We are all about good food… where good taste meets good for you. And believe it or not, there is nothing better than grilled, grass-fed hamburgers for good summer eatin’. We know what you’re thinking. Yum! But healthy? You bet. The key is “grass-fed.”
Vintage Advertising image via Kitchen Kitsch: Vintage Food Graphics
Not only does grass-fed beef taste unbelievably delicious, it is also loaded with the good stuff that makes you healthy and pretty. Grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fat found in salmon, in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a proven cancer fighter, as well as vitamins A and E, branch-chain amino acids, digestive enzymes and essential nutrients that are known for their antioxidant properties.
Why is grass-fed beef so healthy? What is the difference between grass-fed beef and regular beef? It turns out that it is all about the cow’s pH levels. Forage-grazing animals, with a natural diet of high-protein, low-starch lush forages, have a healthy, highly-functioning balanced pH of 7, which allows for an abundance of the essential fermentation bacteria that create high levels of CLA, omega-3s, branch-chain amino acids, vitamins and digestive enzymes. But when an animal lives on a heavy-starch grain diet, that healthy pH 7 suddenly plummets to a highly acidic pH 4. With this increase in acidity comes a different kind of fermentation bacteria: one that impedes the production of healthy fats like omega-3s and CLA and increases the level of omega-6s. Animals also require daily doses of low-level, feed-grade antibiotics to allow their livers to cope with abnormal acidity. With less exercise than their pasture-raised, forage-fed counterparts, grain-fed animals develop the heavier, marbled muscle mass that is the hallmark of a high-carbohydrate, low-fiber diet. Sad but true, most beef isn’t good for you: the ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 approach 20 to 1, CLA and vitamin levels are minimal, and it’s full of antibiotics and hormones. Not good at all. And that’s not even taking into account the heavy environmental impact of grain fed beef. (Huge petroleum inputs. GMO corn for feed. Heavy use of antibiotics. Waste lagoons… you get the idea.)
Photos by The Palmer
Luckily there are some farms that are raising sustainable, healthy and incredibly delicious grass-fed beef. Niman Ranch is a wonderful one in California. If you live an area where good grass-fed beef is hard to find, you can order from them too. Or try U.S. Wellness Meats. Now go get your grill on!
And for the perfect accompaniment to a grilled burger…
Avocado and Corn Salad
Makes about 4 cups.
3 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
2 avocados – peeled, pitted, and cubed
1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
½ red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
salt and black pepper to taste
Grill corn until kernels are tender but crisp. Cool corn in cold water. Use a knife to scrape kernels from the cobs. Combine all the other ingredients except the avocado with the corn in a large bowl & toss to mix them all up. Add the avocado just before serving. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Happy Grilling! And have a wonderful holiday weekend!