What created the grass fed movement of the late 1990s through today?

D S Family Farm cattle spend their entire lives on grass pasture.

D S Family Farm cattle spend their entire lives on grass pasture.

Prior to World War II, all beef and most other meat production methods had grass as part of the animal’s life cycle.  Today’s store purchased meats, only beef, lamb and goat have some type of green forage as part of their life cycle.  Beef purchased at your local grocery store will have consumed forage for the part of their life span that they were with the momma cow after birth and most likely for a while after being weaned.  Chicken and pork are just plain out of luck in today’s production methods to have had an opportunity to consume any type of green living forage during their life span.

What happened right after World War II?

In summary, excess war munitions were converted to cheap nitrogen fertilizer.  When unleashed to U.S. farmers, surplus corn production resulted.  The question became, where can we dispose the excess grain?  The “solution” was to confine animals and feed grain based diets.  For the chicken and pig, the grain was not a huge problem, they have simple stomachs, but the cow with her multiple stomachs and special rumen (designed for forage) took a health hit.  A diet high in grain results in high levels of acid in the rumen.  To counter high acid levels, low levels of antibiotics were added to cattle feed to keep the cattle growing and prevent further health issues.  As you can imagine not an ideal situation for cattle.

A return to common sense and the Grass Fed Movement, enter Jo Robinson’s Eat Wild website and book “Pasture Perfect”.

An early promoter of the grass-fed movement, Jo Robinson’s website is full of grass-fed information from the basics to the advanced.  Her information is well researched and documented.  If you would like a free copy of her book “Pasture Perfect”, just contact us for a farm visit and the book will be our gift to you.  WARNING: I find it extremely difficult to this day to eat fast food chicken after reading this book.  For an alternative to conventional raised chicken consider finding a local farmer that raises chickens with grass as part of their life cycle (pasture poultry post).

Grass Fed Movement goes prime time, with Michael Pollin’s“Power Steer” New York Times article  in 2002.

Pollin’s article follows the typical life of a steer (young male beef animal) from its birth place on the prairies of South Dakota, to a confined animal feeding operation near Garden City Kansas.  The “power” part of the article title stems from the fact that there is a large amount of oil consumed for each pound of beef produced in this manner.  The article does an excellent job describing the use of hormones, antibiotics and other concerns such as E. coli that are all issues related to store purchased beef.

So what’s the big deal about grass?  I will let you answer that question for yourself.  As for this farm, we have seen first hand the regenerating wonder of grass in our pastures, soils and with the animals we raise.  On the most basic level of life as we know it, there is profound truth in the following verse:

  • All flesh is grass, and all its beauty (constancy) is like the flower of the field.”  (Isaiah 40:6 (b), ESV, emphasis added)