There are many statistics out there about how much farmed meat, farmed poultry, and farmed fish is nutritionally worse than grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, and wild caught fish. The nutrition is much more complete and stronger when it comes to the natural meats, poultry, and fish, compared to the farmed versions.
Farmed food doesn’t mean that farm with the brown fence and the red barn. Those farms are more and more rare, a by-product of a by-gone era, when farmers were solo entrepreneurs who grew their own crops, raised their own animals, and sold their own foods. In the past several decades, they have been consolidated or put out of business.
The corporations that have snuffed out the smaller farms began to control more and more of the meat markets. They created large farms that spanned miles and were devoted to the raising and controlling of animals that produced meat. These include chickens, cows, fish, and pigs. There are other animals as well.
These farms, otherwise known as factory farms, treat animals like they are worth far less than they actually are. They stuff animals in pens and cages, so much so that they are almost piled on top of one another. They feed them a stock that is not natural to them, pumped full of antibiotics and steroids to swell the profitable parts of their bodies.
Chickens are kept in coops that receive very little sunlight. Cows are born and die in the dark. The feed keeps them full and bloats up their bodies so that their legs give out from under them. Chickens can no longer walk. Cows are so bloated they can barely stand. And the nutrition dies out from the food.
There are other ways, of course. Grass-fed beef is popular, if more expensive. It costs more to raise a cow the natural way, the old way, rather than with the economy and brutal infrastructure of a factory farm. It is also more nutritious. The cows see the sun, chomp on the grass, get a natural diet, and the meat is healthier to eat.
The statistics about grass-fed beef versus farmed beef alone are worthy of an entire article. They are:
- Beef from grass-fed cows has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and offers more vitamins A and E.
- Grass fed beef has up to seven times more beta carotene than grain fed.
- Grass fed beef accounts for possibly less than 3% of all beef sales in the U.S.
- In 2001 it was estimated that 60 to 80% of antibiotics produced in the U.S. were given to livestock in their feed.
- Americans on average eat 66.5 pounds of beef every year.
It is the same or similar with farmed salmon versus wild caught salmon. Farmed salmon are kept in small tanks where they are fed a grain-based diet. It is also pumped full of steroids and antibiotics to counteract the bacteria that grows in their tanks. They are fed a diet that is unfamiliar to them because it is cheapest.
Wild caught salmon are just like what they sound. They are salmon caught in the wild that have been eating natural food, and they are healthier as a result. The statistics surrounding wild caught salmon versus farmed salmon are eye opening.
- Wild salmon has 32% fewer calories than it’s farmed counterpart, according to data from the National Nutritional Database.
- Wild salmon averages out at 13 grams of fat in a half filet, compared to 27 grams in farmed salmon.
- Farmed salmon has more than three times the amount of saturated fat as wild salmon.
Grass fed beef and wild caught salmon are two of the healthier foods that can be eaten. They are certainly more healthy than the farmed versions, due to the lack of care provided to the animals and the paucity of their diet. The same goes for free range poultry, which is raised as intended.
Unfortunately, grass fed beef, wild caught salmon, and free range poultry are all more expensive than their farmed varieties. This is due to the factory system and the efficiency with which it runs. But there are options. Local meat farmers can provide grass fed steaks and free range chicken. Wild caught Alaskan salmon can be found at stores.
Local meat farmers can help with sustainable meat. And there are more.