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Eatwild News Archives

Milk from Grass-Fed Cows Higher in Vitamin E

Cows that get all their nutrients from grazed grass—their natural diet—produce milk with up to 86 percent more vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) than cows fed a standard dairy diet, according to a recent study.

The standard dairy diet consists of large amounts of “concentrate,” which is typically a mixture of dry corn and soy. Some organic dairies raise their cows on pasture and supplement them with organic concentrate; others keep their cows indoors and feed them organic concentrate and stored grasses. The more freshly grazed grass in a cow’s diet, the more vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and CLA.

Leiber, F., M. Kreuzer, et al. (2005). Lipids 40(2): 191-202.

Eggs from Pastured Hens Better for Your Eyes

Eggs from hens raised on pasture are higher in lutein and zeaxanthin than eggs from chickens raised in confinement. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are natural substances similar to beta-carotene that protect your eyes from cataracts and a common cause of blindness called "macular degeneration." They may also protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Commercial egg producers add synthetic colorants to their feed to mimic the bright yellow yolks of eggs from pastured hens, A widely used additive is "canthaxantin." Canthaxantin can cause eye problems in humans. Farmed-raised salmon and trout are also fed canthaxantin to add more color to their pallid flesh. Due to public outcry, labels on farmed Atlantic salmon must now include the words "artificially colored" or "color added," in ¼ inch or larger letters. The same cautionary remark should be added to most egg cartons.

Where can you find eggs from pasture hens? Most of the premium or "natural" eggs in your supermarket are not from chickens raised on pasture. The term "cage-free" can simply mean that the hens are free to roam on a barn floor; typically, the hens have no access to grass. Organic eggs come from chickens fed organic ingredients. Typically, they, too, are raised in confinement. The same is true for chickens fed "vegetarian" feed. Grass makes the difference. It is rich in the natural carotenoids that are important to your health. You will find eggs from pastured hens at your local farmer's market and from producers listed in

Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2006, 54, 2267-2273.

    More Mad Cows. Less Government Testing

downer cow

Prior to the identification of the first case of BSE in 2003, the FDA was testing only 55 cows a day. Following the discovery, it increased its surveillance to 1,000 cows a day. Now, the FDA is proposing to test only 110 cows a day, which is one tenth of one percent of the number of the animals being consumed.

Japan tests every cow for BSE. Following slaughter, a portion of each animal’s brain is given a rapid test for the disease. The carcasses are kept in cold storage until the test results are known. The Japanese government has adopted this stringent practice to assure the health of the public and to restore consumer faith in the government’s ability to safeguard the food supply. FDA take note.

Union of Concerned Scientists Extol Benefits of  Grass-Fed Beef and Dairy

mad cow

On March 8, 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit alliance of more than 100,000 U.S. scientists, released an 80-page report on grass-fed beef and dairy products. Summarizing the report, author Dr. Kate Clancy said "When you eat grass-fed meat, you're getting beef with benefits. There are no losers in producing cattle entirely on pasture. Farmers win, consumers win, the environment wins, and even the cattle win."

The committee surveyed dozens of published studies before arriving at their conclusions. The bottom line, according to their investigation, is that raising animals on pasture:

  •  Decreases soil erosion and increases soil fertility
  •  Improves water quality
  •  Improves human health due to reduced antibiotic use
  •  Improves farmer and farm worker health
  •  Improves animal health and welfare
  •  Results in more profit per animal for producer
  •  The report also validates the fact that products from pasture-raised animals are  lower in total fat, and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), vitamin E, and beta-carotene.

Be wary of spring chickens

Did you know that standard poultry producers feed trace amounts of arsenic to their broilers? In small amounts, the well-known poison stimulates the birds’ appetites and helps fight certain diseases that can spread rapidly in confinement facilities. A survey published in Environmental Health Perspectives sheds light on how much arsenic makes it to our dinner plates.

The researchers determined that there was 0.39 ppm of arsenic in the meat of young broiler chickens, the type of chicken that fills the meat cases at your local supermarket. They calculated this was “3–4 fold higher than in other poultry and meat. People who eat typical amounts of chicken may ingest 1.38–5.24 mcg a day from chicken alone.” They concluded that “These concentrations are higher than previously recognized in chicken,” and went on to say it may be wise to recalculate how much of the poison that consumers are ingesting on a daily basis.

Pastured poultry are not treated with arsenic or any other toxic substances.

Lasky, T., W. Sun, et al. (2004). "Mean total arsenic concentrations in chicken 1989-2000 and estimated exposures for consumers of chicken." Environ Health Perspect 112(1): 18-21.

Pizza dough and tetracycline

In an interview with a former manager of a Nebraska feedlot, Eatwild has learned of an extreme example of raising cattle on junk food. In this particular feedlot, the cattle were fattened on stale pizza crust that the owners purchased from a wholesale bakery for only a penny a pound.

Feeding junk food to animals is regarded by many as a win-win situation: it keeps waste food out of the landfills and provides low cost food for the animal industry.

The pizza dough was then mixed with powdered tetracycline. Why add the antibiotic medication? Because low levels of antibiotics make cattle eat more and put on weight more rapidly, further cutting the cost of raising them to maturity. Tetracycline is not approved as a feed additive in cattle, so the owners purchased the drug under the false pretense that they were using it to treat disease in poultry.

On this junk food and drug diet, the cattle put on as much as four pounds a day, a remarkable rate of growth at a very low cost. The end result was more money for the feedlot, more abuse of medications that are important for human medicine, and more meat of questionable quality for an unsuspecting public.

The degree to which American cattle are being fed junk food and off-label drugs is not known.

Grass-fed beef can qualify as a "good source" of omega-3

Grass-fed animals have 2 to 3 times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed animals. But is this enough of a difference to enhance your health? Yes, according to an Australian study. The researchers sampled meat from three groups of animals: 1) cattle raised on pasture alone; 2) cattle raised on pasture and then switched to grain for a short period of time, and 3) cattle raised on pasture and then switched to grain for a longer period of time, the typical American feedlot model.

The researchers determined that the 100 percent grass-fed animals had higher levels of omega-3 than both of the other groups. There was enough of two types of omega-3s—EPA and DHA—to qualify the meat as a significant "source" of these healthy fats. Meat from the rump had enough to qualify as a "good source."

As other studies have shown, the grass-fed meat also had less total fat and less saturated fat, making it a healthier choice all around.

Mann, NJ et al, "Feeding regimes affect fatty acid composition in Australian beef cattle," Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 12 Suppl, S38, 2003.

Women lose more weight on a diet high in red meat

One hundred overweight women were randomly assigned to one of two different diets. One was high in red meat (34% protein diet) and the other was low in red meat (17% protein diet.) The two diets had the same number of calories. At the end of the three-month study, the women on the red-meat diet had lost an extra one and a half pounds of fat. They also held on to more of their lean muscle mass, which helped them maintain their strength and metabolic rate. Women who had high triglycerides at the beginning of the study fared even better on the red meat diet, losing four and a half extra pounds.

There were additional benefits to the carnivorous diet. The women had a 14% greater reduction in triglycerides, and a 9% increase in vitamin B12. (The women on the low meat diet had a 13% loss in B12) The conclusion of the researchers? "A low calorie diet high in red meat seems to provide a weight loss advantage [for women] with no adverse effects on bone metabolism."

APJournal of Clinical Nutrition, 12(S):10, 2003

Grazing better for the soil than growing grain

Six Minnesota pasture-based ranchers asked researchers to compare the health of their soil with soil from neighboring farms that produced corn, soybean, oats, or hay. At the end of four years of monitoring, researchers concluded that the carefully managed grazed land had:

  • 53% greater soil stability
  • 131% more earthworms
  • Substantially more organic matter
  • Less nitrate pollution of groundwater
  • Improved stream quality
  • Better habitat for grassland birds and other wildlife

Depending on the way that cattle are managed, they can either devastate a landscape or greatly improve the health of the soil. To be listed on our Eatwild Pastured Products Directory, producers must certify that they use best management practices.

"Managed Grazing as an Alternative Manure Management Strategy," Jay Dorsey, Jodi Dansingburg, Richard Ness, USDA-ARS, Land Stewardship Project.

One hundred percent grass-fed ice cream

grassfed ice cream

This is not lemon custard ice cream—it's vanilla ice cream made from the milk of a 100-percent grassfed Jersey cow and eggs from pastured hens. The sunny yellow color comes from beta-carotene and similar carotenoids that are abundant in grass.

Ice cream from animals raised in confinement is a pale imitation of the real thing. In addition to having less beta-carotene, it has fewer omega-3 fatty acids and less vitamin E and CLA.


Cows on pasture produce healthier, bigger calves

Pasture, not grain or "concentrate," is the native diet of cattle. It stands to reason that cows that eat nothing but pasture would have healthier calves. Researchers have found this to be true. In a controlled experiment, 24 pregnant cows were divided into two groups. Both groups grazed pasture, but one was supplemented with a grain-based product. The calves from the grass-only cows were heavier, taller, and had a larger chest circumference. The researchers concluded that "the adoption of new management practices" such as feeding grain to pregnant cows should be undertaken with caution.

Bergamaschi, M. A., W. R. Vicente, et al. (2004). "Effect of grazing system on fetal development in Nellore cattle." Theriogenology 61(7-8): 1237-45.

It's not the meat—it's the heat!

rare ribeye

Eating red meat has long been linked with an increased risk of cancer, especially rectal cancer. A 2004 study questions that association. In a U.S. study of 2157 men and women, researchers found no link between eating red meat or white meat and rectal cancer. But when either type of meat was cooked well done, men had a significantly higher risk of the disease.

Interestingly, eating red or white meat did not increase the risk of rectal cancer in women, whether the meat was cooked rare, medium or well done. And women who consumed red meat drippings had a lower risk.

The scientists concluded that cancer risk comes from substances that are formed when meat is cooked to higher temperatures. Two heat-related compounds, HCAs (carcinogenic heterocylic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are the main culprits. Eat your meat rare or medium rare, and you may avoid the health risk altogether.

Journal of Nutrition 134:776-784, April, 2004

Note: For safety, the USDA recommends cooking hamburgers and ground beef mixtures such as meat loaf to 160 °F. However, whole muscle meats such as steaks and roasts may be cooked to 145 °F (medium rare).

How much garbage is being fed to our livestock?

As a way to lower costs, millions of tons of municipal garbage are being fed to our livestock. Understandably, this practice is not widely advertised. Nor is the volume of the garbage in animal feed being monitored by the USDA.

Perhaps the only way to track the amount of waste being "recycled" through animals is to review the records of waste management bureaus. In 2002, in the city of Los Angeles alone, records show that more than 276,000 tons of garbage were diverted from landfills and turned into animal feed.

Grazed pasture is the best land use for storing carbon

Growing plants take carbon dioxide out of the air and "fix" it into the soil as organic matter. The more carbon dioxide that's taken out of the air, the lower the rate of global warming. Until recently, forested land and ungrazed grasslands were thought to be the best "sinks" or storehouses for carbon. The study iillustrated below concluded that well managed grazed pasture may be far better.

soil carbon

"Soil Organic Carbon in fields of switch grass and row crops as well as woodlots and pastures across the Chariton Valley, Iowa." Final Report. Lee Burras and Julie McLaughlin, Iowa State University, January 25, 2002.

Growing corn and soy causes six times more soil erosion than pasture

Farming cannot be sustainable if the topsoil is constantly being eroded. Currently, the United States is losing three billion tons of nutrient-rich topsoil each year. The graph below shows the results of a new study from the University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms Program. Compared with grazed pasture, gently sloped land devoted to soy and corn production lost six times more topsoil each year. According to Dennis Frame, director of Discovery Farms, if the trend of selling cows and moving to grain production doesn't cease, soil erosion and nutrient losses will continue to climb.


Article originally available on

Alpine milk may be the healthiest of all

Milk from one hundred percent grass-fed cows is healthier than milk from grain-fed cows because it contains more of a number of key nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. New research shows that cows that graze at relatively high altitudes may produce the healthiest milk of all. Compared with lowland grazers, milk from high altitude grazers (3700-6200 ft) has even more omega3s and CLA and significantly less saturated fat.

Why? Plants growing in higher altitudes have more omega-3 fatty acids, fats which solidify at lower temperatures than other fats and therefore act as a form of anti-freeze. The cows eat this enriched pasture and pass the nutrients on to their milk.

Hauswirth, C. B., M. R. Scheeder, and J. H. Beer. "High Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content in Alpine Cheese: The Basis for an Alpine Paradox." Circulation 109, no. 1 (2004): 103-7.

Pasture reduces topsoil erosion by 93 percent

Canadian researchers are confirming recent U.S. findings that grazed pasture helps reduce soil lose. According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, growing corn and soy for animal feed using conventional methods causes a significant amount of this soil loss. Compared with row crops, grazed pasture reduces soil loss by as much as 93 percent.


Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Robert P. Stone and Neil Moore, Fact Sheet 95-089

More good news about the health benefits of milk from grassfed cows

In recent years, researchers have discovered that some fats are very good for your health, including omega-3 fatty acids, oleic acid (found in olive oil and meat) and conjugated linoleic acid CLA. Now, attention is focusing on the health benefits of a little known fat called butyric acid (byoo' tric).

Like CLA and omega-3 fatty acids, butryric acid is a cancer fighter. Lab studies have shown that it can slow the growth of tumor cells and prompt all cells to develop more normally. According to a newly published study, feeding grain to dairy cows "reduced the contribution of butyric acid to milk fat, from 4.5 to 3.9 g/100 g milk fat, on average."

Compared with milk from cows fed grain, grassfed cows have more omega-3s, CLA, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and butyric acid.

Stockdale, C. R., G. P. Walker, et al. (2003). "Influence of pasture and concentrates in the diet of grazing dairy cows on the fatty acid composition of milk." J Dairy Res 70(3): 267-76.

1) The future of farming is here

According to the latest US census data, the average age of the US farmer is 54. Young farmers, under the age of 35, account for only 8 percent of the farming population.

milking cowGrassfarmers seem to be bucking the trend. A 1997 survey of Pennsylvania dairy farmers found that farmers who raised their cows on pasture were younger, better educated, more likely to use farm plans, and more interested in expanding their operations than farmers who kept their cows in confinement.

Kelsey Kozak, an enterprising 15-year-old from Washington State, may be the very youngest of the new crop of grassfarmers. Kelsey has wanted to have her own cow since she was 8-years old and had a fantasy of "making my own Brie." At age 12, she began envisioning "a fridge in our barn full of milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream."

This summer, Kelsey began realizing her dream by purchasing a Jersey cow, Iris, and raising her on pasture. In addition to attending school full-time, Kelsey does all the milking and makes yogurt, yogurt cheese, mozzarella, and ice cream to sell at her home-based "Fort Bantam Creamery." Customers come from as far away as Seattle, even though it means a two-hour round trip and a $15 ferry ticket. Like other grass-based farmers, she has discovered that "people are thrilled to find real milk in their area."

Kelsey is now experimenting with making aged cheeses. Her future goals include "going to France to work with an artisan cheese maker in the Pyrenees and learn how to make really good cheeses!" Brie is likely to be one of the first that she masters.

2) Pasture-raised animals have fewer disease-causing bacteria

Australians discovered that raising cattle on pasture reduced their risk of carrying a bacteria called "campylobacter." FIfty-eight percent of the cattle raised in a feedlot carried the bacteria, but only two percent of those raised and finished on pasture. graph

Campylobacter bacteria can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and muscle pain. Most cases are mild, but it can be life threatening if other diseases such as cancer or liver disease are present. People most likely to be affected are children under the age of 5 and young adults from 15-29. Symptoms can occur from two to ten days after eating infected meat.

(Bailey, G. D., B. A. Vanselow, et al. (2003). "A study of the food borne pathogens: Campylobacter, Listeria and Yersinia, in faeces from slaughter-age cattle and sheep in Australia." Commun Dis Intell 27(2): 249-57.)

Much of the grain fed to our conventionally raised livestock is genetically modified or GM. The only way to keep pollen from GM crops from "out-crossing" to unmodified plants is to create a sufficiently large buffer zone. A recent British study found that bees transport pollen more than 4,000 meters—a much larger buffer zone than most farmers maintain. This finding "stunned the Ministry of the Environment, and a spokesman said that existing isolation guidelines will have to be reviewed."
Read Bees Confound Canola "Buffer Zones."

3) Natural CLA from grazing animals superior to pills

hand with pillsTens of thousands of people who want to lose weight or reduce body fat have been taking a synthetic version of conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. A new study shows that the pills may cause more harm than good. After reviewing 13 randomized studies, a group of researchers concluded that the pills do not reduce body weight or body fat to a significant degree. Unfortunately, the promising results seen in animal studies do not seem to apply to humans.

Worse yet, the researchers found that a kind of CLA found in the pills (CLA (t10, c12) may cause serious health complications, including an enlarged liver, lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.single cow

Meanwhile, the main type of CLA found in meat and dairy products (c9, t11 or "rumenic acid") has been given a clean bill of health. Once again, a natural product has been found to be superior to its synthetic counterpart.

Larsen, T. M., S. Toubro, et al. (2003). "Efficacy and safety of dietary supplements containing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) for the treatment of obesity-evidence from animal and human studies." J Lipid Res.

5) You'd butter believe it!

better butter On the left, you see two cubes of butter. The one on the top is from a grass-based dairy in Kansas. Despite appearances, no coloring was added to the grassfed butter. When a cow gets all her nutrients from lush spring and early summer pasture, the butter takes on a golden hue. The color comes from beta-carotene, an important vitamin and antioxidant. Milk from grass-fed cows has invisible benefits as well, including several times more omega-3 fatty acids and CLA.

The cube on the bottom is from a well-known commercial dairy. For most Americans, this is the way butter is "supposed to look." Cows have been supplemented with grain for so many decades that people have come to expect the paler color. The fact that conventional butter also has fewer health-promoting nutrients remains a closely guarded secret. To the USDA, most dieticians, and virtually all members of the medical profession, butter is butter is butter.

Read more about the health benefits of milk from grassfed cows.

Read more of the News Archives...

  1. Hog factories move in; hog farmers move out
  2. A surprising benefit of eating organic fruits and vegetables
  3. Confessions of a feedlot cowboy
  4. Europe goes gung ho for grass!
  5. Pastured rabbits: "healthier and more delicious"
  6. Meat from grass-fed cattle stays fresher longer
  7. Fresh garlic powder wipes out harmful E. coli
  8. Lambs control insects and increase crop yield
  9. Feedlot diet reduces the health benefits of bison meat.
  10. Move over chicken. Grassfed beef is best!
  11. Latitude and altitude—hidden factors that influence omega-3 and CLA
    levels in milk.
  12. Want to reduce global warming? Plant a cow.
  13. Irradiate or Pasture-ize?
  14. More proof that grassfed cattle are healthier than grainfed cattle
  15. Does it taste any good?
  16. Meet tomorrow's chicken
  17. More evidence that milk from grassfed cows may reduce breast cancer risk
  18. Confirmation of the health benefits of pasture-finished cattle
  19. Women who eat dairy products from grassfed cows may have a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer
  20. It was only a matter of time
  21. The low tech solution to preventing shipping fever? Don't ship them!
  22. Cipro's sister drug, Baytril, is being wasted on chickens
  23. Mad cow disease infiltrates Japan
  24. Natural CLA from milk products is a better cancer-fighter than CLA pills
  25. Why pay more for pastured poultry?
  26. Synthetic CLA may be hazardous to some people's health
  27. The "bad" E. coli persists in the barn but not on pasture
  28. It's not just the CLA
  29. Feed clover, not grease
  30. What to do with all that manure?
  31. Fast Track Hatchlings
  32. Laid-Back Cattle Produce Tender Meat
  33. Round 'em up. Feed 'em grain.
  34. US confinement-raised poultry not good enough for the Russians
  35. Grassfed meat at McDonald's?? Yes and no.
  36. Let them eat worms and insects!
  37. "Dark Cutters"—yet another downside of factory ranching
  38. Growth-promoting antibioticsbad for consumers and farmers
  39. Feedlot cattle succumb to dust pneumonia
  40. Seeing is believing
  41. How much ammonia can chickens tolerate?
  42. Fat cows = fat people
  43. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria not found in free-range chickens
  44. Free-range chickens are healthier than vegetarian and confinement-raised
  45. It's got to be grazed
  46. Feedlot Diets Are a Recipe for Animal Discomfort and Disease
  47. Too little, too late
  48. Raising bison for show
  49. Low marks for US dairy products
  50. Raising animals on grass helps conserve non-renewable energy
  51. Autumn milk has more CLA
  52. Another high tech solution to a bad situation
  53. CLA in North American hunter/gatherer diets
  54. In praise of old cows
  55. Hay feeding does indeed reduce acid-resistant E. coli, says Nebraska Beef Report
  56. Why can't it happen here?
  57. Tips for buying your Easter lamb
  58. Amazing Graze
  59. A welcome source of high CLA butter
  60. Beyond Organic
  61. News you can ewes
  62. Meat from pasture-fed animals stays fresher longer
  63. In the feedlot, it's considered "natural" for cattle to be sick
  64. Lab animals fed CLA-rich butterfat have stronger bones
  65. Native grasses are highest in vitamin E
  66. Two years and Bossy is hamburger
  67. Animals on drugs
  68. How Now Mad Cow?
  69. In 1956, scientist finds health problems in chickens raised in confinement
  70. Butter or margarine? Margarine or butter? The fats in the fire once again!
  71. Wild game has CLA, too
  72. "Green grazing" brings back native plants
  73. Health and quality of life compromised by large-scale swine operation
  74. US shoppers prefer pasture-fed lamb
  75. High vitamin E intake from pasture enhances milk's flavor and freshness
  76. Dairy products from grassfed cows have an ideal essential fatty acid balance
  77. Grass-finished beef is higher in beta carotene
  78. The Fear of Mad Cow Disease Spreads Throughout Europe
  79. Animal scientist contemplates "far-out" idea-pasturing dairy heifers!
  80. The deadliest form of E. coli is more common than originally thought

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In addition, many of the postings have been sorted into four categories.

1) Grassfarming and human health
2) Grassfarming and animal welfare,
3) Grassfarming and the environment,
4) Grassfarming and the welfare of farm families.




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