Is Grass Fed Beef Better? And How do You Define 'Better'?

Today I was reminded of why one should refrain from broad statements like, "Grass fed beef is better for the environment."

For one, it's a fairly meaningless statement. Better than what? Well, corn-fed, presumably, but in what way? What environmental parameters are we using?

Because, here's the thing. I don't eat much meat, but I fully support eating grass-fed. But when you frame an argument that way, you open yourself up to criticism. And then you get guys like Josh Ozersky claiming that corn-fed beef tastes better and that locally grown corn-fed beef is better for the environment than grass-fed beef that required acres of South American rainforest to be cut down.

And that's the problem with sound-bytes. Because anyone can create a scenario wherein something considered 'good' for the environment (like say walking) can be rendered 'bad' for the environment (because all that walking made you so hungry you ate a cheeseburger made with South American beef!!)

Still, Ozersky's point is well taken. So as the ethical consumer, I say this to you: Don't eat grass-fed beef from cows grown on former rainforests in South America.

Instead, buy some locally grown grass-fed beef from your local farmers' market. Ozersky claims that corn-fed beef tastes better than grass-fed. I think he's wrong. Grass fed beef, in my opinion, tastes inordinately better.

Moreover, grass fed beef tends to be lower fat, and higher in omega-3.

Furthermore, there's the moral dimension. The digestive system of a cow is designed to eat primarily grass, not primarily grain. Is it really fair for us to be forcing a cow to eat something that they haven't evolved to eat?

Finally, in terms of carbon costs, locally produced grass-fed beef cuts down on transportation emissions for meat.

But the truth is, that any way you slice it, beef is a fairly carbon-intensive meat. So it is best to eat as little of it as possible.