This is the third and final post discussing our beef compared to “typical” beef.  If nothing else, I have learned a great deal about the role of fat in my diet as I complete this summary of the laboratory analysis of our Pasture Grazed Beef.  When I asked Midwest Labs to analyze our beef, I specifically requested a report of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), see our “Power Fat” blog post from April 2014 on this all important fat component.  Unfortunately they were unable to analyze CLA specifically.  So what is CLA and what can we tell from the data we have?

Estimating CLA

Conjugated linoleic acid is a form of rearranged omega-6 linoleic acid (LA).  The rearranged LA (CLA) appears to be anti-cancer where as our earlier post pointed out omega-6 fatty acids, like LA, are inflammatory.  So the more LA converted to CLA the better!  This conversion is more dramatic for animals that spend a larger part of their life on green forages.  For a run down of CLA and grassfed meats, refer to the CLA page at EatWild.com and this CLA document at BeefResearch.org.

So what can we deduct from the laboratory data we have for our Pasture Grazed Beef sample vs. the two “typical” beef samples for CLA?

  1. The Beef Research document notes “the total CLA content of beef varies from 0.17 to 1.35% of fat”.
    • Remember, we are comparing 3 lean beef samples with comparable levels of total fat (nutrition label).
  2. We have established our beef matches grassfed characteristics and the typical beef matches grain fed.
    • The Eat Wild information notes that grassfed beef will have 3 to 5 times more CLA than grain fed.
  3. For our estimates we will use 1.25% CLA in our grassfed fat and (1.25/3=0.42) 0.42% CLA in typical beef fat.
    • This will put our beef just below the high range for CLA content and only 3 times more than the typical beef.
  4. Using our four ounce serving size nutrition label.
    • DS Family Farm Beef = 9.5 grams fat * 0.0125 = estimated CLA of 0.13 grams.
    • CNF 6068 Typical Beef = 8.4 grams fat * 0.0042 = estimated CLA of 0.04 grams.
    • USDA 23271 Typical Beef = 9.5 grams fat * 0.0042 = estimated CLA of 0.04 grams.

Another note of interest is that CLA is fairly stable under most cooking and storage conditions.  All of the facts and figures presented in these three posts have been on raw meat analysis.  I’ll keep “what happens during cooking” for a future blog post.  From what I hear, during cooking we loose more Omega 3 than Omega 6 which will raise the final Omega 6 to 3 ratio.

Is There Really A Difference Between Grassfed and “Typical” Beef?

I think we can say, “Yes” there is a difference.  From the laboratory, to the field, to the animal and to the taste, many folks will tell you, yes, there is a difference.

The question becomes, “Is the difference enough to make a difference?”

If you are interested in grassfed meat for your health, here is a 2010 study where eating grassfed meats (beef and lamb) increased the study groups blood omega 3 values.  (Cambridge Press link).  Note in this study there was not much CLA difference in any of the beef, but the lamb was off the charts (higher) for CLA!

If you ask for my opinion, I would have to say “I don’t know” if the difference is enough to make a difference.  There appears to be some good indicators that grassfed meat does have health benefits but as my “Health Nut Highway” friend would tell me, we are all “biochemically different”.  If grassfed meat makes you feel better, than yes it does make a difference!

Looking to improve your health:

  • Eat whole foods, locally produced and minimally processed.
  • Reduce sugars, starches, vegetable oils, stress and toxic relationships.
  • Increase your intake of animal protein and fats!
    • 100% Grassfed preferable (I am biased).
    • But any animal that has access to grass for a significant part of their lifespan should be just fine.

The old adage applies, “if you don’t measure it you can’t manage it”.  These results show that our management is headed in the right direction.  Our beef definitely fits the “healthy profile” as promoted by the grassfed beef industry.  We will leave you with a graphic of our beef nutrition label.  Note this graphic depicts an eight ounce ribeye steak (four ounce sounds kind of small to me).

grassfed ribeye nutrient breakdown

Graphic of the major nutrient make up of our grassfed ribeye including detailed omega 6:3 ratio.  Estimated CLA = 260 mg.

A summary of all three “Fatty Acid Analysis” posts PDF.

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

Would you know what to look for when choosing a Farmer?  That is, choosing a farmer to buy your family’s food from?  Looking for clean food?  Especially locally produced food, that can be a challenge.

grass-fed beef

Pasture raised 100% grass-fed beef from our farm near Malcolm, NE, sales to begin soon!

We have been members of the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF) for several years.  About the time I was dealing with acid reflux, we were also investigating the startup of our farm.  While researching problem gut issues and sustainable farming, it didn’t take long for both topics to mesh and lead us to WAPF.

A diet of low processed whole foods provides the “medicine” your body needs to heal and support itself.  Where does one turn to source low processed whole foods?  When available, your local farmer! Does the management carried out on the local farm affect the food produced?  Absolutely. When it comes to meat, pasture grazed & grassfed is the preferred choice.

We recently completed and returned the WAPF Local Chapter Farm Visit Checklist.  Please take a moment to see how we responded to the checklist questions.

Feel free to contact us and stop by for a visit anytime to personally verify our answers.  We are happy to connect you with other local farms to visit and research.

Good luck on your search for clean food, here are some other Local Food sources we use:

Nebraska Food Coop (many producers listed, we have tried most)

Pawnee Pride Meats

Range West Beef

Open Sky Farm

Branched Oak Farm

Darby Springs Farm

Other Local Food sources we are aware of, let us know who we have missed:

Lincoln Natural Food Connection (Facebook)

lone tree Foods (Eastern NE Western IA)

Ficke Cattle Company

West Blue Farm