ORGANIC FOOD AND SUSTAINABLE EARTH
DEFINING GRASS-FED OR PASTURED
What are the health benefits of eating exclusively grass-fed and pastured animal products? First of all they are leaner (lower in fats), but the fats they do contain are much healthier for you than fats from commercially raised grain-fed animals. When farm animals are raised on lush green grass they absorb the vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals into their flesh, fat, and bones. Grass-fed meat and the accompanying fats are richer in antioxidants, including vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Also, they do not contain added hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs.
Almost any food animal we are familiar with can be raised partially or entirely on grass. The most common products are beef, lamb, bison, yak, goat, pork, poultry, and dairy cows. Meat from grass-fed animals has anywhere from two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than from grain-fed animals. Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats, and they play a vital role in the functioning of every cell of the body. Omega-3s are essential for a healthy heart and a superbly functioning brain. They are significant in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. People with a high intake of omega-3s in their diet are 50 percent less likely to suffer heart attack and are also less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, ADD/HD, autism, or Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids, and this national deficiency is reflected in our rising costs of health care.
Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products from grass-fed or pastured animals are among the richest known source of another good fat called “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA. Animals raised on fast-growing grass contain from three to five times more CLA than those raised on grains. Much of the CLA is stored in the fat of the animals, and that is why including the fats from the exclusively grassfed animals in our diet is of great benefit to our health. Butter from grass-fed cows contains CLA, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 (activator X). In 1945, Dr. Weston A. Price described what he called “Activator X” as a critical nutrient for optimal health. This “X Factor” has now been identified as vitamin K2. This vitamin is naturally occurring in the fat of ruminants that graze upon green grass. Vitamin K is essential in helping your bones absorb vitamin D.
There is evidence that CLA may be a potent defense against cancer. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. When we switch from grain-fed meat and dairy products to grass fed, we may be able to significantly lower our risk of cancer. This can be achieved simply by including one glass of pastured milk, one or two ounces of grass-fed cheese, or a small portion of grass-fed meat in your daily diet. It’s that simple.
Eggs from pastured hens are also far richer in vitamin D, another important vitamin that we Americans are deficient in today. In fact, Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind, suggests that vitamin D could be the single most important vitamin for our overall health and is probably the most important antioxidant in the body. Vitamin D lowers the risk of all cancers, including skin cancers. It boosts the immune system and helps prevent autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, prevents cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes. Vitamin D also supports healthy brain function and moods and prevents seasonal affective disorders.
What is important to know is that vitamin D is found almost exclusively in the flesh and fats of grass-fed animals and wild-caught fish. The diet of our ancestors included up to 4,000 IU or more of vitamin D daily. Today, the recommended American daily allowance is only 400 IU and is very inadequate for meeting all the cellular requirements of maintaining our health. Synthetic vitamin D is not going to work; we need the natural vitamin D that only sunlight and animal sources (animals exposed to sunlight and a diet of grass) can provide.
Blue Cheese Burger on a Butter Lettuce “Bun”
This delicious burger has no bun. You will never miss it. What makes these burgers so tasty and moist is the caramelized onion.
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 ounces grass-fed ground beef
2 tablespoons raw cream or milk
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Grilled Tomato Ketsup (optional)
sea salt and twist of pepper
4 large leaves of red leaf butter lettuce
4 ounces Pt. Reyes Blue, raw cow’s milk cheese
Garnish: thickly sliced garden tomatoes, avocado slices, and sweet red onion slices; more Grilled Tomato Ketsup
In a heavy bottomed skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil and slowly caramelize the onions until brown and creamy.
In a bowl, combine the ground beef, caramelized onions (reserve some of the onions for garnishing the burger), raw cream or milk, balsamic, and ketsup. Season with a little sea salt and a couple twists of pepper and mix well. Divide the mixture into two balls and then form into patties about 3/4 inch thick.
In a heavy bottomed skillet heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and brown the meat for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Rare is good.
Place one large butter lettuce leaf in the center of the dinner plate. Place the hamburger in the center of the plate and top with the blue cheese and your chosen garnishes. Add another twist of pepper if desired, and then place the last butter lettuce leaf on top.