Investing in Local Grass-Fed Beef: Is It Worth It? By Isabel Weber

As pointed out in a recent article written by Stephen Ornes (“What the Cow Eats”), local grass-fed beef has many economic and environmental benefits for everyone from local farmers and consumers to local ecosystems and communities. It is important also note that grass-fed beef is actually different from grain-fed beef on a nutritional level. These differences have been examined by many evidence-based research studies and the findings are consistent. Hereâ€TMs what you need to know:

5 Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef: 1) Less Total Fat Grass-fed beef is consistently lower in total fat than grain-fed beef. This makes it a good choice for those of us on a heart- healthy diet, watching how much fat we eat. However, as Ornes pointed out, this may also make the meat a little drier and tougher, which can easily be overcome by cooking the meat for longer periods of time at lower temperatures and in liquids.

2) Fewer Calories Because the meat has less fat, it is also lower in calories. This can be helpful for those of us trying to watch our waistline yet still hoping to include meat in our diet.

3) More Omega-3 Fatty Acids According to the research, omega-3s play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, depression, and cancer. Getting more omega- 3s in your diet will benefit your overall health.

4) More Vitamin A and E Vitamin A and E have both been shown to play a role in proper human development and growth. Grass is rich in Vitamin A and E precursors, and when cows are raised on grass, these precursors are stored in their meat. This can sometimes tint the fat in the grass-fed beef yellow; however, it doesnâ€TMt change the quality of the meat.

5) More Antioxidants Cancer- fighting antioxidants also are found at higher levels in grass-fed beef. These antioxidants can help protect body cells and prevent cells from premature aging.

So why not invest in local grass-fed beef?. Not only will you be supporting your local farmers and local economies, but you also will be investing in your health and well-being. Go to, click on farm guide to find it at a local farm near you. In case you need some inspiration for how to use your local grass-fed beef, here is one healthy recipe that will help your beef stand out:

Beef and Seasonal Vegetable Kebabs

Yields 4 servings (serving size: 1 kebab)

This recipe can be modified to fit your taste preferences and include your favorite local vegetables. Instead of bell peppers, green onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms, you could try adding zucchini, squash, or yellow onion. Serve with fresh salad, rice, or oven- baked sweet potatoes.


1 pound boneless sirloin steak (or other thick boneless cut) cut into 1-inch pieces 1 bell pepper cut into 8 1-inch pieces
8 small mushrooms
8 cherry tomatoes
2 green onions (cut into 8 1-inch pieces) ½ tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. canola oil
Cooking spray


Preheat broiler or grill. Divide the steak, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, and green onion evenly among 4 skewers and sprinkle with salt, thyme, and pepper. Drizzle the skewers with canola oil. Spray the broiler or grill with cooking spray and place skewers on the heat for approximately 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning once. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per kebab):
Calories: 218
Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
Protein: 26.5 g
Carbohydrate: 4.7 g
Cholesterol: 56 mg
Fiber: 0.7 g
Sodium: 529 mg

Isabel Weber, a current intern in Vanderbilt Medical Centerâ€TMs Dietetic Internship Program, is originally from Germany. She moved to Nashville after completing her bachelorâ€TMs degree in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in May 2012.

Daley, C.A., A. Abbott, P.S. Doyle, G.A. Nader , and S. Larson. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.” Nutrition Journal; 2010, 9:10. Retrieved from

Larsen, J. “Peak Meat: U.S. Meat Consumption Falling.” Earth Policy Institute; March 7, 2007. Retrieved from