SEP 12, 2016 08:36 AM PDT

Grass: Good for Cows, Not so Much for Humans

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
4 4 602

With all the talk about global food shortages, why haven't we turned our attention to grass? After all, grass is edible, is the food source for many of the animals that we eat, and most convenient of all, these greens are right in our own backyard.

However, although grass is indeed safe to eat, it is not a practical food source at least for humans. Our stomachs are not evolved to efficiently digest the raw grass, which is high in cellulose. Cows that can't get enough of grass, on the other hand, have specialized stomachs with four chambers and a gut microbiome that helps them break down the grass.

Grass also has a high silica content (surprisingly). This is why teeth of grazing animals are mostly flat and grow continually. By contrast, chewing on grass would eventually wear down human teeth, which are only replaced once.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 06, 2018
Videos
JUL 06, 2018
The Impact of Junk Food on the Brain
Researchers have found that junk food stimulates neurons in our brains that cause a sense of reward.
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Can Animals Appreciate Music?
  Our appreciation of rhyme and rhythm might not be unique. Animals may also be music lovers. Using music studies done on crocodiles, the researchers
JUL 17, 2018
Videos
JUL 17, 2018
Encouraging Progress on HIV Vaccine
In the quest to find a vaccine against HIV which causes AIDS, most attempts have failed. The HIV epidemic began about 35 years ago and in that time only fi
JUL 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
The Transition to Multicellular Life May Have Been Simple
It may have been relatively easy for complex organisms to form from one-celled microbes, researchers suggest.
AUG 10, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
AUG 10, 2018
The Chemistry in Yellowstone's Deadly Hot Springs
The Yellowstone National Park is famous for its geysers and the hydrothermal system otherwise known as the hot springs. But such spectacular landscape hide
AUG 13, 2018
Videos
AUG 13, 2018
Is Earth Running Out of Helium?
If current global demand continues, we can face a shortage of helium within the next 40 years. Helium is the second most common element after hydrogen
Loading Comments...