Runner’s Zen: Corn or Grass – What’s the Difference?

93683While in a total “funk” last night trying to brainstorm a topic I’m passionate about, and one that my reader’s would find interesting, I was talking to Matt Toronto about different ideas. We were talking for about half an hour and I believe on more than one occasion he told me to “dig deep”… I have to admit, the holidays have made my life a little bit busier, so I haven’t been as inspired as I have been in the past. Matt suggested I talk to you about what cows are fed, corn or grass, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Many times I go into the grocery store and find signs everywhere promoting the fact that the beef they’re selling is corn-fed. Is this something they should actually be promoting? When I head on over to my favorite organic butcher here in Toronto, all of their meat is grass-fed – but what’s the difference?

A cow is a ruminant animal, meaning that by nature they are designed to digest grass. Feedlot-CattleCorn is fed to cows to fatten them up and is a cheap form of feed. The stomach of a cow is a pH neutral, but when the cow is fed corn it creates an acidic environment in the cow’s stomach that leads to bloating, diarrhea, ulcers, liver disease and a weakened immune system. Farmers try their best to keep the cows “healthy” by giving them antibiotics, and because so many antibiotics are used the cow then develops antibiotic immune bacteria which can’t be treated with today’s medicine. An acidic intestine also favours the growth of E. Coli, (the strand that has been more popular lately, 0157:H7). It evolves in the stomach and because of that, it’s resistant to acid, meaning it’s also able to survive in the human stomach which can make us extremely sick.

75 years ago, it took a cow roughly four or five years to reach 1200 pounds in weight, today however, thanks to corn feed, cows reach the 1200 pound mark in roughly 14 to 16 months of age. This is a remarkable weight increase in such a short period of time. The bones of the cow aren’t even fully developed by that time leading to injuries in the cow.

Eating grass-fed beef reduces the amount of potential E. Coli by about 80 percent in the cow. A study by the USDA found grass-fed beef higher in calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene and potassium, all of which are very important minerals that humans need to obtain from their diet. grassfedvsgrainfed-300x225Grass fed beef is also lower in fat, higher in Omega-3’s (corn-fed beef only have about 15 to 50 percent as many omega’s as grass-fed cows!), is much higher in vitamin-E, and is higher in CLA (a form of linoleic acid that has been shown to hinder the growth of tumours in mice and rats). Not only that, grass-fed beef LOOKS so much healthier than beef bought in the grocery store. The first time I visited my butcher, I was shocked at how red and healthy the beef looked!

If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, I would highly recommend watching the documentary “Food, Inc.” It looks at how the government in America controls the food every American eats. If you’re unaware of this, it will come as quite a surprise.

It can be difficult to find grass-fed meat, but if you go to your healthy_butcher-1local butcher or farmer’s market you should be able to find it. I shop at The Healthy Butcher here in Toronto, and I encourage you to try it if you’re in the area. Otherwise, I encourage you to find one close to your home, and reap the benefits of grass-fed beef for yourself.

Stay healthy.


Happy Lifting!

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1 comment for “Runner’s Zen: Corn or Grass – What’s the Difference?

  1. Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Great article Sarah! I was just talking to Matt this morning about it. The long and short term health benefits of grass fed for us and the better quality of life for the cow make this a decision everyone should consider. It is unfortunate that price can make grass fed out of reach but where there is a will there is a way. Buying direct from a farmer can save considerable amounts!

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