If you picked up the meat for tonight's dinner at a local restaurant or grocer, chances are you are going to be chomping down on a lot more than you bargained for.
At least, that's the opinion of Devora Kimelman, owner and CEO of KOL Foods, an online grocer based out of Silver Spring, who says most, if not all, of the beef you will find at your local big-box grocer is probably ''feedlot beef,'' chock-full of antibiotics and hormones.
Grass-fed beef, the alternative, she says is much healthier.
''Cows and lamb are ruminants, which means that they're supposed to be on a grass-based diet,'' Kimelman says. ''Animals that are raised in feed lots, mainly what they're fed is grain, which is corn-based. This is bad, because it's not their customary diet.''
Kimelman says a corn-based diet causes cows' and lambs' organs to become acidic. That acidity, she says, makes the animals more likely to carry and spread possibly dangerous strains of E. coli bacteria.
Kimelman says ''100 percent grass-fed meat,'' what her company sells, comes from animals that are raised on pastures from day one.
''Grass-fed meat, by and large, has no added hormones, no animal byproducts and no antibiotics. By contrast, with feedlot beef, not only is their feed not good for them, but they're also being given a constant supply of hormones and antibiotics.''
But aren't antibiotics good?
''If you're sick, antibiotics are good,'' Kimelman counters. ''But they're being given [them] to keep them from getting sick, despite the fact that they're eating all this stuff they shouldn't be, they're living in such close quarters, and they're basically standing in manure all day.''
The whole point with grass-fed beef, she adds, is eating a healthier alternative.
That's mainly because grass-fed beef has higher levels of vitamins and health-promoting fats, such as omega-3, and conjugated linoleic acids(CLA).
''The other thing is that the cholesterol you get from grass-feed beef is healthy, whereas the cholesterol you get from feedlot beef is unhealthy.''
But there are disadvantages in seeking the healthier option. As Kimelman points out, it's hard to find.
EatWild.com, the self-proclaimed No. 1 site for grass-fed beef information, makes it easier by locating retailers close to you. And for Washingtonians, that might mean attending the FRESHFARM Market's Dupont Circle Sunday Market.
You don't have to be preparing a feast. Nancy Pritchard of Smith Meadows in Berryville, Va., one of the vendors at the Dupont Circle Sunday Market, says even singles and smaller families living in the city can pick up items that are affordable at her booth.
''We sell a number of items that are between $5 and
$10,'' she says. ''And we sell a number of things that are individually packaged.''
Pritchard says a popular item with Dupont Circle shoppers is the ''fajita sandwich strips,'' which comes in a package serving two people for $5.
''You need less meat to feel full when you're eating a grass-fed product, so you can probably trim down in terms of how much you eat,'' she adds.
Pritchard is just one of the many vendors in Dupont Circle. She's been involved for the past six years and says making the switch to healthier meats is not difficult.
If that's not enough incentive, Kimelman insists it tastes better, too.
''Grass-fed beef is really much more dimensional,'' Kimelman says. ''If you actually want to taste the flavor of meat, you should have grass-fed beef. It's terrific.''
For more information about KOL Foods, visit www.kolfoods.com or call 888-366-3565. For more on Eat Wild, visit www.eatwild.com. For Smith Meadows, visit www.smithmeadows.com or call 877-955-4389. For details about the Dupont Circle Sunday Market, running Sundays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., in the 1500 block of 20th Street NW, call 202-244-2131 or visit www.freshfarmmarket.org/markets/dupont_circle.html.