pink meat:

  • Mind your parts. When planning meals or serving your self and steak, remember the fact that an affordable portion of meat is 3-4 ounces after cooking. By reducing again in your portion of meat and filling the remainder of your plate with plant-based food not solely are you making a healthy alternative, however you’re additionally being conscious of your finances as meat prices considerably greater than vegatables and fruits. One of our favourite methods to do it is a massive salad topped with just a few slices of this Balsamic Flank Steak.
  • Go with floor beef. Ground beef just isn’t solely one of the crucial economical methods to take pleasure in high quality pink meat, however it’s additionally one of the crucial versatile. It can be utilized in a wide range of dishes like Stovetop Sloppy JoesShepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, or these BBQ Meatloaf Muffins. They’re all freezer-friendly which makes them good for batch cooking everytime you make the most of gross sales to fill up on grass-fed floor beef.
  • Opt for leaner, cheaper cuts of meat. While nothing fairly compares to a giant, juicy ribeye steak, let’s not overlook among the most nutritious cuts of meat. We’re speaking about these lean cuts (sirloin, flank/skirt, spherical, London broil, and so forth.) which have much less intramuscular fats marbling so that you’re solely paying for the meat, not the fats you’ll cook dinner off, and people with loads of connective tissue that with low and gradual cooking will break down right into a readily usable supply of collagen and amino acids. To make use of those cheaper cuts, strive our Slow Cooker BBQ Beef, Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Root Vegetables and Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa. Or strive our 5 Easy Steak Marinades to add taste whereas tenderizing these leaner cuts.
  • Buy in bulk or share with pals. Stocking up when meat is on sale, profiting from particular provides from on-line meat supply companies like Butcher Box or getting in with different households on the acquisition of an entire or half animal from an area farm are all nice methods to get high quality pink meat in your desk for much less cash.

What to do in case you can’t go grass-fed?

You do your finest. If you possibly can select high quality pink meat as a rule by using the tips we shared above then our suggestion is to take pleasure in pink meat much less typically and while you do, select the leanest cuts you possibly can. Antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide residues are all saved within the fats of the animal so by selecting leaner cuts you’ll be decreasing your publicity to the chemical compounds.


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About Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist dwelling in Boulder, CO together with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘actual food evangelist’ and loves sharing her information with others to assist them break freed from the weight loss plan mentality and discover their very own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark snowboarding, mountain biking, instructing herself how to play the banjo and tenting out underneath the celebrities.

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