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Jan 8, 2009 11:36 AM

Grassfed Beef

We have been buying meat at Costco, especially steaks because they are priced right and easy to freeze and store. Our favorite cut is ribeye.

So recently we also bought a (much more expensive) ribeye from a producer at our local green market. The steak was grassfed, shrinkwrap packaged and frozen. i didn't have very high expectations for this steak: it wasn't very marbled (how tender or tasty could it be?).

Last night I made two ribeyes -- one from Costco and the grassfed, naturally raised ribeye. I used the exact method for both: seared in (the same) cast iron pan over a high flame (at the same time), flipped and then finished in a 500-degree oven.

And the difference was stunning. The naturally raised beef was extraordinary. it was tender, flavorful and very rich and pure tasting. By contrast, the Costco beef was fatty and had an "off" taste that we had never noticed before.

Any one else had similar -- or different -- experiences with same-cuts, but differently raised beef, lamb or chicken?

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  1. "Any one else had similar -- or different -- experiences with same-cuts, but differently raised beef, lamb or chicken?"

    Absolutely - grass fed, pastured anything is a wonderful and superior product. It's often better for the environment, tastes better, and is better for you. Your experience is common and many people are often amazed at the difference - I know I was. You have to remember that cows were not meant to be raised on corn and grain. They will eat it, don't get me wrong, but their natural diet is grass, grass, and more grass.

    Sometimes people don't like the taste of grass fed beef but that's ironic beause it's how beef is supposed to taste. The grain that is used to feed the cheaper supermarket cattle is the one that doesn't taste right!

    1 Reply
    1. re: HaagenDazs

      That's so true. My parents get their beef from cut-rate Chinese grocers, and once I brought some grass-fed beef from one of the Vermont farms over, and made a simple stir-fry with it. They commented that the beef was too gamey for them! Ha ha, that means more beef tasting of rich, beefy goodness for me!

    2. I've never found a great deal of difference in poultry. "Free" range poultry are often not raised "free" range. More often they're caged and have the option to leave the cage and strut around a bit if they choose to. Otherwise, they're housed like most other commercial poultry. But I have found a significant difference in beef, lamp and pork. I was raised on the left coast and didn't travel outside of the state much until I was an adult. On my first trip to the the mid-west I experienced beef, lamb and pork that was amazingly flavorful and tender when compared to what I was accustomed back home.

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        You're correct that the term free range can be misleading but what you can look for, especially in your local community is pastured poultry. With pastured poultry the birds are allowed to roam free, forage for bugs, scratch at the dirt, etc. ...As with grass fed beef, they tend to eat what comes naturally to them, not what is placed in front of them, which is often corn too, by the way.

        Hmm, this is starting to sound like a familiar trend isn't it?!
        Feeding corn to animals?!
        Corn being used for ethanol because it's PERCEIVED to be environmentally friendly?
        Corn prices going up as a result?
        Food prices going up as a result of increased feed cost?

        ...the list can go on and on.

      2. Gourmet, Diary of a Foodie did a show on this very subject. Ever since then I have really wanted to try it, but the butcher they highlighted is in upper state NY and they don't ship. Bittman had a show about naturally raised beef that are raised in No Cal. Closer to home, but still not easily accessible... I'm jealous! Both shows mentioned the pure taste of the beef and that you won't want to go back to corn raised beef again.

        2 Replies
        1. re: janetms383

          There are numerous sources for grass fed beef so keep looking online or in local stores. We can get grass fed beef at ANY of our local Whole Foods markets here in the Atlanta area.

          1. re: janetms383

            Hey janetms383 - I'm not sure where you live, but you might want to check out local farmer's markets, butchers, or meat processors and ask if they have grass-fed beef available. I've found great sources at farmer's markets in a) a small, southern city, b) a medium-sized university town, c) a small northeastern city, and d) a tiny, rural town. In all cases, the beef wasn't advertised as such (until this past summer), and I had to enquire to discover its origins. Also, I have the fortune of living 5 minutes from a source, but a friend who lives in a big city where grass-fed beef is usually expensive and/or from Whole Foods, drives up here once a summer to purchase a few dozen pounds of beef and carts it back home herself. Might be an idea too, if you can find a source within a reasonable distance. I personally think it's worth a drive (and possibly a chest freezer :))!

          2. For those of us who live in Latin America where the beef is all range and grass fed, eating beef in the US is generally to be avoided.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I'm assuming this includes Argentine beef? During my last years in Miami, we used to get wonderful Argentine beef from a butcher there.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Argentinian, Uruguayan, Brazilian, Colombian, Peruvian, Venezolano, Bolivian, ... and more. All range fed and grown with natural and improved grasses supplemented with legume forages, minerals and vitamins, and sometimes silage if needed.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Not too sure re. Argentina. As this article from the Clarin newspaper in Buenos Aires shows, 5 million cows are currently fed in feedlots, up from 2.1 million in 2001.


                  1. re: RicRios

                    Didn't know that. The 2007 beef cattle herd size was about 52 million; so about 10% are feedlot finished.

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    my god that sounds beautiful :) does anyone know where to find grass fed beef in Montreal, QC? or lamb or dairy for that matter? I have been searching and asking without success ...happy eating, oana

              2. I just got in an order of Alderspring
                Ranch grass-fed beef this morning. They
                have the best steaks I've ever tasted.
                Even the filet mignon has a lot of