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Do you REALLY know what grass-fed is?
Yes, I talk about grass-fed beef a lot. So much so that you might be thinking, enough already, Steve, I get it! And sometimes I take a step back and think to myself, "Am I becoming the boring guy always spouting on about grass fed beef? By now, everyone gets grass-fed. They get the difference, they know why it's good for them, they understand that it really is something apart from the usual."

And then reality smacks me in the face.

You wouldn't believe how often I hear from my friends—even really close friends, friends who've sat on my back porch and shared a beer—or two—with me, friends I've known for years, friends who've been near and dear since the day I launched brgr—about brgr's newest "competitor."

"Steve," they say, "I was in [insert town name], and I came across this place that's doing the same thing that brgr is. They're serving [all-natural/pasture-raised/vegetarian-only diet] beef burgers."

(Silent scream.)

I love my friends, but that hurts! After all this time, and all my talk, do they really think all-natural, pasture-raised, or vegetarian-only diet means the same thing as grass-fed?!

Here's the truth about grass-fed beef:
  • Grass-fed beef comes from animals that have spent their entire lives eating the leafy, grassy goodness of a lush, green pasture. And even in the dead of winter, when their pastures are bare, they eat grass and forage that has been specially dried for them. Grass-fed beef is serious business, and grass-fed farmers ensure that their cattle never eat anything other than what nature intended. Only with this pure diet throughout its entire life can an animal produce meat that has the benefits of true grass-fed: high levels of omega-3s, vitamins A and E, proven cancer fighter CLA, and be lower in fat and calories. The grass-fed cow really is something exceptional.
  • By contrast, all of those others fancy sounding terms are just eco- and health-friendly jargon designed to tap into what marketers think people want to hear—without giving them any of the benefits of the grass-fed real deal.

And the truth about all those other terms:
  • All-Natural: A throw-away term. Corn is natural, so are antibiotics, and even some growth hormones. "All-natural" beef is just as likely to come from a feedlot as anywhere else, and you can be sure it won't have any of the benefits of grass-fed.
  • Pasture-raised: Another evasive term that hints at grass-fed without delivering any of its benefits. Animals might be allowed to graze in pastures, but this doesn't mean their diets aren't supplemented with corn, grain and other additives.
  • Grain-finished: Often a complement to pasture-raised, grain-finished animals are those that spent part of their lives grazing freely, but spent the last months of their lives being finished—or fattened—on a grain diet. Grain-finishing may make for a heavier animal, but it also negates all the positive effects of any grass-fed diet. A lifetime of grass-fed nutrition and health can be undone by just a few weeks of a corn or grain diet.
  • Vegetarian-Only Diet: This sounds fancy, but let's face it: corn, grains, and all those other not-good-for-cattle foods are all vegetarian. Just because vegetarianism might be something we associate with good health in humans (though I would beg to differ) doesn't mean that this term has any relevance for cattle.

So there you have it... Don't be fooled. Unless you're eating grass-fed, you're not eating grass-fed!
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