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What Is Grass Fed

Cows are ruminant animals who naturally feed on plants and grasses that can easily be digested in their four-part stomach. Large scale industrial agriculture introduced cows to conventional feed which includes a diet high in grains and corn which are not as easily digested. Typically, the cows also live in confined spaces.

Many farmers are addressing this issue by moving back towards feeding their cows a more natural diet that is grass-based while also allowing them to feed year-round in pastures where the cows can roam more freely.

Studies have shown that there are many health benefits not only for the cows but the humans who consume meat and dairy products from these ‘grass-fed’ cows as well.

How Rumiano Defines Grass Fed

Pasture-Based

At Rumiano Cheese we are proud to say that our dairies go the extra mile for grass-fed milk production. The mild Northwestern coast of California has prime weather for grazing and pasture time. Year round access to pastures and naturally growing coastal grasses are imperative to our definition of grass-fed feeding. Open pasture time and natural grazing allow the cows to roam freely make for high-quality milk. Haylage and silage are used for feed when the weather is too wet and cold for pasture time which is seldom. The grass-feeding methodology benefits the animals and consumers by helping produce healthy and humane dairy products.

Happy Healthy Cows

Due to the fact that cows are ruminant animals, meaning their stomachs are meant to digest grass and fibrous plants, grain fed cows are showing more signs of digestive problems and disease. In addition, confinement of these animals may also be leading to more health issues which in turn leads to higher rates of antibiotics given to them to counteract these illnesses.

On the flip side, grass-fed and pasture raised cows who are allowed to move freely and eat a natural diversified diet are not only much healthier but we believe they seem much happier too! Small scale farmers who have taken the time to get to know their cows (many even give them names) recognize that cows are social beings who are happiest when they have room to roam and socialize with others in their herd which in the end produces a much healthier end product.

Resources

PBS interview with Michael Pollan
NY Times: Where Cows Are Happy and Food Is Healthy

Health Benefits

Not only are grass fed & pasture raised cows healthier and happier, but the milk they produce is also of higher nutritional value than milk from cows fed a grain-based diet. Milk from cows that are grass fed and pasture raised has been shown to have higher omega-3 fatty acids, better omega-3 to 6 ratios, higher amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) as well as increased amounts of nutrients such as Vitamin E and beta-carotene.

In 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a study titled Greener Pastures: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating.  The report concluded that “both meat and milk from pasture-raised animals contain higher levels of certain fats that appear to provide health benefits. These nutritional differences arise from the chemical differences between forage and grains, and the complex ways in which ruminant animals such as cattle process these feeds.

Why is this important to your health?

Omega-3’s

Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to the human body. The source for both is obtained only through food as our body does not naturally produce these important fatty acids. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is too high in Omega-6’s and lacking in Omega-3’s. The recommended ratio is between 4:1 and 2:1, however, most American’s are more in the range of 20:1. By consuming a diet higher in Omega-3’s this ratio can be lowered. Sufficient amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for cardiovascular health and may actually reduce the risk of heart disease.

CLA’s (Conjugated linoleic acid)

CLA’s are naturally occurring fatty acids found mostly in beef and dairy products that have been shown to regulate blood sugar levels, improve heart health, the immune system, bone health, and support body composition while helping maintain body fat. When fat enters the bloodstream, CLA can help block the small fat cells from becoming bigger and bigger and break the large fat cells into smaller pieces so they can be burned into energy and muscle mass which in turn reduces the amount of fat in the body.

Resources

Int’l Milk Genomics Consortium: Getting More Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Milk
WebMD.com: The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Mercola.com: Why Grassfed Animal Products Are Better For You
The World’s Healthiest Foods – George Matejan Foundation: Cow’s milk, grass-fed
Reader’s Digest: Dislike Fish? 7 Ways to Eat More Omega-3 Foods
How Stuff Works: Top 10 Foods High in Omega-3
Live Science: Hate Fish? Try Grass Instead for Omega-3s
Omega-3: Food that is Rich in Omega-3
The Guardian: Seven things you should know about omega oils
Limitless Abilities:  How CLA Works In Your Body – The Official CLA STORY
Bodybuilding.com: CLA: Conjugated Linoleic Acid Research