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Grass-fed or Organic: Which is Healthier?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Both grass-fed beef and organic beef are healthier choices than conventionally farmed beef products. While grass-fed meat can be organic, and organic beef can be grass-fed, this isn’t always the case.

Understanding what grass-fed means and when a product can be certified organic helps you make confident choices and pick the best-quality beef products.

pasture-raised grass-fed cow

What is grass-fed beef?

Grass-fed beef comes from cows that have access to pastures where they can graze and forage on their natural diet of grass. 

In contrast, conventional beef from factory farms is generally raised on an unnatural diet of GMO crops, including soy and corn, and is often kept in overcrowded living conditions.   

It’s important to understand that the food label grass-fed doesn’t indicate how long cattle are raised on grass. It’s common practice to switch grass-fed cows to grains during the final month before slaughter to achieve maximum growth and maturation.

Only cattle raised exclusively on grass can be labeled 100% grass-fed or grass-finished making grass-fed burgers worth the extra cost.

Grass-fed meat is a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and contains more nutrients—including vitamin E, iron, and antioxidants—than grain-fed beef.

Studies suggest that omega-3 fats help to lower inflammation and that regular consumption of grass-fed meat reduces the risk of developing inflammatory conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and eczema. 

Watch the video below to learn more about the benefits of grass-fed beef—and why it’s an excellent food to support your health.

What is organic beef?

Organic beef means cattle are kept in conditions that allow natural behaviors like foraging and grazing on pasture. 

To be able to certify beef USDA organic, farms must comply with a strict set of standards and rules, including:   

  • No administering of growth hormones or antibiotics 

  • Cattle must have access to a natural environment 

  • Feed must be 100% organic and free of GMO ingredients and artificial pesticides 

  • Livestock can’t be kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions 

Consuming organic meats reduces exposure to hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, making organic meat a healthy addition to your keto diet.

Many farms operating responsible grass-feeding are also certified organic. Check labels to identify certified organic and 100% grass-fed beef for the best quality meat products.

Raw beef cuts

Grass-fed vs. organic beef: which is healthier?

Organic beef and grass-fed beef are better choices than beef raised using conventional factory farming.

Grass-fed beef is the most nutritious meat, and organically-raised beef ensures the animals are kept in humane living conditions without using growth hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics.

While organic beef is raised on GMO-free feed, it typically contains some grains like soy and corn. This explains why grass-fed meat is more nutritious than organic beef and has better flavor.   

Both grass-fed and organic products have health benefits, and you will get the best quality beef if you choose organic, 100% grass-fed meats. If you struggle to find grass-fed beef, opt for 100% certified organic produce instead.

grilled organic steak

Key takeaways

Choose grass-fed, 100% organic meat whenever possible. These beef products contain the most nutrients and come from cows that haven’t been exposed to antibiotics and growth hormones and were raised in a natural environment. 

Beef raised on grass is a rich source of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. 

Including organic and 100% grass-fed beef products on your keto food list is an excellent choice supporting your health and well-being. 

FAQs

1. Which is better, grass-fed or organic?

Grass-fed meats are the most nutritious and are rich sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In many cases, grass-fed beef also has been farmed organically, meaning no antibiotics or hormones were administered to the livestock. 

Check labels and choose grass-fed, organic beef whenever possible. If grass-fed beef isn’t available, choose organic meats instead.

2. Are grass-fed and organic beef the same thing?

No, grass-fed and organic aren’t the same things. A grass-fed label indicates that cattle are raised on a grass diet at some point during their lifespan. Products stating 100% grass-fed or grass-finished mean that cows are raised on grass for their entire lives. 

Certified organic labels mean that livestock has been raised in natural living conditions without using hormones or antibiotics. However, while organic farming allows cattle some access to pasture, cows may still be fed a diet containing grains.

3. What are the benefits of organic?

Organic meat is raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, or pesticides. Livestock is provided with GMO-free feed and kept in sanitary living conditions that allow natural behavior.

Organic farming reduces your exposure to GMOs, pesticides, and antibiotics. It’s also more environmentally sustainable and humane than conventional factory farming.

4. What are the benefits of grass-fed?

Cattle raised on grass are healthier and produce more nutrient-rich meats than cattle raised on grains. Access to pasture allows natural behaviors like grazing and foraging. It’s a more humane, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly farming method.

5. What does organic mean?

Certified organic beef comes from cattle raised without hormones or prophylactic antibiotics. Animals have access to natural living conditions that aren’t overcrowded and are fed a GMO-free, 100% organic feed.

6. What is grass-finished beef?

Grass-finished beef comes from cows raised on only grass for their entire lifespan. Typically, grass-fed cattle have access to pasture where they can graze and forage, resulting in meat that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy omega-3 fats.

7. What is the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished?

Grass-fed indicates that cattle have been grass-fed at some point during their lifespan but not necessarily for their entire lives. It’s not uncommon to grass-feed young cows and switch to grain feed during the last few months before slaughter to maximize growth. 

In contrast, grass-finished meat comes from cows that eat only grass for their entire lifespan. Grass-finished beef is of better quality and contains more nutrients than grass-fed beef.

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