Going Grass-Fed: You Are What You Eat, Eats
Eating meat is a hot topic. Some people are vehemently against eating meat, believing it is the cause of many of the health issues we see today. Others claim it’s not the meat, but what we’ve done to it before it reaches our plates. To help get to the bottom of this debate, I recently sat down with Mike Salguero, the CEO of ButcherBox: the first delivery service dedicated to providing 100% natural grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and heritage pork to consumers. Mike explained what it means to have grass-fed beef, what “organic” and “natural” mean, and even the history behind why the meat that we have today is as it is.
The idea for ButcherBox was inspired by Mike’s wife. When she was pregnant with their first child in 2015, they wanted to eat the healthiest meat possible. Unfortunately, they had trouble finding 100% grass-fed beef. From there, the company started and now delivers natural, organic meats directly to consumer stores nationwide through a monthly subscription service. All their meats are from humanely raised animals, and are free of antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs. The mission of the company is to make natural organic meats available to everyone.
The first thing I asked Mike was “why;” Why did he insist on grass-fed beef for his pregnant wife? He explained…
“…My wife has a thyroid condition. It’s an autoimmune disorder. We were looking at ways to help manage that. She did a bunch of elimination diets, and Whole30, and stuff like that to start eating better. In virtually every single of one those diets, they say eat grass-fed beef, eat pasture-raised meats, so we started looking for it. Lo and behold, it was really hard to find.
“…I ended up buying a cow share from a farmer in New York, about a three-hour drive from here, who would bring over basically a trash bag full of meat and I would stuff it in my freezer and that would be our meat.
“Did that for a few years, and in the process, really just realized this is—first of all, the meat is incredible. It’s way healthier, but it’s really just not a great experience for me to have to go pick up a trash bag full of meat. This would be so much better if it was delivered directly to my door.”
It’s important for people to know the benefits of eating grass-fed beef as opposed to eating the meat of cattle fed grains. There’s health benefits in terms of more vitamins, better fats, which people prefer when comparing them side by side. Another aspect that doesn’t get discussed is the environmental side. For example, a grass field is a carbon sink. That means it helps decrease the effects of the emissions that are associated with animals.
With grain fed cattle, the health of the animal isn’t a top priority; getting it as fat as possible in the quickest amount of time is the focus. After spending the first six months of life with its mother, the calf then goes to a feedlot, where it spends six months on a diet of corn, grains, antibiotics and hormones. It is held with thousands of other animals in what called a concentrated feeding operation.
We know the dangers of these antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones. I believe some of the “mystery diseases” we experience today are linked to what is done to our food. In other words, grain-fed cows are generally given a diet of antibiotics and hormones to try to keep them healthy, and put on a ton of weight, while grass-fed animals are simply eating grass, living life as nature intended.
Mike brought up a good point during the interview:
“It’s not very hard to understand, first of all, why feeding something foreign to the animal is not necessarily good, why putting on a bunch of fat that’s just from carbohydrates…being in that type of environment around all these other cows, and all that stuff comes to you. We’re really big believers in animal welfare. We’re really big believers in providing a great quality product to our customer. It’s just not there when you’re buying something directly from a feedlot.”
I often talk about levels of chemicals on grains, in an attempt to bring awareness to the subject. When the animal eats grain to make one pound of beef, we must factor in the many acres of sprayed grains as well. Not to mention all the antibiotics, hormones and steroids that are now in the meat.
Therefore, my family and I avoid grain fed-meat. I’ve learned what happens when cows eat corn. It throws off these fatty acid ratios, which in turn disrupts cell membrane function. Even some of our food allergies can be linked to grain fed meat. And, if you don’t fix the cell membranes, you will never fix your hormone imbalance and other cellular health issues. You’ll struggle to turn off bad genes, and you’ll never detoxify a cell. Eating grain-fed meat destabilizes the cell membrane.
The transition from cows being fed meat to grains started in the 1950’s.
After World War II, our society had a “scarcity” mentality. As a result, our food system was industrialized. This is when cows started going from just eating grass to large feedlot operations
The feedlot came around in the ’50s and has grown ever since, with no signs of slowing down. It’s possible that 98% of the beef consumed in the United States is grain-fed.
It’s important to realize how much of our meat is grain fed, and why we should choose grass fed instead:
For starters, grass-fed meat contains conjugated linoleic acid. We need this to burn fat in our cells and to be a fat burner. Unfortunately, many people lack this conjugated linoleic acid in their diet, and it literally affects their cells’ ability to use fat as an energy source, promoting weight loss resistance. Cows eat grass, which contains vitamin K1, and transform it into vitamin K2. which is needed for strong bones, and used to utilize calcium, magnesium, and for our muscles to contract and for our heart to beat normally.
We’ve heard a lot about vitamin D and calcium, but we hear little about K2. I can tell you, there’s only a handful of vitamin deficiencies, and vitamin K2 is one of them. The reason is because humans today are eating grass-fed nothing. The best way to get K2 is by eating grass-fed animal products, whether you’re ingesting dairy or the meat or organs.
When it comes to eating grass-fed meat, I don’t think we should make exceptions, whenever possible. Mike feels the same way and has adopted certain standards:
“We have some pretty ironclad standards. First of all, there’s the standards of antibiotic and hormone free. We’re never-ever, which means any animal that is in our program has never ever been given an antibiotic or a hormone. Sometimes, companies say that but they don’t really mean it, like they could be fed an antibiotic early or they could be fed an antibiotic if they got sick but then they’re still in the program. For us, it’s a never-ever, so never an antibiotic, never a hormone.
“The farmers aren’t cruel to animals, so what they do is if an animal got sick, they’ll give them an antibiotic. They just will pull them from the program and they’ll go sell it somewhere else. We’re humanely raised everything, so they are humane certifications that you can get.”
Is it Really Grass-Fed?
While the public is slowly becoming aware of the dangers of grain-fed meat, it’s extremely important we understand how food companies are deceptive with advertising practices. Food companies are changing labels to confuse you. Some companies will say grass-fed, grain-finished and that’s similar to other meat that you can get, but at a higher cost. Then there’s grass-fed, grass-finished, which is essentially the same thing as 100% grass-fed. The challenge is the definition of grass-fed has changed.
So, if you’re a farmer in Vermont, there are months out of the year where your cow can’t eat grass, because there’s three feet of snow on the ground. What they do is they bring them into a barn and they feed them hay, also known as forage. This makes perfect sense, but what’s happened in the industry is the definition of “forage” has been broadened to include things like corn husks. That means it’s going to be GMO corn, because that’s what 99% of corn is these days. This situation creates an entirely new problem.
Refer here for more info on the hazards of eating grains to our health. Because of the tremendous amount of misinformation and deception, it’s difficult for people to purchase (and consume) food they can trust.
Issues with Chicken
Chicken is extremely popular here in the United States. Like beef, it can be difficult to find clean chicken. Mike had some interesting insights:
“…There are a lot of different ways you can raise chicken organically. Getting the certification is one thing, but then high humane standards and keeping those standards is really important.
“There was just an exposé of a chicken company that had the standards but wasn’t adhering to them whatsoever. (Read the story HERE1) Really, you need to work with companies that are going into the farms and making sure that they’re doing the right thing or working with farms that you know totally agree with that.
“We started with a pasture-raised program on our chickens but unfortunately, the majority of our customers didn’t want pasture-raised. We moved to organic and free-range organic and then tried to find the best possible chickens we could find, organic-plus, as I like to call it, but companies that are going above and beyond an organic certification.
“When something is certified organic, it does mean that it was fed organic grain, so that means the GMOs are out. Unfortunately, it also means that they’re importing the grain, which is kind of crazy. There’s not enough non-GMO grain in this country so they’re importing it. There’s processing and there’s density issues. You want to make sure that your chickens can live life the way that nature intended.
“The pasture-raised chicken, like I said, our customer didn’t really like that as the standard chicken in our box because pasture-raised is just very different chicken. It’s got smaller breasts; it’s got tougher legs. It’s just a different eating experience. We are looking into a few things on the chicken front. One is working with companies that are doing even more, pushing the envelope even further on the organic side. We’re also looking at pasture-raised chickens that taste more like what people are used to because there are some people doing some interesting stuff there. There’s also a whole conversation afoot on genetics of chickens.
“Basically, the chickens that are being raised now are—it’s not really a humane breed. They grow too fast; they can’t move around. People’s taste for chicken has gotten to the point where the chicken can’t really keep up and there’s a lot of work right now to try to change that within the industry.”
Chickens are scrappers. They eat bugs, seeds, roots. What makes this tricky is most people spray their fields, or put corn in their fields. We already know how hazardous those products can be, and chickens are consuming those things. Even when they are supposed to be organic or “clean.”
Mike’s chicken is organic and free-range. This means the chicken have access to the outdoors at any time.
Is Pork Safe to Eat?
Pork is another popular food in American culture. There is a lot of controversy about eating pork, but a few things have happened. First of all, pork is, in terms of humane treatment, the most important one to get right. When it comes to pigs, their brain, their emotions, the way that they work together…these animals are smarter than most people realize.
How pigs are raised is extremely important, and Mike agrees:
“Certified humane is incredibly important as is pasture-raised. Pigs are social creatures. They like to be around each other, but giving them pasture to walk around in is incredibly important. A lot of these concentrated feeding places are pig after pig, super small, crates, can’t turn around, dock their tail and it’s just an awful environment.
“It used to be that pigs were fatty, and that fat is really tasty and marbled. Then, for a few reasons, one being that lean meat is easier to more rapidly put on a pig, the other being that the taste or the consumer started looking for less fat. In the ’80s, low fat was the thing. All the pigs, all the fat got bred out of them.”
By changing the makeup of the pigs, we changed the taste, which does us all a disservice. Not only that, fat has a negative connotation in our society, but GOOD fat is really what our bodies need for good cellular health:
I asked Mike “Do pigs eat their own waste?”
“I traveled in college and spent a summer in Ecuador on a farm, and I was the guy based out of the pen. They definitely do eat their waste when they’re penned. All I can say is I’ve never seen it; I don’t know, maybe? I’m not sure. I’ve been on a lot of pig farms; I’ve never seen a pasture-raised pig behave in that way.”
This makes sense to me. Cows are meant to only eat grass. When they eat things other than grass, it affects the meat in a negative way, which in turn affects the human eating it. It affects our cells.
Pigs (and chickens) are omnivorous and can eat a lot of different things. Arguably, then, they’re able to eat a variety and maintain healthy flesh, unlike a cow. If a chicken or a pig is eating sprayed grain, that’s not beneficial. If the animal is eating GMOs, it’s going to have unhealthy flesh.
Cows are designed to eat grass, and get all their nutrients just from grass. On the other hand, pigs can’t live on grains alone; they need other foods to get the nutrients they need. Pigs were basically domesticated, and lived close to villages historically, so they ate trash or scraps from the table, whereas cows were out in the field.
If you go back 500 years, domestication is one of the reasons pigs are so emotional and intelligent, and their jaws and organs look like humans. In high school, you dissect a pig because its organs look more like a human. The theory is that may have occurred over years of domestication. Pigs had to get smarter to know what to eat and not eat. Interesting stuff!
Mike has special tips for preparing grass-fed beef:
- Cook steaks rare to medium rare (4 minutes on one side, 3 on the other)
- Use your slow cooker to keep it juicy!
“…Grass-fed beef that comes out tougher is people don’t cook it for long enough. I think that’s for beef in general, but a lot of the cuts of beef you put it in your Instant Pot for a few hours, you put it in the Crock Pot all day, and just keep cooking it because it breaks everything down and you’re going to have a really, really amazing eating experience.
…My favorite recipe is beef short ribs. You just get short ribs, salt, tomato paste, a little red wine, cook it four or five hours at 225 and you’ve got amazing short ribs.”
Thanks to GMOs and pesticides, the foods we consume are more hazardous than ever to our cellular health. It’s critical we understand what happens to our food before it reaches our tables. You are what you eat, eats!
Many of the diseases we experience today are caused by the foods we eat on a regular basis. No amount of medicine will fix us if we never get to the source of the problem, which is at the cell. The foods we eat have a direct impact on our cellular health, and once we understand the correlation and make the necessary adjustments to our diets, we will be that much closer to optimizing cellular function. Fix the cell and get well!
Want to try Butcherbox meats for yourself?
Go HERE and you’ll receive $10.00 OFF your first order, plus two FREE grass-fed ribeye steaks. Enjoy!