With Earth Day upon us, households are rethinking their carbon footprint. Most families think of how gas consumption or non-renewable resources affect the environment. But what about grocery store staples like a pound of ground beef? Let’s take a look at how this simple purchase affects the environment and ultimately what impact it can have on your health and the health of the planet.
Consumers have a choice when it comes to buying beef. A typical grain-fed steer requires 284 gallons of oil in his lifetime, according to David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture and energy. The machinery to grow, harvest and distribute the grain relies heavily on fossil fuels. These grains also require large amounts of pesticides for farming and hormones to stimulate cattle grow, which all contribute to the negative effect that grain-fed beef has on the environment.
On the other hand, grass-fed steers receive exercise from roaming fields, feed off of the land and their waste becomes nutrients for the next cycle of crops, drastically decreasing the amount of fossil fuels used for feeding. The constant grazing also stimulates new growth, causing the grass roots to dig deeper, maintain soil health and reduce erosion. Arguments have been made that grass-fed cattle contribute to the emission of greenhouse gasses, but studies show that healthy soil actually removes carbon dioxide from the air and stores it underground as life-giving carbon.
Did you know grass-fed beef is on the same level of healthiness as fish? In addition to the environmental benefits, it also contains omega-3 fatty acids but without the heavy metals, such as mercury, that are found in fish. Grass-fed beef even has more vitamin B6 than 6½ cups of raw spinach. The nutritional value is truly off the charts with higher levels of iron, zinc and phosphorus, as well as many other vitamins and minerals.
Not only is grass-fed beef packed with nutrients, it also is very low in fat, cholesterol and calories. Each serving of grass-fed beef only contains about 140 calories. That means it is healthier than almost any other meat or poultry available!
In fact, many athletes regularly consume grass-fed beef as part of their healthy diet including those who participate in the exercise regime CrossFit.
When thinking about what goes into the environment, stop and think about what is going into your body as well. Grass-fed beef is not only better for reducing fossil fuel emissions but it’s also better for your and your family’s health.
So, the next time you find yourself in the grocery store, stop and ask: are you buying the best beef?
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- The Health & Environmental Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef - April 22, 2015