In the past three posts we took a close look at our Pasture Grazed beef when compared to typical beef.  Thanks to the folks at Mother Earth News, we can see how our beef compares with other grassfed beef from around the country.  We were fortunate enough to have DS Family Farm beef included in the recent Mother Earth News pilot Omega 6 to Omega 3 test study with other grassfed beef farms from around the USA.  It is an honor to be included with the list of grass based farms that participated.  From looking at the list of participating farms I am guessing many of these farms raise grassfed beef similar to our farm.

To clarify, when people ask me about our “Pasture Grazed” beef, my first point is “yes, we are 100% grassfed”.  So what is the difference?  Basically “grassfed” just involves what feed the animal consumes.  In that sense, yes, we are 100% grassfed.  When we say “Pasture Grazed” we mean that our herd spends their entire life on our pasture, never confined to a feed lot.  For more information please refer to our blog post “Pasture Grazed vs Grassfed Beef“.

Our Pasture Grazed beef compared with the Grassfed beef – Omega 6 to 3 Study

Here is the Data Analysis Summary for beef from the Mother Earth News, 1/11/2016, pilot study.

omega fatty acid testing grass fed beef Mother Earth News

Beef Data Analysis Summary, Mother Earth News 1/11/2016.

In the table below I take the pilot grassfed beef values from the table above and compare them against our Pasture Grazed beef findings:

Grassfed beef omega-3 and omega-6 data

Our Pasture Grazed Beef Omega-3 & 6 data versus all grassfed farm averages in the Mother Earth News Pilot Study 1/11/2016.

A few points about the above chart:

  1. We are humbled that our beef expresses 60% higher anti-inflammatory Omega-3s (above average).
  2. We recognize also that our beef has 24% higher of the inflammatory Omega-6s (above average).
    • It is the Omega-6 LA that holds conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), the anti-cancer fatty acid.
    • LA was the primary Omega-6 component of our sample.
    • Since our animals live their entire lives on grass, we estimate ~75% of our Omega-6 LA is CLA.
    • Potentially our sample was above average for CLA, but that is only a guess based on research data.
  3. Again we are humbled that our beef expresses a better Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio (above average).
We went into great detail on the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, the O-6 to O-3 ratio and estimating CLA in our previous three blog posts.  We put together a one page summary “Fatty Acid Analysis” PDF with the main charts and links to each post.  Consider printing out the PDF so you have the charts in front of you while you review each blog post for detailed analysis.
The first time I heard of Mother Earth News was back around 2008 when we were really researching our opportunities in grass based animal production.  I remember they created a stir in the health community when they claimed that not all eggs were created equal (Meet Real Free-Range Eggs – Mother Earth News 2007).  Again we feel fortunate that our pasture grazed beef was part of this pilot 2015 grassfed study and thank Josh Brewer for his encouragement and insights with this project.

The previous blog post was a little heavy on charts (PDF with all charts) from the laboratory analysis of one of our pasture grazed ribeye steaks.  In this post I continue the comparison of our grassfed beef to two “typical” beef samples.  First of all let’s summarize some of the discussion and charts from the earlier post, then we will address polyunsaturated fats:

Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA)

In Chart 1 (previous post), our grassfed beef sample had higher SFA (~60% of fat) when compared to typical beef (~40% SFA).  When we looked specifically at the break down of SFAs in Chart 2:

  • Grassfed beef had a higher percentage of palmitic acid, used in the complex process of cell communication.
  • Grassfed beef had a lower percentage of stearic acid, in our body this is converted to oleic acid, see below.
  • Saturated fat is the preferred energy source of the heart.
  • You probably knew our liver protects us from toxins but did you know saturated fat protects our livers!
  • Since the early 1900s the food supply has not changed much in available SFAs, 50 gm/day vs. 56 gm/day (2004). +
    • If fats are causing health changes in our population, SFA must not be the source of change.
  • Finally as the Ohio State study points out, eating carbohydrates raise saturated fat levels in the blood but eating good portions of saturated fats does not raise SFAs in the blood (carbs are the problem, not fat).

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA)

  • Our grassfed beef sample had lower MUFA (~35% of fat) when compared to typical beef (~50% MUFA) (Chart 1).
  • The primary MUFA for both grassfed and typical beef is oleic acid or olive oil (Chart 3).
  • MUFA has been found to be the main fat in fatty tissue.
  • Palmitoleic acid is the next MUFA found and is lowest in our grassfed beef vs. typical beef.  Palmitoleic is the fatty acid the OSU study considers the most problematic when looking at human blood levels.
  • Early 1900’s, Americans obtained 42% of their MUFA from fats/oils and 40% from meat/poultry/fish. +
  • In 2004 Americans obtained 63% of their MUFA from fats/oils and only 22% from meat/poultry/fish. +
    • The American food supply has increased in the use of vegetable oil MUFA by two-thirds while decreasing MUFA from meat by one-half.
  • Overall MUFA in early 1900s = 47 gm/day in the food supply vs 79 gm/day in 2004 (+), an overall increase of MUFA by 60%!
    • Appears like we have too much MUFA in our food these days, especially from vegetable oils.
    • If fat is causing health changes in our population it may be due to over consuming MUFA.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) – Grassfeds Claim To Fame

Grassfed beef omega 6 to 3

Modified Chart 4 from our previous post with the calculated Omega 6:3 ratios, our grassfed sample versus two typical beef samples.

  • Our grassfed sample had the same Total PUFA when compared to typical beef (4%) (Chart 1), but looking at Chart 4 above, you will immediately note a difference in the PUFA makeup.
  • The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are both important in small amounts and the correct ratio!
    • These “fatty acids are also precursors of eicosanoids (prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes), which are hormone-like compounds that regulate blood pressure, heart rate, vascular dilation, blood clotting, lipolysis, and immune response”. ++
    • Omega 6s are for inflammation, such as blood clotting during an injury.
    • Omega 3s are for anti-inflammatory functions during healing.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential because unlike SFA and MUFA, our bodies cannot make these, we must consume PUFA in the food we eat.
    • Since we must consume these, it is a good thing we need just tiny amounts: “the requirement for essential fatty acids is infinitesimal under most conditions and can be easily met by eating a diet that includes traditional whole animal foods without necessarily adding any specific fats or oils.”++
  • A current concern of PUFAs is omega 6 intake.  With the reduced consumption of animal fats and eggs over the past few decades and an increase in vegetable oil consumption (corn and soy), the average American has too much omega 6 compared to omega 3s.  Our bodies are constantly in a state of inflammation (Times Magazine 2004 “Fires Within” highlighted this issue).
    1. In 1995-2000 data, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the food supply = 9.7:1.  +++
    2. “This is much higher than the recommended ratio of 2.3:1.”  +++
    3. Here is why grassfed meats have a claim to fame, note our steak with an omega 6 to 3 ratio of 2.0:1 matches the recommended ratio.  
    4. Both typical beef samples have an omega 6 to 3 ratio that exceeds the U.S. food supply as a whole (12:1 and 17:1).
  • Another possible problem with PUFAs is just plain over consumption resulting in oxidative stress.
    1. “PUFAs are uniquely vulnerable to oxidation because they are the only fatty acids with two or more double bonds, and it is the carbon that lies directly between two double bonds that is vulnerable to oxidation”.  ++
    2. “The consumption of excess PUFAs increases oxidative stress”. ++
    3. Early 1900s = 13 gm/day in the food supply of PUFA vs 37 gm/day in 2004 (+), an overall increase of 35%.
      • Do you think we are currently overconsuming PUFAs?
      • Maybe too much of a good thing?
      • Remember our need for PUFAs is “infinitesimal under most conditions”.

Summary and Lead In To Our Next Post

I apologize for referring back to the charts from the previous post (as one PDF document) and multiple references to numbers through percentages etc.  If this is something you are really interested in, then I have tried to give some data and sources that can help you along your way.  If you are like my wife Sheila, this maybe a little more info than you are looking for.

Here are some things for you to consider up to this point:

  1. Saturated Fats from meat/eggs/poultry is not the problem it has been portrayed to be and has not increased over the past century in our food supply.
    • High Carb diets (low fat diet) causes increased saturated fat in the blood stream (OSU Study).
  2. Reducing meat consumption and increasing vegetable oils use in the U.S. has led to:
    • Overall increased consumption of MUFAs.
      • This fat is hard for us to burn.
    • Overall increased consumption of PUFAs.
      • Vegetable oils are high in omega 6s and has thrown our ratio of omega 6 to 3 far above the recommended levels (possibly causing a continuous state of low grade inflammation in our bodies).
      • PUFAs are very important but at very small quantiles, over consumption can cause oxidative stress.

Our next post will be a Fat Finale and we will look at:

  • The all-important Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).
  • Give a final overview of what you get with one of our grassfed steaks.
  • Give you some final food for thought on grassfed vs. typical beef.

 

PUFA grassfed vs typical beef

* Detailed PUFA data. DS Family = grassfed ribeye Midwest Labs. CNF sample ID 6068 Canada. USDA sample 23271 USA.

  • Hiza, H.A.B., & Bente, L. (2007). Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-2004: A Summary Report. (Home Economics Research Report No. 57). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

++ Precious Yet Perilous – Weston A Price Foundation website, 2010 article.

+++ Gerrior, S., Bente, L., & Hiza, H. (2004). Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-2000. (Home Economics Research Report No. 56). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

I recently visited with a friend who shed some weight over the past year, when I asked how he lost the weight, he replied “improved my diet”.  He obviously “gets it”, notice he didn’t say he was on some kind of “diet” he just changed to a “healthy diet”.  One specific diet change he mentioned was that he was eating grassfed beef rather than conventional beef.  We discussed the “known” benefits of grassfed and then he pointed out that his son, who raises conventional beef, refers to grassfed as “Voodoo Beef”!

With our first Pasture Grazed, 100% grassfed beef in the freezer, it was time to find out for ourselves, is there really a difference between a pasture grazed beef compared to typical (corn-fed) beef?

Grassfed ribeye raw and grilled

Example of a DS Family Farm Rib Steak (2015 Steer Tag 18) before and after grilling! When the bone is removed this is known as a Ribeye Steak.  Do not trim the fat from a grass-fed steak!  Eat the fat, it is good for you, keep reading…

We sent in a rib steak (ribeye after removing the bone) from a 2015 harvested steer to Midwest Laboratories in Omaha Nebraska for analysis.  With the results in hand I searched out some “typical” beef analysis to compare our pasture grazed beef with.  It didn’t take long and I had two similar† “reference” samples from the USDA and Canada nutrient databases.  Below we compare a DS Family Farm Pasture Grazed steak to some “typical beef” steaks – Canada record 6068 and USDA record 23271.

grassfed vs conventional nutrition label

Nutritional information on three lean ribeye steaks. Our grass-fed sample on left compared to two “typical” Government reported samples, Canada (middle) and USA (right).

Let’s Talk FAT!

  • Trans Fat?  Yes there is natural Trans Fat in beef, not the added hydrogenated vegetable oils (bad stuff).
  • Looking at the above three samples, I believe the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules would allow all steaks to be labeled as ZERO TRANS FAT since they are all 0.5 or less.  So when you check any food product label, if it says ZERO TRANS FAT, it may actually not be “zero”.
  • Always avoid food items with any ingredient listed as “partially hydrogenated“.

Warning – pie charts below!

Total fats grassfed vs conventional

Chart 1: Total Fats: Our grass-fed sample on left compared to two “typical” Government reported samples, Canada (middle) and USA (right).

  • Chart 1 – ALL FATS do not fear good grassfed fat!
  • I was once brain washed with the “fat is bad for you” message.  I believe more folks are understanding it is High Carbohydrate Diets (Low Fat diets) that can be linked to heart disease and diabetes.  This study at Ohio State University points out:
    • Increasing levels of carbs in diet during the study promoted a steady increase in blood fatty acids.
    • Carbs are being converted to fat instead of being burned as fuel.
    • Reducing carbs and adding (good/portions) fats ensures the body will promptly burn saturated fat as fuel.  (This will take a resetting period for your body to switch between using carbs vs. fat for energy).
    • Please watch the OSU video that points out your brain is 60% fat!  Eat fat to fuel your brain!
  • Chart 1 displays a noticeable difference between SFA – Saturated Fatty Acids versus MUFA – Monounsaturated Fatty Acids in grassfed vs. conventional, we will look at these individually below.
Saturated Fatty Acids grassfed vs conventional

Chart 2: Saturated Fatty Acids: Our grass-fed sample on left compared to two “typical” Government reported samples, Canada (middle) and USA (right).

  • Chart 2 – SATURATED FATTY ACIDS (SFA)
  • Note in Chart 1 = 60% of the fat from our pasture grazed beef is SFA vs. around 50% of typical beef is SFA.
  • Chart 2 = two main SFA, Palmitic (tropical oil) and Stearic is better balanced (?) in our beef versus typical beef.
  • Tropical (palmitic) oils are gaining favor with nutrition folks, get yours from our Midwest 100% grassfed beef!
MUFA grassfed vs conventional

Chart 3: Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: Our Grassfed sample on left compared to two “typical” Government reported samples, Canada (middle) and USA (right).

  •  Chart 3 – MONOUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS (MUFA)
  • Note in Chart 1 = 35% of the fat from our pasture grazed beef is MUFA vs. around 50% of typical beef is MUFA.
  • Chart 3 = primary MUFA is oleic acid, also known as Olive Oil.
  • Grassfed has a higher percentage of the SFA Palmitic (good fat, chart 2) but a lower Palmitoleic MUFA (bad fat, chart 3).
    • According to the OSU study, in humans, “Palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid associated with unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease”.  Could this apply to cattle also?
PUFA grassfed vs conventional

Chart 4: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Our grass-fed sample on left compared to two “typical” Government reported samples, Canada (middle) and USA (right).

  • Chart 4 – POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS (PUFA)
  • Note in Chart 1 = 4% of the fat from all three sample is PUFA.
    • The Holy Grail of Fatty Acids
    • The Essential Fatty Acids
    • Notice a difference?  Hint – a balance of green & yellow is recommended.

Stay tuned we will dive in to the PUFAs in our next post!

† I selected these reference samples because they were of the same part of the beef.  We sent in a Rib Steak which is a Ribeye with a rib bone still attached.  The bone was removed, so our sample was a ribeye when analyzed.  I consider our beef lean so the selected reference samples used were identified as “lean”.  We are still building our soils and forages and striving for higher fat (marbling) percentages in our beef.

Note, I am not an expert on fats nor statistical analysis.  Feel free to dive into the Government data and check my calculations for the two samples listed above.  If you find any discrepancies, please email me: doug@dsfamilyfarm.com.  If you have comments please share them on our Facebook Page.

Head ’em up, Move ’em on – RAWHIDE!  I have to admit this brings back memories of the Blues Brothers more than it does of Clint Eastwood (Rowdy Yates).  To be clear, we are not much for Head ’em up around here.  No whips, yelling or any other commotion near our herd.  Low stress = high quality beef.  (music provided at end of post)

Move ’em ON!

Fresh grass – MOVE – fresh grass – MOVE, is the name of the game at DS Family Farm.  The way nature made the prairies is the method we use to restore and improve our pastures.  Cows have legs and we believe they aren’t made for standing in lots.  So what does Move ’em on look like?  Here is a recent example:

Overview of daily moves. During the growing season a back fence would remain in place after about 3 days (dashed line).

Overview of daily moves. During the growing season a back fence would stay in place after about 3 days (dashed line).  Tap photo for larger view.

In the above photo we start with the herd on November 26th near a water tank.  Temporary wire fences are put up moving away from the tank.  This photo on November 30th, shows the first 4 paddocks have been grazed, cattle have moved into the 5th paddock (most of the cows are just over the hill out of view).  ATV tracks are visible along the future paddock lines, smashed down grass so we can install the fences.  Small square bales are also visible in future paddocks.  This is our non-growing season and we are supplementing the stockpiled grass with hay.  If these moves were during the growing season we would prevent the herd from grazing previous paddocks after the third move (it takes grass about 3 days to start re-growing after being bitten off and we don’t want cows biting off new grass).

Sounds like work?

Paddock setup does take some time but in a few hours we are done with 3 days of moves.  Here’s how automatic Batt Latch gate openers and electric poly wire technology allows the cows to do most of the work:

moves_from_tank

This setup allows us three days off from herd moves.

In the example shown above the cows have just moved into the 11/30 paddock (as you can see they are busy working).  On November 30th we will setup two Batt Latch gate openers on the next two fence lines and a third fence line will stop the cattle from proceeding any further.  We don’t need to show up to work again until December 3rd!

Cows doing the work they love

Don’t get us wrong, we love working with the cows, but this technology gives us flexibility in our schedule.  This setup allows us to do a quick drive by to see if the cows have moved.  Fresh grass and move, fresh grass and move, this is the key to soil health, grassland health, cattle health and ultimately your health.

Cows moved through automatic gate.

Cows moved through automatic gate.

Cows grazing behind Batt Latch gate.

Cows grazing behind Batt Latch gate.

We hope you have enjoyed this post and we invite you to stop by sometime to see our herd in MOTION.  Always pasture grazed, never in lots for your health and ours.  We leave you with some Move ’em on entertainment:

 

The DS Family Farm Store is up and running.  We were ready for Small Business Saturday, almost.  We now have a section on our website that we invite local folks to check out [Buy From Our Farm].

Screen shot of our online pasture grazed meat product catalog. Not an online store, local sales from our farm for now.

Screen shot of our online pasture grazed meat product catalog. Not an online store, local sales from our farm for now.

Why just local folks?  We do not plan on shipping any product directly from our farm.  We encourage everyone to shop local, even for pasture poultry and grass-fed beef.

We are now serving up pasture grazed meat products to folks in the Lincoln – Seward area.  We welcome anyone in our area or anyone passing through, to stop by for direct pickup at the farm after first contacting us with your order.  From past posts, you know we are fans of the Nebraska Food Coop.  Look for DS Family Farm products once you are logged in to the Food Coop website.  The Food Coop will give you the option to pay online and receive our Nebraska Raised product throughout the Coop delivery area.

What an appreciation we now have for small businesses everywhere!  As we begin our efforts to turn product into certificates of service* ($$$), it is a good time to reflect back on our blog post Why Start?  Here are some current thoughts:

  • Sustainability is an ongoing effort:
    • We are monitoring environmental change in our pasture and will share our findings in future posts.
    • Profit as a measure of sustainability is “to be determined”.
  • Healthy animals:
    • We continue to watch and learn from our herd.
    • We have had some dips but for the most part the animals seem happy and healthy.
  • Gourmet grass-fed beef (Pasture Grazed Beef) for our community:
    • Early reports from our recently harvested beef is encouraging.
    • We will have health analysis of our beef in the near future.
    • Watch for YOUR RECIPES on our website soon.

Thanks for your support and we look forward to serving you in the future.

*Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Thou Shall Prosper