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Grass-fed beef vs. Grain Fed beef

Everyone who likes steak loves a nicely marbled piece of meat. But what about grass fed beef... The flavor can be very different. Anyone who's tried grass-fed beef care to weigh-in?

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  1. I had Big Island raised grass fed beef at Merriman's in Hawaii. For me it was leaner and kind of gamey. I prefer grain-fed beef to grass-fed.

    1. Y'know, I've recently been intrigued by this topic. Like me, most urban Americans growing up in the last 40-50 years have been conditioned to grain-fed beef as the standard. I love a good steak as much as the next guy. Well, I noticed in the last year or so that Trader Joe's sometimes had fresh grass-fed beef -- generally either top sirloin steaks or 80-20 ground beef. IIRC, the package may warned that the meat would cook much faster than grain-fed beef. Why, I don't know, although I vaguely remember surfing online and reading about the fat in grass-fed animals having a lower melting point ... whatever ...

      My results: I've done the steaks three times, on my Weber over charcoal, and dammit it's true, they grill VERY fast, even with little to no visible fat or marbling. The first time was unfortunate -- nine minutes total grilling time, 4+ minutes per side, grey steaks, still tasty. I went to school on that and did better with shorter cooking time, but still more done than expected. Burgers, same ... 6-8 minutes for half-pound burgers, almost all color gone but still JUICY and DELICIOUS!!! How to describe the flavor? Hmm ... full, clean, beefy to the Nth degree ... anything but tough or gristly, far from it ... if anything, my reservations stem from the fat content, since I try to eat lean except for occasional plurges, but then is much of it running off, melting away?

      So, there may be someting to this lower melting point thing, but I'll leave it to others to figure it out, or whether other cuts from other purveyors would not match my experience. Me? After 5-6 experiences, it has been unequivocally yummy -- juicy, intensely flavorful, tricky to control, watch it intently!

      2 Replies
      1. re: misohungrychewlow

        yes, grassfed takes a bit more skill--

        fyi many cuts of grass fed beef have 1/2 the fat of corn fed beef, less saturated fats and more omega 3s, so if you're eating lean, grass-fed is a good way to go.

        1. re: misohungrychewlow

          I've also found that pastured meat of all kinds cooks quicker -- the lamb and chicken we source from local farmers cooks much more quickly (nearly a half-hour quicker when roasting red meat, I've found).

        2. I lived in Argentina for 2 years and Brazil for 1, where beef is king and all of it is grass fed. Hmmmm...how to put this best.

          America is the land of corn fed. Corn fed processed foods, corn fed cows, and corn fed people. This results in corn fed asses, hence the expression "She's a corn fed farm girl", which usually doesn't imply lean. Read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilema" on the concequences for our health and environment of cheap corn dominating our food supply. Scary.

          South America is the land of grain fed. The asses and health of people reflect that. And so do the beef.

          When I lived in Buenos Aires, I ate steak at least 4 times a week. The steak is cooked slowly, over wood coals, and is redder, leaner, and tastes cleaner than grain fed beef. Even on "Lomo", which is filet, the meat is tender, juicy, and lean. I could eat 3x the amount of beef that I would eat back home (say 30 or 40 oz) and feel fine...go out and party or surf or do work.

          When I returned home it was a kick in the gut. The first steak I had (a decent supermaket sirloin) was like eating beef soaked in water. It tasted bland and though the fat ribbon on the side was flavorful, the meat itself was tough. Even at great steakhouses, like G and Georgetti's in Chicago, I've yet to find something that equals what my cheap neighborhood place in Argentina could deliver.

          Grass fed, all the way. Cows weren't born to eat corn any more than they were born to eat ground up dead cattle. Nature tates best the way it was designed.

          9 Replies
          1. re: mutant4

            Mutant, your post cracked me up. I have a great friend who is Argentinian, and he's already told me exactly what you've said, right down to narrating a run-in he had with the waiter at a "high-end" Chicago steakhouse.

            He went there to have a special occasion meal with his wife (also Argentine), and when they brought out what he regarded as an undercooked, over-lean steak, he told them so. They informed him that apparently he just hadn't experienced excellent steak before. That's not something you want to tell an Argentine!

              1. re: alyxdm

                not all grains are created equal, especially for cattle. Steer are not built to digest corn: feeding them corn creates all kinds of health-problems, above and beyond the obvious ethical ones.

                These health issues affect not only the cattle, but also people in more ways than you might imagine: corn's affect on the pH of a steer's stomach affects E.Coli strains, to cite one particularly frightening example.

                1. re: withinseason

                  It is often said cattle aren't built to digest corn. Does anyone have a scientific reference for this? I tried the goolge, but came up empty.


              2. re: mutant4

                When I was growing up in PR, the cheaper meats came from South America, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. All of those places were at the time had mainly grass fed beef.

                They were tougher, especially the cheaper cuts, but it was more flavorful, it worked really well on beef stews and PR's bistec encebollado, which is cooked in a vinegar and onion sauce.

                To this day, the best steak I ever had was a churrasco and tostones I had in Venezuela.

                I prefer grass fed, it may be a bit tougher sometimes, but the flavor more than makes up for it.

                1. re: mutant4

                  Just got back from Argentina. Grass fed was definitely superior in flavor. I'm now scrambling to look for the same type of meats we had there. Living in LA, I've heard that Whole Foods doesn't even cut it. Anyway, I am not patronizing WF right now due to their CEO.

                  1. re: trvlcrzy

                    Whole Foods has a variety of types provenance... including 100% grass fed beef. Here in NY anyway.

                    1. re: trvlcrzy

                      This report, "Argentina Forage Finished Beef", explains why Argentina's grassfed beef is so good. The cattle in Argentina are primarily Angus and Red Angus breeds, they are finished on alfalfa pastures, and they are supplemented with corn at a rate of 1% of body weight per day.


                      Argentina's beef doesn't meet the American Grassfed Association definition of grassfed. If you want really good grassfed beef like you had in Argentinia, find someone that is finishing beef cattle on grass pastures and is supplementing them with corn. It is really difficult to find in the United States.

                      There are a couple of beef brands (Neiman Ranch and Branch Ranch) that claim their beef is pasture raised, grass fed, grain finished. What they don't advertise is that their beef is grain finished in a dry (no grass) feedlot just like every other piece of commercial beef.

                      There is only one ranch that I know of in the U.S. that is finishing their beef on grass pastures with grain. They are serving their Angus beef at 18 Oaks restaurant at the J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa, the customers there demand that it has to be good.


                      1. re: AngusCattleman

                        Hey AC: "...find someone that is finishing beef cattle on grass pastures and is supplementing them with corn."

                        Bingo. That's the way I was taught to feed, and haven't had any complaints yet. As you probably know (and others don't), finishing on corn can be somewhat technical--you need a balance of grass fodder and corn up to a limit, and if you exceed a certain % of corn, you might as well make it 100% corn. Past that magic number you're wasting your other fodder and sickening the animals that graze.

                        Anymore, I only raise 2-3 animals at a time for my freezer and a couple neighbors', so the steers get plenty of watchful attention. When the grass turns the corner in the Fall, they appreciate the corn and silage. I even give them a "last" meal of grape pommace from the wine fermenters and we have a little party...


                  2. I wonder if grain fed is the right term. Grain-fattened might be better. I can't claim any inside knowledge on this, but I believe most cattle in the USA are raised on grass (or hay) in open range. At some point they are sold as 'feeder cattle', sent to feed lot, and fatten up to market size on a grain rich diet. The sedentary nature of those last few months may contribute as much to their meat quality as the diet itself.


                    93 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      No, grain fed is entirely correct, think feedlots, not pastures. The Pollan book _Omivoire's Dilemma_ is a MUST read for anyone who likes food,

                      1. re: Quine

                        Pollan actually verifies that steer are raised on grass and then fattened in feed lots. As ruminants, cows have evolved to eat grass, break it down in their rumen and then pass it on through the rest of their digestive system. Despite the desires of the US cattle industry, raising calfs in feedlots is too much of a shock to this natural system, so most cows spend a time (6 months?) on grass before being moved to feedlots.

                        Benefits of Grass - cows must walk around to eat, so they get more excercise which creates leaner, more flavorful beef. Also, more flavor due to the varied diet (grazing fields actually contain many breed of grass, clover, etc). Downsides - unpredictable and difficult to control diet, longer time required to fatten cattle, tougher beef, and most importantly a more expensive process with a lot more variables to control than feeed lot farming.

                        The handful of times I have had grass fed beef have been in higher end restaurants and it has been spectacular. So much more beef flavor that standard corn fed seems bland in comparison. In fact, of all the characteristics of beef (fat content, dry v. wet aging, grass v. corn v. grain fed) my expereince has been that grass feeding can have more positive impact than anything else. I'd rather eat a good qualtiy Choice non-aged grass fed beef than Prime dry-aged corn fed - or so has been my experience anyway.

                        1. re: wak

                          Pollan actually describes the process from birth to butcher. Calves are force weened from their mothers and moved to CAFO's at about 3 months. There, they are raised entirely on grain (which cows were not meant to digest), so they have health issues and tend to have lots of parasitic/organism issues, resulting in lots of steroids and antibiotics to keep them healthy enough to make it to market. Pollan's argument is this: if the cows were *finished* on grass, the parasite level drops off dramatically, and the steroid/antibiotics are also purged from the cattle's system (mostly).
                          Regardless, grass fed beef does taste much better, especially if it is dry aged.

                          1. re: gsshark

                            no cows are fed exclusively grain. You're right. Cows aren't meant to eat only grain. If they did, they'd DIE. They're fed a diet WITH a LOT of grain, but not SOLELY grain. Their diet MUST have plant fiber in it, and plenty of it. Often what they'll do is give the whole grain plant for the cows to eat - so the cow gets the nice grain at the top of the plant that will make her fat, but she also gets the fibrous stem and leaves, which she needs on a regular basis.

                      2. re: paulj

                        We have been raising our beef as 100% grass fed for about 15 years and selling them direct to customers. Raising cattle is our primary livelihood.
                        A few comments about typical raising of beef in the cattle industry. Up until recently, many calves went directly from weaning (at about 9 months old) into a feedlot. Some calves were held as "grass calves" which are lightweight calves that were overwintered often on the home ranch, or weaned later, and then put on spring grass for a few months. These calves would then go into a feedlot at about 12 to 14 months old at heavier weights than the weaner calves.
                        Almost all beef available in the U.S. is finished in a feedlot, even many grass-fed beef brands. The advantages of a feedlot are many: easy access to and control of cattle, precise mixing of feeds; efficiency in feeding, and consistent product (this last reason is the primary reason even many grass fed brands are finished in the controlled environment of the feedlot). Corn and soybean meal are the primary feedstuff, although other grains, and other things with energy and protein are used as well.
                        With the current ethanol-driven increase in corn prices, there have been some articles in the industry publications about putting more weight on beef using grass. The economies of grass vs. corn are tipping toward grass because feedlots are competing with ethanol plants for corn. There have also been many articles about the conversion to using "distiller's grain" in feedlots; which is a by-product of ethanol production.
                        Finishing cattle on high-quality hay fed loose in the pasture (which is what we do in the winter) or on grass during the growing season, is like producing a fine wine- the producer has to take into account his varieties (the genetics of his or her cattle herd), growing conditions, soils, grass types, timing of harvest, final production (dry-aging)--all things it takes experience to manage. It took us many years to refine a product we could be proud of, and we still make it better every year.

                        1. re: Alderspring

                          Thank you for contributing your knowledge to this thread. It is always informative to hear the perspective of a working rancher.

                          1. re: Alderspring

                            You have my respect, what you are doing is not easy. We could never produce quality grass-fed cattle down here in Texas, there just is not enough rainfall to do it, too much risk of drought. The level of nutrition in the grass is just not high enough for any length of time to grass finish cattle here. Until recently I thought all grass-fed beef had an off taste. But my opinion is beginning to change. I'm beginning to think that grass-fed beef can be very good if it is produced properly. The Brazilians, the Argentinians, and the Europeans all prefer grass-feed beef. I think there are quite a few American ranches that are trying unsuccessfully to produce a product with good consistent flavor. Like you said, it takes some serious management of your grass and cattle. You are one of the few ranches in the United States that has figured out how to do this properly. I just noticed the article in Slate in 2006 where your steaks beat Allen Brothers, Strube Ranch, and Niman Ranch. That is impressive, those are some big names.

                              1. re: mcf

                                I think "some" would be more accurate. Alderspring's post above is a good read detailing how hard it is produce consistently good grass finished beef.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  There are several ranches that raise grass fed beef. Anyone with a cow, a bull, and a pasture can raise grass fed beef. But, grass fed beef can tend to have an offensive flavor that some people can not bear to eat. I have only heard of one ranch that consistently gets very good feedback about the flavor of their beef. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who knows of another ranch in North America that is producing grass fed beef with a taste that can consistently beat the taste of the beef from the best steakhouses that you know of.

                                  If you do find someone else, could you ask them how they are doing it, what breed of cattle are they using, what climate are they raising their cattle in, what is their annual rainfall amount, are they finishing their cattle on pasture or a feedlot, what type of grass are they finishing their beef on, how long do they graze the finishing pastures before they harvest their beef.

                                  I know personally, it is not easy to produce good tasting grass fed beef. The beef producers that I have heard of that are producing good tasting grass fed beef are usually located along the coast where they get a lot of rain. Most of the beef produced in the United States comes from the middle of the country, in areas that may have lower rainfall, a warm climate, or lower quality pastures. Not so good for good tasting grass-fed beef. That is why most of the beef produced in the United States has to be grain fed, else it would have an offensive taste that no one would buy.

                                  MCF, do you eat grass fed beef? Where does it come from? Do you produce grass fed beef? Do you think that the taste of the beef is good enough that people would prefer the grass fed beef that you eat over corn finished beef at any of the finest steakhouses?

                                  1. re: AngusCattleman

                                    Yes, we've had this discussion and I think it's clear why you show up to respond to 6 year old posts.

                                    I only buy grass fed and finished beef, and have only ever had one bad tasting steak, that was not properly bled out and aged. I've been buying only grass fed for about a decade.

                                    Your arguments will never counter the movement toward regional farming and local buying and away from the terrible practices of most beef production and the disastrous impact on the enviroment and public health they have.

                                    Put me in the grass fed column for life.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      I would think Angus Cattleman or any other rancher would gladly raise grass finished beef if the public as a whole were willing to eat it and pay the additional cost for it which is substantial.

                                      TASTE: The US population as a whole prefers grain finished beef, plain and simple.

                                      COST: Consumers are strange. They will drop $40.00 for a nicely marbled Top Choice Certified Angus Beef steak at a nice restaurant on a regular basis. However, when they go to the supermarket, they pass right by the $9.00 LB nicely marbled Certified Angus Beef top choice strip steak (Identical to what they had in the restaurant) and pick up a bottom choice store brand strip steak with a small marbling score for $7.00 a LB. They then go home and grill it and come to the conclusion that the restaurant must have a special magic broiler / grill that can't be duplicated at home because their steak is nowhere near as good.

                                      My point is that if the general public as a whole is not willing to put out an extra 20% for a high quality grain finished steak such as (CAB) that is consistently tender, Juicy and flavorful .........they will never pay 100% more for dry, chewy inconsistently flavored grass finished meat. Yes there is a niche market for grass finished and some ranchers will accommodate that market as long as the customers are willing to pay the significant premium for it.

                                      I think it must also be put out there that the loosey-goosey terminology used to imply that a given product is free of this & never given that are controversial to say the least.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        I live in the northeast, where folks are making a point of patronizing places that cook with sustainable agricultural products and meats, including grass fed.

                                        Quality grass fed meat costs more than the crap in supermarkets, but no more than the grain finished "natural" beef (antibiotic, hormone free) from the natural foods store.

                                        At some point, the "generic" public that keeps buying grain fed, antibiotic loaded beef is going to die off from superbugs and only us grass fed beef consumers will still be around. ;-)

                                      2. re: mcf

                                        The reason I am asking these questions is that I am a small local producer who would like to find someone to buy the beef that I produce. But besides all of the talk about the movement to local products, there is actually no market. I have to sell the cattle that I produce into the mainstream, that puts them into a feed lot, then ships them to the supermarket. And that is a shame.

                                        1. re: AngusCattleman

                                          What steps have you taken to reach a wider audience? And what practices are you willing to adopt to make your product and animal handling more appealing to folks who care about the whole life cycle, not just the supermarket end?

                                          It may involve adhering to the standards of sellers who do the marketing for you, something along the lines of Heritage Foods, for instance, who sell a number of farmer's products to email customers like me, when I can't get local stuff like heritage breeds of pork, for example.

                                          1. re: AngusCattleman

                                            Where are you? My farmers' market in Syracuse is awash in grass fed meats.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                Sorry you're not closer. The grass fed beef provider I usually patronize supplies frozen beef which she ships for orders. I'd rather not buy frozen meat, although it's convenient in many ways, but it keeps her in business.

                                                1. re: sr44

                                                  I think you're confused. I have no problem getting grass fed beef. AngusCattleman is who you were responding to, I just told you where he is. :-)

                                          2. re: mcf

                                            Do you eat grass fed beef because you think it tastes better than corn fed beef. Or because the cattle are treated better than cattle fed in a feedlot. Or because it uses no hormones or antibiotics? Or because you think it is healthier than corn fed beef? Or maybe all of these reasons?

                                            There is a huge camp that supports grass fed beef producers and a huge camp that supports the mainstream beef producers. I'm just a small breeder that finishes beef for my family on grass pasture and corn feed. I don't fit in very well with either camp. I think I fit better with the grass fed group, but I'm excluded from that group because I feed corn to my cattle. I'm more like an illegitimate child than a family member. There is no large organization with a tremendous marketing campaign supporting the way that I raise beef. No website that tells people where to find me. I just don't fit in.

                                            1. re: AngusCattleman

                                              I eat grass fed beef for multiple reasons.

                                              I think it tastes better.
                                              It produces a healthier product for consumption and for preventing superbugs and abx resistance
                                              I know pastured and grass finished/sileage cattle are healthier and their lives are better than those in feedlot conditions, particularly CAFOs.
                                              It doesn't have the kind of contaminants in runoff pollution that CAFOs do

                                              I'm just someone eating grass fed beef; I have no stake in selling something else, from meat to antibiotics for some pharma company.

                                              But I'm also an assiduous researcher about anything that interests me or concerns me about my health and public health.

                                              So I have various perspectives on this issue.

                                              The way I see it, you're marketing something that neither group wants, though I think the corn feeding crowd would be more up your alley. From my POV, unless you are completely sure that there is no upside for you, I'd get with the feeding/husbandry program that companies like Whole Foods require, or eatwild.org will accept, or Heritage Foods.

                                              You apear to be saying that doing business your way closes the markets to you. Why not contact some ranchers listed on eatwild.org or Heritage Foods or Whole Foods and see how they feel about their experiences and financial rewards?

                                              If you keep doing what you've always done, you're going to keep getting shoved aside. Maybe split your operation between your traditional one and 100% gf? Sileage is allowed off season, AFAIK.

                                              Either that, or you have to undertake an expensive or well manned marketing operation to sell your beef as a boutique product in your state, I guess, or your wider region.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                Boneless CAB 0x1 top choice strip loin is $6.50 sub primal, $7.50 portioned.

                                                How much is the equivalent ......TRUE grass finished / organic / no pesticides / no phosphate fertilizers / NEVER any antibiotic / beef?

                                                Still waiting for an answer! PS: I know the answer .....I just want somebody who promotes the product to put it in writing.

                                                Micro-brews are fantastic but out purchased 100 :1 by the major producers products. Why, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                  I don't "promote" any products. Not drugs, not beef. Prices I've researched for pastured beef vary greatly depending upon your ability to buy and store a quarter to a half an animal, which is how I expect to proceed once I get a backup generator, since I live where all the weather keeps knocking power out for weeks at a time.

                                                  The price for the net hanging weight I've come up with is pretty comparable with what you cite above. But retail is much higher per lb, as I'm sure you know. The highest price I pay is for my favorite, rib steak, 2" thick at Whole Foods for 100% grass fed, and I think that was about $16 or 17 per lb last purchase.

                                                  I don't drink beer.

                                                  I hope you took note of the Infectious Disease Society of America's stance on the role of agricultural antibiotics in human illness and antibiotic resistance.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    You your self have concerns storing hundreds of pounds of meat. The fact that you are are posting on ChowHound is a pretty good indication you know what to do with a 1/4 or 1/2 side of beef. Most folks don't, plain and simple.

                                                    Most folks go to the supermarket and buy a few steaks and some ground beef. $16 to $17 per lb is far more than the avg person can afford. Whole foods BTW has been duped many times concerning their suppliers products. Lot more regulation needed.

                                                    I can pretty much afford any food products I want and it sounds like you can too. Unfortunately, more often than not, that is not the case. The beef industry is not without sin, but IMHO, there are more critical areas of the food chain that need enhanced gubberment scrutiny.

                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                      Yes, I view the levels of access we have as a privilege, but one that should be less so due to momentum towards regionalization of food supply and mobile or localized meat processors.

                                                      But I think you're wrong about who is more likely to buy or store a large quantity or whole animal. IME, growing up in a working class neighborhood, most of my neighbors had chest freezers in their basements for venison they'd hunted upstate or large meat deliveries from butchers.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        Yeah, but remember, now days more often than not it takes 2 full time incomes to keep up and sadly the big meals every night are not commonplace anymore.

                                                        My mom, like so many other women back in the day, knew what to do with just about every cut of meat there was and a side for her would have been no problem. I think a good bit of a side today would end up freezer burned in more houses than not.

                                                        I think a good goal to shoot for would be wide availability of smaller quantities of grass finished at more reasonable prices. Regulation has to be improved though as fraud is pretty common.

                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                          I think both are needed, definitely. The thing about buying a half is that you can get it cut the way you want. I don't want anyone else grinding meat for me, for instance, but I do like large chuck roasts, thick rib steaks, etc... you get to choose, though not so much with a quarter. Don't have to buy a half.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            What are you doing for pork? I normally get a butcher friend to cut a whole bone in loin into double thick chops. He gets Leidy's (Pennsylvania Dutch). Not organic or grass finished but also NOT pumped. Well marbled and lots of pork flavor.

                                                            Ran out and my wife picked up a few chops at Shoprite. Pulled them at 140 degrees & they finished at just under 150 degrees. Cut into them and the plate filled with water. Yes they were juicy, but not tender and NO pork flavor.

                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                              I buy pork chops from Heritage Foods (heritagefoods.com) along with spare ribs. I also get Dubreton pork at Fairway Market and Whole Foods. I don't ever buy supermarket meat any more. And yeah, even cooked med/rare, there's no juicy fat and flavor, just solution. :-/

                                                              Heritage often has a package of pork chops that's a very decent deal, even with the cost of packing and shipping on ice. And when I told them how bad that one grass fed steak was (more blood than meat in the package), they insisted on refunding me PLUS... very committed to customer care. http://store.heritagefoodsusa.com/por...

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                A gallon of water weighs about 8 lbs and costs about 1 cent. Its getting late and I have had a few but that comes out to about an 1/8 of a cent per pound but yet the pork industry is charging about $2.50 lb for it. Same for the Poultry industry.

                                                                1/8 of a cent cost per lb to $2.50 a LB is outrageous. If these profit percentages were present in the energy industry the news media would be all over it. Why the silence?

                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                  Folks who are buying those waterlogged meats may not be the same as folks like us who consider its properties and its origins.

                                                                  I certainly don't get bloated meat from the sources I buy from.

                                                                  When I said there's no juicy fat and flavor above, I was referring to the supermarket stuff, not the Berkshire and other pork I've been buying. The spare ribs are especially meaty and good... fat in pork, who'd a thunk it??

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    Yeah, much of the mid western pork is very lean which is what the supermarkets around my way sell. I just couldn't believe how much water filled the plate when I cut into it.

                                                                    I have had good luck with the Leidy's but just have not had a chance to get to my buddy to get it. While not organic it is none the less well marbled and actually tastes like pork.

                                                                    I am pretty sure Sysco sells Berkshire. Last I saw double thick premium chops were just under $5.00 lb. through them. I didn't check but my guess would be min size would be a 20 lb case.

                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                  You do realize that Whole Foods is a supermarket, right? So you can't actually say that you don't buy supermarket meat. Companies like Heritage Foods and Whole Foods may produce meat products that are hormone free and antibiotic free, but they are still large corporations that are purchasing their products from producers that are also large corporations. A small farmer, even a large group of many small farmers, would never be able to produce enough product to supply these mega-markets. That is what is killing small farmers. We can not sell our products because we can not offer the convenience of one stop shopping for all of your groceries like large corporate markets can.

                                                                  So, if you are buying your grass fed beef from Heritage Foods, you don't actually have any experience purchasing grassfed beef from a small local farmer, and you can't actually speak about the flavor of the beef that small local grass feeders are producing in Texas, right?

                                                                  So, I've been looking into grass feeding a little more, because I know there are people who are buying grass fed beef who are disappointed with the flavor of the beef they buy. I think the main reason for the bad taste of some grass fed beef is because it is raised in an area with a hot, dry climate, in areas where the pasture grass just does not produce enough nutrition or calories to properly finish the beef. The poor quality of the pastures is what gives the beef an off flavor.

                                                                  And I've recently learned that in addition to grass, grass fed beef can be fed forage that consists of almost any type of plant material except for grain. So, the main health benefit of grass fed beef is that it can be eaten by people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, and corn allergies.

                                                                  The pasture quality in Texas can be pretty weak for producing grass fed beef, but since grass fed beef can be fed a wide variety of forages in addition to grass, it opens up the door for small producers to raise good tasting grass fed beef here. The only problem is that if people continue to buy their beef from corporations like Whole Foods Market Incorporated, it really does no good for small farmers. Small farmers can not produce products and survive if no one is buying from them.

                                                                  1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                    I do not buy feedlot or CAFO or grain finished beef. I buy from distant and local purveyors depending on season and availability. I buy from local region producers at Whole Foods and from the independent farming network through Heritage Foods, too. Sometimes I buy online from grass fed meat producers.

                                                                    If you want to compete, you have to produce what people are willing to pay good money for. Misrepresentations about the safety of agricultural antibiotics and the quality of grass fed meat products, or the nature of successful grass fed meat programs isn't going to do you any good. Smart consumers will do their own homework and reject you and your product.

                                                                    Here's some information about Heritage Foods farmers:


                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      These companies have some really good marketing plans and attractive websites that lead the consumer to believe that they are helping small and local farmers, I won't deny that.

                                                                      But their definition of small and my definition of small are two different things. Their definition of small farmer is someone with a net worth of $10 to $12 Million selling $600,000 to $3.6 million of product a year.

                                                                      No truly small producer is going to get their products into these markets.

                                                                      1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                        Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but no one is entitled to his own facts.

                                                                        My local, tiny chocolate shop with a hand full of employees is part of the Whole Foods local producer program. They have a range of business sizes in each region.

                                                                        Same with the farms.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          I was wrong about Whole Foods Market, you were right.

                                                                          Their grain fed beef comes from a huge cooperative of giant ranches, but their grassfed beef all comes from small local ranches. There is a cooperative of 15 small ranches that supply 18 Whole Foods Market stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. The cooperative is called Grassfed Livestock Alliance http://www.grassfedlivestockalliance....

                                                                          The Whole Foods Market where you buy grassfed beef is probably buying the beef from a small cooperative of ranchers located near you.

                                                                          I am definately going to have to start raising grassfed beef.

                                                                          You have every right to say "I told you so". You were right.

                                                                          1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                            Damn right, I was! :-)

                                                                            My sig line: "often wrong, never in doubt."

                                                                    2. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                      the biggest health benefit to grass fed and finished beef is the high omega 3 content (versus grain fed has high omega 6). its not just for celiacs and wheat or corn allergies. i only eat grassfed beef because it is healthier for me AND for the cow AND for the environment. sure it is expensive (i live in the city and don't have a big freezer for 1/4 or 1/2 cow shares), but imho, i would rather pay the small scale rancher direct (i.e. novy ranches at my local farmers market - although its all dry aged which doesn't make sense to me for cheaper cuts of meat) or butcher (i.e. lindy and grundy) or whole foods ($29.99/lbs for filet here) than pay doctors and hospitals. plus the expense keeps you from over eating beef. there is a market, a huge and growing market for quality grass fed beef and in 2009 i had a new year's resolution to learn to enjoy the "gamier" flavor of grass fed beef over corn. now i will never go back.....

                                                                      1. re: tamizami

                                                                        The market is going our way... fortunately. There are more than just omega 3 benefits... grass fed beef has more CLA and lower arachidonic acid. Grass fed meat isn't pro inflammation the way grain fed is.

                                                                          1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                            Not buying it. Neither are any objective scientists or medical professionals.

                                                                            You may have confused me for someone who makes decisions and ignores data. I did a whole lot of research from a variety of non commercial sources before deciding not to buy anything but grass fed beef, and to the extent I can, dairy.

                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                              I respect your sticktoitiveness mcf.

                                                                              Like you, I've come to believe in the superiority of grassfed beef. But I prefer my grassfed beef to be finished with a little bit of corn too.

                                                                              1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                Unlike you, my concerns were not about flavor and I didn't accept someone else's word for what was best.

                                                                                I read a lot of science. And then I found out how much better grass fed tastes, too.

                                                                                Then I found out how much better grass fed beef without any corn or grains tastes.

                                                                      2. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                        Interesting info there. I would add though that, as a Celiac, beef from any source is no problem.

                                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                                    Maybe more like bluefish to the other one :).....Seriously though, very different end products "grass finished vs grain finished." Like just about everything else, it really comes down to the preference of who's doing the chewing.

                                                    I like both but overall I have had much better luck with grain fed in terms of "consistent" (flavor, juiciness & tenderness). ALDERSPRING has a good post above about raising good grass finished beef. Not as simple as many would make it out to be.

                                                  3. re: AngusCattleman

                                                    I buy a 1/4 steer from the Flying B Bar Ranch near Strausburg, CO every year, 100% pasture raised and grass-finished. It’s the best beef I’ve ever had! They raise certified Angus cattle. Check out their website for how they raise them. They do have their own water sources on the ranch (3 large ponds plus snow pack from the Lower Platte River Valley). They manage their pastures w/ rotational grazing, growing their own hay for the Winter, and reseeding pastures every year w/ all wild, native grasses that are drought resistant and highly nutritional. They call themselves “hay and grass farmers first and cattle ranchers second.” They take the health and quality of their pastures and grasses very seriously.

                                                    They also dry-age all their beef for a minimum of 14 days and up to 3 weeks if the customer prefers.

                                                    They can also feed supplemental grains for extra marbling if the customer wishes it, but the steer is NEVER taken off of fresh grass and never given excessive grain that would upset the steers PH balance in the rumen (which causes excessive bacterial growth and requires sub-theraputic antibiotics).

                                                    I find the meat to be rich, tender w/ a slight chew, and with an incredible beefy flavor that I happen to adore. I love wild game meats and lamb, so gaminess doesn’t offend me, and I *know* what gaminess tastes like. My beef doesn’t have that at all.

                                              2. re: Alderspring

                                                I've had Alderspring beef, and it is delicious! I've also ordered grass fed beef by the breed; my #1 choice is Charolaise. It's great beef and the tallow is tops in flavor. But currently I'm getting my grass fed beef from a local purveyor that raises, slaughters, dry ages, and delivers to my kitchen twice a month. "Burgundy Beef," for any in the DFW area who may be interested.

                                                I grew up on grass fed beef. It was not until after WWII that corn fed feed-lot beef flooded the market as a means of meeting the demand of a large jump in U.S. population. Turns out corn isn't very good for cattle, nor for the people who eat the cattle that eat the corn! If you want citings, just Google "benefits of grass fed beef." Netflix also has several documentaries dealing with the subject.

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  One of the problems these days is people don't want all the cuts that come in the package. My question would be this: Could a customer buy just the high quality cuts such as rib steaks, shortloins, striploins, filet .......... along with say 2 lb bags of burger.

                                                  If they could, the next hurdle is what would the cost be? Currently, a whole Certified Angus Beef 21 day wet aged top choice 0x1 strip loin can be had for about $6.50 lb. which translates to about $7.50 lb portioned out. The same sub primal cut of grass finished at a place like whole foods is close to $20.00 lb. How much would this sub primal be through a local rancher? I can venture a guess but I would rather hear it straight from a small rancher.

                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                    There aren't a lot of purveyors of grass fed beef who insist you buy a half or even a quarter of a steer. You CAN buy it that way if you wish -- even a whole carcass if you have a freezer big enough -- but for the most part there are multiple choices of which cuts you want, the price per pound is clearly given, and you order what you want. Shipping costs are set out at check out. It's a pretty straight forward process, but occasionally you may be notified that they've run out of a popular cut you've ordered. Try it, you'll like it! '-)

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      We know that, but to get the cost per lb down while preserving choices about how it's cut usually requires a half purchase. A quarter usually has a minimum amount of ground meat and a set number of various cuts. The main purpose is keeping costs down below retail for such meats.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        Sorry it's taken so long for me to see this. I live in an area where I can have grass fed beef delivered to my door twice a month. I would never consider buying a half or quarter beef because there are way too many of the "uninteresting" cuts that get shoved aside to cook "later." I buy what I know I will cook and enjoy, which lately runs to things like oxtail, shanks, brisket and roasts. When I do do steaks, they are usually Wagyu, not Angus, though I do love a good Charolaise steak. They're husky critters and produce fantastic beef!

                                                        I very rarely cook beef by any method other than sous vide. That method provides excellent consistency, great texture, and amazing flavor. If you're a beef lover, the price of a Sous Vide Supreme is a sound investment. I grew up on grass fed beef. Back then, there wasn't any other kind! I enjoy knowing I can eat as much beef as I like without a worry about cholesterol or blood pressure. My bad cholesterol count runs on the low side of normal, and yesterday my blood pressure was 120/73. Not too shabby for age 79! Yay grass fed beef...!!! '-)

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          I just bought and cooked my first Akaushi beef meal, ribs this time.

                                                          Places where you buy a half will cut it how you want it, which is a benefit if you can't have it delivered twice monthly the way you want it, which sounds wonderful!

                                                          I don't want to cook my meals in plastic, so no sous vide for moi.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            I'm smiling, and if you have an aversion to plastic (good luck in this day and age!), I assume you are aware that ALL beef comes from the meat packer wrapped in plastic today?

                                                            But I do agree that there are SOME plastics that should never touch food. The sous vide bags I use do not fall in that category. (I hope!) '-)

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Yes, I get beef in plastic, but I don't heat anything in it, nor do I use plastic containers in my own home. I can't avoid it all, of course, but food grade or not, I just don't want to heat stuff in plastic.

                                                                The other thing is, I don't like the texture of sous vide foods always, like salmon, for instance.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  I agree about ANY fish sous vide. But sous vide now reminds me of microwave ovens when they were new to the market. Ridiculous ends that didn't end well! My mother-in-law sent me a special 'grill' to cook steaks with a microwave. It was made of pyroceram that had metal embedded in it, and you had to heat it on high in the microwave for 20 minutes, then take it out an lay the steaks in it. SMOKE BOMB! And it was a short cut to ruined beef. There are a LOT of things that should not be cooked sous vide. But for those that should, it's fantastic! But it is just ONE of MANY tools in my kitchen. I use 'em all! '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    I know the Eades are really high on it, as are quite a number of Top Chefs... Enjoy!

                                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                                          I have had it and when everything is perfect its delicious. The problem is consistency.

                                                          I have a butcher friend who can and does occasionally bring it in for very affluent people. He has been in the business for over 40 years, knows all the local farmers and their track records. He will tell you up front there are so many variables he just can't guarantee the product. This guy is old school too and deals mostly in hanging meat and custom ages it for very high end restaurants. He forgot more than most of today's meat cutters know.

                                                          That post above from Alderspring detailing how it took them years of experimentation to come up with a good grass finished product is a good read.

                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                            Cooking grass fed beef is very different than cooking grain fed beef, and if you don't know what you're doing, you can very easily end up with an unappetizing mess and blame it on the beef instead of the cook! Grass fed cooks quicker at lower temperatures than grain fed beef. At my age, I have a major advantage over those who are under 50. It's what I grew up with, and cooking it 'comes natural.'

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              I learned the hard way, and now that I cook it lower and slower after an inital sear, I'm always amazed how velvety and buttery a lean looking steak can taste.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                I have pretty much perfected the finger press to hit med rare every time. My issue is the gamey/liver flavor that unfortunately often comes with grass finished. 50% of the time I detect that flavor and it just does not appeal to me. So many variables with grass finished (vs) feedlot grain finished. Hopefully as time goes on some of these variables can be better controlled.

                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                  I don't think the livery flavor is from grass finishing, I think it's from packaging it with too much blood, not adequate hang time or aging. In all these years, I've never had a livery one, and I only had one very bloody and tough one. Heritagefoodsusa.com refunded me the cost, no questions asked.

                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                    I don't think the livery flavor is from grass finishing, I think it's from packaging it with too much blood, not adequate hang time or aging.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      I have been told by people in the business that some of the key factors effecting the flavor of grass finished beef are: Soil, rainfall, the type of grass the animal is finished on, the maturity of the grass & whats growing with the grass. In addition, with no grain to fatten them up, genetics are extremely important. Bottom line, many many variables often leads to inconsistent flavor.

                                                                      Most beef these days is wet aged in cryovac bags. Studies have shown that this wet aging increases tenderness but does not really have much impact on flavor like dry aging does. I have read that aging to long in the bag can give the meat a bloody sour livery flavor. I have seen many old subprimals where the cryovac was puffy and had lots of puddled blood. My guess is this is what they are talking about but I never bought one to find out.

                                                                      It sounds like your getting your beef from a small farmer who does everything right from start to finish including at least some dry age. You might be a little disappointed if you bought some grass finished beef at the supermarket chain.

                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                        I have bought much of my grass fed beef at a supermarket chain, as I stated; OBE organic from Oz.

                                                                        I have yet to find a small farmer to buy from locally, so I go to Whole Foods for their use of regional sources, too.

                                                                        Yes, where they graze effects taste but the liver problem appears to have more to do with poor processing.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          Our local Shoprite Australian Grass finished was terrible. Will be trying their new brand of grass finished soon.

                                                                          A co-worker who is a steak fanatic bought all his grass finished beef from Whole Foods. He said sometimes it was great, some times good and sometimes down right terrible. He said the most consistent thing about it was the super high price.

                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            I have found Whole Foods grass fed and finished ribeyes to be the same price as the "natural" angus grain finished beef at my local natural grocery and bette than the slightly higher priced OBE organic at Fairway.

                                                                            Have never had an off piece yet.

                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                              This is where you find grassfed beef from a local farmer:


                                                                              The off taste of some grassfed beef is caused by poor nutrition in the animal's diet. If you buy your beef from an animal that is eating plenty of lush green grass, the flavor will be excellent. If you buy your beef from an animal that has been kept on short, overgrazed pastures, or on dead, dry grass pastures, the flavor will be unpleasant. Buy your grassfed beef locally when the grass is green.

                                                                              1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                This is where you find it, other than stores. eatwild.org

                                                                                I think it's kind of soon for your advice on where to find it, since you only recently came to the conclusion that it might be worth trying.

                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                  I've been raising cattle for 17 years. I've been feeding cattle to produce my own beef for 5 years. I've been feeding and tasting both grassfed beef and grainfed beef for just long enough to think that I've figure out why some beef tastes really good and why some beef tastes really bad. My recent conclusion is that cattle that are fed the most nutritious diet, whether they are grassfed or grainfed or fed both grass and grain, will have the best taste.

                                                                                  1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                    Hi, AC:

                                                                                    Gee, only 17 years of experience? How dare you deign to disagree with an urbanite who's never tasted a bad piece of grass-fed beef! My family's been raising and feeding beef cattle for 3 generations, and you're spot on.

                                                                                    Do a search. You'll learn that any disagreement is very presumptuous on your part.


                                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                      I am a huge beef fan and buy only sub primals. With feed lot grain finished, I can look at the first cut end of a whole striploin, check marbling, fat color, lean color & texture and pick one that I can be 90% sure will be high choice / low prime and out of this world delicious and tender.

                                                                                      With grass finished I am clueless, especially with regard to flavor. A friend is an old school butcher and he said the same thing when it comes to the flavor, IE "you just don't know with grass finished until you bite into it." For this reason I have not bought a whole grass finished striploin for fear of being stuck with a whole lot of not so good tasting beef.

                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                        Here is an option for the dilemma of uncertainty with grassfed beef. If you are thinking about buying grassfed beef, find someone who will sell you a single steak. If you like the flavor, buy more beef from the very same animal that the steak came from. Anyone who is producing good beef is going to be putting some away for themselves, they'll have beef in their freezer that you can "try it before you buy it". You don't have to buy a whole lot of beef without knowing what you are getting.

                                                                                        With feedlot beef you will definately get consistent beef, but you are not going to get the best tasting beef. But your not going to get the worst tasting beef either. If you can find someone that is raising good beef that has been eating grass up until its very last day, you'll probably be surprised by the difference in taste and refuse to eat feedlot beef ever again.

                                                                                        But if you get poorly fed beef that has been eating grass, it could turn you off of grassfed beef forever.

                                                                                        If you are a huge beef fan, and you are buying primals, you should get hooked up with someone who is doing a better job at feeding their beef, better than feedlot, commodity beef. I can't tell you who that person is, or even if there is someone raising better beef near you. But if you are buying grainfed beef from a grocery store or purveyor, you are getting feedlot beef. It's convenient, it's consistent, but it's not "to-die-for". I'm a huge beef fan too, and I'm lucky that I can raise my own beef because grocery store beef, feedlot beef, does not have the great taste that I was looking for.

                                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                                          Amen, Brother Tom!

                                                                                          It sounds so poetic, the vision of happy cattle, heads down, wandering freely, bellies-deep in lush green grass, making for the best-tasting beef... until you watch the bloat, the Out Holes, and the projectile diarrhea geysers (and the vet bills for foundering). IMO, a steady diet of lush green grass isn't necessarily a good thing for the animals or the meat, just as full-time grain isn't. I *mow* my pastures when the grass needs it and my steers don't.

                                                                                          But what do I know?


                                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                                  "Grass finished" ....."Natural"......."Organic"

                                                                                  The term grass finished is pretty straight forward. I wonder though about the other terms. Seems there has been one scandal after another with the other terms.

                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                    I may have screwed up. Shoprite says one thing but Claytons site says "Organic grass fed, organic GRAIN finished".

                                                                2. re: Tom34

                                                                  Assuming that a forage based diet costs twice as much as a grain based diet, an average cost of $5.50 per pound of carcass weight, or $8.40 per pound of retail product for all cuts (steaks, roasts, ground beef, cut and wrapped) would not be out of line if you purchase a half beef.

                                                                  Burgundy's Prices:
                                                                  Hamburger - $7.00 to $8.50/Lb, Sirloin Steak - $12.39/Lb, Strip Steak - $17.33/Lb, Ribeye - $22.67/Lb, Fillet - $32.00/Lb

                                                                  Alderspring's Prices:
                                                                  1/8 Beef - $5.50 to $6.70/Lb. for Mixed Cuts and Hamburger
                                                                  Hamburger - $7.45 to $ $9.10/Lb, Sirloin Steak - $17.00/Lb, Strip Steak - $40.00/Lb, Ribeye $46.40/Lb, Fillet - $62.00/Lb

                                                                  The same cuts of beef from an all-natural, pasture raised, grain fed beef would be about half the price as an all-natural, pasture raised, grass fed beef. Grass fed beef is not cheap, I raise my own beef and I can't afford to eat grass fed. If you are buying grass fed beef for the first time I certainly would not recommend buying a large quantity of beef. You'd better know what you are getting and how it will taste before you put the money down.

                                                                  1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                    I've been buying and loving grass fed beef for a decade or so.

                                                                    If I buy a grass fed, organic ribeye at retail, I pay less than half what you listed there: $20. For non organic, $17.

                                                                    You keep making stuff up.

                                                                    1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                      my whole foods charges comparable prices for 100% grass fed and the grain finished (organic) beef cuts (the bison is also priced comparably). i'm in an expensive market and our rib eye's are about $20/lbs. i like to buy cheaper cuts though from the butcher, i.e. flatiron's (chicken steak) @$13/lbs. i never buy ground beef, only the cuts and grind myself. and if you are willing to eat frozen beef, you have a myriad of choices online for grassfed....

                                                                      but you are correct, the taste can take getting used to for some. a little garlic powder is a great equalizer, though.

                                                                      1. re: tamizami

                                                                        I have never had an off tasting piece of grass fed beef. Nor would I never use garlic powder on it!

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          to each his own, but i needed garlic at first to help me transition to the different taste from corn fed (which is probably more like no taste). i still need garlic on bison, its just too gamey for my preference. i no longer use garlic on my grassfed beef.

                                                                          but this does bring up a point that proper cooking of grassfed beef also makes a difference in the outcome compared to CAFO beef. i never salt my beef before cooking, always bring to room temp before cooking (1-2 hours before), never cook above medium rare (comes off of heat at 120F), always rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. and it helps to know that it cooks about 30% faster than CAFO beef.

                                                                          1. re: tamizami

                                                                            I will often serve flank steak with a garlic aioli, but garlic cooked on a steak turns bitter, and garlic powder especially.

                                                                            I always have brought beef to room temp prior to cooking and let it rest after cooking. But I also season it with either salt and pepper or a more complex rub an hour or so before cooking, too.

                                                                            It sounds like you have the technique down, cook it slower, let it finish cooking while resting and don't over cook.

                                                                            I find that a 2" thick ribeye seared over high direct heat, then finished at medium indirect heat is very buttery and delicious.

                                                                            Bison isn't gamey to me but I hate how lean it is, not enough flavor, IMO.

                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                              so you don't find that the salt dries out your meat? i have read that salting grass fed beef can dry it out....

                                                                              yes, if i'm not grilling, a good high heat sear (i use a little lard for this, leaf lard has no flavor or i'll use some saved bacon grease) and finished in a 350F oven is a great way to do a nice thick grass fed rib eye.

                                                                              1. re: tamizami

                                                                                Nope. If anything, it may help me get the char crust, but the interior is med rare and very moist and buttery. Lots of juices.

                                                                                I do it on the grill the whole way, except last night due to snowy weather. Then I did seared and used the oven, but at 400.

                                                                      2. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                        My primary purchase is the whole 0x1 strip loin. If I get it from my buddy (my private stock) its dry aged on the bone for several weeks. Wife and kids like the wet aged and I often get the whole 0x1 CAB for them.

                                                                        Wet aged CAB is about $7.50 portioned. My Dry aged is probably $14.00 portioned.

                                                                        Taste is an individual thing. A nice thick med rare top choice / low prime grain finished strip steak is one of my favorite meals and I grill them over lump charcoal. It is extremely consistent. l only eat it 2x a month so the health concern is not that great to me. (When compared to processed foods & Asian farm raised seafood)

                                                                        I have had great grass finished steak, Ok grass finished and horrible grass finished. Paid the same amount for all three. If the consistency improves, price comes down a little and the kids move out I would pursue it a little more.

                                                                        As for the Omega 3, I get a good amount of that from my other vice, "Seafood".

                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                          there isn't much seafood i eat these days, i am quite concerned about the mislabeling and 95% of the industry shipping their fish to china for processing (i.e. deboning)....and of course the mercury levels. i do enjoy wild alaskan salmon and loves me some anchovies, though. i'm pretty sure 90% of my omega 3 levels come from grass fed beef and pastured eggs....

                                                                          1. re: tamizami

                                                                            Yeah, I don't have the chart in front of me but I think wild salmon is a good source of omega 3. Mercury is a concern in certain species and I do limit intake of those. Many red flags have been coming up with much of the Asian farm raised seafood for unregulated antibiotic use and heavy metals among other things. Processed foods and lunch meats loaded with nitrates are another concern.

                                                                            Increasing consumption of the healthier foods & decreasing consumption of the less healthy foods, balance, common sense & limiting overall caloric intake seem to work well for me but the last can be a problem adhering to :)

                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                              I know you agree with me that "common sense" is an oxymoron.

                                                                              All we can do is the best we can do... make the healthiest choices and the most environmentally responsible ones we can.

                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                Common Sense / oxymoron................. Definitely! I think some of the nitrate issues will be dealt with in the near future.

                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                  "I know you agree with me that "common sense" is an oxymoron. :-)"

                                                                                  I'm tickled whenever someone makes a derivative of this comment. It strikes me that implied within the comment is the notion that the speaker is among the rational few who *have* "common" sense.

                                                                                  Do others get this sense, too?

                                                                                  I just always found that to be funny :-)

                                                                                  1. re: alarash

                                                                                    Oh yeah... And elevated to this level of discourse, it becomes an absolute Mobius loop of comedy...

                                                                          2. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                            Here are the price lists from the two farms from which I purchase my beef. The first is also organic.

                                                                            100% Natural, Grass-Fed Beef (Dry aged two weeks for tenderness)
                                                                            Our Herd is Certified Organic by PCO
                                                                            All Meats are Frozen, Vaccum packed, and Sold by the lb. Weights will vary.
                                                                            Ground Beef (all 1 lb packages)
                                                                            Premium Ground Roast (taken from our Premium Roast) $6.50/lb
                                                                            Ground Beef (regular) Estimated Ratio--85/15 $5.00/lb
                                                                            Package of 4 regular 4oz Burger Patties $5.50/lb
                                                                            sold out Ground Beef (super lean) Estimated Ratio--95/5 $5.50/lb
                                                                            Package of 4 super lean 4oz Burger Patties $6.00/lb
                                                                            Premium Cut Roast
                                                                            Standing Rib Roast (avg 3.5 lb.) $15.99/lb
                                                                            Roasts Average 2.5 lb / 2 inch thick
                                                                            Chuck (Note: These roasts are averaging around 2.5 to 3 lb.) $6.50/lb.
                                                                            Shoulder $6.50/lb.
                                                                            Round (boneless) $6.50/lb
                                                                            limited Sirloin Tip (boneless) $7.50/lb
                                                                            Brisket (boneless) Approx. package weight-- 3 lbs. $8.50/lb
                                                                            Specialty Steaks (Average 1lb size/ 1.25 inch thick)
                                                                            Sirloin (boneless) $11.99/lb
                                                                            T- Bone $11.99/lb
                                                                            Porterhouse $11.99/lb.
                                                                            Premium Steaks (Average 1lb size/ 1.25 inch thick)
                                                                            Rib Eye (Delmonico) (boneless) $14.99/lb
                                                                            New York Strip (boneless) $13.99/lb
                                                                            Thin Steaks (Average package size normally 1/4 to 1/2 lb--unless otherwise noted)
                                                                            Shaved Steak (Sandwich Steak) (1/2 lb. packs) $14.99/lb.
                                                                            Fillet Mignon (boneless) $16.99/lb.
                                                                            Skirt Steak $12.99/lb
                                                                            Hanger Steak $12.99/lb
                                                                            Flank Steak (boneless) (may weigh close to 1 lb.) $14.99/lb
                                                                            Other Beef Options
                                                                            Beef Short Ribs (Like pork spare ribs except it is beef ) 1 lb. pack $6.00/lb
                                                                            Suet (for rendering into beef tallow) (Bags weighing 2-3 lb. each) $3.49/lb.
                                                                            sold out Stew Meat (1 lb. Pack) $5.25/lb
                                                                            Beef Sausage
                                                                            It's back! Fresh Beef Sausage - Loose (1 lb. Packs) $8.25/lb
                                                                            Sweet Italian Beef Sausage Patties - 1 lb. Packs (4 Patties) $8.25/lb
                                                                            Organic Beef Organs
                                                                            limited Heart (whole) $5.00/lb
                                                                            Tongue (avg. 1.5 lbs. each) $6.50/lb
                                                                            limited Liver (pre-sliced, 1-2 lb. pack) $6.50/lb
                                                                            Kidney $3.50/lb
                                                                            limited Oxtail $8.00/lb.
                                                                            Beef Bones
                                                                            Shank Roast (Marrow bone with a good bit of meat left on. Excellent for meaty soups and bone broth) Approx. 1 lb. pack $5.50/lb.
                                                                            Knuckle Bones (2 knuckles per bag, 2-3 lbs total) (Knuckles not only contain marrow, but also the added benefit of collagen from the joints.) $4.00/lb.
                                                                            Soup Bones (bags weighing 2-3 lb.) (Rib bones, etc.) $2.00/lb.
                                                                            limited Marrow Bones (In bags weighing 2-3 lb.) $5.00/lb

                                                                            This is the second farmer's price list:

                                                                            CURRENT PRODUCT AND PRICE LIST

                                                                            HEDGEAPPLE FARM

                                                                            100% Natural, 100% Grass-Fed, Black Angus Beef



                                                                            Ground Beef

                                                                            Lean Ground Beef (90% lean)

                                                                            Lean Ground Beef (5 LB Chubs)

                                                                            Beef Burgers (6 Ounce Patties)


                                                                            Delmonico (Ribeye)

                                                                            New York Strip



                                                                            Tenderloin (Filet)

                                                                            Top Sirloin Steak

                                                                            Flank Steak

                                                                            Skirt Steak

                                                                            Hanger Steak

                                                                            Sirloin Tri Tip

                                                                            Beef Value Cuts

                                                                            Flat Iron Steak

                                                                            Ranch Steak

                                                                            Petite Tenders


                                                                            Standing Rib Roast

                                                                            Boneless Rib Roast

                                                                            Beef Brisket

                                                                            Sirloin Tip

                                                                            Eye of Round

                                                                            Rump Roast

                                                                            London Broil

                                                                            Mock Tender Roast

                                                                            Other Cuts

                                                                            Beef Cubes (Stew)

                                                                            Chip Steak (Sandwich Steaks)

                                                                            Beef Short Ribs

                                                                            Beef Back Ribs

                                                                            Soup Bones

                                                                            Shredded Beef BBQ

                                                                            Beef Jerky (Per Pack)

                                                                            All Beef Franks (8/LB)

                                                                            Dog Bones

                                                                            As you can see, their prices are nowhere near what you present.

                                                                  2. I live in NYC now but I grew up in Nebraska (cattle country). I can definitely taste the difference between beef that comes from cattle that were fed various ingredients. Personally, I am partial to the flavor of beef from cows that are fed corn. In the stores in the east coast, you tend to get beef which is fed other grains (wheat, oats, etc..) and I don't think that beef has nearly as much flavor as corn-fed beef. Grass, alas, I don't like the taste of but I do concur that it has a lot less fat.

                                                                    1. Agree with the mutant. I've lived in Bolivia (3 years) and Colombia (14 years) where all beef is range fed. Hands down better. When I first went back to the US after Bolivia, I couldn't eat the US beef. Our beef is also from Brahma mixes rather than Herefords.

                                                                      1. I've done a lot of Internet research on grass-fed beef vs. corn/grain fed beef, and what I've read seems to indicate that grass-fed = better for the cow, better for the human, better for the environment. I also happen to like the taste of grass-fed beef.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: onebite

                                                                          You guys has been talking grass and grain fed beef, what kind of grass are you talking
                                                                          abou? here in california I have seen both mostly grain fed, but there is alot of grass
                                                                          fed also. I use to work in slaughter house where we would kill about 350 a day and
                                                                          they had both grass fed and grain fed, and when it comes to beef. I just assune have
                                                                          a hamburger pattie as to have a big oh steak as every goes crazy for. I just don`t light
                                                                          my lights, and I have had both, to me its no big deal.

                                                                        2. Not all grass-fed is created equal.
                                                                          Have had terrific grass-fed in Hawaii, South Dakota, and Iowa. Fabulous in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Panama and other places in Latin America. When we lived in Ecuador, I could buy two or three lomos for a dinner party and one might have an off-flavor even though it was as fresh as the others.
                                                                          I've had very inconsistent luck with grass-fed from local farmers' markets and purveyors in the US. Some had a "waxy" flavor. Could it be different breeds of cattle, different grasses in pastures, the different climates? Farmers just getting into this business who aren't ranchers? How many areas in the US allow grass-feeding cattle for 12 months following weaning?

                                                                          Good grass-fed is delicious but just because a cow is grass-fed isn't a guarantee. I'll pack my bags for Buenos Aires at the drop of a hat but I haven't been pleased with what's available in the US..

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                            Comment was made regarding this in Micheal Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," The type of grass will have a clear impact on the taste of the beef, and grazing fileds are in fact made up of many kinds of grasses and other plants (clover for example) that have different nutrient profiles. Its an excellent book if you are interested in this topic. On the one self-sustaining farm he visits and describes, he in fact says that the beef had some off tastes that he did not like.

                                                                          2. I've been ordering beef (grain-fed, I presume) from Allen Brothers and decided their ribeyes weere the best steaks I've ever eaten. Out of curiosity, I ordered some grass-fed ribeyes from Tallgrass. They are a bit chewier (but still tender), a bit different in flavor, but also excellent. Not much to choose between them, to my taste..

                                                                            1. I pretty much use local grass-fed beef for hamburgers and braised dishes. For steaks, though, I go to local grass-fed, but grain-finished. It's the texture more than the flavor that I prefer.

                                                                              1. The question should not be whether grain-fed or grass-fed is better -- the question is "which do you like better?" I have no right to tell you the taste of one is better than the other. I do have the right to tell you I prefer one or the other or that in my opinion one tastes better than the other. But since taste is purely personal, one opinion is no better than the next.

                                                                                Our obsession on this site with "the best restaurant," "the best steak," "the best taco," "the best ice cream," "the best coffee," "the best chef," . . . . . ad nauseum, is, in my opinion, misplaced. There is no "best" of those things -- "best" when it comes to those things that touch our emotions is subjective. Is Galatoire's or August the best restaurant in New Orleans? Neither. The only thing we can truthfully say is which one we like best. Anything more is arrogance.

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ddavis

                                                                                  I think the OP might be looking for some guidance. Is grass-fed jucier, firmer, sweeter, etc. There are objective standards that can be applied to beef and all other food products. It's not just all about "I like ...."

                                                                                  1. re: ddavis

                                                                                    I think ddavis is absolutely right. I look for the day when beef is variable again, reflecting local climate, grass, beef genetics, and the husbandry of the grower, just like a fine wine or cheese.
                                                                                    Grain fed beef has the benefit of several decades of nutritional and consumer data behind it. Grass fed beef is a very old idea that has become new again. It is going to be less consistent than beef finished in a feedlot on a consistent diet, but in time, as growers get good at finishing beef on grass, that very variability will make eating grass fed beef a delight. In the meantime, if you buy grass fed beef at a farmer's market or direct from a grower, give the producer feedback (and a thank-you if you give them negative feedback; they probably have been working many long hours and you don't want to completely discourage them).

                                                                                    1. re: Alderspring

                                                                                      Really enjoying and learning from your posts, Alderspring. I agree that we will see good grass-fed beef from quality producers - not really artisanal beef - but from professional level ranchers. I think that some of the grass-fed beef now is not of good quality as many small farmers have rushed into production without adequate background. Some will learn how to do it extremely well just as American wine and cheesemakers have - once they learn how. It stands to reason that some some sections of the US will excel just like we have wine growing regions. Can't wait!

                                                                                      1. re: Alderspring

                                                                                        Would you please clarify the statement, "Grain fed beef has the benefit of several decades of nutritional and consumer data behind it."

                                                                                        I know that most consumers think they prefer grain fed beef (mostly because they've never had "the good stuff"), but I've never seen any nutritional data that suggests grain fed beef is superior. In fact, all of the data I've read suggests the opposite - grass fed beef is higher in Omega-3s, lower in saturated fat, less likely to cause heart disease, not at risk for Mad Cow and E Coli, etc.

                                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                          What I meant by nutritional data is the data needed to "finish" cattle in the feedlot consistently is abundant. There are many university studies and textbooks written on combinations of feedstuffs that provide all the nutritional needs of cattle in the feedlot for cost-effective rapid growth (although some of the components are startling- like shredded phonebooks and candy waste). In comparison, there is very little research available on finishing cattle on pasture, which is why many of us grass fed producers are in an experimental mode of always trying new things.
                                                                                          As far as human nutrition, the data do support the nutritional superiority of grass fed beef, although some of those data are sketchy.

                                                                                          1. re: Alderspring

                                                                                            We work on feed systems for small-holders in Central America with "dual purpose females (haha!, i.e., cows for milk and meat production)". For the milk production side, protein in the diet is important--and that means addition of forrage legumes.

                                                                                        2. re: Alderspring

                                                                                          Alderspring no doubt doesn't want to give the appearance of spamming, so I might mention that an Alderspring ribeye won a taste competition written up in Slate magazine. Since then, there's been a waiting list (which I'm on) for steaks, though other cuts are available.

                                                                                          1. re: Alderspring

                                                                                            "Grain fed has the benefit of several decades of nutritional and consumer data behind it."
                                                                                            Cows have many centuries of nutritional data behind them that Mother Nature has created for them. We can't undo their DNA chain, how do you think consumers fair against Ms. Nature?

                                                                                        3. The bottom line for me is that cows need chemicals to digest corn-based feed, and some of the chemicals are petroleum-based. So, with grain-fed beef we get a nasty stew of excess chemicals (some of which end up in the ground and water), and we've gone from a natural process of using solar energy to grow grass to feed the cattle to produce protein, to a system that relies in part on petroleum. All merely because corn has been cheaper (partly because of subsidies).

                                                                                          Pollen's book is amazing, and a must-read for anyone nterested in food. But armed with the right information, it's not much of a dilemma at all.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Grubbjunkie

                                                                                            Chemicals in a cow's rumen? Petroleum based?

                                                                                            Rumen bacterial ecology is altered when cattle are not fed enough fiber (e.g., grass). Part of the result can be increases in pathogens dangerous to human health. One part of getting healthier meat is to put cattle back on a grass diet prior to slaughter.

                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                              I think I am far from the only person who misses this man's expertise.
                                                                                              Not to mention a whole array of other sterling qualities.

                                                                                            2. re: Grubbjunkie

                                                                                              Cows do not need chemicals to digest corn! Perhaps in extreme conditions, where that's all they're fed, this might be true. I lived on a small cattle farm for years where the animals ate mostly grass and hay, but as they approached slaughtering age, this diet was supplimented with two small grain feeds per day. The resulting meat was delicious, and the cows suffered no ill-health with the addition of the grain. (Note: This was not, by any stretch, a typical feed-lot operation!)

                                                                                            3. All cattle eats some grass during its lifespan (except certain veal calves). The term "pastured" is more precise - it implies that the cow spent the majority of it's life outdoors (except the winter months in certain climates) eating wild grasses .

                                                                                              Some ranchers finish pastured beef on a mix of grains to fatten them up right before slaughter - this is markedly different from the grain fed beef raised in factory farms. Pastured beef does not need to be grass finished to be sustainable, healthy, and safe. Personally, I prefer grain finished pastured beef for steaks, and grass finished pastured beef for stews and braises. Much as I enjoyed Pollan's book, he completely ignored the subject of grain finished pastured beef, and I feel that he misled many people into believing that grass finished beef is the only ethical choice.

                                                                                              Pastured, grass finished beef can be well marbled, depending on the breed of steer and the practices of the rancher. Corn feeding speeds up the marbling process (resulting in a far less deep and complex flavor) but it is not the only way to obtain marbling.

                                                                                              The main problem with much of the pastured beef on the market today is that it is not properly butchered and aged, and it is often frozen. Many small ranchers lack the facilities and infrastructure to ensure that a quality product is delivered to the marktet, and USDA regulations do not make it any easier. This is unfortunate, as it gives many consumers an inaccurate, negative perception of pastured beef.

                                                                                              Aging makes beef more tender and more flavorful. When people complain that they don't like the texture of grass fed beef - it is too tough or chewy - that just means that the beef was not properly aged. Of course, factory farmed beef is never aged properly, but corn fed beef has a tender texture without aging.

                                                                                              A well aged piece of pastured beef is among the most delicious pieces of meat you will ever eat. It is markedly superior to factory farmed beef in both flavor and texture. If you think you don't like grass fed beef, it just means you need to find a better source for it.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                Coming to this topic a little late but I thought I'd weigh in.

                                                                                                I really enjoyed your post and it is nice to see that you are so well informed. Most people out there don't know much about this topic.My husband and I own a grass-fed and organic butcher shop, one of the few in the country to specialize this way. so a lot of grass-fed beef passes through our doors.

                                                                                                First, aging . . .aging does in fact make meat more tender and of course more flavorful but even the best grass-fed beef is going to be chewier than grain-fed beef. These are animals that are actively walking around on pasture and using their muscles so there is no amount of aging that is going to compensate for that—they are not idly standing around in feedlots, which of course is a good thing, and are also MUCH leaner in comparison. You also have to take into account which part of the animal the meat comes from. The prime cuts like ribeyes, strips and filets are ALWAYS more tender because they come from a less worked part of the animal's body while top round, bottom round, etc. will be tougher. Most butchers/farmers do not dry-age anything (past 1wk-10days) that is not considered prime. For example we do a 4-wk aged top sirloin but would not consider aging a top round that long. Aging is a costly process and no one is going to pay $18.99/lb for a london broil.

                                                                                                I agree with you about grass-fed/grain-finished animals which we have available throughout the winter and spring when there is no grass on the ground. Grass-fed beef for us Northeasterners is a seasonal product. Farmers can feed their animals this way without using antibiotics or hormones since their primary diet is still grass—balage or silage in the winter. Though we sell 100% grass-fed steaks that would knock your socks off (and I actually prefer them to the grain finished variety) many people do prefer a little more fat. We have managed to find farmers that have such a consistently good product that our customers barely notice when we switch to 100% grass-fed from grass-fed/grain-finished. But that is not the case in many instances, just because you put your animal on grass it doesn't mean it is going to taste good—it is a matter of the type of grass, genetics, rotational grazing and good farming. It is a hard combo to come by and even we have made a few very expensive mistakes along the way and had to grind whole animals because they were too tough to sell.
                                                                                                I can't imagine eating grain-fed beef again and when I have at friends' houses and eaten conventionally-raised beef the taste difference has been so extraordinary that I have been shocked that anyone else would eat grain fed beef. But grass-fed beef is not for everyone, many people prefer a milder taste and a mushy texture.

                                                                                                1. re: schmutzyapple

                                                                                                  Hey nice post! My beef preference changed alot when I came back from Southern Brazil. Its hard to buy beef at supermarkets now. Most of the beef tastes so bland.
                                                                                                  I would have to go to a good butcher shop or health food market to get my beef.
                                                                                                  While I was in South America, I could not stop eating beef and that was true for the rest of my group. I thought after the third day, geez!!....this can't be healthy:(... but after about two weeks, I noticed that I was digesting the grass fed beef easliy...well heck EAT MORE!!:) After a few days here in the states of eating grain fed... I would feel kinda "weighed down". I recently went back, this time Argentina visiting some friends. They took us to some AMAZING steak houses. For almost 5 weeks straight, we had beef at least once a day. Now I know why the Argentinians have the highest rate of beef cunsumption. And again, we did not feel "achy" or weighed down. I'm a firm believer. This time as well, I brought a friend and he had pretty much nothing but "Picanha Noble" and wine. I think he did that 8 days staight one time. He was also a skeptic before the trip. When we came back to the states. We tried finding a comparison, but it was hard to do. We just went down to the local high-end butcher and got super high priced Cowboy Steaks.. Nebraska Corn Fed.. it was good, but we miss the bold beef flavor of grass-fed. The "grissle" comparison is a big difference. Grass-Fed has very little (most of the time none), even in the the most tender steaks. Typical grain fed beef, has alot! You have to pay alot of money to get well marbled steaks here in the states with very little "grissle".

                                                                                                  1. re: schmutzyapple

                                                                                                    The "salt test"... While most grain fed beef, you have to add a lot of spices or marinades to flavor the beef. Grass-Fed beef for the most part only requires salt....adding anything else, you would mask the terrific flavor of grass-fed.

                                                                                                2. I bought some grass fed ground beef 2 weeks ago after reading "Crunchy Con's". Its a book about seeing the connection between conservation and traditionalism and the environment including the way we eat. I was shocked to read about how meat is raised.
                                                                                                  Anyways, the cost was a bit prohibitive 6.99 a pound compared to 2.99 a pound for the regular stuff.
                                                                                                  The flavor was more meaty tasting, and I think I overcooked it. I may try again with shorter cooking times.
                                                                                                  I would like to buy more grass fed, I just hope the prices come down some.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: giddyrobin

                                                                                                    When I buy steak I usually spend between $12-20 dollars per pound depending on the cut and where I buy it. But we also eat sensible portions, so a pound of lean steak will feed three quite nicely with 5-6 oz portions. I don't find that very expensiv, especially since we eat steak once a week at most. Even if you're making hamburgers with $5-6/pound grass fed ground beef, you can still get a great burger for $2 per person. Compare that to a mystery meat burger from McD's or BK and its quite a deal, especially when concerns about sustainability and animal and human welfare are factored in. I recently found great whole Australian grass-fed tenderloins for about $6 per pound at Shop Rite in NJ. I liked them but they were much stronger tasting and much less mushy than corn-fed filets, so they may not be to everyone's taste.

                                                                                                  2. I don't eat beef anymore and I haven't read this entire thread-my apologies if I am repeating what someone said. My understanding of flavor preference is this: Grass fed is more natural, but so many of us were raised on grain fed we prefer that. Grass fed can be an aquired taste.

                                                                                                    Also, a natural foods store here in Minnesota advertises grass-fed/grass-finished beef. The difference is that most of the grass fed beef in this country (according to them) is given grain after a certain point. You may want to check in to that.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: NewSushiFiend

                                                                                                      As always, it's important to learn from a variety of sources and weigh those sources. Your retailer is likely selling exactly what they advertise - grass-fed/grass-finished beef. But they are retailers, not agricultural experts or statisticians, and they are, of course, promoting their own product. "Most" is an imprecise word.
                                                                                                      As long as retailers honestly label what they are selling, there should be no problem. Consumers should inform themselves about what these products are.
                                                                                                      I suggest you do take time to read some of the instructive posts on this thread about the seasonality of grass-fed beef - especially in climates like Minnesota. They were from grass-fed cattle producers and vendors and very informative.

                                                                                                      1. re: NewSushiFiend

                                                                                                        I think there's more reason to eat grass-fed beef/meat than just the flavor but i do think the flavor of grass-fed beef is an acquired taste. This site is very informative, fyi, www.eatwild.com and i strongly recommend Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

                                                                                                      2. I made a very simple stew with grass fed beef. It was the first time I'd had grass fed, and there was a definite difference in taste. Major difference was a little hard to pin down, but the flavor imparted from fat was definitely missing---not a bad thing, but different, for sure. The meat also tasted, well-----grassy! Changed my wine choice to go with the new taste.....went with a Duckhorn Cab.

                                                                                                        1. Grass-fed is got a ways to go in the US. I've spent time in South America especially in the southern part where grass-fed is king. My first experience was about 8 years ago in Brazil when someone in our group (she came way before me), told me to order the steak at a restraurant. My first impression was... I'm from the good ole USA and we have the best beef. She said, you won't believe the taste.. I said OK.. OK... I took one bite and and anohter and another and could not believe how good that was. Leaner, Juicer, BEEFIER!!!!!... and oh yeah.. I have to admit TASTIER:) I ate beef every day for the rest of my trip.. about 6 weeks!!! I noticed I was digesting the meat easier. It wasn't unitl I came back to the states I started to research about grass fed. I can get the best USDA beef possible since there are many high-grade butcher shops where I live... up to 29/35 dollars a pound. I've ordered PRIME BEEF on-line.....Grass-Fed is simply better. Once a friend of mine from Argentina told me that our beef wasn't that good, I pointed her out to a few butcher shops and though she said it was good it does not compare to beef in Argentina.. I took my trip to South America about a year later and found out what she was talking about. I've been back many times and I always can't wait to hit an Argentinian Steak House or a Brazilian Churrascaria. Grass fed has a much darker texture. It is also noticibly leaner. And oh yeah it cooks fast. The grains on the meat are also noticibly finer.... thus producing a more tender taste. Ciao!!!

                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: sli790i

                                                                                                            I have to say that the DH and I had some pretty sub-par beef on a recent trip to Venezuela. Maybe we were just unlucky. I've had great grass fed and mediocre grass fed here in the U.S. Animal husbandry is an art.

                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                              I need to clarify myself and be more specific. I was being too general about the region. Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay all share a huge area where PAMPAS GRASS grows wild on low flatlands. This is what their herd feed upon. This is the reason why their beef is raved about throughout the world. I've had beef in Northern parts of South America and it was a hit or miss. I've also had beef in Northern Brazil in remote towns which was grown locally and it was mediocare. Much of my great experiences with beef came from those regions I mentioned in the beginning. It's a way of life for them. In California where I am from, there are small farms with extremely limited distribution who specialize in grass-fed. Marin Sun Farms is my favorite, they bring their beef to the local farmers market and it is amazing indeed. Another one is Prather Farms... I only know of a few places where they sell their beef. The most widely distributed grass-fed is Estancia, they are from Uruguay. I've bought a huge loin roast from them..special order... and it was talked about more than the bday girl. Western Grass Land.. I believe that's the name.. sucks... plain and simple. Whole Foods carry some decent grass-fed.

                                                                                                              1. re: sli790i

                                                                                                                Pardon my ignorance, but is the climate in northern Argentina such that cattle can graze on grass year-round? This is an extremely rare circumstance, I believe.

                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                  Tropical and semi-tropical forages can be maintained year-round in northern Argentina (near the border with Bolivia). The constraint is lack of moisture rather than temperature or day length.

                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                    Hay is dried grass. If there is not sufficient forage during the winter, feeding cattle cut hay still means they're grass fed.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ellen

                                                                                                                      Having spent many years on a horse farm, I know very well what hay is. I also know that it is not as nutritious as fresh grass, and has to be supplemented. You cannot keep weight on a horse, or put weight on a steer, by feeding hay alone.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        Although as you know, properly processed silage can be vrey nutritious.

                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                          Old thread so just saw this. I fed only grass hay with no supplements and had no problem keeping weight on my horses. Our neighbors with cattle either fed good quality grass hay or alfalfa hay in the winter.

                                                                                                                    2. re: sli790i

                                                                                                                      Sorry, but the savannahs, cerrados, and pampas where cattle are grown are also sown to improved grasses and forage legumes. Pastures throughout Latin America vary in their condition and forage species mixes.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        Also look for beef from Nicaragua... (Central America). I had some wonderful beef there, it was certified from the Port Of Miami and flown here to California. It was a huge hit!! They are now USDA certified and should be in Higher End Gorcery stores... Their cutting chart is different than ours.. BTW... when eating beef from another country, it is ALWAYS advisiable to adhere to their cutting charts and methods. Its always the best experience. The Argentinian cutting chart is very similar to ours BUT.. they do have about 15 to 20 more cuts. When I say similar, you will find similar cuts like New York, Rib Eye, but of course they are called different. Argentinians living here in the US, will tend to buy their meats in sides and customize their cuts.

                                                                                                                    3. Essentailly grass fed is almost always grain fed too!
                                                                                                                      Most ranchers raise there cattle pretty well on grass and then off they go to feed lot (for grain, chicken bi products (now that beef bi products are banned) ,antibiotics, and growth hormones)

                                                                                                                      Alot of butcher shops are sneaky about the term grass fed / grain fed.

                                                                                                                      BISON > BUFFALO > grass fed, free range, non feed lot matured meat is WONDERFUL!

                                                                                                                      Here's a scary passionate eye doc you can watch online which hits really close to home as an Albertan who was raised on beef!


                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: CookieGal

                                                                                                                        Almost all the beef in Latin America is not grain finished.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                          An Australian told me almost all their beef is grass fed. I prefer grass fed.

                                                                                                                          1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                            Shoprite supermarkets in the Mid Atlantic region offer a product they advertise as Australian grass finished beef. It pretty much looks devoid of any marbling, has a very strong gamey flavor that to me has hints of liver flavor and its tough as leather. Terrible product that costs about 20% less than the stores house USDA choice.

                                                                                                                            Recently they have brought in a product they refer to as:

                                                                                                                            "ORGANIC, Fresh grass fed, grass finished beef Humanely raised, product of Austraiia Claytons. Its currently on sale 25% off which brings a strip steak in at $12.74 a pound which is double the house choice.

                                                                                                                            Has anybody tried this newer stuff?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                              Not that one, I have bought OBE organic Australian beef from Fairway. The flank steaks are surprisingly buttery, for a lean cut. I use them to make very flavorful home groung burgers at times. The ribeye is heavily marbled for grass fed and finished, too. Very good flavor from that brand.

                                                                                                                        2. re: CookieGal

                                                                                                                          There are a number of local beef producers where I live; some finish their cattle on grain, some on grass. They don't hesitate to explain (and defend) their method, so I have confidence that when I buy "grass fed," that's what I'm getting. Even the grain-finished local cattle are not finished in feedlots -- grain is simply added to their diet for the final 3 months or so before slaughter.

                                                                                                                          1. re: CookieGal

                                                                                                                            in the u.s.a., look for a 100% grass fed label, or buy farmer direct.

                                                                                                                          2. We raise a few steers each year. Never sure whether we should label them grass fed. They are pastured, but they do get some grain each day (usually in the morning). Other than that, they live their lives in the pasture, eating grass. This year's steers will be butchered at 10 months, when they should weigh around 1000 pounds each. Has anyone else had any experience raising cattle this way? They are definitely not relegated to a feedlot (we don't even have one).

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: amyecenb

                                                                                                                              This is the beef I grew ate as a youngster and prefer, but you really can't find it unless you raise it: lots of grass, a little grain = great taste and fat-to-lean ratio, with no need of antibiotics.

                                                                                                                              1. re: amyecenb

                                                                                                                                Grass fed with grain supplements - very common the world over.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                  Hi Sam,

                                                                                                                                  I don't know about other parts of the world, but here in the U.S., this meat is only available to consumers who know ranchers who are raising their animals this way. Grass fed, grain finished beef is a niche market.

                                                                                                                              2. After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, we switched to 100% grass fed beef. The ranch we buy from raises Scottish Highland cattle, so I can't comment too much on the taste difference of grain fed vs grass fed, because SH meat is different to begin with. We like it a lot.

                                                                                                                                The huge difference I did notice is in the organ meats - much much tastier then grain fed. Given the sickness that grain feeding can induce, I think this makes sense - the liver of a healthy animal tastes better then the liver of a sick animal.

                                                                                                                                Liver story -- my husband hates liver - for years after we were married I couldn't get him to eat it(even bribery failed). He'd try a taste, and spit it out -- once he vomited. I picked up a couple of lbs of liver to try when we were testing different grass-fed suppliers, sauteed some for supper, put the left overs in the fridge, and got woken up at 1 am by dasHusband asking "when did we buy the steak? it's delicious".

                                                                                                                                So far, I've tried out the grass fed liver on several avowed liver haters, and every one has liked it -- I really think that the difference in feed and health is whats affecting the taste.

                                                                                                                                1. Has anyone had problems with 100% grass fed and finished tasting "fishy"? I've found that I am very sensitive to Omega-3 and find high levels to taste unpleasant. For me, grass fed but grain finished drops the O-3 levels enough to be tasty without the fishy flavor.

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: baybritta

                                                                                                                                    I eat pretty much only grass fed beef, and have never encountered a "fishy" taste. I think you're suffering from an overactive imagination.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                      Interestingly, I have been eating grass fed/finished bison for the past 4 years from my same local rancher, and never encountered a fishy taste... until tonight. My bison NY Strip definitely had a serious fishy taste nearest the fat. And it isn't my imagination, or from tastes from other food or wine with the meal.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: eatlocal

                                                                                                                                        That's not good. I don't know how flesh from an animal could taste fishy unless the animal had been fed fish meal. You need to have a Come to Jesus Meeting with your rancher. Please let us know what s/he says.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: baybritta

                                                                                                                                      More like a sweaty gym sock or the smell of a sweaty arm pit. Not that I've ever eaten a sweaty gym sock, but the taste of grass-fed beef gave me the same mental impression. My experience was bad, but the taste of grass-fed beef might vary based on what types of plants that the cattle are grazing on. Cattle finished on winter wheat might taste better that cattle finished on unimproved pasture with alot of weeds.

                                                                                                                                    3. The biggest advantage for me with organic, grass-fed beef is I can eat it! A few years ago, I swore off red meat due to digestive problems.

                                                                                                                                      This past summer, I served organic, grass fed burgers at a BBQ and they were a big hit. Afterwards, I didn't have any of my usual digestive problems. I still don't eat much red meat but I have since tried other cuts of grass-fed; I am thrilled I can eat red meat again. I am able to purchase quality, organic, grass-fed beef (a wide variety of cuts) at Lakewinds Coop in the Twin Cities. A couple of other small groceries carry the products, too, but not the variety. I've asked for grass fed at the local Cub meat counter where I'm told they have many requests but I notice they still don't carry the products.

                                                                                                                                      Comments about taste and cooking are accurate. I love the taste but it does take different cooking techniques.

                                                                                                                                      1. My grandparents raised cattle, and I grew up eating corn fed Hereford beef. Since that time, I have tried to find beef that was as good as what we ate then. It isn't easy.

                                                                                                                                        I have purchased several half and whole beeves that I was told were "grass fed" (they were what was available for purchase at the butcher's I frequented). I believe they were pasture grass fed. All of them smelled strange before cooking and tasted strong and left a taste in my mouth that wasn't pleasant. The last one we threw away part of because it stunk. I have purchased one grass fed steak that was good tasting one time. All other times, they tasted strong and had an "off" taste to me.

                                                                                                                                        In the meantime, I have purchased a lot of meat from the supermarket (when I couldn't purchase a half or whole beef). It is marginal. I have purchased meat from the large chain warehouses, and it is reasonably good. I have purchased meat from a butcher (when I couldn't afford a whole or half beef). It is better. But of course, the better the flavor, the most the price. But price doesn't always guarantee best flavor.

                                                                                                                                        The most dependably good beef I've had since childhood is what I have from a real person who grows beef for themselves or for others but not in big feedlots (though there are some that do an excellent job, raising excellent beef for the consumer (such as Harris Ranch), many just grow beef). The taste is best. I am sure what I am getting as far as health--no antibiotics, no growth hormones, and I know what kind of food the animal has eaten. I can even go out and see what it is being fed upon request. Most of these people can sell a half or whole beef, some can sell a quarter. You can always go in with another person or family members to get a share for yourself.

                                                                                                                                        Whether or not most of you know it, cattle that will be harvested for beef are placed on fields or pastures from birth to weaning or longer that have different kinds of grasses on them in order to grow them to an age where they can be sent to a feedlot or grown out for personal use. Barley can be a grass that they are placed on right before harvesting the beef. Corn can also. According to Wiki, "Botanically speaking grasses are members of the family Poaceae. The taxonomy for "corn" (maize) is: Kingdom Plantae, class Liliopsida, order Poales, family Poaceae, genus Zea, species mays." So if you believe that "corn-fed" is not natural cattle food or is not "grass-fed," that information is incorrect. Many, many cattle are placed on corn fields after the harvest of the corn ears. They eat what is left including the corn.

                                                                                                                                        It is probably impossible to raise a cow on straight corn because total corn diets cause ulcers in cattle. Nobody does this (other than a few people who might for a very few weeks near the end of raising the beef.) Alfalfa can cause bloat. Barley grains the same type of problems. It is the way that the "grasses" are combined that determines the "flavor" of the meat.

                                                                                                                                        When a cow gets into a field (if you watch them), they will eat the tops off the grasses and continue to wander around looking for more tops but also eating the stems and other parts. That means that they are eating the "grains" off the grasses. Corn is an oversized "grain" off of a grass that we eat on what is called "cobs" and sometimes off the cob. The cow tends to eat the entire plant for the most part while we consume only the grain. Cows like that grain too, but they also like the taste of the rest of the plant.

                                                                                                                                        "Grass fed" generally means that the animal has not been put in a feedlot and raised on a predetermined diet which often includes corn, barley and other grains in abundance. "Grass fed" often means that the animal has eaten his or her choice of the food available. If it is corn stalks, then they are "grass-fed." If it is barley, "grass fed" is what they are. If it is pasture, they are still grass-fed. But also realize that, if it is a chemically sprayed field, it is still "grass-fed."

                                                                                                                                        If you purchase a half or whole beef, find out what kinds of grasses they were fed. Find out what you want to know i.e. natural, organic, free fed, or grain fed. Each farmer/rancher has a different methodology, but every single one of them are feeding some form of grass to every animal every day.

                                                                                                                                        There are many hundreds of thousands of Holstein calves born each year that are males. The females are used for milk. The males are grown to be put in a feedlot. They are about 10% of the beef in the supermarkets. There are many breeds of cattle born in the US each year that are used for beef. As you might suppose, different breeds have different tenderness (cut-ability), different taste (often dependent on the type of feed), and different marbling (which adds to taste). The marbling of the beef is what adds the most to taste if it is fed the correct "grasses" or grains harvested from the "grasses."

                                                                                                                                        Waygu marble the best, but they don't produce as much meat, and the tenderness is so great that the steaks can seem "mushy." But remember, the food they eat creates the taste of the beef. If they eat trash, the meat will taste very bad. The reason that many ranchers add Angus to their herds is that Angus beef has some of the highest marbling with the some of the best growth, some of the best tenderness, and some of the highest meat to bone ratio meaning you get more food i.e. it is a high quality, all purpose animal. Angus mothers are also considered some of the best which is a necessity in order to raise live calves to weaning.

                                                                                                                                        All beef that comes to the supermarket is grass fed. Beef cannot be fed a strictly corn (or any grain) diet and live without serious health issues that will kill them without medication to keep them alive--not a profitable plan. It is the type of grass, the type of water, the type of animal and the type of husbandry that makes the difference in taste. So "grass-fed" can be great if fed the right grass with the grain heads on it (such as barley or corn) or it can be horrible when fed rice straw and pasture grass only.

                                                                                                                                        Once again, whatever it is, you get what you pay for. Good beef is built from the breeding up to the harvest--every step of the way counts for good quality and good tasting meat.

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: TheTexasLady

                                                                                                                                          Yes, forage grasses and maize are of the same family, Poaceae.

                                                                                                                                          No one who works with livestock and on livestock feeding systems, however, would ever equate grain and grass/forage feeds.

                                                                                                                                          The timing in animal development and proportions of use of grains and forages (both grasses and legumes) have varible effects on animal development, meat (and milk) quality and quantity, and on consumer characteristics of (for meat) texture, taste, fat content, and the like.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                            I've been buying grass-fed bison (burger, shortrib, top round ... ) from this ranch http://www.lindnerbison.com/ and find the taste very similar to beef, i could even eat the ground burger raw.
                                                                                                                                            Regarding grass-fed beef and how the cows are raised i strongly recommend articles/books/video by Joel Salatin, the farmer mentioned in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma http://www.polyfacefarms.com/
                                                                                                                                            This book is good for how to cook grassfed beef http://www.amazon.com/Grassfed-Gourme...
                                                                                                                                            This is a good site for grass-fed in general http://www.eatwild.com/

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hlv2eat

                                                                                                                                              i am so happy to find this thread, because my new years resolution for 2010 was to acquire a taste for grass fed beef. this seemingly small resolution has turned into a giant lifestyle change for me however, after seeing food, inc., the future of food and getting familiar with a diet/lifestyle called primal blueprint (similar to paleo).

                                                                                                                                              so far i am having good luck in this adventure with grass-fed short ribs and ground beef (made a mean meatball)....am a customer and fan of organic pastures raw milk/cream/butter and was thinking about trying their beef. after reading this thread i am now wondering if the breed is going to be good for a ribeye or if i would do better to order from someone like alderspring ranch? any advice would be greatly appreciated!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: TheTexasLady

                                                                                                                                            Thank you. I also had to toss out a grass-fed beef that I raised myself. The taste was off, it was unpleasant. We fed that heifer to the dog. Now we corn feed the cattle that we use for beef. And you're right. Corn is a grass, so is wheat, and oats, and barley, all grains are.

                                                                                                                                            The meat market that processes our beef dry ages it. That is the big difference between chain store beef and small meat market beef, and it makes a world of difference in the flavor. Factory slaughter houses that supply large grocery stores can not take the time to age their beef, it is not practical. In my opinion the best beef that you will find (outside of an expensive steakhouse) will come from a small producer who knows of a little meat market that does very little business and has the cooler space required to age their beef for two weeks. But make sure the rancher knows how to feed cattle and finished them on a high corn diet.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                                                                              Grass fed all the way for me. The only bad piece I ever got was due to lousy handling.

                                                                                                                                          3. I had rib eye steaks in my freezer. One was grass-fed. I looked dry, with not a lot of marbling. I figured it might be better for me, but probably tough and weird -- gamey someone said. The other was corn-fed, well marbled and the perfect color from a well-known purveyor. I made both of them one night for dinner. It was an impromptu science experiment.

                                                                                                                                            To our surprise, the flavor of the grass-fed rib eye was extraordinary. It was not fork-tender, but certainly not tough. It was thoroughly satisfying and delicious. By contrast, the corn-fed, conventionally grown rib eye had what I can only call an off-flavor that I had never noticed before.

                                                                                                                                            The experience turned me off corn-fed beef. Period. Now i ONLY buy grass-fed. Yes, it is more expensive, but we eat less and enjoy it more.

                                                                                                                                            1. Can anyone tell me: HOW long does it take for a previously grass-fed cow/steer to lose the beneficial levels of omega 3's and linolaic <sp?> acids from their systems? We recently bought a side of beef that was entirely grass RAISED and certified organic, but the farmer also told us that it was "finished" on corn" for a "couple of weeks."

                                                                                                                                              I'm just wondering if he undid all the good from the grazing, or if we just ended up with still pretty healthy, slightly fattier beef, as a result?

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                                                                                If the beef was certified organic it could not be "finished" on corn or else it would not qualify as organic. Also: Two weeks on corn does not "finish" an animal. Most farmers we know do at least a month or two if they are using grain. I would ask a few more questions. Something doesn't quite add up. Also: Two weeks shouldn't undo months worth of omega 3's. But if it is fed a lot of corn, you are looking at GMOs, pesticides and herbicides in your meat.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mycherie

                                                                                                                                                  You could certainly feed a steer organic corn, but you'd probably have to grow it yourself, and you couldn't feed it in high concentrations -- otherwise you'd have to treat with antibiotics (non-organic).

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mycherie

                                                                                                                                                    Feeding your cattle certified organic maize will keep them "organic".

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mycherie

                                                                                                                                                      Organic beef certainly can be 'finished" on organic corn rations. Organically grown corn will not have GMOs, pesticides, or herbicides, since they are not allowed to be used in organic farming practices. However, having said that, it is getting harder to buy corn seed that is not contaminated with with GMOs. Even organic farmers who grow their own grains have to be very careful to buy organic seed, and even then it is a good practice to check your seed before planting. Feeding corn in high concentrations, the same for barley and other "hot" or high-carbohydrate grains, is hard on the rumen. A balanced feedlot ration would take this into consideration and use "buffers" to prevent liver damage, as even they do not want cattle which are ill. Its hard on the bottom line. You wouldn't necessarily have to use antibiotics, although it can be a common practice.

                                                                                                                                                  2. We had a grass-fed/finished beef flap steak for dinner a couple of nights ago, and it was fantastic: tender, beefy, juicy, it doesn't get any better than this.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I love grassfed. It has a flavor! And indeed, the fat content is a LOT different so you can eat more and not feel as bad about it. The steaks are good, the ground beef tastes awesome, and you can buy it in bulk and save money. Go to www.localharvest.org, find your nearest farm/co-op, and buy a half of a cow! You can actually visit the farm and watch your cow happily eating grass and growing up before you devour it. I get a quarter of a cow or so every season and it lasts.

                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: docids

                                                                                                                                                        Sorry, but NO ONE will ever convince me that grass-fed beef is superior to corn-fed beef. So less marbling and being difficult to chew makes for a better steak? No. It's against common sense.

                                                                                                                                                        With fat containing most of the flavor, corn-fed beef are beautifully marbled and succulent. So that you know where I'm coming from, I live in France. The beef in the US is still better. I think food in other countries not America is overly romanticized.

                                                                                                                                                        This is why you ALWAYS order grass fed beef bleu or rare in France. It's not just personal preference, it's just tougher. The texture is just overly chewy and difficult to swallow. I guess this is a personal issue. I'm guessing those who prefer lean beef also prefer white meat chicken. You guys can have the chicken breast. I'll take the legs, thighs and the fattier cuts of steak.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: david t.

                                                                                                                                                          It's not at all hard to swallow if you chew it enough. In fact, one of the joys in eating beef steak is the time you spend chewing it. Of course, this doesn't mean tough and unchewable stuff. Good beef will have enough resistance for a good chewable texture.

                                                                                                                                                          If you want succulence, have some grapes.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: david t.

                                                                                                                                                            I've never had a tough to chew piece of grass fed meat. And I like the flavor much better. I don't compromise on food quality, including taste and texture, and I only buy grass fed and finished beef. I also like my meat marbled and juicy, and grass fed has adequate fat for me, the ribeyes I get, for instance, are very well marbled, though not as thickly as grain fed, more than adequately. Even gf flank is buttery, in my experience, flavor wise. I also prefer dark meat chicken, with the skin crispy.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: david t.

                                                                                                                                                              IMO grass-fed beef has a far superior flavor to corn-fed. And while the mouth-feel is different, it is in no way "chewy" or unpleasant.

                                                                                                                                                              And, like you, I think the throwaway part of the chicken is the breast. I far prefer the flavor of dark meat.

                                                                                                                                                              A chaque a la sien.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Agree with DAVID T. Properly aged true top choice grain fed beef is consistently tender and loaded with flavor (Fat is where the flavor is). Will have to admit that when every thing is done PERFECT, grass finished beef can be absolutely delicious and unmatched. Sadly though, 75% of it is not and the result is that its chewy and depending on the type of grass and maturity of the grass it is finished on it can have a distinct liver flavor. Thats why most reputable butchers don't Stock it and why most restaurants don't serve it. CONSISTENCY / CONSISTENCY/ CONSISTENCY!!!! In the case of grass finished beef, lack there of !!!! If you have a good "consistent" source at a reasonable price go for it.

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                              Tom34, I like your post from top to bottim. My opinion exactly, its kinda diffucult to find grass fed done right here in the states. There are some butchers in the bay area who do carry absolute awesome grass fed beef, but their supply is very limited. They often go out of their way to a small rancher and set up months ahead of time a delivery. When that does not work out, they go back to "natural/choice". It's been a while since I posted, but I'd like to restate that my travels through Southern Brazil (where the gauchos/cowboys live) convinced me that grass fed is my preference. The steak houses in Sao Poalo were absolute TOP NOTCH! However, here in the states, "natural/grain fed/partial grass" is more consistenly better and easier to find. I bought some grass fed at Whole Foods the other day, it was HORRIBLE!!!!

                                                                                                                                                              Here some ranches to keep in mind when in Northern Cali....

                                                                                                                                                              5 Dot Ranch Beef http://www.fivedotranch.com/ (All Natural.. grain/grass
                                                                                                                                                              )Hearst Ranch Beef http://www.hearstranch.com/ (Grass Fed mostly
                                                                                                                                                              )Lucky Dog Ranch http://www.luckydogranchbeef.com/ (Grass Fed mostly
                                                                                                                                                              )Marin Sun Farms http://www.marinsunfarms.com/ (Grass Fed
                                                                                                                                                              )Prather Ranch http://pratherranch.com/ (Mostly Grass, then finished


                                                                                                                                                              For Corn Fed.. these places are very noteworthy

                                                                                                                                                              Bryans Fine Foods http://www.bryansfinefoods.com/

                                                                                                                                                              Shuab Meat and Poultry no website
                                                                                                                                                              395 Stanford Shopping Center Palo Alto, CA 94304

                                                                                                                                                              Dittmers http://www.dittmers.com/ (re-locating, due to finish in a month or two


                                                                                                                                                              All these places can be found at specialty butcher shops in the Bay Area, of course their feeding methods depend on the time of year and supply. Many top end restaurants also carry beef from these ranches in San Francisco/Sacramento

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sli790i

                                                                                                                                                                I think your on to something Sli with the compromise. If lower saturated fat is the concern along with getting that strong beefy flavor, Certified Hereford beef is generally a little leaner with strong beefy flavor and its pretty consistent in terms of tenderness (Quite a few restaurants serve it). Its reasonably priced and readily available year round. Another leaner breed with a super strong beef flavor is Piedmontese beef. This is grain finished but the flavor was the closest to HIGH quality grass finished beef I have had to date. May have to mail order this one and the folks who sell it aren't shy about the price. Shoprite in the mid Atlantic area sells an Australian beef they claim is grass finished (Certainly leaner) and its cheaper than their bottom choice. Need very sharp teeth to get through it but because its so cheap you could have fun mixing different cuts in the meat grinder for custom burgers (Big craze in NY. People dropping $30.00 dollars or more for some of these custom blended burgers).

                                                                                                                                                                Speaking of money, the best beef follows the money. San Francisco in the West, New York City in the East. If a high quality expensive food product can be found, those are the 2 best places to start your search. Just stop at the bank before you go. It will cost you $40.00 just to park in Manhattan.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sli790i

                                                                                                                                                                  A formating note - put a space after a closing ')', keeps Chow from putting it on the next line.

                                                                                                                                                                  Dittmers http://www.dittmers.com/ (without space
                                                                                                                                                                  )Dittmers http://www.dittmers.com/ (with space)
                                                                                                                                                                  Dittmers ...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sli790i

                                                                                                                                                                    you can easily buy consistent, no muss/fuss grass fed cryo steaks at the ghetto mart... if you live in an area where grass fed is done. beef production on the west coast is a joke, i agree... but your saying that this item is some obscure, hugely variable item throughout the whole u.s. and the ridiculous statement that restaurants don't serve grassfed in the u.s. is just not true. it is not true where you live, but you could travel to areas of the u.s. where grass fed beef is a normal and very accessible food item. i just had grass-fed ribeye steaks at the home of relatives for labor day-- they got them $9.99/lb. the husband installs windows for a living and drives an f150 with feathers hanging from the rearview mirror. not exactly over-educated food snobs, very normal folks.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Cattle are natural pasture/grass feeders. Their were never meant to feed on gains/corn. If you care about your health, grass/pasture fed beef/dairy only. E coli, a common virus now found in beef is the result of a chemical reaction in one of the cows (second if I recall correctly) from grain. Consuming small amounts of raw hamburg 45 years ago never hurt anyone that I know of. 45 years ago, cattle was raise with proper diet, not grain. Will always opt for grass fed over grain.

                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: elso59

                                                                                                                                                                    I think all cattle are grass fed but most are finished on the feed lot with grain. What makes the grain finished beef so desirable is the consistency. This is especially important in the restaurant industry. I will admit though, that IMHO "nothing" beats a PERFECT grass finished steak but they are hard to come by. A friend of mine is a master butcher dating back to the 1960's and knows the best sources to get it (Small ranchers) but will tell you up front its a crap shoot in terms of flavor & tenderness. He said he can predict flavor and tenderness to about 90% with grain finished beef but at best 50% with grass finished. Would be great if consistency improves.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: elso59

                                                                                                                                                                      Who is doing this 'meaning'? ('never menat to be feed on gains/corn')

                                                                                                                                                                      The E coli in ground beef does not come from the meat itself (that is, it is not in the meat itself). E coli is present in the the gut of the cattle. In fact, bacteria is essential to their digestion (your's as well). Grain does require a different mix of bacteria than grass feed, but that in itself is not bad. Cow pies were never safe to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                      Properly handled beef can eaten raw (by people with normal health), regardless of whether it is grass fed or corn finished. But ground beef, especially that produced in large factories, combines the meat from many animals, and includes meat that may have been exposed to gut contents during the butchering.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, I was a little confused by the correlation between grain and E coli myself but it was a little to late in the eve to deal with it. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                          I am glad to see that this has sparked a curiosity factor. It was late when I made this post as I was actually doing a search on foreign beef vs. USDA when I stumbled on this topic. I felt compelled to throw my two cents in for all it’s worth. I have been in the food industry most of my life and have a deep concern about the origin of things we put in our body. Biotech, GMO, Organic, various herbs and their natural healing properties, pharmaceuticals, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          Anything synthetic, man made we put in our bodies scares me, so needless to say, I do not support Biotech, GMOs or western/Pharisaical medicine. What does this have to do with grain/corn fed cattle you may ask? I see it has everything to do with it. I remember a documentary I saw about this very subject. The doc may have been “Food Inc.” but I would have to watch it again to be sure. If you have not seen Food Inc, it a good watch. This part of the doc was interviewing a commercial farmer who had an opening in the side of one of the cattle and was reaching inside pulling out this crud. He was explaining that the crud was an acid chemical reaction caused by a grain feed and would result in a toxic form of e-coli.

                                                                                                                                                                          paulj, you are correct about e-coli and the digestion and meat handling etc. But from my reading, it is the grains/corn that make it lethal. Not saying it's not toxic, it is. Please view the link below.

                                                                                                                                                                          I watch and read with a very open mind so to validate this remember scene from the doc, I did a quick search for more info in this arena so I could post a link here. Didn’t take long to come up with this link:
                                                                                                                                                                          I am sure there are tons more out there is this strikes curiosity.

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanx for listening

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: elso59

                                                                                                                                                                            It's the antibiotics used in feed and to treat infections caused by/prmoted by grain feeding that leads to super bugs and lethal e. coli strains.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: elso59

                                                                                                                                                                              The Hearlandhealing story does not tell the whole story of this 1998 Cornell study.
                                                                                                                                                                              "By feeding hay to cattle for about five days before slaughter, the number of acid-resistant E. coli can be dramatically reduced."

                                                                                                                                                                              CDC on ecoli O157H7

                                                                                                                                                                              Slate on this bacteria and grassfed beef. 2010. It discusses research since that 1998 paper.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. here is a great article about the issue:

                                                                                                                                                                        Also for those of you who want grassfed beef when dining out, many restaurants, even the ones we think we can trust, are passing off corn/grain finished beef as grass fed. Examples include Calafia in Palo Alto and Prather Ranch in the Ferry Building, neither one serves 100% grass fed beef. You have to do your research to make sure it is 100% grass fed and grass finished.

                                                                                                                                                                        The only place I really trust lately is a Panorma steak from Whole Foods that I cook at home myself.

                                                                                                                                                                        Another good resource: http://www.americangrassfed.org/produ...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I raise beef cattle. I don't care for grass finished beef. It tastes gamey and rank to me. But I've also noticed that the beef that you buy in the grocery store now does not taste as good as it did when I was younger (40 years ago). The beef that you buy in the store today is relatively tasteless. One reason might be that feedlots now use ground hay and corn sillage (which include the leaves and stalk of the corn plant) to lower their feed costs, rather than feeding an all corn diet. But the biggest change to the taste of grocery store beef is because beef is no longer dry aged. The beef that you buy today is wrapped in plastic shortly after it is slaughtered. We take our corn-fed beef to a local processor who dry ages the beef for 14 days. The difference in flavor is incredible, the flavor is rich and savory. Whichever you choose, corn-fed or grass-fed, you should buy from a local rancher or meat market that is dry aging their beef. Don't buy grocery store meat.

                                                                                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                                                                                                            "Which every you chose, corn fed or grass fed, you should buy from a local rancher or meat market that is dry aging their beef. Don't buy grocery store meat."

                                                                                                                                                                            I so agree with this part.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                                                                                                              Re your comments about beef not tasting as good as 40 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                              One reads this comment all over Chowhound about all manner of foods, and similar comments everywhere else as well. Being of a certain age myself, I feel the same way about many foods.

                                                                                                                                                                              But I've come to a different possible conclusion. It's not the stuff we're tasting, but rather it's the acuity of our own taste. You may have noticed that you don't hear as well as before, or see as well as before, etc. either. I sure have. All of our senses deteriorate over time. I've come to the belief that, in many cases, it's changes in our ability to taste that is at the root of the problem, not changes in the foods. It may be worth a new thread.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'd love to know how the proposition could be scientifically tested.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                                                                                I think it's both Meat is full of drugs, chemicals and isn't dry aged which is very well known to concentrate the flavors. The one time I got lousy tasting grass fed beef, it was more blood than beef in the package, they had not properly bled it, just sealed it as cut, in vacu plastics..

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a source of dry aged grain finished beef sub primals cut from a hanging side and then hung on the bone for an additional period of dry aging and its always very, very good & not cheap BTW. "Marbling" is key though, and cut from the same dry aged sub primal strip loin, a heavily marbled center cut strip steak has a richer flavor that a less marbled 1st cut. The end cut, which has the most marbling, has the richest flavor of all but requires a little knife work.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I also have multiple sources of wet aged bagged sub primals. Of them, I have found the "Branded Products" such as CAB, Sterling Silver & Rastelli Elite.... to name a few..... are consistently high choice and very good where as "Non Branded Products are often hit or miss & I may have to look at 20 or 30 to find a real nice one.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Bottom line, MARBLING is key for ME. I would take a heavily marbled steak from a bagged sub primal over a lightly marbled steak from a dry aged sub primal any day of the week. Ideally, I would take a heavily marbled steak from a dry aged sub primal, but the cost can be double. The cost can be 3 to 4 times as much for dry aged high prime.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Grass finished....."outstanding" when all the stars line up..... but just to many variables which leads to inconsistent flavor & tenderness. Local farmer, maybe, large scale corporate, NO. Any doubts, try ShopRites Australian grass finished beef, Terrible!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                    Why would I buy terrible grass fed beef there when I have only had great experiences buying delicious grass fed Australian beef from there, and more local beef from other sellers?

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't buy brands that use feedlots, and I've found that even with less marbling (and I love me some fat), grass fed ribeye is very buttery tasting and tender.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I grew up eating prime meats from a butcher who delivered to my fussy mother weekly, not from the supermarket, and I buy only grass fed now, as I have for years. I know the difference, and it's not just the taste I prefer by avoiding feedlot and grain fed beef, it's the sustainability in terms of public health and the environment.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, the flavor preference between grass finished & grain finished is an individual thing and I prefer grain for all the reasons I mentioned previously.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DRY AGED vs WET AGED: Both do a good job tenderizing the meat and IMHO, the main difference is taste which again is a matter of individual preference. Marbling score / texture / carcass age being equal, I prefer dry aged but my wife and kids prefer wet aged.

                                                                                                                                                                                      BOXED BEEF ISSUES: I really don't have any issues with cryovaced boxed beef other than you have to see the date on the box because often it is too fresh and needs more time in the bag which I am happy to give it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WITH GRAIN/CORN FINISHED: I don't see this as one of the top 10 environmental issues facing the world and the shortages of grain / corn is largely the result of a boondoggle called ethanol. In addition, burning 10 gallons or more of gas round trip to get to a small farmer who has decent quality grass finished beef doesn't seem very environmentally friendly nor does it make economic sense, IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                        The drugs and living conditions of feedlot beef have huge environmental and public health consequences. Antibiotic resistance among them.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                          Ok, I thought it was just the use of corn & the toll corn production puts on the soil you were talking about. Yeah, I agree there are concerns in the areas you speak of.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a relative who was an executive / biologist in the pharmaceutical industry and she said there is a lot of media hysteria surrounding the antibiotic & growth hormone issues with beef. Of greater concern to her was the largely "unregulated" use of them with Asian farm raised seafood.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Even more concerning to her was the continued use of known carcinogens such as nitrates as preservatives in things like lunch meats.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess that for most folks its a case of pick your poison and take it in moderation :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                            Your friend is FOS. To put it mildly.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                              Tom's friend was right. Each day your body naturally produces about 10,000 times the hormones that you will find in a steak from a steer treated with growth hormones. They hurt no one.

                                                                                                                                                                                              And whoever first thought of the idea that cattle are being fed antibiotics that would create antibiotic resistant bacteria was trying to antagonize you with mis-information. Cattle are not fed broad spectrum antibiotics. They are fed ionophores. Ionophores barely meet the definition of an antibiotic.
                                                                                                                                                                                              They are a special class of antibiotic that inhibit the growth of gram-positive bacteria that convert feed to methane inside the rumen of cattle. Ionophores are not used to treat infectious disease in human beings. There is never going to be a public health crisis created by ionophore resistant bacteria.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If you don't like the use of ionophores, that's ok. But think of another reason to dislike them besides "antibiotic resistance". They are used to reduce the amount of feed required to produce beef. Educate yourself before you say "FOS".

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                                                                                                                                Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but no one is entitled to his own set of facts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                There isn't any dispute among scientists about this, only self interest and lack of concern about the environment and the rest of us by industrial interests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "There isn't any dispute among scientist about this, only self interest and lack of concern about the environment and the rest of us by industrial interests"

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's a pretty profound statement mcf. Like most industries, I don't think the beef industry is a candidate for Sainthood, but I wouldn't want to bet my nest egg that there are no independent scientists that would agree with their conclusion. In fact, I would think just the opposite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but no one is entitled to his own set of facts"

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ANGUS CATTLEMAN put forward some information that he and a great many others feel is quite accurate. If you wish to retain your credibility on this subject, you should speak specifically and scientifically to the information he posted and not bash him without a factual basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think feeding 7 billion people is a mind boggling task equivalent to the Mercury , Gemini & Apollo space programs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of my pet peeves with the industry is ground beef, but as a whole, the industry is a modern marvel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                                                                                                                                  An "ionophore" is a fat soluble substance used to transport ions through a cellular membrane barrier. They are used in the treatment of intra cellular parasites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  An antibiotic is an antimicrobial compound from(largely) 4 families of microrganisms; penecillan, streptomyacin,chloramphenicol, or tetracycline. Their general use is to treat infectious diseases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  They aren't synonyms and the stock trade doesn't treat them as such.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The beef and pork industry have been using sub theraputic antibiotics since the 1950's. They started because of disease, but enjoyed the benefit of a side effect, antibiotics accelerate the growth of these animals. There is a profit motive there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am educated, and I know who is "FOS" in this conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                  She is a relative and pretty smart to boot. Genius IQ..... finished HS at 16 taking all A/P classes....&....graduated college with a perfect 4.0.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  She is very engaging and highly regarded by those in the pharmaceutical industry in the US and abroad. Bottom line, you better have more than extremest fringe sound bites from the net if you were to refer to her as being FOS & challenge her to a debate in a major university setting.....You better have the "raw" data of virtually every study on the subject that has ever been done because if you come at her with "Spin Doctor" data she will destroy you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Being I am not an "expert" on the subject like she is, I would simply say that the subject matter is a lot more complex than you and many others make it out to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                    My issue was with with the description of "ionophores". They were described as something that they are not. My "FOS" was directed at that. I apologize if I was unclear @ that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As far as hormones in meat goes, each person should make an informed decision. Data can support many stances depending on what studies you trust the most.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    My biggest issue would be RBST in dairy cattle. Use of that hormone cuts a milk cows lifespan in half.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think there are concerns all across our food chain and also in non food items we are exposed to every day. One of the biggest factors is the level of exposure which I guess translates to level of consumption with food. Excessive consumption of many food items such as milk, red meat, nitrate laden cold cuts "just to name a few" could well be problematic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I eat steak about 2 times a month, burgers maybe 4 times a month and I don't like/drink milk so my concerns with beef/dairy are low.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not eating them doesn't protect you against the public health effects of the antibiotic and other agricultural chemical overuse, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I try to use a common sense approach knowing that some things I can control & some things I can't.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                          And to think most of that "Branded" beef is coming from Cargill. You might as well go get yourself a McDonald's hamburger, it's the same beef and cheaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nyms42

                                                                                                                                                                                            Like most others, Cargill has beef products that run the grading spectrum and many that don't receive a grade. To say all their products would equate to McDonalds hamburger would be like saying Johnnie Walker Blue is the same as JW Red which is preposterous.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Years ago Cargill bought Excel Beef which markets a high choice branded product called Sterling Silver which is on par with CAB and holds a good share of the fine dining beef market.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: AngusCattleman

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hay and silage are typical stock feeds during the winter months. As stocker you must background your animals on this type of feed when grass is not available.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Local ranchers and meat markets aren't regularly set up to dry age beef either.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. My younger brother also raises Angus cattle. This weekend he told me that one time he took his steers to PX Feeders to be fed http://pxfeeders.com/index.asp . They were fed in a feedlot, a dry lot, with no grass. He had the beef processed the same way that he always does, dry-aged 14 days. When he tasted the beef he was not very happy with the flavor of the beef, it did not have the same good flavor that he was used to, it lacked flavor. The flavor of the beef that he raised at home, that was fed corn while on grass pastures had a much better flavor. He told me that cattle need to eat grass to produce beef with the best flavor. I once thought that eating grass hurt the flavor of beef, but I've competely changed my opinion. I now believe that eating grass greatly improves the flavor of beef. Whether the animal is eating corn or not eating corn, as long as the animal is consuming enough calories to support their specific level of growth, eating grass does improve the flavor of the beef

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'll chime in here as someone who loves rich and often fatty foods (can't stop from ordering pork belly if it's on a menu) and prefers grass-fed beef. I find a properly raised and handled grass-fed steak to actually have richer taste than corn-fed. I find the corn-fed beef tastes 'greasy' to me but not richer and not more delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I actually just got home from the market and was able to find a grass-fed/finished rib eye from my favorite beef producer and it's beautifully marbled with more than enough delicious fat. This is not a chewy steak and it's the farthest thing from a boneless chicken breast I can imagine.


                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JeremyEG

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'll chime in simply as a matter of showing the differences in people's tastes.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The steak in the picture above would not have separated me from my money. It is way too lean for me. That is NOT what I consider beautifully marbled. If graded it "might" be on the lower end of USDA Choice, and I pass on those every chance I get.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Everyone has different tastes. Lean beef is not for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JayL

                                                                                                                                                                                            I hear you, and I love nothing more than a well marbled ribeye, bone in, but I've been really surprised by how buttery such steaks are despite looking so lean. Nothing like USDA choice, which is kind of diner food.

                                                                                                                                                                                            They have to be cooked slower, at a lower temp, than grain/corn finished beef, but are very juicy and with more flavor than those you speak of.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Looks lean, tastes very moist and buttery. Can't beat it. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                              "USDA CHOICE, WHICH IS KIND OF DINER FOOD" ......This might be true of low choice with a "Small" marbling score but absolutely not the case with high choice which has a minimum marbling score of "Modest" up to "Slightly Abundant" in some cases. Most good restaurants serve top choice as do many, many very good steak houses.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                Marbling especially USDA scored marbling is an extremely poor indicator of taste and quality. Maybe you don't have true beef available where you live, I'm unsure. You would benefit greatly from exploring your options more and be aware that a steers diet has the greatest effect on its taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nyms42

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The USDA & Canadian AAA are very similar and while not perfect they are pretty consistent indicators.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Everybody's tastes are different. To me fat is flavor and I like a well marbled properly aged steak, both wet and dry aged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have had grass finished beef that was outstanding, but more often than not it was miserable due to variables not found in feed lot beef. Different strokes for different folks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for access, I can get sub primals, both commodity & branded, in any grade, from just about all the majors. I can also get dry aged beef from one of the most respected old school butchers in Philly who brings in hanging beef for the finest restaurants in Philly, S. Jersey & Delaware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That same old school butcher has purchased hundreds of thousands of pounds of grass finished beef from the best local producers over the past 45 years and will gladly bring it in for a customer but he will tell them quite bluntly that the only guarantee that comes with it is a premium price 2 to 3 times that of feedlot beef.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: JayL

                                                                                                                                                                                              I would put it at "select" which is about the best grade I would put most of the supermarket grass finished beef I have seen.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Flavor is certainly an individual preference but for me fat is where the flavor is and a dry aged top choice / low prime steak does it for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I have had some great grass finished but also some terrible grass finished (50% or better terrible). As many times as I have tried, I don't like liver and the grass finished that was terrible had a distinct liver flavor to me and I would rather eat a Hot Dog with mustard.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I think it goes beyond grass fed & finished vs. corn fed. It depends on the cattle and where they are raised...the grasses they eat and the water they drink. A marvelous grass fed/finished Wagyu beef burger does not equate to the the somewhat, eh, grass finished burger (not sure what type of cattle) from a small farm in Ohio.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I buy strip steaks from AJ's, a local grocer, once or twoce a month. I like them better than their rib eyes. They are labeled from Uruguay. They are tougher than the graded American beef -- they carry choice, prime, dry-aged -- and they grill and taste great and are reasonably priced, compared to prime, better and less expensive than Whole Foods' grass fed. Another local chain, Sprouts, offers grass-fed and it's relatively inexpensive and good but not as good as AJ's. Trader Joe's offers grass-fed frozen strips from (?) New Zealand and they are good but tough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: misohungrychewlow

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Whether or not grass fed is tough can often be related to how it's cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cannot cook it with as much heat as grain fed beef, it really toughens it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yup! I always cook my grass fed meat at lower temperatures and to a lower final temperature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. A little off topic here, but I used to write online content and once had to write a series of articles for a small-ish cattle farm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I researched and wrote about the differences between grass fed vs grain fed cattle, as well as grain fed and grass finished, versus grass fed and grain finished cattle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't recall which of the two that particular farm practiced (I'm guessing the former), but I had to play it off as "the best of both worlds" and downplay the reality that cows are meant to eat grass, but don't, due to cost, time, the usual...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And I felt like a jerk, leading people in that direction. But I didn't lie *that* much and I got my moneys...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                                                    My god, a "write for hire" with a conscience! You're in BIG trouble! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Is it common for cows to be grain-fed their whole life?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I thought almost all grain-fed cattle ate grass most of their lives, with the grain feeding only coming during the finishing stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow, what a balanced and accurate account!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most eat grass and are finished on grain in the feed lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'd like to re-iterate that no cows are ever fed exclusively on grain, as this would kill a cow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, cows are finished on grain CROPS, but they use THE WHOLE PLANT. Where you and I will eat the starchy seeds of the corn stalk (and call it "grits"), the cow will eat THE ENTIRE PLANT, the stalk and the leaves. The fact that the grain plants have the seed head full of starchy seeds is what fattens the cows up. Cows eat grass? Well, GRAINS ARE GRASSES.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's not like they're sitting down and feeding the cows bread and polenta and bowls of oatmeal. He's a cow, he has to eat grass/plant fibre. The way their systems are, they HAVE to eat it on a regular basis or they DIE, because that little ecosystem of microbes in their huge guts needs to be kept alive and running smoothly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: peanuttree

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Or rather, she’s a cow. But I do like the image of cows sitting around eating bowls of porridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: VitalForce

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like the image of them getting a bedtime massage followed by a bedtime story before being tucked in :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: peanuttree

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hey, peanuttree:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not sure how many feed cattle you've raised, but LOTS of cattle never taste of the stalks from whence their kernels come.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Some may get some silage or green chop at the finish (and in the winter), but the feed corn used for finishing usually comes as rolled kernels in enormous palletized bags. If you study up some, you'll find that there's a point in grain-finish feeding beyond which you SHOULD feed only grain--past a certain point, the "grass" as you put it isn't doing any good for you or the stock, and you're wasting hay. IMO, better to stay *short* of that point, but you're still feeding just the grains, along with forage or hay as conditions dictate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Or are we thinking of "Bringing In The Sheaves"?


                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. first off all cattle are grass fed, it is about the finish. You will end up with a game flavored leaner beef with grass finished. Corn or Grain finish beef cattle gain marbling at the feed lot. The grain will clean the gamey flavor from the fat, for a more traditional flavor. yes grass fed grass finished beef is slightly healthier but only marginal. Grass fed, corn finished, with a never ever antibiotic or hormone (not a withdrawal program) and you have the best of both worlds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CraigParkerCOP

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Flavor is an individual thing but in terms of "consistently" tender, juicy & mild flavor, feedlot finished beef from the upper choice grade with 3 weeks of age is hard to beat, readily available and reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are health concerns with everything and even the experts are often at odds and their opinions have swung 180 degrees on many food/health issues, just look at the poor egg. Moderation is key as is an individual's body chemistry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                agreed Tom34, I also think pushing the age is key to the perfect dining experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: CraigParkerCOP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry, but read the thread, you're dead wrong about health, from an environmental/public health perspective and individual human health.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The only gamey grass fed beef I've ever gotten was from New Zealand, and I've been buying nothing but for years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do not think I am wrong but let's talk facts: grass fed grass finished beef is harder on the environment due to the fact that the beef is left in the field/pasture longer to gain the needed marbling. This extended time on pasture creates more waste from the beef cattle and uses more water. The argument of omega 3 is higher in grass fed is true barely. I can send you the science if you need it. Most of the cattle are transported to the packers from around 150 miles so that does not eliminate the carbon footprint but increases it since they are on the field longer. Antibiotic and Hormones most USDA programs are withdrawal programs and not true natural programs. Harris Ranch is a well known withdrawal program to were they stop giving beef cattle antibiotics and hormones 120 prior to harvest. Certified Angus Beef Natural is the only grass fed corn finished never ever program. You can get this information from the USDA.gov website. As far as flavor, the grass fed is tougher period!! Shear force test University of Nebraska Lincoln. the odds of gamey flavor depend greatly on country of origin and region of the US during harvest times. It is the nature of the grass and the green/yellow fat that contains the flavor. It is not bad just takes some getting use to. I would say it varies greatly on the cut you are purchasing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As far as your reply on factory farming, I ask how many farms you have actually been on? how many beef cattle have you raised and why do you think this is the way it is. I am sorry that regular ranchers do not go around posting pictures of there boring cattle eating grass and drinking water. In todays world if you damage your cattle you will not make any money. they must grade out right to make any money. If you want to come over and take a tour of a ranch let me know...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: CraigParkerCOP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Its a tough subject Craig as grass finished folks are passionate about the product and thats a good thing especially if they can support a local rancher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As you say, so many variables with grass finished that effect taste and texture that consistency can be a real problem. I have had some that was so good days later I was still thinking about it. Most of the time though my wallet was 2 to 3 times lighter & the product was not to "my" liking. I have to put it out there that I am also not a fan of Bison or Venison but I know lots of folks who are. Kind of a chocolate / vanilla thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I eat steak for one reason, I love it. If it contains some good stuff, that's a bonus. If it contains some bad stuff, which we all know it does, I am ok with that because I only eat it about 2 to 3 times a month with a few fresh ground burgers thrown in between. Omega this and Omega that is not even a consideration as they can be obtained dirt cheap elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think Kaleokahu summed it up pretty well with his reply post after he read the article you linked to:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Wow, what a balanced and accurate account"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In my wife's family there are 4 doctors, 3 of which are Cardiologists. In addition, one of her sisters is a pharmaceutical biologist who is quite familiar with every last thing given to steer at the feedlot. All eat feedlot beef in "moderation".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Notice those who prefer the "flavor" of corn finished feedlot beef only talk about tenderness and marbling. There is no mention of actual flavor. That's because grain finished, particularly corn finished beef has almost zero flavor. It has all about fat. In my opinion, the fat tastes bad as well, which is why most people cut it off and throw it away. I tried my first grass fed steak years ago before I knew of any health benefits and before I got involved in any food movement and it was like an epiphany. I felt like I was eating real meat. The flavor is intense...the rare tastes dense and rich, while the done crust areas taste faintly of lamb and grass. Yes it's tougher, but fortunately I am of the minority of Americans that enjoy meat with chew instead of the mealy sometimes slippery texture of corn fed. Corn fed is great if you enjoy baby-food but if you want a real meat-eaters meat, go grass fed all the way