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Grass Fed Beef

I see and hear people talking about grass fed beef and how much better it is than grain fed, and I am wondering could you really tell the difference?

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  1. It has more to do w/your health than taste. Cows were meant to eat grass, not genetically modified corn (or any corn for that matter), other animals and all the other garbage that goes into feed lot feed. This stuff makes the animals very ill and then they're pumped full of antibiotics along w/growth hormone. It's pretty disgusting. This is why other countries refuse our beef and we weigh more and are sicker than other developed nations (that and the other atrocities happening w/our food supply). The same thing is done w/chicken. I suggest you see Food Inc. and read Michael Pollan's books.

    4 Replies
    1. re: inbiz

      I would quibble a bit with the first sentence, but everything else is true. I think grass fed beef has a slightly different taste (more, well, beefy) and a fairly substantially different texture (chewier) than corn fed. It is definitely true that grass fed beef has less "marbling" than corn fed. It needs to be cooked more slowly in order to prevent it from drying out (because it doesn't have as much fat).

      1. re: mtullius

        Agreed, though I think it's more than a slightly different flavor- I believe it's a significantly different flavor. A far better flavor honestly. We actually switched all our beef at home to grass fed since we've got a really good farmer at our farmer's market in Bloomington. (Fiedler FYI)

        1. re: chetatkinsdiet

          I am a HUGE fan of their flank steaks, in particular.

          1. re: chetatkinsdiet

            Pls let me know where you get your grass fed beef in Bloomington? Thanks!

      2. I think you would notice a significant difference in a side by side comparison. As inbiz suggested, if you haven't read Michael Pollan's books, they will shed some light on why you are hearing more and more about pastured beef and other meat. I'm lucky enough to have a couple of good sources locally. The pastured beef cooks more quickly - careful not to overdo it! I'm in favor of spending more for and eating less meat.

        1. Here's a fun little secret. Beef is like wine, it varies by farm, growing region, breed, quality of genetics), specific diet, husbandry techniques, aging time & techniques... and the relative talent of the farmer, trucker, slaughterhouse, and butcher (not to mention the chef).

          In other words, it's not as simple as grass-fed vs. grain-fed or Choice vs. Prime or any similar retail label. (It does matter across the board if the cattle were raised and handled in low stress conditions, which includes no added hormones or other growth stimulants, as stress can absolutely ruin the flavor and texture of beef.)

          In four years of tasting beef for a living (I created a company to help people discover all this natural variety and connect more closely to the farm), I have tasted steaks and burgers from dozens even hundreds of farms including 100% grass fed beef from one farm in Idaho that tasted like a classic steak-house steak (we christened it "Gateway Beef" and another from the Puget Sound region (same crossbreed, BTW) that has a far more adventurous personality (I called this one Outdoor Adventure Beef). Grain-fed beef can also vary in texture, personality, impression, and specific flavor notes. The great this is, if you can tell what's on your plate and it is artisan quality beef, you can figure out which flavor profiles you prefer and then buy more of it.

          Bottom line, if you can, try to do some blind taste tests with beef from different producers or producer groups. If you want my cheat sheet for identifying artisan quality beef, feel free to shoot me an email.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Oliver Ranch

            Great point. Same deal with goat milk, and cow's milk... particularly notable in the raw cow milk I've had.

            One side note I was curious about is whether there are cuts available of grass-fed beef that are fairly fatty... what cuts would you recommend for that, or any varieties?

            1. re: Cinnamon

              Sorry for very late response! I've found several grass-fed beef producers who turn out nicely marbled beef and with a good fat cover. I'm a bit of a fat hound myself so for a steak I like the sirloin and rib-eye. One good first step is to find a good butcher (someone who can look at a carcass and tell you what it is, where it was raised, how he/she would age it and why) and ask them to point you to the farms that produce grass fed cattle with a good fat cover.

              If this wasn't your question please just let me know.

          2. Look at the sidebar. Chow has found some related discussions, such as one titled 'grass fed beef, Icky', and another 'which is best'.

            Some believe it is better, and taste confirms it. Others apparently find that it is too different. It may depend on what you like about beef.

            1 Reply
            1. re: paulj

              Ha! My husband's cousin was just talking yesterday on Facebook about her first try with grass-fed beef in Tacoma, WA. "Now i thought i was doing the right thing by spending way too much money on grass fed steaks but there was something not right about them. im going back to my much cheaper grain fed cows." I asked her why and she said it was too gamey and the texture was different.

            2. Interesting. I wish we could see more threads like this.