Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products



Why Grass-fed?

To find out more information on health benefits of grass-fed products, or to read more information about the FAQ’s below, please click on the link above for write ups on basics, safety, references, essays and more.

1. Why buy meat directly through local livestock producers?

  • it’s a great chance to meet the person who raised the animal, and learn how the animal was raised;
  • you can have the meat processed to your own specifications;
  • the price is often less than the average retail price;
  • and, you contribute toward a more sustainable regional economy, supporting our local farm and rural economy.


2. What is the difference between organic, naturally-raised and grass-fed meats?

Products labeled as “organic” must be certified by an independent agency such as Maryland Organic Certification Program. The standards are very high and there is a verification program in place for all certifiers. Organic products must not only be free of synthetic chemicals, but the land, feed, and processing facility must also be organic. In the case of meats, this is a particularly difficult thing to achieve, since meat involves all of these links in the processing chain.


In 2002 the U.S. Department of Agriculture established the National Organic Program which defines “organic” and provides guidelines for consumer labeling. (A product can be certified and labeled organic and not labeled with the “USDA Organic” seal.) Visit theUSDA program’s website for more information.

“Natural” can mean many things. The term, as used by farmers at your local farmer’s market, implies that their produce or meat is grown or raised without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Many large producers have begun to use the term “natural” loosely, and its significance, therefore, has become less meaningful in the marketplace. Some consumers, for example, regard highly concentrated forms of naturally occurring ingredients to be synthetic. One example is monosodium glutamate, a naturally occurring chemical, which many consumers wish to avoid but some manufacturers use in products that are labeled “all-natural.”


“Grass-fed” has recently become very popular with consumers. The American Grassfed Association defines grass-fed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats, and sheep, as “those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from their birth until harvest.”

Evermore Farm is organic in all but certification. We consider our operation to be low-input and sustainable. When you know your farmer, you can develop trust about their claims. Evermore Farm’s lambs and beef cattle spend their whole life with access to pastures and grazing grass in season. This is quite unusual and contributes to the unique, complex, and delicious flavor of our meat. We do feed hay in the winter when pastures are dormant and we feed a minimal amount to our ewes when they lamb.


Source: Data from: Smith, G.C. “Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets.” Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171


3. Why are grass-fed animal products better for you?

The CLA Bonus. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called “conjugated linoleic acid” or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets. (A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA, as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.)


CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Switching from grain-fed to grass-fed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category.


Researcher Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grass-fed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection.


Vitamin E. In addition to being higher in omega-3s and CLA, meat from grassfed animals is also higher in vitamin E. The graph below shows vitamin E levels in meat from: 1) feedlot cattle, 2) feedlot cattle given high doses of synthetic vitamin E (1,000 IU per day), and 3) cattle raised on fresh pasture with no added supplements. The meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and, interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle given vitamin E supplements. In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin E.


Source: Data from: Smith, G.C. “Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets.” Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171