…fans of the cheeses say there’s more than just nostalgia involved. It’s not easy to define the flavor, Contarini says, but aficionados insist the cheeses do taste better.

There’s also evidence that mountain cheese might even be a little healthier, containing, for example,more omega-3 fatty acids than cheese made from the milk of cattle raised on the plains.

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WHAT?! Healthy animals, raised in natural unstressful settings with plenty of space, eating what their bodies are designed to consume, make food that is healthier for humans and tastier too?? 

In other shocking news, grass is green. And cows like to eat it. 

But really, they should. And you should probably invest in it too. Here’s why: When it comes to buying animal products- pigs, chickens, cattle and dairy producing cows- the animals all benefit emotionally, physically and nutritionally from access to pasture, even though in some cases (pigs, chickens) grain is needed to supplement their diets. Pasture means space and sun —> movement —> health. It means individualized care by farmers who have to be monitoring their pastures and is usually an indicator of a sustainable balance between land size and number of animals; a cycle of manure and grazing. The alternative is feed lot meat from animals fed corn at best, other animal’s feces or pulverized carcasses, at worst, in cramped quarters standing in their own mess. It’s ugly.

And if that’s not enough of a motivation, building on the NPR article, meat from  from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA. I don’t actually know all of that by heart, i ripped it from Eat Wild, a wonderful resource i reference constantly. Check out their excellent map here to look up ethical, sustainable, delicious farms near you that will sell directly.

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Some independent small farms won’t go to the trouble of getting certified in which case just talk to them about how they keep their animals on pasture, but by and large, to be sure you’re getting green grass all the way, (with some hay, but only in winter) and not grass followed by a feedlot, look for this label, which means the product is certified by the American Grassfed Association. They also have a map of where to find grass fed products. This association has a set of standards that are themselves certified by Animal Welfare Approved and that ensures not only that grass means grass, but that the animals will have been transported and slaughtered humanely and that you will reap all the nutritional and spiritual benefits of an unstressed, grassfed animal.