Where's the (All-Natural) Beef?

By: Daniel K. Hoh
By: Daniel K. Hoh

There's a new kind of beef in town, and may be healthier than what you've been buying in the store.

All-natural beef is taken from cattle fed with grass rather than grain. The grass feed does not contain any hormones or antibiotics. The cattle themselves are also not injected with any growth hormones or preventive antibiotics. The only time antibiotics are used are when the animal's life is in danger due to an infection.

Roland Hoffman is a cattle farmer in Barren County. His farm, called Spring Hills Farm, has been raising all-natural beef cattle for several years.

"What we're trying to introduce here is provide meat that is old-fashioned," he says.

But is his beef actually better than regular beef?

"Some consumers are concerned about the possible harm that antibiotics or hormones could have on humans when used in beef production," says Diane Sprowl, a dietitian with the Barren River District Health Department.

But she says there isn't enough scientific evidence at this point to show that added hormones in regular beef are harmful. She also says the risk from possible antibiotic-resistant bacteria from beef cattle given preventive antibiotics is also minimal.

"The only time this would be a concern is if the animal had an antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the meat wasn't thoroughly cooked."

Then perhaps the most notable benefit of natural beef, then, is the fact that Hoffman's cattle are fed grass. Regular beef cattle are often raised on grain feeds.

"The difference with grass fed cattle is that they have more concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acids, and vitamin E," Hoffman says.

Studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce heart disease. Initial studies also show cojugated linoleic acids may help fight cancer. Vitamin E may combat both diseases.

Hoffman's natural beef is USDA-certified, but not yet available in stores. However, you can buy it direct from his farm by visiting his website at www.springhillsfarm.com.


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