grass-fed beef

anonymous asked:

You claimed that glassfed beef produces more gas than grain. Can you explain why? And does that mean that letting cattle graze on a natural grassland or pampas unsuitable for crops is bad?

What a good question! Again, you could write a whole paper on this, or a thesis, but let me try to hit the major points. I’m  going to have to break up the answer into two bits here:

1) Grass-fed animals, on an individual animal level, produce more methane per day than grain-fed ones. But why is that?

Let’s start with a view of what’s going on inside the animal: 

  • Herbivores like cattle and sheep have a very complex ecosystem of microbes in their gut, particularly in the part of the stomach called the rumen. 
  • The rumen is like a giant fermentation vat - it’s anaerobic (no oxygen), warm, and has a pH ranging from neutral-ish to slightly acidic. 
  • Feed goes in, gets regurgitated and chewed to break it down into smaller pieces, and then the rumen microbes break it down.  
  • While some nutrients exit the rumen into the acid part of the stomach without microbes getting a hold of them, the majority of nutrients in feed go to keep the microbes healthy and happy. 
  • The byproducts of the microbes’ actions on these feeds help feed the animal

The basic equation is this: 

Feed + microbes -> VFAs + CO2 + methane +microbial protein

  • VFAs, volatile fatty acids, are short-chain fatty acids that get absorbed by the gut and used for energy - in fact, these account for >70% of a cow or sheep’s energy!  
  • Rumen microbes use nitrogen in feed to grow and make more microbes, and when they get washed out of the rumen into the acid stomach, become a major source of protein to the animal, especially on low-protein diets. 
  • Waste products like carbon dioxide and methane get burped out and become greenhouse gases.

Methane is what the rumen does with excess hydrogen. 

  • There’s been research that shows that the level of hydrogen in the rumen affects the rate of certain chemical reactions, especially ones needed for microbial function, and too much hydrogen can make it harder for some microbes to function.  
  • So methane production by specific methanogenic microbes reduces hydrogen in the rumen, allowing microbes to go on their merry way. 

What you feed cows alters how much hydrogen microbes produce as a byproduct of fermenting feed.  

  • The major VFAs, acetate, propionate, and butyrate, are always going to be produced, but the ratios differ depending on diet. 
  • When acetate or butyrate is produced, so is hydrogen, and hydrogen levels rise in the rumen.  
  • When propionate is produced, the reaction uses up hydrogen, and hydrogen in the rumen decreases.
  • Pasture-based diets contain lots of cellulose, which produces mostly acetate when fermented.  
  • This is good, because cellulose is one of the things that humans definitely can’t digest, so cows are turning human inedible food into tasty meat and milk
  •  But it also means that there’s more hydrogen in the rumen because of the higher acetate levels.  
  • Mostly-grain diets, which have more starch, favor propionate, so less hydrogen and therefore less methane gets produced by the animal itself

There are other more complex effects involving different microbial groups, plant compounds, and pH effects, but let’s stick with this for now. 

There’s also the factor that methane production is driven by how much feed enters the rumen, which is driven by how much feed the animal needs to meet its energy requirements.  Forages usually have lower energy per pound of feed and are less digestible, so an animal needs to eat more. This, combined with acetate being the major VFA, means that on a per day basis, a grass-fed animal will in general produce more methane than a grain-fed one. 

However, the nice thing about grass-fed beef is that the inputs to the system are lower.  On native pasture, the only inputs are often rain and manure.  On managed pasture, there may be irrigation, seeding, fertilizer, etc.  

For grain-based diets, you have to add on the energy (and greenhouse gases) from producing the feed, processing the feed, and transporting the feed, versus the greenhouse gases from managing pasture.  But grain-fed cattle eat a lot of byproducts from other industries that would otherwise go to waste (beet pulp, distiller’s grains, barley hulls) so you need to consider that. Emissions from feed can make up a good chunk of the overall emissions associated with animal production, so the answer gets even more complex fast.  

This specific kind of analysis, of assigning greenhouse gas emissions and summing them up for a product, is part of a technique called Life Cycle Assesment - that is, looking at the life cycle of a product to determine the inputs and outputs and the emissions associated with them.  I’m doing one right now on sheep production in California and it’s utterly fascinating, but it shows that in these situations, there often isn’t an easy answer, and it depends a lot on where you set the boundaries and what you define as an impact. The debate is ongoing, and there really isn’t one clear-cut answer right now. 

So, moving on to part 2 of your question:

Is it bad to let cattle graze land unsuitable for crops because the animals themselves produce more methane than the same cow on a grain-based diet? DEFINITELY NOT.  

Cattle grazing on rangelands is definitely sustainable if managed right.

 I discussed this on my previous post here http://animalsustainability.tumblr.com/post/159885334236/hey-there-ive-been-really-enjoying-reading-your but grasslands need large herbivores to survive, and given how much land is grassland, not producing livestock on grasslands wastes a lot of land that could feed people. Removing herbivores also changes ecosystem balance for many other species that rely on herbivores to clear out excess brush, provide manure, or alter habitats.

If we don’t graze these native rangelands with something, then we risk habitat degradation and impacts on the other species that live there.  Large herbivores are an important part of the grasslands’ circle of life, and help promote ecosystem health if managed sustainably.  Grass-fed systems are also important for using land responsibly to feed everyone. 

Methane is just one part of the big picture. We need to look at ecosystem health, and the methane and other GHGs needed to produce what we’d feed these cattle if we didn’t feed them pasture.

So to answer your question, Both grain-fed and pasture-based systems have their place in modern agriculture, and neither is strictly better than the other.  And the fact is: all systems have the potential to be sustainable!

Thanks for staying with me this long. Here, have some cute Herefords as a treat (one of my favorite beef breeds). They have such sweet faces. Image credit: Irish Hereford Breed Society

Cabbage Soup! I looked back in my archives and kinda can’t believe I haven’t made this one before, because it was a favorite of mine growing up.

The change of weather to autumn (even in sunny Southern California) always puts me in the mind frame of being a kid, anticipating the first batches of my grandmother’s soup. I’ve written about it before, she did all the cooking in our house, and she elevated Jewish peasant food to a high art. Soup was one of her specialties (she made about 5 or 6 different kinds), and people on the block would ask for jars of it when word got out that a batch was brewing. My favorites were mushroom barley, and matzoh ball, but I loved her cabbage soup too. She made two kinds, white, which had cream in it and no meat, which I was not a fan of, and red, which had a tomato base and beef, which I absolutely loved! For whatever reason the other day, I started craving the red stuff, so I bought a large head of savoy cabbage (but any cabbage will do), and made a crockpot full.

Normally my grandmother used flanken to make this, a cheap cut of steak, similar to short rib, but I had some grass-fed stew meat in the freezer, so I just used that. First I browned the meat, then threw it into the slow cooker with the cut up cabbage, carrots, onions, celery, strained tomatoes, and homemade chicken stock. Then I added the spices, and some lemon juice to give it that slightly sour flavor. Very similar to her sauce for stuffed cabbage, which I’ve made for you before.

Even with a paleo all-organic healthier version (and no added salt), this taste brings me right back to my childhood. It was also a favorite of my Uncle Bernie’s, and when he visited, my grandmother had it waiting for him the minute he walked through the door, so I’d sit and visit with him too, while devouring my own bowl. Not much talking between us because we were busy eating, but the moment was shared nonetheless.

Uncle Bernie is gone now, as is my grandmother, but the memory lives on through food.

Cabbage Soup (Red)

large head of cabbage (chopped)
stew meat
strained tomatoes
stock (beef, bone, chicken, veggie, etc)
carrots
celery
onions
paprika (the key spice)
black pepper
garlic (and/or garlic powder)
lemon juice

(EDIT: Last time I made this I skipped the lemon juice, and added diced turnips, and I liked it even better)

Clear Skin Guide

This guide and these tips have been approved by a dermatologist.

If you’re suffering from acne and you want clear skin, just know that it’s not an overnight thing and it will take some time. It might even take up to three weeks for you to see any kind of drastic differences. You have to be true to yourself and dedicated as well. Below are some tips that I’ve combined from personal experiences as well as some tips from my dermatologist.

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So I notice I have a bunch of really confused and uncertain beliefs about Omega-3s.

“Omega-3s are fats and you need them to make brains correctly. If you don’t get enough of them your brain won’t work right and maybe you’ll get depressed”

“It might not be a question of enough, though. Something about ratios? Omega-6/Omega-3? And the ratio has to be just right? Or you just need to be sure there’s more Omega-3?”

“Eat wild salmon, you’ll be fine”

“Also, grass-fed beef and dairy is good too”

“And maybe tuna and spinach and broccoli? And flax?“

“Supplements never help in studies, nobody knows why”

“Pretty sure gnomes are just sneaking in whenever they study them and swapping the supplements with the placebos”

“Farmed fish have other fats in them. Omega-6s? Less good for you”

“Same with grain-fed beef”

“Eggs have omega-3s in them if the chickens are allowed to walk around and eat insects and stuff”

“Except sometimes the chickens are fed an ‘omega-3 fortified diet’? Does that even work? Won’t this just anger the gnomes?”

“Gnomes are assholes”

“Are gnomes high in Omega-3?”

“Do we have to make sure they’re ‘pasture-raised’ gnomes?”

“Omega-3s never show up on nutrition labels. Also there’s a bunch of different *kinds* of Omega-3s and those certainly don’t show up on nutrition labels and like some of them are more or less necessary for brains? Maybe?”

“Fish oil needs to be stored away from sunlight or heat or direct eye contact. It’s important to keep your sight-line below the fish oil, so the fish oil does not perceive you as a threat.”

“So basically eat wild salmon”

Does…anyone know more about this than I do? Please?

Happy Tuesday! Today I’ll be covering a basic mineral that many women (sometimes men) frequently find themselves deficient in. Today’s #NutritionTalkTuesday topic is IRON. Iron plays a major role in carrying oxygen throughout our bodies, getting oxygen to our muscles during exercise, and helping our muscles store and use oxygen. Many women find themselves iron deficient because of their menstrual cycle. It’s hard to hang on to when you’re losing it monthly. Aside from oxygen IRON has many other roles, if you’re IRON deficient you can feel where it’s lacking
SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY
1. Extreme fatigue especially after exercise
2. Shortness or breath
3. Brittle or grooved nails
4. Heavy menstrual cycles
5. Cravings for ice, clay, corn starch or paper
Those are just a few
TYPES OF IRON
Depending on your dietary restrictions you can decide which source of IRON is best for you
Non Heme IRON: is IRON found in plants or in IRON fortified foods
Heme IRON: is found in poultry, meats and seafood, it also contains non heme iron
HOW MUCH IRON DO WE NEED
WOMEN: women between the ages of 19-50 are recommended 18mg of IRON a day and 27 mg if pregnant
MEN: men between the ages of 19-50 are recommended 8mg of IRON a day
*if you suspect you are IRON deficient please see your healthcare provider*
FOOD SOURCES FOR IRON
1. White Beans
2. Spinach
3. Lentils
4. Kidney Beans
5. Chickpeas
6. Grass fed beef
7. Duck
8. Lamb
9. Sardines
There any many many more but if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive way to add more IRON into your diet go for beans! Thanks again for reading, if you have questions or comments leave them below! And if you need recommendations on a good IRON supplement ask away!

MD Dinner

Wife and kids got home this afternoon and I made dinner: beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes and asparagus.

In researching for the dinner party that we hosted in Amsterdam, I discovered a really excellent way to cook beef tenderloin that is on the Serious Eats website. It’s a reverse sear technique so low heat to very near temperature and then a brush of oil and a quick and hot sear.

I got essentially a 2kg Chateaubriand cut from my butcher (the tenderloin section right before it starts to thin out). Grass fed and local beef that is butchered in the shop.

The beef was fabulous. The kids have never had Filet Mignon and they loved it. So much different than having to work around Fat and gristle.

Kitchen is now clean and I need to pack for my trip.

Happy Mothers’ Day.

4 Ways the Meat Industry Lies to You

1. Deceptive Animal Welfare Labels

You may see “cage-free,” “free-range,” and other so-called humane labels on meat, dairy, and eggs, but don’t get it twisted. All animals raised for food will meet the same violent and unnecessary death: having their throats slit.

Additionally, hatcheries that supply all sorts of “happy” egg farms still grind up male chicks alive or suffocate them in garbage bags. And cows on organic dairies have their babies ripped away from them only to be sold for veal. Sound humane to you? We didn’t think so.

2. Idyllic Portrayal of Farmed Animals

You know all those cute, cartoony images of smiling farmed animals being raised outdoors in open pastures? Don’t believe it for a minute. The vast majority of farmed animals raised for food in the United States endure a life of misery and pain on factory farms. These poor animals will never see sunlight or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded in overcrowded transport trucks and shipped to slaughter.

3. Misleading Language

When the meat industry describes what it does with its animals to the public, it gets really crafty. Instead of using words like “killing” and “slaughtering,” the industry goes for gentler-sounding words such as “harvesting” or “processing.” We’ve heard of harvesting crops or processing a payment, but hanging someone upside down and cutting their throat open doesn’t sound like harvesting or processing to us.

4. Bogus Sustainability Claims

We can’t even. If someone tries to tell you that animal products are “sustainable” or “environmentally friendly,” tell them to check themselves. No matter what it says on the package, animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change. It also wastes valuable resources and has a major hand in deforestation and species extinction.

But what about grass-fed beef? Forget about it. According to Gidon Eshel, professor of environmental science at Bard College, “The only sustainable beef is beef that was never produced or consumed. Beef and sustainability are about as compatible as war and goodness.”

Day 9: Cuddling

« {Part 9 of This.} »

“Wait, so you’re not a couple?”

“No…. Why would you think we’re a couple?” Bucky asked, raising his head up slightly from where it rested on Steve’s lap. Five incredulous faces—Tony, Natasha, Clint, Bruce, and Thor—were staring at them.

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It All Eats the Same
  • Spell book: You must pluck your parsley at midnight, and stew it with moon-fueled green beans and you must use grass-fed, free-range beef.
  • Me: Right, so, I have a vegetable soup dry mix from Walmart and some cheap cutlets from Albertsons and some vaguely freezer burned frozen veggies. Good!

so this post has been going around so i thought i would compile a larger list that also would include transgirls as well! it’s all under the cut because its a very large list

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J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie

We made these delicious Shepherd’s Pies yesterday for my Dad’s Cookbook. I’m getting close to being done with cooking and photography for this project, but I still have to layout all the pages and export the files to go to the printer. I’m going to be working on it all week. It’s a lot of work, but I like working on big projects. These recipes are all coming out great, I think my Dad is going to be really surprised to get a recipe book of all his dishes for a birthday present.

This was delicious and easy. Here’s how to make J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie:

Make mashed potatoes by boiling 5 or 6 potatoes in salted water, drain and mash with ¼ cup milk and 1 tblsp butter. Set aside while you make the filling.

My Dad’s version has ground beef, but You can easily make a vegetarian version of this by sautéing the veggies, maybe add some garbanzo or kidney beans, and then make veggie gravy the same way as described below, with flour and butter or oil, and veggie stock. 

Heat oven to 400

Brown 1 lb. Grass fed ground beef seasoned with celery salt & pepper. Drain away any fat. Add chopped vegetables, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant. Remove all the veggies and meat from the pan and add 1 tblsp butter and 1 tblsp flour. Cook for a minute or two and whisk in 2 cups beef stock, and ½ bottle of beer, drink the other half. Whisk until it thickens up and add back the other ingredients. At this point add ½ cup corn, ½ cup peas and a big handful of chopped green beans. Season with celery salt, a little more pepper, big pinch of dried basil, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika.

Cook the strew until it thickens up a little, about 10 minutes. Spoon into casserole dishes, top with some of the the mashed potatoes and swirl the top around to get crunchy bits, top with cheddar cheese if you want. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese melts and its bubbly and hot.

Yum!