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Jun 30, 2009 09:49 AM

Mexican Beef

Hi...can anyone help me with this question. I have asked around and get varying answers. Is Mexican beef corn fed or grass fed? The best answer I have received so far is that on industrial farms, corn, local farms, grass.

I am trying to eat grass fed beef whenever possible. I asked at Rincon Argentina where their beef was from and they told me Texas, so I am assuming it is corn fed. I see US beef in the supermarkets fairly frequently. My neighbors seem to feel it is superior to Mexican beef.

Does anyone know a good source for grass fed beef in the D.F.?


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  1. Nearly all Texas beef is grass fed.
    I used to live on Campos Eliseos, 3 blocks from Rincon Argentina, and I ate there a lot. I'm startled to hear they source their beef from Texas and not Argentina, which of course would be grass fed also.
    Corn fed American beef is more likely to be from Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa - the corn belt states- but not Texas.
    Mexican beef from Sonora I know nothing about.

    25 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Many beef growers outside of the corn belt bring corn in by truck or rail to feed their cattle. It is much cheaper to raise beef in a CAFO on corn which is brought in, rather than to raise cattle on pasture or feed them solely grass.

      Anymore, the city, state or country where the beef is from doesn't usually tell you much about the methods used to raise the cattle -- the corn/CAFO economy is global and pervasive.

      1. re: Veggo

        From what I understand from Rincon A., it hasn't been legal to import beef from Argentina into Mexico for over 30 years. They buy their beef from a single source in Texas that butchers it to their specifications. When I asked if it was grass or corn fed, the person I was talking to didn't know. Sometimes I can tell by the marbling and strip of fat on certain cuts, but I am on the fence whether the RA beef is corn or grass fed.

        1. re: newintown2

          I was baffled by the comment you relayed from Rincon A., that Mexico has not imported beef from Argentina for decades, but there are Argentine steakhouses all across Mexico. But it is true; they are not selling Argentine beef, even though Argentina has been HDF since 1994. (hoof and mouth disease free). Mexico's population is more than twice Argentina's, and produces about half the amount of beef that Argentina does, but beef producing countries are fiercely protectionist.
          I researched the subject for a couple hours today, and I really feel tricked by the illusion of grass-fed Argentine steaks in Mexico.
          EDIT: to your specific question about grass fed, nearly all mexican and US beef has a "grain-enhanced" diet, which yields the marbleing we are supposed to like. Argentinian beef is grass fed, and they prefer it without the marbleing. My interpretation is that marbling accrues to lazy cattle who don't have to work hard for their next meal. If you eat grass for a living, you are mostly muscle, because you have to do a lot of walking around.

          1. re: Veggo

            I think I have found some grass fed beef, if not, at least a great butcher. on the corner of Mazatlan and Juan de la Barerra in Condesa. They have a lot of sides of beef hanging in the window...I went in and asked where the beef was from and was told Sonora. I asked what the cows ate and they said grass. I bought two strip steaks, which were carved to my requested thickness. They LOOKED grass fed, with little if any marbling and a thick strip of white fat running along the outside. They also TASTED grass fed, with a bit of chewiness that US corn fed strips don't have. Not as good as Argentine, lacking some of the mineral/grassy taste, but pretty good nonetheless and a bargain at less than $MXP50. They also had frozen New Zealand lamb. I bought a shoulder for $MXP170 and cooked it this was great. I love this butcher. Not sure of the name but easy enough to find.

            1. re: newintown2

              Congratulations, a good butcher is a gift from the kitchen gods. He'll be able to get you any kind of meat you want and cut it just to your liking.


              1. re: newintown2

                Hi all - I just wanted to bump this board re. grass fed meat in Mexico as I am trying to find grass-fed, Mexican beef and so far failing. I will try and find this butcher in Condesa this week, but I was wondering if anyone had made any new discoveries on this front? I am also hunting for free-range chicken and eggs - in San Juan I can source organic turkey but not chickens. I was hoping to find somewhere around Polanco/Condesa/Roma but can drive anywhere if anyone has any suggestions! Is the Central de Abasto or Rastro de Ferreria an option? Thanks in advance

                1. re: Venetia888

                  Not sure if it will work, but I suggest making inquiry of the very nice folks at Bistrot Maximo in Roma - I had some great organic chicken there recently and they may have other vendor information to share.

                  1. re: foodeye

                    that's a great tip - thank you, I've been meaning to eat there so I will ask when we go. Will report back!

                    1. re: Venetia888

                      Make reservations as far in advance as you can. They are often completely booked for comida as much as a week ahead.


                  2. re: Venetia888

                    I'd try two places:

                    1. Orígenes Orgánicos on the Glorieta Popocatépetl in Condesa. They regularly have organic whole chickens, frozen. Not sure if free-range. They also have lots of local organic turkey - turkey ham, ground turkey, turkey chunks, and breasts. The turkey comes from over Texcoco way. They never have beef.

                    2. The Green Corner organic store on Mazatlán near your favorite butcher (yes, they are great!). They often have some cuts of beef - definitely organic, unsure if grass-fed. There are other Green Corners, including one on Polanco.

                    I have a friend who is a meat supplier here - I'm going to ask him re: other options for grass fed beef.

                    Both of those places and sometimes Superama have organic eggs - the brand I always see is E'el ( plus OO has loose eggs that I assume are local. Superama also has cage free eggs from Bachoco sometimes - not sure if organic too. I assume City Market, Chedraui Select, and maybe some other places have these too.

                    1. re: gueraaven

                      Thank you so much - this is really helpful, I'll check out those options

                2. re: Veggo

                  And sadly, Argentina is rapidly transitioning to grain finishing. Hopefully the culture of Argentina, through prideful consumer demand, can retard this process. But this is a difficult thing to do in the face of the veneer/image based marketing of products these days. After a long, but cordial discussion with the manager of the Parker Ranch restaurant on the Big Island of Hawaii, I chose not to dine there because their beef was imported from the mainland US. The ranch is a cow/calf operation and they put the yearlings on 747 and sent back to the mainland. Pretty absurd world we live in.

                  1. re: Mylob

                    Let me see if I understand this correctly...the Parker Ranch ships their youngster off to the mainland for finishing and then the meat gets shipped back to Hawaii for service?

                    That's the most absurd thing I think I've heard in a long time. Not only do you end up with a grain fed product, but the cost and carbon footprint to do so it insane. Please tell me I misunderstood your post.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      Sorry if I was vague. So the Parker Ranch ships the yearlings off to Washington state. They are on grass for probably 2 years, then off to who knows where for grain finishing. But they do not come back to Hawaii. Parker Ranch then imports its beef for the restaurant from the mainland from generic feedlot sources. So you actually never eat a bite of Hawaiian raised beef at their company restaurant. The whole thing is a carbon nightmare. Grass fed livestock on native pasture, whether bison, cattle or goat, etc. is one of the purest forms of low energy input-low CO2 output agriculture there is when it is marketed regionally and without heavy grain input. Hawaii has ample rain, sun and grass to do this. They have a built in marketing system of tourism based restaurants and a vacation clientele that would love to gobble up a Hawaiian grown steak at premium prices. But the cattle industry (98% of) is one of the most closed minded, least creative industries I know. It's really sad when you see unrealized potential for a a product that could have a positive effect on both people, local economies and the planet.

                      1. re: Mylob

                        Thank you for clarifying. That is still the craziest illogical system I've heard of in a long time.

                        Why put a cow on a plane. Why not just raise the critter in place. These are rhetorical, you don't need to answer. I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out who in their right mind could conceive or and execut such a ridiculous process

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          And you outta see those cows fight over who gets the window seat!

              2. re: Veggo

                In actuality, hardly any Texas beef is grass fed. One of the largest feed lots on the planet is in Amarillo, Texas. I am a range ecologist who has worked in the grass fed sector for beef and bison. As far as Mexican beef is concerned, it is hit or miss. However, cattle in the US are often finished on corn for 90-120 days, during which time the Omega 3 fatty acids (same beneficial compound as in wild salmon) convert to harmful Omega 6. This process usually begins at about 30 days. In contrast to cattle, if bison are corn finished, it is usually for a period of 30 days or less, therefore retaining most of the Omega 3. Mexican beef is a similar process, with grain finishing times for cattle being much shorter than the US or Texas. Therefore most Mexican beef, especially Sonoran, is far more "pure" than US beef. The reasons for this go beyond the simple finishing and enter the complex realm of warm season vs cool season grasses, tropical vs temperate etc. In short, Sonora and Chihuahua are blessed with an excellent blend of warm season, high protein grasses that provide high potential for flavor and natural finish.

                How does one identify grass fed vs corn fed in the supermarket? "Go for the Gold" is the slogan I use. Look for yellow fat, not white as another post mentioned. The presence of yellow fat indicates the presence of Omega 3 oils. Grain fed turns the fat white as snow.

                Hope this helps the discussion.


                1. re: Mylob

                  Very interesting info, thanks for posting it

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    Agreed. I was woefully misinformed when I first posted here 15 months ago, and I have learned a lot since.

                  2. re: Mylob

                    Omega-6 acids are not automatically bad since it covers a whole range of acids. Research shows that the ratio if O-6/O-3 is more important than the absolute values. Grass-fed beef has a much better ~3/1 ratio than grain/fed ~20/1

                    1. re: honkman

                      There is truth to that, but the fact that so much of the food in the commercial grocery stream is depauperate of Omega 3, then the role of grass fed products is more important than ever to supplement the empty foods.

                      1. re: Mylob

                        Gee, "depauperate", I haven't heard that word ever since I weighed 65 pounds in 6th grade.

                          1. re: Mylob

                            Indeed. I have since gained back the weight, and then some.

                2. Hey there, welcome! I have a good friend who has worked for Cargill here in MX for about 8 years. He is no beef expert, but does work in the industry. He told me that much, or maybe all, of the beef industry here raise corn-fed cattle similar to how it is done in the US. Of course, there are plenty of farmers in small towns who still raise their cows on hay and grass, but that is beef that almost never gets to market in places like Mexico City or any supermarkets... it's going to local mercados.

                  I'd be a little suspicious that the Sonoran beef is really grass-fed, but only because that's generally where most of the big cattle farms are. And the price. :-) You may want to try asking around at the Mercado de San Juan. You can get almost any kind of meat there in the world (lion, anyone?) and many restaurants order wholesale from there. You'd probably be most likely to find someone who knew enough about the beef supply here to tell you whether or not you can buy grass-fed beef. If you find out, tell us!

                  1. The original comment has been removed
                    1. Funny, I think it's a matter of personal taste. Argentine beef is among the best. And it depends on the farmers, whether it is corn fed or grass fed -in any country or state. Only the labels and the farmers can tell you for sure.

                      But the taste and quality is up to the personal taste of the one eating it. I will say that I have traveled to Mexico a lot and the steaks I ate there were among the best i ever ate (I eat a lot of beef). It is a stronger flavor if you get the grass-fed beef, but great tasting and very tender and sweet. I'm told the farms on volcanic soil tend to produce the sweeter/more flavorful beef. I also had some wonderful steaks in Norco, CA when I was growing up in Glen Avon, CA. That beef was fed hay and corn I think(?) They were too crowded in their pastures to allow the grass to grow. The Pacific Northwest has absolutely delicious grass-fed beef (Western WA in particular).