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MOTHER EARTH NEWS Omega-3, Omega-6 Fatty-Acid Testing

MOTHER EARTH NEWS facilitated a pilot test over the summer and early fall of 2015 to examine the fatty-acid profiles of 32 grass-fed, free-ranged and pastured cows, lambs, pigs and chickens. At this point in the omega-6, omega-3 fatty-acid testing program, we’ve analyzed results from about 30 samples. Overall, pastured products are several times richer in beneficial omega-3 fats, and, at the same time, those samples are much lower in problematic omega-6 fatty acids when compared to the USDA Nutrient Database numbers, which reflect levels found in industrial products. Therefore, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is much lower in grass-fed products, thus more nutritionally favorable, than the USDA standard. Additionally, we’re learning how reducing omega-6 intake might be even more beneficial than increasing omega-3 intake; please see Richard Manning’s Omega-3s and More: The Importance of Fat in a Healthy Diet for more information.

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are “essential nutrients,” meaning that they must come from a person’s diet; however, a skewed dietary ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 disrupts the body’s natural inflammatory balance. For this reason, select foods with a fatty-acid ratio as close as possible to 1 to 1. As we continue to learn more about the relationship between omega fatty acids, the link between increased consumption of omega-6-rich corn and soy products, and obesity in the United States makes more sense. For more information on this topic, please see our recent article, Linoleic Acid in Soy Strongly Linked to Obesity Epidemic. For those reasons, we are convinced that it is best to avoid corn- and soy-fed animal products, whenever possible, opting instead for those products carrying labels like the American Grassfed Association, the Food Alliance Certified Grassfed, USDA Grassfed + USDA Process Verified, Animal Welfare Approved Certified Grassfed, or USDA Organic. (Please see Which Grass-Fed Beef Labels to Trust.) Better yet, get to know your meat, egg and milk producers, visit farms, ask the right questions, and let farmers know that you are willing to invest in healthful and sustainable animal farming operations.

Summary of Data Analysis

Fats Chart Ratio 

We are still studying the data for lamb, pork, milk and cheese, and will report more on them later. You can look up the USDA nutrient values for other foods at Self Nutrition Data. We are incredibly thankful for those farmers who sent in samples—on their own dime!—to enable our work at MOTHER EARTH NEWS. We’ve provided a list of participating farms below. If you are a producer, and would be interested in participating in future testing, please email us.

List of Participating Farms 

Arrow K Farms
Black Diamond Farms
Brady’s Beef
Bush Creek Farm
Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese
Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill and Farm
Cozi Farm
DS Family Farm 
Eggs by A Man and His Hoe
Five Bar Beef
Hopeful Farms
Ledamete Grass Farm
Mesteño Draw Ranch
Ode to Joy Farm
Old Narrow Gauge Farm
Polyface Farms
Riverview Farms
Spring River Farm
Straight Arrow Bison Ranch
Sunbird Farms
Taylor-Wright Farm
The Medina Farm
Valley Fall Farm


Josh Brewer is an Assistant Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS who covers Renewable Energy, Green Homes, Omega Fatty Acids Nutrition, and Nature and Environment.

ajsfarmlife
1/27/2016 9:02:41 PM

im new to farming and have a pig. What am I supposed to feed him if I don't use corn? I've tried to make fodder from barley and didn't get it to work.


dittrich@primus.
1/25/2016 4:41:44 PM

Sea Buckthorn, a real super fruit with Omega 3 & 6 at a ratio of 1:1. This fruit needs to be on everyone's list.