This month at Pasture Living, we're doing a series on "I Care for Our Planet!" in conjunction with us being nominated as a finalist in the "eco challenge" category of the Singapore Blog Award 2013.
By now you've probably noticed how often I mention the term "grass-fed" or "pasture-fed" in my blog such as posts on butter, eggs, bone broth, and milk. When I ask my friends what do cows eat, most of them say that cows eat grass. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that more than 80 percent of the cows in the US (for example) are being raised in confinement, not on pasture. They don't eat grass, but grains, corn, soy, and hay; and the ground that they stand on is not pasture, but a mixture of dirt and manure. Note that organic doesn't mean pastured. Animals can be still be confined and given organic feeds and they are considered organic. Eating pasture-fed food is not only healthier for you, but it is also far better for our environment.
How Are Pasture-Fed Products Healthier Than Grain-Fed Ones?
Products (such as meat, milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs) from pasture-fed animals are generally:
- Lower in total fat, cholesterol, and calories.
- Higher in vitamins A, B, D, E, beta-carotene, and minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium (naturally, not added). Pastured animals are free to roam around and have exposure to direct sunlight, which their bodies convert to vitamin D and then pass on to the products (meat/eggs).
- Higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves with 60 percent of the fatty acids in grass being omega-3s. When animals grow in feedlot eat omega-3 poor grain instead of omega-3 rich grass, they become artificially low in omega-3s.
- Has the right balance of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which is optimal for the production of prostaglandins (hormones that act locally within the cells).
- (For pasture-fed beef) Higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has strong anticancer properties. It also encourages the buildup of muscle and prevents weight gain. CLA disappears when cows are fed even small amounts of grain or processed feed.
This is a simple summary how products from pasture-fed animals are nutritionally superior from their grain-fed counterparts. You can read this article if you like to understand more in details.
How Does Raising Animals On Pasture Benefit The Environment?
- Less Pollution. Green pasture stores greenhouse gases in the soil, increasing the fertility of the soil (and thus nutritious grass) while animal confinement lots emits greenhouse gases into the air such as methane, ammonia, and nitrous oxide.
- Slows Global Warming. Grazed pasture stores more carbon in the soil and keeps it as organic matter instead of releasing it into the environment as carbon dioxide. Operations in animal l
- Less Use of Fossil Fuel. Pasture-fed animals require much less fossil fuel than a feedlot diet of dried corn and soy, which are common genetically modified food (another reason to avoid grain-fed products). Operations in animal lots use non-renewable fuels and the crops that become animal feeds in confinement are treated and processed with fossil-fuel based fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides.
- Less Use of Toxic Fertilizers. Grazing animals spread their manure evenly over the soil they stand on, which becomes natural fertilizers that improves grass quality (and thus the products the animals produce). Animal waste in confinement lots not only releases ammonia to the environment, but it lowers the air quality for the animals and the farm workers.
- Supports Wildlife. Waste in confinement lots are dumped into waste fields which creates nitrogen and phosphorus that pollute the soil, river, and streams, affecting wildlife in a negative way. Grazed land also absorbs more rain water which provides more water for wildlife.
- Makes Beautiful Sceneries. Last but not least, the sight of green pasture makes picturesque natural sceneries that God has created for all of us to enjoy. When we travel to places where greeneries abound, we feel peaceful, refreshed, and rejuvenated. It's a representation of God's presence through nature. Preserving our earthly home pleases Him.
Where Can We Buy Pasture-Fed Products in Singapore?
- Meat: The Butcher in Holland Village and Parkway Parade.
- Milk: Please see here.
- Butter: Please see here.
- Cheese: I saw Organic Valley cheese products in Four Seasons Organic Market in Parkway Parade, but they don't always have it on stock.
- Yogurt: Barambah Organics whole milk yogurts are sold in Super Nature. I also give Elin Stonyfield whole milk yogurt which is sold in Cold Storage and Market Place. (I emailed Stonyfield to confirm if their yogurts are pasture-fed. To my surprise, they actually responded saying that they get their milk from Organic Valley, which I know is pasture-fed.)
- Eggs: Please see here.
- Chicken: Kampong chicken are sold in supermarkets and wet markets. I assume Kampong chicken are pastured chicken, but it's hard to tell because it doesn't say on the packaging and the sellers in the wet markets I've been to don't know what their Kampong chicken are fed on. Usually the chicken come from Malaysia.
This topic is partly the reason I came to name my blog "Pasture Living." The term "pasture-fed" was so new and interesting to me that it was on my mind a lot. I was one of those who thought cows eat grass. In short, pasture living is the way God originally intended for his creation to live. Not just cows and chicken. But all of us humans. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were placed in the beautiful Garden of Eden, a paradise filled with everything they would ever needed. I believe that's "pasture." And we should also seek our pasture in whatever season of life we are in. My friend, Yanny, said it beautifully, "Grass is always greener where you water it -- not on the other side."
What are your thoughts on consuming pasture-fed products?