Muscle Talk - By International Protein

Grass-fed VS Organic Protein

March 24, 2021 International Protein Season 3 Episode 10
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Grass-fed VS Organic Protein
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Grass-fed VS Organic Protein
Mar 24, 2021 Season 3 Episode 10
International Protein

In this episode, we discuss grass-fed versus organic. Which is better, do different countries market these terms differently? What's the difference and what does this mean in your protein powder?

  • Every country is different
  • "Grass-fed" explained
  • "Organic" explained
  • The impact on milk


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we discuss grass-fed versus organic. Which is better, do different countries market these terms differently? What's the difference and what does this mean in your protein powder?

  • Every country is different
  • "Grass-fed" explained
  • "Organic" explained
  • The impact on milk


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk where you'll get well championed advice about nutrition and stacking on muscle. Our host Christine Envall, she's a three time world champion bodybuilder and IFPB professional, a food scientist, and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor International Protein. In this episode we discuss grass fed versus organic. Which is better? Do different countries market these terms differently? What's the difference? And what does it mean in your protein powder?

Ash Horton:
Okay. Christine, today I would like to discuss the difference between grass fed versus organic.

Christine Envall:
Okay. And obviously that's as it relates to protein powder or just in general?

Ash Horton:
Protein powder.

Christine Envall:
Protein powder, cool. Yes, there is a difference. I guess we better clarify that up because I think people do think that those terms are maybe a little bit interchangeable. So with organic, and this does slightly differ from country to country, and some countries still don't actually have a way of defining organic, but when it comes to milk, what it means is that the cow who gave the milk hasn't been given any growth hormones, antibiotics, been fed any genetically modified food or given any other kind of artificial chemicals so to speak. But it doesn't necessarily mean that they've been grass fed. It means that they have to have had at least 30% of their food from grass fed. So that's a really, really ... I guess the key difference there is that ...

Ash Horton:
So organic doesn't necessarily mean grass fed?

Christine Envall:
No.

Ash Horton:
They've had to have 30%.

Christine Envall:
30%. So I think that's something like 120 days out of the year they need to be eating grass.

Ash Horton:
What else would they be eating, grains?

Christine Envall:
Grains. I think grains is the main thing that they use.

Ash Horton:
I actually used to have a farm with 42 steers on it and we'd get them muesli.

Christine Envall:
Muesli?

Ash Horton:
It was a grain. It was muesli, yeah. Anyway, I found that funny. I still find it funny.

Christine Envall:
Did you just call it muesli? Or was it actually called ...

Ash Horton:
It was branded muesli. M O O. Anyway.

Christine Envall:
I digress a little bit here and I'm probably going to start talking about ...

Ash Horton:
Americans are not going to understand that though. Muesli is the word for granola.

Christine Envall:
Granola? That's right. You were feeding them granola with oats and stuff.

Ash Horton:
Anyway.

Christine Envall:
But yes, that's a grain. And the way that the cows digestive system is set up is it is supposed to eat grass.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
So that is obviously a key difference there; that it's partially grass fed, not saying that it can't be also grass fed. So if you have organic and grass fed, that is pretty much the gold standard. I don't know if there is anything which covers off on both of those things. When it comes to the organic side of it, there's not necessarily as much of an impact on the nutrition of the milk, as much as the health of the cow and the holistic-ness of the cow, if that makes sense. And also to be called organic, it's supposed to also follow through that entire chain and process.

Christine Envall:
And it is actually quite a process, in terms of the handling of it. Like the entire facility, particularly in Australia, needs to be classified as organic and anything which is not organic, separated from the organic. So there can't be any kind of crossover. Technically when they do eat the grass, there should be no pesticides used on the grass. I guess it has to be that holistic view. That organic means that there's been no chemicals in contact with any part of this process. So that's the organic side of it. On the grass fed side of it is where I guess it gets a little more interesting because obviously it is supposed to be grass fed. Again, there is definition differences around the world.

Ash Horton:
So I'm getting a wee bit of a feeling that this is a bit of a marketing term?

Christine Envall:
Depending on where you are. So for example, somewhere like Australia, somewhere like New Zealand, where we have an abundance of grass and the cows are able to eat probably a majority ... and I believe Fonterra is like 96% of the feed is grass. Some of the UK standards is pretty much that 30%, 120 days; but they don't call it grass fed as much. I think they call it like pasture pure or they have some other kind of way of defining it. So grass fed is relatively new and not as well regulated as what organic is because organic's been around for quite a long time. To get registered as organic, there's a ... You can't just slap an organic sticker on your product, basically, even though people do. To properly get it certified, there's specific organizations that you go through to get that.

Christine Envall:
But again, with organic, when it comes to an overall food, there's still certain things which are allowed to be non-organic because they understand that to get certain tiny little ingredients, it's very hard to get organic. So the bulk of the food has to be ... So there's always those little caveats. But then when it comes to whey, I know a few years ago there was an organic whey that was kind of floating around, but it was just so expensive that unfortunately in the sports industry, nobody wanted to look at it. Unfortunately, as much as we all say that we're so worried about our health or worried about performance, at the same time when it comes to spending a little bit of extra money, just as a general trend, I do find that people will err towards the cheaper, even if it's not as good.

Christine Envall:
And that's just a thing that I see as a trend. It's a blanket statement and there's obviously people who do very much care about it, but just my general observation of the industry as a whole is that it's still more price driven because people aren't necessarily differentiating between different types of protein and different qualities of protein. Some people do, but majority don't. They just go, "Oh, it's whey." They don't really look much further than that. And then the grass fed. We choose to use grass fed in our products. Some people care, some people don't care. That's just what we observed. Some people, they will happily buy something cause it tastes better or ...

Ash Horton:
Looking at Google trends, there's a lot of searches for grass fed products.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, so it means it's on the rise. Because as I said, it's relatively new and 10 years ago, people could have cared less. So it's obviously something that's changing. But in the search that I did, there's definitely ... As I say, it's not a highly defined way of saying, "Okay, this is grass fed and it all meets the same standard." So depending on where it comes from, there can be a difference. As I've said, over ...

Ash Horton:
So grass fed from Australia and New Zealand is probably some of the best grass fed product around the world?

Christine Envall:
Yeah. And other countries where there is an abundance of natural ...

Ash Horton:
Is that where the cows are in sheds getting fed grind sort of thing? They don't have their backs to the sun, so the general animal is not as healthy? Is that kind of what we're talking about here?

Christine Envall:
Yeah. And that can be because of weather conditions. You think about climate around the world; some places have a very, very severe winter. There isn't grass available because it's frozen. It's not necessarily because someone's done something wrong, but the cow is going to starve otherwise. And that's why they don't have, "It must be 100% of the time grass fed," because they would have dead cows. And same thing applies to collagen, interestingly enough. I'm going to talk about that, because it's not just whey, obviously collagen falls into that same boat where people kind of ask, "Is the collagen coming from a cow which has been grass fed?"

Christine Envall:
Talking to someone who works in that industry, getting actually quite emotional and quite upset saying, "Look, you'd rather have what, a starved cow and we feed it grain? Or you want to have it a hundred percent grass fed and have it die?" Because some of the places where their cattle are raised, the climate doesn't lend itself to them having grass all year around.

Christine Envall:
And even though you can give them hay, it's no longer fresh grass, because I think that's what we're talking about here. We're not just talking about, "Was it once upon a time grass?" Because hay is grass, but it's died and dried up and some of the vitamins obviously died off because some of them need to be still alive. Once they've been exposed to heat, light, they tend to break down. So it's not the same thing as having fresh grass as to having straw, which comes from grass.

Christine Envall:
So that would be another feed source; some grain and still grass, but just dried. Hay, basically, what we call in Australia. I don't know what they call it in America, but we call it hay. And actually growing up on a farm, that was just the natural process. We had fresh grass in the summer. We had cows, mostly meat cows. We'd have a few dairy cows for the actual property, but all through summer, yes there was grass. We know we harvested the grass, put it all in bales and then come over winter when there was no grass, the cows would go out and get fed. So that was ...

Ash Horton:
Same thing in New Zealand.

Christine Envall:
Yeah.

Ash Horton:
Even in the most lush environment. So 100%. Yep.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. So that's normal. But just coming back to grass fed and why it is actually better. So grass fed impacts the milk. So the organic doesn't impact the nutrition of the milk because you're not ... Because obviously if you use antibiotics on a cow, you have to withhold those antibiotics or anything around a milking phase. I've worked a long time in the dairy industry and every milker truck that comes into a dairy place gets tested for penicillin and antibiotics and if it's over a certain threshold, that milk can't be used. It gets rejected. So there's not a chance of anything getting through into the stream. It's holistic that it was never used in the first place in an organic ... But as far as impacting the nutrition of the milk, you're not going to get those antibiotics coming through into the milk.

Christine Envall:
I can't speak for other countries in the world, but definitely in Australia, that's not going to happen because of the dairy industry. Europe is even stricter. We've got our registration here for exporting to the EU, the European economy, and the standards that they have around those kind of penicillins and antibiotics and that in milk is just really, really tight. So the same kind of thing there. Even if it's not organic , you know that there's not anything getting into it that shouldn't be in there.

Christine Envall:
But coming back to the grass fed, it has the impact of influencing the actual composition of the milk. So we're talking about more of the fat side of it though. We're talking more about the Omega fat level, the CLA level, vitamin D levels. So all of those type of components, which are fat soluble are better quality, are higher in a grass fed milk. Not a lot of research around, but I have seen some information around the actual amino acid profile of the grass fed versus the grain fed because of grains being deficient in certain amino acids. It's not the cows natural food and the way that its body deals with it, it's not necessarily creating the same quality of milk coming out the other side when it comes to that.

Christine Envall:
So I guess the idea is that the best quality, most nutritious protein is coming from the grass fed product. So if it is available, if you're looking and you're actually concerned about having the best possible quality product, best possible quality protein powder, I would be looking for grass fed. So, that's really it in a nutshell. There's not really much more I can say. The protein side of it, it is going to change from time of year to time of year, because it's a cycle; all the milk isn't given at one particular time, it is given over a season and the milk can change from time to time.

Christine Envall:
And this is just a little side note, not necessarily anything to do with the actual nutritional quality, but we see things like frothing. We get complaints at certain times a year because our protein's gone more frothy. "There's something wrong with my protein. It's gone frothy." And it's like, no, it's just at different times of year it does behave differently. And believe it or not, froth can often be an indication of a higher protein content. Coming back to normal, fresh milk. I don't know if anyone remembers the day when the cappuccino got just so popular in Melbourne and everyone was making like special frothy milk and cappuccino milk and all this sort of stuff so that it held the foam better. That's back when I was working at Parmalat Dairies and we had to selectively make the protein higher in the milk so that it would hold its froth and foam better.

Christine Envall:
So unfortunately high protein, those type of proteins cause frothing and whipping. That doesn't mean that the proteins too low, it's a very tight band that it needs to change by to create this. But if anyone is thinking about complaining about their frosty protein, it's not something that we can control. It's just something that from the cows. Composition of the grass will change from time of year. As the seasons change, more sun, less sun, temperature, all those kinds of things impact the grass that they're eating and then hence impact the milk that's being produced. And then obviously the protein powder that's being produced from that.

Ash Horton:
Okay. So let's summarize this. Grass fed versus organic, and which would you choose?

Christine Envall:
I would definitely choose grass fed, because organic, as I said, it doesn't really impact the nutritional composition of the milk, which makes the protein; whereas the grass fed impacts the nutritional composition of the milk. The organic side of it is more of a holistic approach to not having any interaction with any kind of artificial components within the food chain, but that doesn't necessarily imply that if something was ...

Christine Envall:
So if something's grass fed, okay. It's now, to me, similar to free range when it comes to eggs. So it's out in the open, it's eating its natural food in the quantity that it wants. It's not being controlled or dosed out to it. It's more of a holistic thing as to whether or not that is an issue for you. Like whether or not organic is important to you. I grew up on a biodynamic farm, which we have talked about in a prior podcast; but that's a whole other level and it comes to what is and isn't within your food source. But actually what I was going to say was just because the cow is grass fed and not organic, doesn't necessarily mean that every single cow has been dosed up the antibiotics either. That is ...

Ash Horton:
We'll you said the UK's rules, for example, was ... Or was that EU?

Christine Envall:
EU, yeah.

Ash Horton:
Super tight. So that means that it's pretty good product?

Christine Envall:
Exactly. So if a cow is suffering and sick and being giving antibiotics, they normally pull it out of the milk giving pool so it doesn't contaminate the rest of the milk.

Ash Horton:
That makes a lot of sense.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. So, when people kind of get all hung up on that ... Like say maybe they got fed some soy that does have a genetic modification, not saying that's the case, but just with a standard product, which is an organic and isn't grass fed and it's getting grain fed, then people do worry that there's genetically modified soys being introduced. And some people have an issue with that. Other people, not an issue at all. So it comes down to being more of what your philosophical or holistic view, or your values, or that type of thing.

Ash Horton:
So let's say we go grass fed. Are there certain countries that you wouldn't buy from?

Christine Envall:
Probably the UK, just from looking at ... And not that I'm even aware of any ... Because this is relating to fresh milk. I'm not aware of any protein powder that is actually ... Maybe there is produced for the local market, but we've never been offered any protein powder from the UK, believe it or not. They have a lot of cows and still have a lot of space, but it's not something ... And again, it's probably because of the issue that they had all those years ago with BSE. That's going back a long time now, but I know there was a particular point in time when no protein powder was even allowed to be imported from the UK. So I remember that actually affected Dorian Yates' brand back in the day.

Ash Horton:
Right.

Christine Envall:
He was all set to import into Australia and then the whole mad cow thing came up and there was a total ban slapped on bringing anything out of there. So I think the UK I'd probably be a little bit skeptical about; but Ireland, Germany, I know has some very good products. There's some other, I think like Finland or something. Which again, I guess they have that clean air, clean climate, clean environment type of idea around them.

Christine Envall:
And as I said, the EU has some very, very strict standards; but then I don't know much about Spain or those countries, but I've never been offered protein from those areas. It's not somewhere that I know if they have a strong dairy industry. Brazil, I think has a very strong dairy industry, but it's not product which is making its way into our market. I'd be looking for more of the countries that do have that reputation for being less polluted. So think places like Ireland and Australia and New Zealand have a really, really good reputation when it comes to dairy.

Ash Horton:
Thank you very much, Christine. Interesting stuff once again.

Ash Horton:
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