Is it really worth it? Whats the benefit of grass-fed beef?
I am not a scientist or a nutritionist, but I am fascintated with understanding the world and so I've done some research. In learning about cattle farming, the science of nutrtion and doing some personal experimentation, there are a number of differences: flavor, nutrition, and the environment. I am not going into the scientific details but I will try and outline the layman explanation.
Have you ever noticed the different colors of beef you find in various retail locations? Some have a very pink color with very white fat, and some are a much darker hue of red and sometimes a yellowish fat. Through some exploration into these meats, I've learned that a grain-fed feedlot cattle is going to produce that bland looking pink color, and a bland beef flavor to back it up, while the richer and darker beef meat and yellowish fat is notable of grass-fed cattle. If you do your own experiments, you will find a grass-fed beef is far superior in beef flavor in both the meat and fat. In addition, grass-fed beef have the luxury of moving more freely and as such work their muscles more and produce a richer flavor. Although this also makes for a tougher or in better words more toothsome piece of meat, in my opinion unless you are eating wagyu, your steak shouldn't melt in your mouth, chewing is part of the experience.
Yes on a grass-fed diet, you are ingesting a more nutrient dense piece of meat, but additionally we are also potentially avoiding toxins from feedlot feed. Grass-fed beef has been proven to have higher levels of vitamin E, beta carotene vitamin C, B12, B3, B6 and creatine. Further, the fats in the beef are much healthier for you with up to 5x the omega 3s. In addition, by choosing grass-fed beef and eating Kief Biltong...we are also avoiding toxins. Our beef is free of hormones or steroids because they eat grass, but in a feedlot the feed can range massively in quality and is unnatural for there digestive system which in turn makes a lot of cattle sick. Further, pesticides and other toxins associated with grain or soy in feed can also be avoided.
I am not sure about the exact science on greenhouse gasses when it comes to raising cattle, but what I do know is that grass-fed cattle that are allowed to be humanely raised on large spans of land promotes regenerative agriculture and I am all for that. The process of large herds of cattle moving across plains of land has stood the test of time, and the ecosystem that their existence provides to the land in turn revitalizes life. I'd like to believe that such farming done properly will offset any toxic gasses like methane which the cattle produce. Nature is complex and the we shouldn't tamper with its natural process.
We choose to use grass-fed beef in our biltong for all of the reasons outlined above. It is superior in providing the natural beefiness we seek in great biltong jerky, it provides optimal nutrition and supports farmers who are trying to do the right thing for the planet and people. 100% grass-fed beef is scarce in BC and very expensive which would make our biltong also very expensive, so at this point in time due to the north american/local market we utilize beef that is raised locally and lives a humane pastured grass-fed life but is finished on grain that is also grown here in BC. We aim to source the best beef possible and hopefully will always look out for the best producers of grass-fed cattle in BC.