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Shop Topline Foods Grass Fed Beef

Grass Fed Beef

Here in Arizona at Topline Foods, we love our grass fed beef for so many reasons. What’s not to love? It’s natural nutritional, sustainable, and just downright enjoyable; it has corn-fed beef beaten on practically every level. Unfortunately it represents only a small fraction of the meat available in America today. Our market is saturated by beef from corn-fed cows living on feedlots, and not many people know why that is or why it shouldn’t be. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to provide you with both an easy way to purchase for your family, and all the information you need to make an informed decision.


A long time ago, since before cows began, there was grass. As well as the stuff growing in your lawn or wild on open prairies, all the grains we eat are technically grasses too, including wheat, barley, rice and corn. The grass leaves and shoots contain all the vitamins, minerals, energy stores and other nutrients that the plant needs to survive. Unfortunately they are also full of a tough, inedible fiber that keeps them upright. Some animals, like cows, have specialized digestive systems that can cope with the challenges of grass in order to reap the benefits of an easy balanced diet. On the other hand, we have an extremely generalized, omnivorous digestive system, which can collect foods from many different sources for a balanced diet; including fruits and vegetable we can digest, the meats of animals that have built up and absorbed up all these plant nutrients, and grains.

organic-grass-fed-beef-cattle-on-pasture.jpgSeeds, the parts of grains we can eat, are chemically much different from the parts that cows are meant to eat. They’re filled with fats, proteins, or carbohydrates that give the plant embryo the boost it needs to grow quickly and start producing its own nutrients. They do the same for us, providing us with cheap, raw, easily digestible energy. They aren’t the most nutritional food in the long run, but they can keep us going the longest on the least food in lean times and provide energy reserves in case of emergencies. Because of this, and because we instinctively like carbohydrates for the same reasons, they became the primary focus of agriculture, and remain the collective staple of the human diet. Incidentally, our health as a whole has never recovered from this decision

Unfortunately, we don’t learn quickly from our nutritional mistakes. Instead of valuing meat for its ability to supply the vitamins, minerals, and acids that can improve our health, which we lack from our processed starch and sugar diet, we measure it once again in terms of bulk and cheap energy, this time in the form of fat. The USDA’s meat grading system is based on the amount of marbling, or visible fat, found threaded throughout the meat. Fat tastes good, its juicy and tender, and it’s sheer mass means there’s more to sell. The faster companies can get cows to pile it on, the more money they can make. And we’ve already spent thousands of years developing foodstuffs that feed mammals quickly, efficiently, and en masse, no need to reinvent the wheel.

According to The Development of the Commercial Cattle Feeding Industry, people first discovered that cows fed on grains gained weight quickly, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that this became a regular commercial practice. Only after the 1940’s when self-propelled grain combines were introduced did farmers have access to the surplus grain necessary to raise grain-fed beef as anything more than an experiment or a gourmet ingredient (see Texas Grass Fed Beef for more info), and soon it became the American norm, our understanding of what meat is supposed to taste like.

People have noticed for a while now that the more natural approach has more to offer; a news article from 1976 makes some of the same points that we do, but it wasn’t until quite recently that grass-fed beef started its return to the American market. According to the New York Times there were approximately 20 times as many suppliers of Grass Fed Beef in the year 2006 as there were in 2002, and we aren’t done yet, so long as our conscientious consumers continue to support our efforts to provide a positive, healthy alternative to the typical 21st century diet.

The Difference: Corn-fed vs. Grass-fed beef


Essentially, when a cow is eating grains instead of grass, its body is failing. It may be piling on the pounds but its stores of substances vital to life and well being are being used up at a rate that neither this unnatural food or artificial foods can even hope to counter balance.

Eatwild.com has compiled this great list of beneficial substances that grass-fed beef can produce that grain-fed just can’t, as well as the following charts highlighting the nutritional difference:
•    Vitamin E, an antioxidant which protects from chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease

•    beta-carotine used by the body to make Vitamin A, and according to Medline Plus; used to decrease asthma symptoms caused by exercise; to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts, and age related macular degeneration (AMD); and to treat AIDS, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and skin disorders including psoriasis and vitiligo

•    omega 3 fatty acids: counteracts the harmful effects of a modern diet filled with far too much omega 6, good for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and so many things we can’t even list them all here.

•    conjugated linoleic acid; according to Mercola.com, good for dealing with or preventing several kinds of “Cancer . . . Cardiovascular disease, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Osteoporosis, Insulin resistance . . . [and] and food-induced allergic reactions.”
•    calcium: for strong bones and teeth, as everyone knows.
•    Magnesium:  a helpful and often overlooked mineral with a higher risk of deficiency, with an effect on “heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, obesity, infertility, migraine, muscle pains, premenstrual syndrome and traumatic stress” according to the NY Times article ‘A Dietary Mineral You Need (and Probably Didn’t Know It)’
•    Potassium:  High potassium diets are good for preventing strokes and improving bone health, for more see the University of Maryland’s Medical Center’s page on the subject
•    B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin

There are a few things that grain-fed beef has more of than grass-fed beef, which we should also take a look at.

•    One of the most interesting is E-Coli bacteria. Once again, we’d like to thank Eatwild.com for their illuminating charts. In addition to the unsanitary issue inherent to the intensely overcrowded feeding lots where grain-fed cows spend their lives, grain heightens the acidity of their stomachs, giving them a sort of perpetual heart-burn that also makes the environment inside their stomach much more similar to the one inside our own; and as they adapt to their new environment, they become resistant to our own natural defense against potentially lethal food poisoning.

•    Omega 6 fatty acids: While it’s essential that we eat some omega 6 fatty acids, they’re another one of those things we get too much of from processed food, and too much of twice when we eat grain-fed beef. According to Optimal Heart Health, “The average American Diet provides more than ten times the proper amount of omega-6”, and an excess of omega-6 can lead to potentially artery choking blood clots, weaken the immune system and stimulate the growth of cancer cells.

According to this chart from Eatwild.com, grass fed beef has the healthiest ratio of Omega fatty acids of the five, while grain-fed cattle has a ratio that’s as terrible as, well, ours.

•    Total fats: we all know the risks of a diet that’s too high in fat; what could be a simpler way to eat healthier than to buy delicious meats that are not only loaded with all these nutrients but also drastically leaner? According to another Eatwild chart, grass-fed beef has only half the fat that grain-fed does.



Grass fed beef does taste different than grain fed. Because the cows actually use their muscles to wander and graze, cows raised on a pasture have much more developed muscles which makes for slightly tougher meat, and the leanness of it means that you have to be especially careful, or it may come out overcooked.  There are many more factors involved in the lives of cows grazing in a pasture than there are in those of mass produced cows eating mass produced, formulated feed, which means that it cannot supply the same absolute consistency of flavor that we’ve come to love and expect from a world of food brands and chain restaurants.

However, when it comes down to it grass-feed beef is a much more flavorful, much beefier, and all around delicious product. In a taste test on Slate it came in an easy first against some of the highest quality steaks available, and was cheaper than all of them as well. Naturally, not everyone will prefer it, particularly when most of us have been conditioned to enjoy the bland but tender and consistent grain-fed beef that dominates the market. We definitely recommend that you try it out; you may discover that a healthy steak is an even tastier steak, good and good for you. And, if you can introduce you children to grass-fed meats, you can teach them a new, positive inclination towards the more nutritional beef, which means they won’t have to give up anything to be healthy later in life, and may break the vicious cycle of low expectations and poor quality products.

Other Points of Interest



Because corn-fed cows have such extremely high levels of E-Coli bacteria that have been made harmful to human beings, the usual solution feedlots use is to dose the animals with a steady supply of antibiotics, the same ones used to treat our own diseases.

Such rampant overuse of antibiotics has contributed heavily to the creation of untreatable super-bugs, which can pose a fatal threat to human beings. These resistant diseases can sometimes be transmitted directly through the consumption of meat, but they can also spread in a number of other ways;  such as through, air, contaminated water, or human contact. Ironically, even though doctors have been warned not to abuse antibiotics for fear of creating these resistant diseases, the Washington Post says that the food animals of America are receiving over twice the amount antibiotics used to treat the population. After sixty years, the FDA is finally asking these farms to cut down on their use of antibiotics, but it may not be enough. If we decide to support these practices by continuing to purchase their products, it could endanger everyone’s health.

World hunger and logic

The entire purpose of raising cows was originally that they can turn vegetable matter we can’t eat into something we can. Corn we can eat already, and cows actually aren’t that efficient at converting one kind of energy into another. No matter how fast companies can chemically manipulate cows into growing, they will always have to eat several times more than their end bodyweight. Maybe that would be worth the effort if cows could take the corn and turn it into substances we don’t otherwise have access to, but as we’ve just seen in the nutritional section, that isn’t the case. Cows, like people, are what they eat, and we have too many corn- or grain-based foods already.

If we aren’t going to do anything productive ourselves with this food, why are we wasting it? Why can’t we use it to make starving people all over the world a little bit better, instead of making our cows sick and ourselves even sicker? Or if there’s no profit in that, why don’t we use it to make ethanol for our cars to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, or just stop growing so much of it? We can use the extra land for pastures for more nutritional grass-fed beef, or to build schools, or hospitals, or nuclear reactors, or amusement parks, or whatever it is we need. Outside of corporate accounts, where’s the logic in corn-fed beef?


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