HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Question/Opinions on "Corn-fed" beef

  • 48
  • Share

In reading the Locke-Ober review in the Globe today, I thought it was interesting that they advertise their beef as "all-natural corn fed" on their menu as if it's a good thing. It's my understanding that corn-fed is actually inferior beef - the type of mass-produced stuff you see in the supermarket, and that grass-fed is the mark of premium beef. I'm not an expert on the matter, but was wondering what other people thought...is their actually great corn-fed beef available? Is corn-fed just a marketing thing that sounds good? Again, everything I know on the matter is from books like omnivore's dilema, but i have read in serveral different sources that cows cannot naturally digest corn without the aid of hormones and antibiotics, so that also seems at odds with an "All-natural" claim, and thus why grass-fed is considered premium beef. Any thoughts?

-----
Locke-Ober
3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Depends on what you're looking for.

    Many of the objections to corn fed beef (at least mine) have to do primarily with the conditions the animals live in. It's not really the corn, per se - it's the fact that corn feeding allows you to keep cattle in very crowded, confined, and typically filthy spaces. These spaces breed disease, which necessitates the widespread use of prophylactic antibiotics, contributing to resistant microbes and God knows what else.

    Corn feeding generally increases the fat and marbling of the meat (and also a slightly less healthy fat profile), which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on preference. It's one of the reasons you'll rarely find fully grass-fed beef at a really high end steak house - there isn't consistently enough fat or tenderness to the meat. To my mind, there is nothing particularly dangerous or unethical about raising cattle in good conditions on grass and then fattening them (in otherwise good conditions) on corn for a short while before slaughter.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      I read that switching cattle rapidly from grass to grains does create problems. But if the switch is more gradual, the stomach flora has time to adjust. The mix of bacteria that handle grains is different from that which is optimal for grass.

      1. re: paulj

        I was not aware, though it makes sense. What are the effects?

        1. re: cowboyardee

          acidosis and enterotoxemia
          http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-...
          is an article on these problems in wild deer, but I think the issue applies to cattle as well

        2. re: paulj

          Hi, paulj:

          You're right about the switching. There's also a biological point in the switch (surprisingly early, too) where you have to switch to ALL corn, else you're wasting your fodder. It's actually a quite technical subject.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Considering that some ag schools have living cows with access portals to their stomachs, I am sure the subject of cattle feed is technical, complex, and well studied.

      2. This is probably best discussed in the general CH forum. In fact, here is a lengthy thread on the subject with lots of opinions.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/427906

        1. I was under the impression that grass-fed is the way to go, but then when I was discussing it with a friend who has raised cattle, he told me that grass fed beef has "off" flavors and all sorts of otherwise negative things, and that he much prefers corn fed. That was the first that I've heard of this school of thought and goes to show that conceptions are just that until you have done more research. I still haven't done more research. lol

          9 Replies
          1. re: LaureltQ

            Many people prefer the flavor of grain-fed because they're used to that. South American friends have complained about the flavor (or lack thereof) of American grain-fed beef--they are used to grass fed. Grass-fed doesn't have "off" flavors any more than grain-fed has "off" flavors--it's just a preference (or what someone is used to). That said, I prefer bison to beef, regardless of what kind of diet they've been fed!

            1. re: nofunlatte

              I'd say that grass fed usually has a slightly more intense, sharper flavors, and also that the flavor of grass fed steaks varies more than that of grain fed.

              1. re: nofunlatte

                I'm curious if you've had both grain and grass finished bison, and notice a difference in the flavor? I've developed a preference for grass finished bison, but am finding it more of a challenge to locate. I've found one local producer who sells at farmer's markets, and really like their product, though some cuts do require more careful cooking.

                1. re: amyzan

                  I've only purchased locally produced grassfed bison. I mostly use ground bison and stewing meat/pot roast types of cuts. Does Whole Foods sell the grain-finished kind? If so, I might try it sometime just to see what the taste difference is.

                  1. re: nofunlatte

                    Hi, nofunlatte:

                    The only bison I've ever had was not marbled with fat. Do you lard your bison roasts?

                    Kaleo

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      No--I moist cook them (braising or in stews), so I don't bother. I'll have to try larding this fall/winter though. The bison is definitely lean!

                    2. re: nofunlatte

                      Well, I think the sourcing for WFM is regional. Here it's a CO based, grain finished operation for bison. Costco also carries an organic grain finished beef here in KS and MO. Both are too fatty to my taste, except in small portions or as a rare indulgence. I mostly buy the leaner cuts and lean ground as well. I pretty much grew up on cheap cuts, and have a preference for them.

                2. re: LaureltQ

                  Quite the opposite, in my opinion. I will not buy grass fed beef. If i want a very lean peice of red meat, I'll eat wild vension. If I want cow, grain finished is superior...again, imo.

                  But...I don't buy beef raised w/ antibiotics , and I get organic if possible.

                  We've had a good time laughing with a guy we buy beef from at the farmer's market. His beef is organic but grain finished. My husband was saying what a marketing gimmick grass-fed is: the beef is raised in a less expensive fashion, and commands a higher price! The farmer jokingly looked around furtively and told my husband to be quiet lest the hippies attack.

                  1. re: danna

                    Danna, maybe your farmer is laughing because he's not looking at the same picture as his competitor. AFO steers are slaughtered much younger than they used to be, often as young as 14-16 months now. I don't know how old his organic steer are, but the grass finished beef and bison we buy is generally 2 to 2 1/2 years old when it's processed. The difference in price makes sense in that light, but maybe that farmer knows something about the extra eight months up to a year or more his competitor doesn't have money in his pocket?

                3. I am not a vet, but my understanding is similar to coyboyardee's. Antibiotics either kill bacteria or weaken it enough to let an animal's natural immune system kill it. The antibiotics are needed due to the conditions in which the cows live, not to aid in digestion.

                  Seems to me it is perfectly possible to have truly natural corn-fed animals who were treated humanely and lived in good conditions. And marbling is key to good beef!

                  1. Just a clarification, to prevent some confusion. IIUC, by and large, there really is no such thing as "corn-fed" beef. It should properly be called "corn-finished." Most beef is grazed (grass fed) for the earlier part of its (unfortunately short) life. This is the "ranch" phase. Ranchers sell the steers to feedlot companies and others who then finish them on corn in, well, feedlots. This is the CFO part of the cycle. The corn generates the marbling that makes American beef more amenable to fast direct heat such as grilling directly over a flame. So most of the beef you buy in the store has had both kinds of feeding. What is termed "grass-fed" is beef that has not gone through the feedlot phase.

                    Anyhow that's my understanding of it.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: johnb

                      Hi, johnb:

                      While you are generally correct, the same logic applies to "There's no such thing as grass-fed", either. Until mama kicks her calf away, it's milk-fed. Then on to forage and fodder of some sort, and then, maybe, on to grain.

                      As a rancher of my own beef steers, I think of "finishing" as about a month-long period in the Fall of supplementing the grass/hay feed with corn or barley. It conveniently coincides with grass dieback--or rather, the kill is always in the Fall. Feedlots and CAFOs buy their animals at about the same weight I do (around 650 pounds) and then sock the grain to them for 3-4 months. My animals don't get a kernel of grain until around 900 lbs., which is after about 6 months eating grass. The CAFOs can't do that for a number of reasons, chief of which is that they have to slaughter 365 days a year to meet demand, and they don't *have* pasture.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        You might know kaleo - is there a simple way to reliably get grain finished (or partially grain finished) beef that has not spent time at CAFOs?

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Hi, cowboy:

                          Well, the simplest way is to find a friends-and-neighbors group like I run. But just follow the supply chain back to the rancher--butcher, wholesaler, packer, slaughter operator, rancher. If you reach a dead end before you talk with the rancher, it's not reliable. Where I am, there are also a few ranchers who will sell individual animals for slaughter, and even a few who do their own cut and wrap. One I know has their storefront/plant IN the pasture.

                          I think it's important to look for a small-scale operation that can feed/supplement with grain without concentrating the animals in shitholes, and medicating them to keep their livers from giving out under the strain of overfeeding. Someone who just lets the animals into a feed barn once a day, and then kicks 'em out to roam a bit.

                          Good luck,
                          Kaleo

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Yes, there are many ranches that finish on corn but are also not horrific CAFO facilities.

                            Grass fed is healthier but it is far more variable in terms of fat content, flavor, and ease of cooking. The taste profile is very different. I actually prefer bison to a lot of the true grass fed beef I've had. But I was raised on CAFO and it takes time to change your preferences.

                            As for the OP, "corn fed" was at one time a mark of quality. Because in the past it was more expensive, produced fattier flesh, and thus was seen as luxurious. Now, of course, it means something different.

                            1. re: JudiAU

                              Think, for example, of the Texas cattle drives in the 19th century. Cattle walked from ranches in Texas to rail terminals in Kansas, then shipped to slaughter houses in Chicago or cities further east. If they spent a while at a feedlot between the long walk and slaughter they would be fatter, if not more tender. But the feedlot would want to get its investment back, and hence seek a higher price.

                      2. Sigh. Cattle can digest corn. Cattle can digest just about anything except glass, metal or plastic. You've been listening to animal rights/anti meat people or someone wanting to sell you his grass fed beef. And there's nothing wrong with grass fed beef if that's what you want to eat.

                        Corn fed beef is the gold standard here in the US. Yes, the kind of grass an animal is eating does affect the taste of the meat. That's one reason you don't see a nationwide grass fed branded beef program. The forages available year around in different parts of the country make it very difficult to produce a consistent product. Corn feeding for 60-100 days gives you a consistent taste. Most consumers today prefer it. Beef is not cheap. They know how their steak is going to taste.

                        We used to think marbling was done in the feedlot. But today we know marbling starts while a calf is still nursing his momma. If he has the genetics to marble and enough nutrition to express it, he'll marble. If he doesn't have the genetics, you can feed him for ten years and you'll just get a lot of backfat. One problem with implants in the feedlot is that they make the calves grow so fast, they can't lay down marbling. They use all the nutrients in the feed to build muscle. Some feedlots are starting to separate cattle, implant some that they think will be only Select grade. Then not implant the ones they believe have the potential to marble, reach a higher quality grade and, thus, produce more valuable beef.

                        As far as "filthy" feedlots go. Cows don't care. They'll lay down in their own poop in the middle of the pasture! Don't give human traits to cows. They're wonderful critters, but they are not neat or clean. It's not unusual to see a calf nursing his momma from behind and her raise her tail and take a dump right on his head. She doesn't get upset; he doesn't get upset. It's just poop. And it's her poop. They identify their calves by smell for the most part.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: FEF

                          I'm not gonna pretend to be an expert on the matter - I've never raised any cattle, despite my moniker. But I am an interested party who has heard the criticisms of the system you are supporting. I'll present some of em, and if you're inclined, I'd love to see if you have a response to them.

                          - The problem with crowded, 'filthy' conditions for cattle at a CAFO is not that the cattle particularly mind being dirty. It's that said conditions and proximity to that many other cattle breed disease. Which in turn necessitates the use of antibiotics on a scale not associated with grass finished animals. These antibiotics can contribute to resistant microbes which has bad implications for human medicine. These conditions also alter the balance of the natural flora of the cattle, making e coli 0157 more common (while the 'filth' makes it more likely that the e coli will contaminate the surface of the meat you buy).

                          - While cattle may not mind dirt or their own excrement, many argue that they do mind tightly confined, super crowded spaces. Also, the numbers of animals in these spaces results in many cattle being injured or sick without the treatment that they might get were they not on a CAFO and had more handlers per cattle as (I believe) they typically do on a ranch.

                          On another subject...

                          Quote: "We used to think marbling was done in the feedlot. But today we know marbling starts while a calf is still nursing his momma. If he has the genetics to marble and enough nutrition to express it, he'll marble."

                          - Then why does grass finished beef rarely have as much marbling as grain finished? I know you said that grain finished beef is a more consistent product. But then aren't these two statements contradictory?

                          Thanks

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I'd suggest you try to actually visit a feedlot. Depending on where you are that might be difficult, so here are a couple of links to feedlots. Take time to browse them, even email questions.

                            Most ranchers vaccinate their calves at weaning. That's not anitiotics, it's vaccinations, like kids get measles shots. When they get to the feedlot, they'll probably get another round of vaccinations. Sick cattle don't gain weight well. Most feedlots have pen riders whose job it is to ride around the pens and look for sick or hurt cattle. When they find one, it's removed to a medical pen where it's treated for whatever. Dead animals are a loss to everyone. Considering the feedlot phase of a calf's life is the most expensive, they take very good care of them in the feedlot.

                            Antibiotics? Yes, they're used when necessary. But I think most medical people today will tell you that we just take too many pills. An AP report a while back showed the water in several major cities was contaminated with all kinds of human meds:

                            http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2...

                            E-coli is in your gut, my gut, wild hogs' gut, deer's gut...along with the cow's gut. Several years ago the packing plants reconfigured their process to cut down on chances of contaminated meat. Today it's practically unheard of for someone to get e-coli from steaks. It's the ground beef that's handled by several people where you see the meat recalls. They may recall 500,000 lbs of ground beef, but it's seldom you see an actual outbreak of sickness. And most of that beef is not returned. It's eaten. Proper cooking kills e-coli. I think if you look over the last ten years at the number of people who died from contaminated food, you'll see that fresh veggies are much more dangerous than meat. I remember an outbreak in organic bagged lettuce a few years ago which was traced back to wild hogs that came into the field at night.

                            Cattle are herd animals. They stay together. Put them in a pen in a feedlot or on 100 acres, they're going to stay together. That's what cows do. They'll scatter some while they're grazing, but when it comes time to chew their cud, they'll come together. I've been to several feedlots and the pens are not especially crowded. Since they aren't grazing, they're perfectly content to lay around with each other.

                            Marbling. I wouldn't say grass finished beef rarely has as much marbling as grain finished beef. it's all genetics and feeding. The animals in the feedlot will have a higher plane of nutrition than grass fed beef, so they'll marble better. A calf will start marbling while nursing his momma, if she has enough to eat to give him the quality milk he needs AND he has the genetics to marble. You might want to read these:

                            http://5barx.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php...

                            http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$departme...

                            1. re: FEF

                              A few points:

                              I have nothing against vaccinations of food animals and haven't heard any really credible arguments against them

                              "Antibiotics? Yes, they're used when necessary. But I think most medical people today will tell you that we just take too many pills."
                              _____
                              I am a medical person. Whether we over prescribe antibiotics for humans (arguably true, but that's a very complex problem and you've also got to consider that under-prescribing can result in patient death), that doesn't really address the question of their extensive use in feedlot cattle.

                              "E-coli is in your gut, my gut, wild hogs' gut, deer's gut...along with the cow's gut."
                              _______
                              The forms of E Coli that cause hemorrhagic colitis (and sometimes death) are not found in our guts but are specific to ruminants. That's why you never hear about people getting life threatening E Coli food poisoning from a cook who didn't wash his hands after using the bathroom (of course that cook might give you hepatitis A or various other awful things). I believe these forms (0157 and recently 0104H4) are also not even common to cattle in non-feedlot living conditions. Other forms of E coli can be found in the digestive tracts of humans, but they're not typically as harmful when ingested.

                              Thanks for the reply and the links.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Oh, I think you're wrong about people never getting sick from the cook's unwashed hands. You don't get sick because the meat was cooked and killed the e-coli, not because the e-coli is harmless. Which doesn't happen if you're eating fresh veggies. You are right that there are more and worse forms of e-coli being discovered. But then we're discovering all kinds of new medical things every year, right? As far as I can tell, those forms of e-coli (0157 and 0104H4) are not "common" in the feedlot either. Do you have research, or is this just your opinion? Again, ever since the child died from eating an uncooked burger for Jack in the Box years ago, the packers have spent multi millions $$ upgrading and revamping their plants to ensure, as much as humanly possible, that the cow's stomach contents don't touch the meat. And the stomach contains the e-coli. Tell me the last time you heard of someone getting e-coli from eating a steak or a roast. It's when the ground beef is handled by several people that the danger comes in. And proper cooking will take care of that.

                                Ellie Krieger, from the Food Network, visited a beef packing plant (slaughter house to the animal rights people). She wrote, I thought, an interesting article. You might want to read the entire thing (link below), but here's what she said about the actual slaughter of the cattle:

                                "The last thing I saw was the actual harvest or killing. To be sure, it is not a pleasurable thing to witness in general, but if you eat meat, the simple fact is an animal is sacrificed for your nourishment, a reality we are all too removed from in modern society. The trick is to do it humanely, and this is where I was most impressed. The system Cargill uses was developed in part by Dr. Temple Grandin, the autistic animal scientist who, with her heightened sensitivity, was able to pinpoint specific ways to keep cows stress-free throughout the process (there is an award winning HBO film about her starring Claire Danes.) The whole environment is kept purposefully calm, with no loud noises or bright lights. Before they realize what is going on the cows are hit precisely on the head, given a concussion so they are rendered senseless, then their throats are cut and their blood is drained. The whole thing takes roughly a minute. I watched intently as the cows moved through and noticed no shred of panic or unease."

                                http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellie-k...

                                1. re: FEF

                                  I saw a cow being butchered once when I was a kid. This was in a small rural community. A neighbor who'd grown up on a Washington wheat farm, shot the animal point blank in the forehead, the equivalent, so to speak of the concussion. Then it was strung up by the hind legs from a tall swing set, the throat was cut and blood drained (and collected).

                                  And latter as part of a 'primitive living course' I helped butcher a goat. In that case an experienced hunter did the killing, slitting the animal's throat over a hole dug in the ground. I do recall a brief struggle and squawk.

                                  I've seen chickens running around without their head, but the only time I killed one myself I used the broomstick method
                                  http://poultrykeeper.com/chickens/gen...

                                  1. re: FEF

                                    "Oh, I think you're wrong about people never getting sick from the cook's unwashed hands."
                                    ____
                                    That's not what I said. I just said that the forms of e coli that cause hemorrhagic colitis aren't naturally found in people's GI tracts.

                                    "As far as I can tell, those forms of e-coli (0157 and 0104H4) are not "common" in the feedlot either. Do you have research, or is this just your opinion?"
                                    _____
                                    They may not be. I don't know. On the other hand, animals from the feedlot seem to be the most common source of these particular microbes. Whether 1 in 2 animals on the feedlot is infected (or a carrier) or 1 in 100,000 I couldn't say with any assurance. The point though is that these bugs seem MOST common to animals from a feedlot rather than from other sources, not that any individual feedlot animal is likely to be infected.

                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                Hi, cowboy:

                                Ably done! You may not be an "expert', but you have expertise. You have the better of this exchange.

                                As someone who has raised and been around cattle all his life and worked the kill floor, I can tell you these things:

                                --Cattle do not like to be confined. Yeah, they're "herd animals", but hardly at all when foraging. There's no way 50 head will clump together on the range to feed in the same density they're kept in on the lots. There's a reason why they keep stanchions in barns besides milking--there is stress and competition between animals for feed, and it's common for a knothead steer to butt another away from even an empty feed station just because he *thinks* his buddy is getting something good--especially corn.

                                --Big agribusiness is pretty much antithetical to animal husbandry and human health. Where maximizing output and corporate profit is king, corners will be cut, risks will be taken. Generally, the rules imposed by regulation are the *only* ones that matter; the prospect of civil liability and fines the only restraint. As most big businesses today (think of BP, coal mines, etc.), they spend more on lobbying, PR and advertising than they do on advancing their care of animals or fixing problems that can threaten human health. When FOUR multinational megacorps control 76% of the world's beef production industry, it's all about corporate profit, and the animals and consumers be damned.

                                --e coli... You are 100% right that the really bad strains are from ruminants. While rare, the evidence suggests feedlot animals have more, perhaps by virtue of cow/shit density. Besides this, industrial-scale processing makes it *highly* more likely that the pathogens are going to be spread into huge quantities of meat, especially ground products. One small dose of 0157 CAN weaponize 500,000 pounds of burger--that's why they recall all the lot/run.

                                --Damage Control/Public Health... Stung by the jury verdicts and bad PR surrounding the Jack-in-the-Box e coli poisonings, Big Beef and its clients came up with a way of minimizing e coli that they don't want us to know about: they apply AMMONIA to the grind. Kinda sounds like dumping dispersant chemicals into the ocean to break up oil globules, doesn't it? Oh, and ever wonder why a lot of meat in the grocery stores is unnaturally bright red? It's been treated with CARBON MONOXIDE to *keep it from looking old* as it sits in the case. (Imagine the cosmetic houses putting CO in their lipstick, so the ladies can get REAL cherry red lips). This sort of thing happens all the time in agribusiness (e.g., turning potatoes red with Roundup), but it doesn't make it right or healthy.

                                --Stress in killing... While it is difficult to overstate the stupidity of cattle, they are aware of their surroundings, and can hear and smell the kill process. They are driven to their deaths in squeeze chutes, and they commonly put up a ruckus. The blow-to-the-head/concussion is a very iffy and variable experience. Used to be that even medium slaughterhouses shot the animal in the brain--a much more sure method--but still there was the occasional animal that "woke up" when tumbled onto the kill floor. My animals are killed in the pasture, usually while happily eating their last meal. Every animal is shot in the head with a .22Mag, and dropped before being bled and dressed, so there is no anxiety or smell of death. I do everything I can to honor and thank them for feeding us; the least anyone should do is kill quickly, painlessly, and without stress.

                                --Marbling... The genetics of this are so widely separated, that some varieties, e.g., Jerseys, can't marble no matter what you do. A Wagyu would probably marble some on chaparral grass. But generally speaking, varieties that have the genes marble more on grain than grass. It's a caloric density/thermic effect of food thing--if you could get them to eat BigMacs and drink Coke Classic, they'd probably marble splendidly. I use corn, barley, and even a little wheat. Agribusiness uses mostly corn because they're subsidized to grow it (just helping us "wean" from foreign oil, don't ya know) and can keep the prices artificially high for everyone except their own CAFO subsidiaries (thereby putting small operators out of business and robber-baroning the ranchers).

                                You Take Care, cowboy, yinz and all that,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Thanks kaleo. I appreciate the first hand testimony and experience. For a city boy like myself, this stuff can be hard to sort out.

                                  Aloha ,n'at.

                            2. I much prefer the heavy marbling found in prime grain fed beef to grass fed beef. its all personal preference in the end, but be very wary of people that tell you if its not grass fed it cant be good. The top streakhouses in the country sell grain finished beef for the most part, and Kobe beef which is widely considered the best beef in the world is fed grain as part of its diet.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: twyst

                                Hi, twyst:

                                Well, there *is* the issue of grass-fed beef giving you better Omega fats than grain-fed.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Eating beef... I'm not so sure that the diner has health in mind. Either way, I know that many blogs mention the omega 3 in grass fed and all, but it's not a very strong point.

                                  Question: How much grass fed beef would you have to eat to equal the omega 3 in a single serving of sockeye salmon?

                                  Answer: You ain't eating that much beef.

                                  That doesn't mean grass-fed ain't good. Sometimes we look for marbling for the fat/flavor. But, sometimes, we want a leaner cut for the dish. I mean, wouldn't grass-fed give you a better tartare (guessing here)? Even if that's not true, there are certainly many situations where grass would result in a better dish.

                                  For burgers and just steaks, give me marbling, give me grain fed beef. For others... Well, I'll have to think about that.

                                  1. re: ediblover

                                    It's not about increasing the quantity of omega 3s, though, it's about the ratio or balance between them and omega 6 fats, which promotes inflammation when heavy in 6s as in feedlot/grain fed beef. Other factors in the meat are also more favorable. Beef is one of the healthiest things you can eat, as long as its been raised in a wholesome way.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      By the way DL Katz does not have problem with grass fed beef.
                                      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-k...
                                      " For instance, beef from a modern, grain-fed steer may contain as much as 35 percent of its calories in fat, and much of that fat is saturated. In contrast, the flesh of antelope -- thought to be far more like the meat on which our species used to cut its teeth -- contains only about 7 percent of its calories in fat, almost all of which is unsaturated. And some of that fat is even omega-3."

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        But there's nothing wrong with saturated fat. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20...

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          The meta study summarized here
                                          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...
                                          claims replacing with saturated fats with unsaturated ones may be beneficial. It mentions the Oakland study. The focus in this Harvard study was on what replaced the saturated fats.

                                    2. re: ediblover

                                      Hi, ediblover:

                                      It's a little more complicated than you make it out, I think. If you're lucky enough to get to eat fresh, wild salmon regularly, great. But farm-raised has a crappy ratio, and more O6s than bacon, doughnuts or 80% lean hamburger.

                                      Pure grassfed beef usually has 3% of its total fat as longchain N-3. Over 180 days on a feedlot, the number drops to effectively ZERO. So, IF one likes and eats a lot of beef, it makes health sense to buy grassfed.

                                      No, a skinny Jersey dairy cow with no marbling would make lousy tartare; there you want the fat *in* the meat (for some purists, Steak Tartare can *only* be made from minced filet mignon). And unless you have money to burn, buying hamburger ground from beef graded Prime is just wrong (you add it back in at the grind).

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                    3. re: kaleokahu

                                      And more CLA and lower pro inflammatory arachidonic acid.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Yes, but to benefit from the Omega fats in grass fed beef, you'd need to eat about ten pounds of it a day. I love beef, but that would be a tough prospect for even me. Beef is just not a good source of Omega3s.

                                        "..Still, with 35 milligrams of heart-healthy fats per serving, grass-fed steak can't compete with a salmon dinner, which has about 1,100 milligrams..."

                                        http://www.npr.org/2010/04/08/1257220...

                                        1. re: FEF

                                          You've missed the entire point of my post. I don't eat meat *for the fats* but it's healthier because the omega fats are in balance and the pro inflammatory substances are reduced.

                                          I eat salmon and walnuts, too. I don't consider the beef on my plate to be a food supplement, just a healthy, delicious meal.

                                      2. re: twyst

                                        This is surely a question of what you are used to. I have met folks form Kenya and Ethiopia who don't like our beef in the US.

                                      3. I have a friend who raises cattle on a family farm in PA. And what he said about feeding cows corn is this (paraphrased): Corn is a grass. It's a monocot.

                                        Now, without a doubt, the general public thinks that they only feed cows the grain portion, but from what he told me, they feed the cows shredded parts of the corn stalk. Everything is used. This may not be the case for large, corporate farms, but maybe it is. I don't know. What I do know is that he is right: corn is a grass.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: tizinu

                                          Right, corn is a grass, albeit one exceedingly high in starch and sugar.

                                          1. re: tizinu

                                            Hi, tizinu:

                                            Most beef finished on corn are fed the rolled kernels. Cornstalks with ears on is great feed, too, but CAFOs don't use a lot of that. Corn silage is a lot more like grass, but won't fatten like the grain alone.

                                            Aloha,
                                            Kaleo