Why do we care about labels like “grass-fed” beef? Well, this is a huge discussion. But in short, there are several points of importance:
1. Cows are ruminants. They have an organ called a rumen that’s filled with microbes that breakdown the cellulose of grasses. This is why humans can’t eat grass—we don’t have rumens. This is also why cows are unhealthy and sick when they’re fed only corn by industrial agriculture companies.
2. These industrial farming practices (CAFO’s) are harming the environment, soil quality, and animal welfare.
3. However...Sustainable farmer’s are picking up steam and growing in number. They’re managing cattle in regenerative ways that focuses on grassland management, restoring soil, and happy animals.
4. As it turns out, this is actually resulting in net-carbon sequestration. Which means these regenerative farms could possibly be better for the environment than hydroponics, aquaponics, importing countless vegetables and fats, mono-crop farming, etc..
“Across-farm soil organic carbon (SOC) data showed a 4-year C sequestration rate of 3.59 Mg C ha−1 yr−1in AMP grazed pastures. After including SOC in the GHG footprint estimates, finishing emissions from the AMP system were reduced from 9.62 to −6.65 kg CO2-e kg carcass weight (CW)−1, whereas feed-lot (FL) emissions increased slightly from 6.09 to 6.12 kg CO2-e kg CW−1 due to soil erosion. This indicates that AMP grazing has the potential to offset GHG emissions through soil C sequestration, and therefore the finishing phase could be a net C sink.” - Stanley, et. al, 2017
“Incorporating forages and ruminants into regeneratively managed agroecosystems can elevate soil organic C, improve soil ecological function by minimizing the damage of tillage and inorganic fertilizers and biocides, and enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat.” -Teague, et. al.,2016
5. This is why we need new food economies to flourish. Eating locally, knowing your farmer, knowing where your meat comes from...it’s time to leave industrial farming in the past. Buy local from sustainable farmer’s and keep investigating. For more info on this topic, I highly recommend checking out experts like @sustainabledish.