Cancer Fighting Powerhouse

This post is written by Mike Peterson, Farm Manager at Mount Vernon Farm.

Mike Peterson of Mount Vernon Farm

Lamb seems to be one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated meats that I have worked with in my career in kitchens as well as raising them at Mount Vernon. We often get customers into the farm store who say they strongly dislike conventional lamb – the taste, smell, and texture. The common response I give is “Have you tried our lamb?” or “What was the lamb fed and how was it raised? Faces go blank and the “I don’t know, does it matter?” question is the answer. Grain fed lamb has an oily and mealy texture and the taste can often times be off-putting. When grain is introduced as a feed to a lamb or sheep, much like it will to a cow, it disrupts the delicate balance of the rumen. The rumen is the 4 compartment stomach of the lamb designed to eat and digest grass. Not only will over-indulgence on this sweet ‘candy’ make the animal sick, but it also imparts negative health factors into the meat that we and our four legged friends consume. When the rumen becomes upset, antibiotics are introduced into animal feed to keep the animals alive long enough to go to market.

Corn, soybean meal, and cottonseed meal (all common ingredients in conventional livestock feed) are very high in omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential fats for the body and we all need them from external sources because our bodies cannot manufacture them. High levels of omega 6 fatty acids are known contributors of coronary disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Coincidentally nature has provided us with a resource to combat these lethal doses of omega 6 fatty acids. The Omega 3 fatty acid comes through our systems and balances issues that the omega 6 has blocked in our systems; they are known to prevent and treat coronary disease, hypertension, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders, too. Imagine all of this and you don’t need to take a single pill!

Photo of Mount Vernon Farm courtesy of MjM Photography

Grain fed animals are known to have omega 6:omega3 ratios in the neighborhood of 20:1. Grass fed and grass finished animals on the other hand are as low as 2:1. Omega 3 levels of grass fed/finished beef and lamb are comparable to that of wild salmon, which has been tagged as a super food because of the amazing health benefits. The animal produces these high levels of Omega 3’s because they are consuming a traditional diet of green leaves and algae. Not only Omega 3’s but increased levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are another bonus that nature gives all of us. Grass fed lamb has as much as 2-5 times the amount of CLA as grain fed. Increased levels of CLA in our diet have been proven time and time again to reduce the risk of cancer not only in humans, but animals as well. Beta Carotene, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, the list goes on as to the added nutrients of grass fed lamb.

I think back to conventional dried kibble for pets and looking at the ingredients list attempting to cram every possible grain filler into their diet that’s possible. Starting with the ‘meat by-product’. This animal, whether it be lamb or beef, was raised in a large feedlot, and fed a diet high on grain and chemicals. Then more grain goes directly into the food in the form of fillers. Corn gluten and corn by products will most likely round out the ingredient list. Makes you think as to why there are so many pets that develop tumors, cancer, hyperactivity, arthritis, immune system disorders, etc.

The benefits of consuming meat from a local producer who cares for the animals they raise and provides them with a diet that they were designed to eat are astronomical for humans. Why would that be any different for our pets? Consuming meat from grass fed lamb has health benefits far outweighing meat from grain fed lamb. The facts are there.

Mike Peterson is a chef turned farmer currently managing Mount Vernon Farm in Sperryville, VA, where he raises 100% Grass Fed, Grass Finished Beef & Lamb, as well as pastured pork from heritage breed Tamworth pigs. Mike spent 7 years working in 5 star kitchens across the country and came to Mount Vernon to become closer to the food that nourishes the community. Mike can be reached at the farm at 540.987.9559 or mtvfarm(@)

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