Grass fed beef vs. non-grass fed? [moved from Boston board]
- Prav Sep 5, 2007 01:15 PM
How does grass fed cow taste in compared to non-grass fed?
I think it taste like beef, or what beef is supposed to taste like.
The flavor, look, smell, and texture of grass fed beef is a little different from grain-fed beef. I think it also needs to be cooked a little differently that grain fed beef.
It probably doesn't answer your question, but if you try it, you'll be able to taste a difference.
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.
There's a slight gaminess, but it doesn't quite approach, say, venison. It's a nice rich taste.
We've been experimenting with some grass fed beef that Mr. Rabbit ordered online (yes, online... they ship it in dry ice). He recently read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and decided that we should do some comparing.
We think the texture appears slightly different from "regular" beef, perhaps more dense or fibrous, if that makes any sense. But we're not sure that it tastes much different, although I agree with infomaniac and wittlejosh that there are slight differences in texture and perhaps a game-y or grain-yness that might distinguish it from its grass-fed equivalent. Also, we found same or similar cuts were slightly leaner and less marbled when grass-fed. Either way, it does taste the way you would expect beef to taste.
We haven't done enough experimenting to decide whether it needs to be cooked differently.
I just got back from Ecuador where virtually all of the beef is grass-fed. Some restaurants served Argentinian beef, also grass-fed. In every instance the beef was inexpensive, wonderful, full flavored, tender and not gamey in the slighest. My local guides and companions expressed surprise when I told them that most beef available in America was grain fed. They replied: "but cows eat grass!" Not in America, unless you're willing to spend an outrageous amont for it at Wegmans or Whole Foods. For a helpful overview of why where at this point in the food chain, read: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2004/0... , or The Omivore's Delimma.