Grass Fed, isn’t that just another fad, show off excuse to spend more money unessesarily on meat? The simple answer is No and it is a big, massive, stinking wake up and smell the coffee NO, but more about that in a minute.
This naturally gluten, grain and dairy free slow roasted one pot beef and potato stew is bursting with Italian flavours. The sweet and aromatic fennel seeds, blended with tomato, rosemary and basil are perfectly accented by the smoky bacon. A great heart thumping winter warmer full and flavour and also a new big favourite with my kids.
The meat I used in this recipe cost only £2 more than the cheapest equivalent at Tesco, their Value Beef, interestingly their Tesco Finest diced beef, (grain fed and not organic) was the same price per KG and their organic (but grain fed) diced beef was more expensive!
The type of meat we eat affects us all, our health, the environment and even the economy. There is just no way of getting away from these facts but still we are lead to believe that somehow because it has a tractor on the label, we buy it from a ‘reputable’ supermarket, or even a butcher that we’re nourishing our bodies and its all OK.
Nobody likes a ‘know it all’ and I don’t like to say what you should or shouldn’t do but when you look at the facts it is more than a little scary that we naively go ahead and ingest the meat we do on a mass scale.
On the surface grass fed meat costs more but if you offset the cost in taxes we all pay due to increased demands on health care caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, government subsidies to farmers, R&D costs attempting to develop new drugs to combat new antibiotic resilience, and the costs to our environment any real additional costs are obliterated.
Never mind that it tastes SO much, is packed full of health benefits for us, the animals and environment. We could all benefit from eating less but higher quality meat
Still not convinced? Here are the top 5 reasons to seek out grass feed meat.
1 # Grass feed animals require less antibiotics.
80% of all antibiotic use is in animals and a staggering 83% of this is estimated to be given to healthy animals. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now attribute the miss use of antibiotics in animals as a major source of antibiotic resistant bacteria that are effecting humans globally creating a health crisis.
‘Without urgent, coordinated action, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill’ . WHO Antimicrobial resistance Fact sheet N°194.
Increasingly bacteria is resistant to multiple antibiotics meaning some infections are difficult or impossible to cure creating longer hospital stays and more deaths. At the same time the number of new antibiotics being produced has greatly decreased.
2 # Corn and grain fed animals are more sickly and likely to have infections and e-coli.
Cows guts pH balance is disturbed by a grain diet and makes it more likely to develop parasites and diseases such as e-coli. Michael Pollan explains that buy acidyfying a cow’s gut we have broken down one of the food chains barriers to infection (Power Steer, New York Times Magazine 2002).
A cows natural gut pH balance is best suited to you’ve guessed it a grass fed diet, making it healthier for them and us.
3 # Grass fed rearing is better for the environment
Current farming methods for corn, soy and wheat are using up top soil faster than the earth can create it and by moving top soil to try and compensate for this global warming gasses nitrous oxide and methane are released into the atmosphere. In addition grain farming methods require energy intensive machinery burning fossil fuel and using large levels of fertilizers and chemicals.
Grass fed methods actually restore nutrients within the food chain by lifting nutrients up through the soil via their long roots and can restore richness back in to soil within a decade.
4 # Grass fed animals are nutritionally better for you
As well as tasting a lot better grass fed beef has additional vitamins omega 3, vitamins. A, E , micro nutrients and twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid known to help reduce the risk of heart disease and risk of cancer.
5 # Gras fed animals are more humanely reared
Living life outside, not heavily constrained or subject to aggressive farming techniques.
So How and Where Can you Find Grass Fed Meat?
The easiest way is to ask. Try your local butcher, farmers market or go to Farms directly. There are already more farms producing grass fed meat and like anything if the demand is there this will only increase.
There are several UK producers who sell directly online and constantly have offers and discounts on different produce, which is when I buy mine. Laverstoke Park and Daylesford have farm shops if you live locally or you can phone up and order from, (Daylesford has limited items on their on line store but you can order anything if you phone them). You can also find some Daylesford items in some supermarkets, I buy their milk for the family, which again is grass fed and the best I’ve found.
For this recipe I used meat from Laverstoke Park Farm for this recipe, a local farm to where I grew up, have shops at the farms and also sell on line and at Waitrose and Ocado who also run regular good offers and discounts.
References and more info:
Italian grass fed beef stew
A succulent slow roasted one pot stew packed full of heady tastes of Italy that will warm soul on a cold or wet winters day.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 kg, 35.2 ounces, x Organic, grass fed diced beef
- 2 x Red onions, preferably organic
- 184g, x organic dry cured, nitrate free bacon cut into small strips
- 850g, 30 ounces, x organic potatoes cut into generous chunks
- 1 x cup, 250ml, of red wine
- 2 x tablespoons of fennel seeds
- 2 x bay leafs
- 2 x cups, 500ml of water
- 1 x cup, 250ml, of organic tomato passata
- 2 x tablespoons of chopped rosemary
- Maldon (or alternative sea salt) and pepper to season
- 100g x chopped fresh basil leaves
- Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 150c, 275f
- In a large cast iron, or oven proof pot with a lid lightly brown the beef in some extra virgin olive oil, for a min or so in batches and then leave the beef on one side sprinkling with one tablespoon of fennel seeds
- Add a little more extra virgin olive oil to the pan and gently soften the onions and cook the bacon on a low heat, for approx. 5 mins
- Add the potatoes and wine and bring to the boil, degalazing the pan by scrapping off any stuck meat etc with a wooden spoon
- Once boiled reduce the liquid to a simmer and add the second tablespoon of fennel seeds, bay leafs, water and pasatta
- Add the beef making sure its submerged under the water sprinkle over the rosemary, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven with the lid on for 1 and a half hours
- Take the pot out of the oven sprinkle in the chopped basil and enjoy with some collard greens or veg of choice!