Health & Wellness

Nutritionally Speaking: Grassfed is best – revisited

We are what we eat. We are what we eat, eats… Let that sink in. If we stop supporting the confinement animal factory farms, we will be supporting the our health and planetary health.
Most of the cattle raised for beef in Oregon ends up in a feedlot and Oregon’s dairy cows are confined inside. A few years ago I interviewed Jo Robinson – a bestselling investigative journalist who has spent the past 15-plus years examining how we can restore vital nutrients to our foods – and she makes a great case here for those eating meat and dairy to vote with their dollars.
Robinson’s insights into the benefits of raising animals on pasture have been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers and radio shows, and are reflected on her website, She is the author of ”Pasture Perfect” and ”Why Grassfed Is Best!” Her latest book is ”Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health.”
Below is my interview with Robinson:

Yaakov Levine: How did you first get interested in the subject of raising animals on pasture?

Jo Robinson: While researching the Omega Diet in the 1990s,1 I came across a study from a British researcher who compared the fatty acid content of feedlot meat to that of wild game. The study showed that these two types of meat were very different from each other, in terms of the amount of fat they contained and their ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Since I had been doing research on omega-3s and I saw that there was so much more of them in wild game, I thought I would look into this.
In about three weeks, I discovered that when you raise cattle on pasture, their meat is very similar to that of wild game, which is much healthier for us than the meat of animals raised in industrial feedlots.
I asked myself: What else is different about wild game and grassfed meat as compared to feedlot meat? That led to a 10-year journey of learning more and more about raising animals on a natural diet – what it does for the animals, the people who consume them and the farmers who raise them, as well as for the environment.
That one British study inspired the research I have done for many years!

YL: Why are grassfed meat, milk and eggs better than their factory-farmed counterparts?

JR: These are three very different kinds of foods, but they have certain things in common. Grassfed meat is higher in omega-3s, lower in omega-6s and higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – the cancer-fighting fatty acid – than grain-fed meat. It is also higher in antioxidants and lower in calories and total fat. As a whole package, it is much less atherogenic than meat from animals raised in feedlots.
Grass-fed milk products also have a much healthier ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s than grain-fed ones, as well as more vitamin E and other antioxidants, and far more CLA. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times the omega-3s found in eggs from factory-raised hens.
Pastured cows foraging on grass are much healthier, they live much longer, and they don’t have the diseases common to feedlot cattle, since they have fewer environmental stresses and are eating the food they are designed to eat. When we drink their milk and eat their meat, we are eating the food we are designed to eat.

YL: Your website,, is a great resource for information on grassfed meat. Can you tell us how it came to be and describe its purpose?

JR: From early on, my research was about the wild diet in its totality, but the work I did in 1998 and 1999 about the benefits of raising animals on pasture generated so much interest that I stayed on that path for 10 years. I looked at well over 1,000 studies and wanted to make what I learned available to the public. When I started my research, I conducted a nationwide search for producers of grassfed meat who were selling it to the public. I advertised in magazines and came up with 50 ranchers across the country who were doing this.
I started giving lectures to ranchers in 1999. At the first one, I believe there were 400 beef ranchers in attendance, and their response to the information was amazing. They were raising their cows on grass and then sending them to feedlots to be fattened up on grain, soy and other supplements. They began to say, ”Hey, we already have the pasture and we have the cows. What if we start holding back some of these cattle and raise them to maturity on grass because this lady says that pastured meat is better for us to eat, it’s better for the environment and it’s better for the animals? Let’s give it a try.”
One of the website’s main functions has always been to connect consumers with producers of grassfed meat. We started out with those 50 ranchers and our numbers grew year by year as more ranchers came online, offering meat from grassfed cattle. These ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives, so the animals grow at a natural pace. The animals live low-stress lives, and are so healthy that there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs. By now, we have thousands of listings, and we are adding more every week.

YL: Do you have any closing words about grassfed meat?

JR: The reason grassfed meat is so great is that it is so close to wild meat. It’s one of the things that our bodies are designed to eat and that we can thrive on. We were on a wild diet for millennia, and the people who survived were ideally suited to eating this diet.
Although we have evolved to be able to eat certain things that we could not eat before, we were shaped by the hunter-gatherer diet. We have changed our diet so radically that our food is no longer good for us, because it does not fit our physiology. I strongly believe that grassfed meat is the way to go, along with plant foods that are similar to those in a wild diet.

Jo Robinson is a great resource for all of us that are looking for foods we are designed to eat – nutrient-dense food that supports our goals of attaining optimum, vibrant health.
For more information on this and other health-related topics, come in to see me at the Eugene Natural Grocers store. We offer free classes and free one-on-one health coaching sessions.



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