The pros and cons of using conventional vs. organic vs. grass-fed bones in bone broth

February 06, 2016

The pros and cons of using conventional vs. organic vs. grass-fed bones in bone broth

There’s a new trend filling mugs and bowls across the nation that has experts singing its health-benefit praises. From improving digestion to promoting healthy, shiny hair, its“good-for” advantages are endless. What is it you may be wondering? Bone broth. And while neither its name nor appearance may be as attractive as a strawberry-banana-kale smoothie, bone broth is one new nutritional trend you’re going to want to know about.

So, what is bone broth?

Bone broth is made using the bones, cartilage and, often, other parts of animals. Bone broth can use just about every part of an animal, including the bone marrow, skin, feet, tendons and ligaments that most people don’t usually eat. Many times the bones are roasted first to improve flavor and are then simmered for a long period of time. This simmer process requires several hours, as the slow technique helps to fully extract the bones of their rich nutrients. The long simmering process causes the bones and ligaments to release powerful compounds like collagen and glycine, among other minerals, all of which have the power to help transform your health.

Aside from simply providing an array of vitamins and minerals good for overall health, bone broth specifically aids the immune system, is one of the most effective remedies for rebuilding the gut lining and reducing intestinal inflammation, helps to improve brain function, assists in maintaining healthy bones, speeds up the body’s healing process and is even known to aid in the overcoming of food intolerances and allergies (lactose intolerant, anyone?).There’s a reason why soups have been cast as the official “sickness food” or claim to be “good for the soul”. It’s because these types of stocks contain bone broth, making them a nutrient-rich boost to the healing progress. Making sense yet?

 girl drinking bone broth

There’s really no denying the powerful health benefits that bone broth has been proven to supply, makeing it no surprise that the bone broth craze has taken off as quickly as it has. It’s certainly a trend worth looking into, as even small doses of bone broth have the potential to do a great deal of good for the body.

The bones of conventionally raised animals VS. organic animals VS. grass-fed animals

With the rise in health consciousness and fascination with organic foods, many wonder which types of bones are “best” for use in bone broth. Authentic bone broth has been around for generations but can be tough, if not impossible, to find in grocery stores. Making your own bone broth or buying it from an artisanal producer (like Bone & Co.) are the only options for most people today. Most commercially prepared broth cannot be called true bone broth, since big food companies typically use quicker, harsher cooking methods and often include additives. These additives may include ingredients such as MSG, artificial colors and protein flavorings. Additionally, these store-bought broths usually lack the rich flavor that homemade and artisan broths provide, making them less enjoyable to consume for many.

When choosing a bone broth, it's important to look at the source of the bones, since the type of bones that were used make a big difference in the quality of the broth. For example, if you buy conventionally raised animal products, you may end up with a finished product that contains a high amount of toxins and a lower amount of gelatin.

Simply looking for the organic logo on your broth may not do the trick either. Organic does not guarantee that the animals were grass-fed, they could be grain or corn fed, a common misconception. Organic more so implies that the animals must live in sanitary living conditions, not confined or over-crowded and treated well. However, organic-fed animals can still be raised on a diet of organic grain or corn. Only the term 100% grass-fed means that the animals were allowed to exclusively graze for their own fresh food (or ate hay in winter). While there can certainly be some overlap with grass-fed and organic-fed animals, it’s important to understand the differences and which offer more health benefits. Talk to any experienced at home broth-maker and you will hear the same thing time and time again - only bones from exclusively grass-fed animals produce the best tasting broth with the highest gelatin content. 

 chickens on pasture

When it boils down to it (pun intended), bones from conventional factory farmed animals or organic grain-fed animals are just not the same when compared to nutrient dense bones from healthy, grass-fed animals. Therefore, if you truly want to consume the most nutritious bone broth possible, it’s important to find broth made exclusively from grass-fed animals such as grass-fed cows and pastured chickens.

What can bone broth be used in?

Bone broth can be used in a variety of ways. Of course, it can always be consumed on it’s own. However, if you need a little bit more flavor or texture you can add bone broth to soups and stews, sauces and gravies, as a cooking medium for rice and other grains or as a substitute for water in most recipes. Due to its high gelatin content, bone broth becomes more of a solid jelly-like substance when cooled. With its wide variety of uses and health benefits, bone broth makes a great staple item in any kitchen.