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Is all 100% grass-fed beef pasture-raised?

d
damian Feb 3, 2012 11:35 AM

I'm wondering: Is all 100% grass-fed beef pasture-raised? Does grass-fed necessarily mean that the cows roam a ranch eating live grass from the ground? Or is it sometimes applied to cows kept in stalls fed dried (or fresh-cut) grass?

I'm trying to figure out whether grass-fed beef is truly pasture-raised across the board, or whether I need to research individual farms to know which use pasture-raising and which ones don't.

PLEASE don't respond with comments like, "Why don't you just contact the farms?" or "I'm guessing that some do, some don't" or "It all depends what suppliers are available in your area" or "You're better off buying meat that explicitly says pasture-raised" or "Don't worry about it." No offense, but those sorts of answers are unhelpful time-wasters. Please respond only if you have some solid, preferably cited, information that can help me find an answer to my question. Sorry if I'm sounding grumpy here, but I've participated in other chowhound discussions in which my inbox got flooded with unhelpful responses like these that I wasted time reading, so I'm trying to preempt as much fat as possible in this thread.

  1. kaleokahu Feb 3, 2012 11:56 AM

    Hi, damian:

    The answer to your question is no. Grass-fed has come to mean the opposite of grain-fed. But grass-fed can be (and sometimes must be) from hay, or a mix of hay and live grasses. Confusing the matter further, cattle can be pasture-raised and still be part grain-fed or mostly hay-fed.

    What is your concern: what they eat, or their living conditions. The two don't have a whole lot to do with one another.

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    13 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu
      d
      damian Feb 3, 2012 12:05 PM

      Thanks, Kaleo. Very helpful.

      I am concerned both with what they eat, and with their living conditions. Both, I'm guessing, make for happier cows and healthier beef.

      I suppose I need to either see "pasture-raised" on the label (or in the brochure, or on the website), ask the butcher, or contact the farm to find out whether the cows are pasture-raised.

      This leads me to another question: If a cow is 100% grass-fed and pasture-raised, does *that* mean that it is fed only 100% live grass, or could its diet *still* be supplemented with hay unless explicitly specified otherwise?

      1. re: damian
        m
        magiesmom Feb 3, 2012 12:46 PM

        It definitely can be supplemented. We have local grass fed beef and there is no grass, and no pasturing possible for several months of the year her in MA.

        1. re: magiesmom
          d
          damian Feb 3, 2012 12:51 PM

          Good to know. Thanks.

          1. re: magiesmom
            mcf Feb 3, 2012 01:05 PM

            Yes, grass fed meat is both pastured and, when whether doesn't permit it, fed silage... dried grasses/hay... Unless you want meat from cows that haven't been fed part of the year. ;-)

            1. re: mcf
              d
              damian Feb 3, 2012 01:13 PM

              I see. But could there be wide variations: e.g., one farm feeds as much live grass as possible, another farm feeds *only* hay?

              1. re: damian
                mcf Feb 3, 2012 01:16 PM

                Only hay? Doubtful. But most producers will tell you on their web sites or if you visit exactly what their practices are. Some are part of organizations that stipulate what they can be.

                1. re: mcf
                  d
                  damian Feb 3, 2012 01:22 PM

                  This gets to the heart of my question: Are there practical differences between what various "100% grass-fed" cows eat (and how much time they spend grazing) that will have a significant impact on the healthfulness of the meat, or not? (If possible, please provide a reference. Thanks.)

                  1. re: damian
                    mcf Feb 3, 2012 01:48 PM

                    You know, other than to make sure the meat I buy is grass fed AND finished, not grain fed I haven't researched that point. I think it varies by location and farmer; farmers I've spoken to personally are very upfront about using grains sometimes in winter, or limiting themselves to silage.

                    1. re: damian
                      d
                      DougRisk Feb 6, 2012 06:26 AM

                      Yes, there has been research done on what types of grasses produce more CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) than others. Specifically, it seems that Clover produces more CLA in cows than many other grasses, and, within that Clover, it seems that some types of Clover produce more CLA than others.

                      For much more on this, feel free to see http://www.stockmangrassfarmer.com/al...

                    2. re: mcf
                      d
                      damian Feb 3, 2012 01:57 PM

                      One more question to you all: Can you tell me whether the grass that is fed to non-organic beef may be or sometimes is treated with pesticides or synthetic fertilizers?

                      1. re: damian
                        mcf Feb 3, 2012 02:06 PM

                        None of the committed grass fed farmers I've ever heard of use chemical pesticides. Some farmers have both certified organic and less expensive non organic beef. In those cases, the pasture may not have been as many years free of chemicals, etc.. so they use the same practices for both, but only one is certified organic.

                        1. re: mcf
                          d
                          damian Feb 3, 2012 02:13 PM

                          Would it even be practical/economical/useful to use pesticides on grass? How vulnerable is grass to insects anyway?

                          1. re: damian
                            BobB Feb 7, 2012 01:53 PM

                            The pastures may formerly have been (non-organic) farmland.

          2. t
            Toomchtodu Feb 3, 2012 01:44 PM

            In our area, grass-fed, means just that. The cattle are raised on open pasture that is cared for using responsible farming methods. They are free to roam, eating a natural diet of forage which is what they were meant to eat.
            Cattle raised in confined areas cannot be called grass fed/pasture fed as they require additional types of supplemental feeding.
            You'll find that most grass-fed operations practice sustainable farming. They pay very close attention to the type of grasses grown, do not inject hormones or use growth enhancing products, rotate pastures to preserve the wellness of the soil and the animals, irrigate so they don't have to worry about quantity and/or quality of grass, and raise much healthier animals.
            If you are looking for 100% grass fed beef you can go to eatwild.com to look for local growers or you can check with your nearest organic/natural food store. Their meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc) will more than likely be what you are looking for. There are also small operations that sell direct to customers. They will either butcher for you, have a specific butcher they use, or would be more than happy to use one that you prefer.

            Caveat...Pay close attention to packaging labels in food stores. If you see anything that uses the phrase, "finished" stay far away. These are cattle that have been raised in a confined lot and put back on grass/pasture just weeks before they are sent to the sale.

            I nearly forgot to address your concern about supplementing. During this drought, it has been necessary to supplement with quality tested high protein hay and alfalfa, as is done during winter months when there there is little grass available.

            Hope this helps answer some of your questions, if not, please let me know and I'll try to be a bit more thorough, as this is a complex subject once you begin to study it.

            Best to you...
            Victoria
            (From a KS girl who raised cattle, swine, wheat, and horses)

            20 Replies
            1. re: Toomchtodu
              d
              damian Feb 3, 2012 01:55 PM

              Thanks, Victoria. I live in an area that has lots of 100% grass-fed beef products available (Berkeley, California), so I guess I'm experiencing a sort of embarrassment of riches :)

              Since you seem to know so much about grass-fed beef, can you tell me whether the grass that is fed to non-organic beef can or sometimes is treated with pesticides or synthetic fertilizers?

              1. re: damian
                t
                Toomchtodu Feb 3, 2012 02:20 PM

                I think that is the question I was waiting for!
                The simplest answer is, yes. But...(isn't there always a but?)
                The idea behind grass fed beef is to produce a more natural product (feeding them they way they are meant to eat) and not trying to feed them what "we" as humans cast off and use for cattle feed. In doing so, there are producers who do fertilize their grass during rotation periods, but not all. I do not use fertilizer of any type on our pasture and bail it for use during the winter months. Having said that, I have a neighbor who does fertilizer/spray his and I get very annoyed as some of my pasture does get "drift" from his applications. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
                Non-organic beef (especially located in harder winter areas) will most likely be fed some type of forage that has been treated with a pesticide during its growth period. Organic, on the other hand cannot be fed anything treated with chemicals and still be certified as organic.
                :)

                1. re: Toomchtodu
                  mcf Feb 3, 2012 02:23 PM

                  Is your neighbor spraying pesticides, or fertilizer, or both? I know some farmers say they use IPM.

                  1. re: mcf
                    d
                    damian Feb 3, 2012 02:28 PM

                    I was wondering the same thing. I'm *much* more concerned about pesticides than fertilizer.

                    Also: Is grass even vulnerable to pests in the first place?

                    1. re: damian
                      t
                      Toomchtodu Feb 3, 2012 02:39 PM

                      He sprays pesticides as well as fertilizer. Type of person who doesn't bother to let me know he's spraying anhydrous, so I can take precautions to protect my family and animals.

                      1. re: Toomchtodu
                        d
                        damian Feb 3, 2012 02:42 PM

                        That sounds horrible. I hope there are very few farmers like him selling grass-fed beef to the public.

                        1. re: Toomchtodu
                          mcf Feb 3, 2012 03:15 PM

                          Bummer. :-/

                        2. re: damian
                          m
                          MikeG Feb 6, 2012 10:23 AM

                          In general, yes, grasses are vulnerable to both insects and diseases that can/may be treated with pesticides. How necessary or common their use is on cattle pasture land, I have no idea.

                          1. re: MikeG
                            d
                            damian Feb 6, 2012 10:28 AM

                            Thanks, Mike. Does anyone else know how common it is to use pesticides on cattle pasture grass?

                      2. re: Toomchtodu
                        s
                        soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 10:03 AM

                        i disagree that grass-fed producers typically use pesticides on pasture, or that they typically irrigate pasture. that sounds like more of an intensive system/overuse of pasture/insufficient rotation. there are areas of the country where none of that is necessary, so it simply is not done.

                    2. re: Toomchtodu
                      kaleokahu Feb 3, 2012 02:07 PM

                      Hi, Toomchtodu:

                      Not familiar with your area of Kansas, but IMO the term grass-fed isn't regulated, so anyone can call pretty much *anything* grass-fed. My family's been in the beef business for a long time.

                      Also must disagree about finishing beef on things other than grass. The good omega fats laid down by eating grass stay in the animal for quite awhile even if you finish them on grain. This is measured in weeks and months, not days. If you know what was in the grain you finish them with, there's no problem--except liking the beef so much you eat more. It gets dicier if they're fed a long time on grain or the grain itself is suspect.

                      It's to the point that *four* multinationals control SEVENTY percent of the world's beef production. If you MUST know what you're eating, raise your own. If you can't and still want to be safe(r), find a trustworthy small, indie rancher. Otherwise prepare to be owned...

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu
                        mcf Feb 3, 2012 02:15 PM

                        I've read research in the past several months that find the fat balance actually gets worse pretty quickly once grain is fed to cattle. I am very careful not to buy beef that's been grain fed at any point. Short term feeding with grain is not benign, necessary nor healthy, though there is clearly a market for folks who prefer grain fed beef.

                        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16500874
                        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18...

                        1. re: mcf
                          a
                          achtungpv Feb 6, 2012 07:38 AM

                          Almost every pastured cattle herd will be supplemented with hay. On the very best grass lands, you still need 5-10 acres per head so it's rarely feasible to have true 100% foraging cattle. They will also be supplemented with range cubes which are packed with protein and minerals to round out their diet. I would think these cattle would still be considered grass fed.

                          1. re: achtungpv
                            mcf Feb 6, 2012 05:34 PM

                            Yes, that's how I understand it's done, also dependent upon hay in winter months in cold climates.

                            1. re: achtungpv
                              s
                              soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 11:09 AM

                              supplement cubes= not 100% grassfed, regardless of climate. hay forage provided in winter does = grassfed, hay is grass.

                            2. re: mcf
                              kaleokahu Feb 6, 2012 09:21 AM

                              Hi, mcf:

                              It would be interesting to read these in full format. For me--and my steers--finishing with grain is entirely benign (I know where the grain comes from and what was used to grow it), necessary (grass slows its growth and loses nutritional value in the fall-winter), and healthy for them and me. It's very hard to put weight on a 1000-pound 2-year-old steer on grass once the growing season tails off. That's basically why I kill in the late fall. The grain just gives them that last caloric boost and a little flavor. Bear in mind that not all grain-finished animals are on feedlots, either, so they are getting whatever grass they're willing to "mow low" for between grain feedings.

                              Another thing that's not on a lot of folks' radar is how fuzzy the line is between grass and grain. I like to feed my boys whole cornstalks (ears, kernels and all), and they gain like crazy on those. Would you avoid that because it's "grain", too?

                              The whole Omega fat thing is fine for something to aim at, but the numbers can be somewhat misleading. There can--as you cite--be significant differences in the 3-6-9 balances between grassfed and grain-fed, but "significant" loses a lot of its meaning when one realizes that beef is not a particularly plentiful source of 3-6-9 fats anyway, and what IS there is mostly other things. IMO, zeroing in on only eating grass-fed beef is like saying you'll only eat king salmon, because it has "significantly" more 3-6-9 than silvers, humpies or sockeye (nevermind that farmed Atlantic have the most of all--double health yech).

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                mcf Feb 6, 2012 05:36 PM

                                Grain feeding destroys much of the good that grass feeding creates. More than just the pro inflammatory omega ratios, grain feeding raises arachidonic acid and lowers CLA.

                                Beef is a very healthy source of fats when it's not grain fed.

                                Here's one big diff between grass and grain; cattle thrive on one and get sick if you keep them fed on the other.

                                1. re: mcf
                                  b
                                  Brandon Nelson Oct 22, 2012 10:03 AM

                                  Botanically corn is a grass. Puts a little head scratching in this discussion.

                                  1. re: Brandon Nelson
                                    j
                                    jrmsr Oct 22, 2012 04:17 PM

                                    How Very True Brandon I didn't want to bring this up Myself But any thing that Grown with only Cow poo is still grass or so called Weeds even if its Sugar Cane and made into Sargum Just alot Sweeter lol TYVM Jim

                                    1. re: jrmsr
                                      b
                                      Brandon Nelson Oct 24, 2012 10:16 PM

                                      The statement that "cattle thrive on one and get sick if you keep them fed on the other" is also kind of misleading.

                                      A ruminants digestive tract can handle corn fine if the animal is mature enough. The greatest problem with beef cattle getting "sick" on corn is that many farms are trying to grow animals on a feedlot rather than finishing them there. Younger animals don't have a tough enough digestive tract, just like infants can only handle milk.

                        2. h
                          Harters Feb 6, 2012 09:40 AM

                          The answer to the OP might be that it might depend on where you are in the world.

                          Where I am, I would expect grass fed cattle to be eating grass in the pasture during the clement months. However, in the winter, many breeds are likely to be kept in barns where I'd expect them to eat silage. So, always eating grass but not always out in the pasture.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Harters
                            w
                            wyogal Feb 6, 2012 10:38 AM

                            The cattle around here do not stay indoors in the winter. They are in some kind of pasture year round. Up in ND, the only cows that came into the barn were the milk cows, for milking. The rest of the cattle, Herefords, stayed outside year round. The grass fed beef that I have had came from black angus, and they were raised by a friend (they are cattle producers). I highly doubt that they were in barns in the winter.
                            Around here, they eat baled hay in the winter.

                          2. Caroline1 Feb 6, 2012 12:04 PM

                            "Grass fed" simply means the cattle are fed exclusively on food they could forage for themselves if they were wandering around where it grows. The term does not address how the cattle came to eat the particular "grasses."

                            The difference between grass fed cattle and grain fed cattle is that the grass fed cattle are eating the diet that cattle have been eating since cattle first began to eat! Grain fed cattle, on the other hand, are forced to eat a diet that is completely foreign to them and that cattle have not been eating for more than fifty or so years. The problem is that cattle that eat grain MUST produce different enzymes in order to digest it, it causes them to develop many times more e-coli bacteria in their digestive tract than is normal, and eating grain makes them sick. So they are given antibiotics to keep them reasonably healthy so they can keep eating food that makes them sick. One of the major "pay offs" in this vicious cycle is that the cattle develop unnatural levels of cholesterol, and when we eat grain fed cattle, so do we! This is a somewhat simplified version, but it is correct. When you eat grass fed beef, you get all of the benefits you get from eating salmon or oily fish. When you eat grain fed beef, you get cholesterol and other bad stuff you don't need. So why do cattlemen feed cattle grains? Because it makes the cattle fatter (weigh more) than any other method, so they bring in more cash per pound per animal than they would if they were grass fed. In other words, it's all for the sake of cattlemen's pockets and tough luck if you develop health problems from eating their steaks.

                            Face it. That's what the world is about today. I eat less beef, but ONLY eat grass fed! I'm old, and it's what I grew up on. Grain fed beef just doesn't taste right to me. And yes, Virginia, there *IS* a difference!

                            40 Replies
                            1. re: Caroline1
                              kaleokahu Feb 6, 2012 02:52 PM

                              Hi, Car:

                              "Grain fed cattle, on the other hand, are forced to eat a diet that is completely foreign to them and... eating grain makes them sick. So they are given antibiotics to keep them reasonably healthy so they can keep eating food that makes them sick."

                              LOL, my steers definitely aren't forced to eat grain, and you should see them trying to head-butt more of it away from their fellows rather than go back out to pasture. The tongue licks it up, the eyes roll back in the heads, and it's 100% contentment (unless I screw up and mix in a bit too much wheat). The only thing they like better is the pomace from red wine must.

                              I don't sell my beef, except to neighbors, who only pay me based on the starting weight. No one's complained yet about finishing on grain.

                              Finally, eating beef to get good omega fats isn't a good use of anyone's money. Grassfed has more than grain-fed, but not enough to make it worthwhile, IMO. There's probably more "good" fat and CLA in one salmon than a half of beef.

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                mcf Feb 6, 2012 05:38 PM

                                Cows, like people, eat what's bad for them with abandon if it's available and tasty. Doesn't make it a good idea to make grains the thing that's available.

                                1. re: mcf
                                  kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 11:10 AM

                                  Hi, mcf:

                                  By that logic, is it OK for humans to drink alcohol? Or is it bad in all cases? Or is it possible there is a balance?

                                  Also, do not assume that cattle have not been eating whole grains (along with the grasses on which they grow) for a very long time. My point here being that grain is not completely alien to these ruminants. It is the exclusion of live grass, fodder and silage that throws the animals the curve that we treat chemically.

                                  Aloha,
                                  Kaleo

                                2. re: kaleokahu
                                  w
                                  wyogal Feb 6, 2012 05:54 PM

                                  Actually, in the black angus that my friend's raise, it's better than salmon.
                                  http://www.touchstoneangus.com/index....

                                  1. re: wyogal
                                    kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 10:22 AM

                                    Hi, wyogal:

                                    Perhaps we misunderstood one another. Grass-fed beef has a good omega *ratio*, and maybe it approaches the ratio in coldwater fish like salmon, but in absolute, ounce-for-ounce terms, you don't get nearly the *quantity* of good fats from beef as you do salmon.

                                    Cheers,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                      w
                                      wyogal Feb 7, 2012 10:29 AM

                                      depends on the beef.... but since it is so lean, probably not "ounce for ounce."

                                      1. re: wyogal
                                        kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 11:12 AM

                                        Yes, and if you price it out, buying beef just to obtain healthier fats is not a very smart use of money.

                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                          mcf Feb 7, 2012 12:17 PM

                                          We who buy grass fed beef and dairy don't do it as a means of supplementing Omega 3s, that's a straw man fallacy here. We do it to avoid the inferior fat ratios and the unhealthy practices that go into raising non grass fed beef. I buy beef to eat beef, and I choose the beef I buy for certain qualities. If I think I need more omega 3s, I eat some walnuts and take some fish oil. I don't want the excess omegas that are inflammatory, nor the arachidonic acid or lower CLA for a variety of reasons, they're marker for unhealthy practices.

                                          1. re: mcf
                                            kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 04:53 PM

                                            Hi, mcf: "We who buy grass fed beef..."

                                            Who's the "we"? Royal? The family? Or do you claim to speak for all who eschew beef that have ever supped the grain (as if you have a guaranteed way of telling)?

                                            As someone who raises beef responsibly, I can tell you that there is nothing "unhealthy" about the way I raise my animals. I actually am careful to lay down the vast majority of my animals' growth and fat from my own grass; never do they eat only grain, and are only grain supplemented for less than two months before slaughter. Perhaps ironically to you, I consider that my cattle *are* grass-fed.

                                            But thank you for recognizing that buying beef just to get "good" fats is a fool's errand.

                                            Aloha,
                                            Kaleo

                                          2. re: kaleokahu
                                            w
                                            wyogal Feb 7, 2012 02:54 PM

                                            But when beef is fresh and available and salmon isn't..... There is no such thing as "fresh" fish where I live (unless we go to the river or lake and catch it ourselves). So, I would respectfully disagree.

                                            1. re: wyogal
                                              kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 05:02 PM

                                              Hi, wyogal:

                                              "No such thing as 'fresh' fish where I live..."

                                              I'm very sure there are other wonderful things where you live that others don't have available to them. But be that as it may, a few grams of salmon, mackerel or krill oil a day are going to give you more "good" fats and chain acids than all the red meat (of whatever ratio) you could ever eat.

                                              Note that I am *not* saying there's anything wrong with bumping your overall fat intake ratio to a better place by avoiding feedlot beef. Stetsons off to you. Just don't assume that eating beef finished on grain is going to ruin your or the planet's health. You *do* grow grain where you live, don't you?

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                w
                                                wyogal Feb 7, 2012 06:05 PM

                                                Not much grain here, mostly hay. Elevation is too high, season to short for grain. There is some grown down by Cheyenne. A bit of corn up here. But mostly hay.
                                                Did you happen to read the stuff on the Touchstone Angus site? The gal knows her science and her beef.

                                                1. re: wyogal
                                                  kaleokahu Feb 8, 2012 07:42 AM

                                                  Hi, wyogal:

                                                  Yes, I did read it. She certainly has an accurate view of Big Beef being uncaring about what the consumer wants. I like the site. I find it interesting (and refreshingly honest) that your friend several times refers to her beef as "grass finished", which suggests cattle that, at least at some point, have been grain-fed.

                                                  With respect, it is difficult to tell how "scientific" any producer really is. Virtually none of the small producers actually tests anything, other than at the end of a fork or at the bottom of their tax returns. The nutritional and lipid numbers are almost always cut and pasted from--the internet. The Angus trade groups (and have fun sometime researching whether "Certified Angus" means anything at all) make these nutritional "facts" available for producers to use in their advertising. Sometimes they're misleading (it's advertising after all)

                                                  Don't get me wrong, I've had success with Angus; I actually prefer Angus-Hereford crosses.

                                                  It all comes down to what you like to eat, what healthy choices you want to make, and what you can afford. Even if there's not much "good" fat in a beef, sticking with grass-fed tips a health balance a little your way. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me to sanctify grass-fed and vilify grain-fed. Put it this way: If you eat your fill of grass-fed beef at every dinner (as the actor-cowboy in the commercial intones "It's what's for dinner"), you're probably going to have the same health outcomes as you would eating grain-fed.

                                                  Does your friend slaughter and cut and wrap right there on the ranch? Is your beef custom-cut per your instructions? Do you buy by the half and have it frozen, or do you only buy fresh a little at a time?

                                                  Aloha,
                                                  Kaleo

                                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                                    w
                                                    wyogal Feb 8, 2012 04:02 PM

                                                    But, I have never vilified grain fed beef. So don't even begin to go there with me.
                                                    Beef is cut and wrapped in Elizabeth, CO as per instructions from the purchaser of said beef.
                                                    and actually, I traded it it for violin lessons.
                                                    And, quite frankly, I prefer the taste of grain fed.
                                                    so there.

                                                    1. re: wyogal
                                                      kaleokahu Feb 8, 2012 11:02 PM

                                                      Hi, wyogal:

                                                      I confused you with someone else, apparently. You come out to the Left Coast and trade a lesson for a little grain-finished beef and all the salmon you can eat.

                                                      Aloha,
                                                      Kaleo

                                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                                        w
                                                        wyogal Feb 9, 2012 05:00 AM

                                                        :-)

                                    2. re: kaleokahu
                                      o
                                      ospreycove Feb 6, 2012 06:18 PM

                                      The farmer I partner with, raises her beefs on a pasture only basis, also it is a no spray pasture, (not certified Organic but naturally raised). here in Coastal South West Florida the grasses do brown out in this time of the year; so she has a hydroponic system for sprouting Barley until the "mats" are about 4-5" high.Then, the "mats" are rolled up and fed to the steers and dairy cows. Since this is Fl. there are no barns only a milking parlor for the cows. The beef is very good and we are sure we know what it eats'; they are not given bGH, veterinary drugs/neutracuticals, and food additives. Only chelated minerals are offered. This method of raising beefs is not commercially viable at today's consumer pricing; but for our personal consumption at least we know where and how our food was raised and cared for. The dairy products, made from raw milk, are superior to any other I have had. We age the cheese for 6 months in approx. 7 lb wheels, the cottage cheese is very good and the butter is high score in the low amount of water, and very high in fat.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                        Caroline1 Feb 6, 2012 07:45 PM

                                        Kaleo, do you corral your cattle and only make grain available to them? I thought not! '-) Therein lies the rub.

                                        Tons and tons and tons of informationis available on the web about the benefits of eating grass fed beef, as well as the detriment to the cattle that are fed grain. It makes for very interesting reading. And just a little "teaser." If it wasn't for man trying to make animals eat stuff they shouldn't eat, there would never have been the number of deaths that came from humans eating beef and developing "mad cow disease." MCD is the result of man forcing cattle to eat other cattle. In this case, man is stupid, cows are smart. Left alone, they would NEVER have eaten other cows! '-)

                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                          o
                                          ospreycove Feb 7, 2012 04:41 AM

                                          Caroline....Similiar with factory raised Chickens.....they are fed chicken "by-products". They are eating other chickens!!! After being raised in battery cages 4 and 5 high, no fun being the first level resident for your miserable short life.......

                                          1. re: ospreycove
                                            Caroline1 Feb 7, 2012 05:57 AM

                                            I think that if the American public was ever overtaken with a full realization of how their food is raised, the whole country would go on an everlasting fast!

                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                              o
                                              ospreycove Feb 7, 2012 09:33 AM

                                              That is for sure; very few consumers actually know where, what they eat, comes from!

                                          2. re: Caroline1
                                            kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 10:50 AM

                                            Hi, Car:

                                            I have missed your point. Mine was that the terms grass-fed and grain-fed are quite poor descriptors for the beef we eat, and tempt us to draw false distinctions. There are numerous shades of gray that fall between migrating free-range cattle in tall clover and the sterotypical popular image of penned, immobile, "forcefed", overmedicated animals.

                                            There is also a lot of good information on animal husbandry and livestock feeding that may help dispel misconceptions

                                            Aloha,
                                            Kaleo

                                            1. re: kaleokahu
                                              Caroline1 Feb 7, 2012 02:48 PM

                                              We may not agree on this point. When it comes to beef, I AM a "picky eater" and I think I've done my homework. Basically, "grass fed" means the cattle has not been fed anything that will push it over the line and force it to seriously modify its natural digestive processes used for a normal, multi-millenia long acceptable diet. Grains and corn force serious modification in the digestive process to the detrement of the cattle's health (therefore they must be fed antibiotics) as well as to the amount of in-gut e-coli bacteria required to digest the foreign diet.

                                              For me specifically, because of very unusual allergies I have as a result of blood transfusions, I put myself at risk if I buy standard super-market beef. While the FDA does have rules about how close to slaughter cattle can be fed antibiotics and growth hormone, the FDA lacks sufficient inspectors to enforce the rulse. I have -- unfortunately, on many occasions -- spent good money on gorgeous looking roasts and steaks only to be crippled after eating them by the severe joint pain and fibromialgia that results when beef that has been slaughtered too soon ingesting those additives are brought to market. It's pretty damned discouraging to buy a 8 pound standing rib roast and be forced to give it away after eating less than a single serving because it lays me low. I have the same problem with eggs and poultty and any food from animals that are fed antibiotics and growth hormone.

                                              I suspect you could gain a lot from more reading on the subject of omega 3s and all that good stuff that comes with grass fed beef that is totally NOT there in grain fed cattle. Based on what you've written here, I think you;ll be surprised.

                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                kaleokahu Feb 8, 2012 08:28 AM

                                                Hi, Car:

                                                I'm sorry you have to be so careful, and that you suffer.

                                                In the 20 years that I've been raising cattle, and in the 30 prior years when I watched my dad do it, we've always fed corn (green chop and dried grain) to finish, and NEVER stuck an animal with a needle. I think I've only ever had two vet bills, one for castration/dehorning, another for pinkeye. They do fine on this finishing regimen, and are quite content. The only digestive distress they suffer is when they're turned onto a fresh green pasture (grass!) and gorge themselves.

                                                Believe it or not, I do read about this stuff. If you have some good material, I'll swap you some of my books on livestock feeding and nutrition.

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                  Caroline1 Feb 8, 2012 03:29 PM

                                                  An interesting tale I'll share with you. Waaaaaay back in the '60's (or sometime around there) when "science" in America was beating the cholesterol drum and insisting we eat margarine instead of butter (and trans-fats were unknown) when the common mantra was watch your cholesterol, scientists came upon a strange phenomenon... There were islands off the shore of England, where people ate beef by the carload, slathered everything with at least three layers of butter, used cream to their hearts content, yet NO ONE had elevated cholesterol levels! Amazing! Scientific conjecture at the time was that it had to be in the people's genes. They must be genetically predisposed to not having problems with cholesterol.

                                                  Years later, it was finally realized (by some, but there are still some who haven't caught on) it was simply that ALL cattle on those islands graze freely and are 100% grass fed! Take those islanders and put them on a grain fed beef diet, and they'll have the same high cholesterol problems as the rest of us. Animals know what is good for them to eat. Man obviously does not! '-)

                                                  I have had so many computer crashes in the last year I can't find anyting. As of a year ago, I had a very nice file on all of the pros and cons of grass fed beef. I think it's now in cyberspace, but if I come upon it, I'll send you some good stuff to read. Total grass fed beef makes a HUGE difference in people's cholesterol levels. In the beeves cholesterol too, but how many cattlemen check that part? Which is probably a good thing or agribusiness would be loading cow food with statins. "Get your Bovine Lipitor here for contented cattle!" We live in a strange world.

                                                  Ooops! Google is my friend! (sometimes) Here are a couple of websites with good info on grass fed benefits:
                                                  http://www.mercola.com/beef/health_benefits.htm
                                                  http://www.mountvernonfarm.net/benefi...
                                                  There are lots more sites. Oh, and just for the record -- not that it means anything -- I'm not a great fan of Angus (white faced cattle). I *DO* like Piedmontese beef. I like the flavor much better than Angus. It also has some nutritional benefits that rank it a bit higher in my book than Angus. I only wish someone had thought to cross breed Piedmontese with Wagyu. That would be SUPERIOR beef! Maybe someday?

                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                    mcf Feb 8, 2012 03:38 PM

                                                    There are studies of the "Swiss paradox" finding that folks who eat plenty of fats, saturated and otherwise, from alpine grass fed cattle have lower incidence of CVD.
                                                    Cholesterol is actually a meaningless marker in terms of risk especially LDL... it doesn't matter how high it is, only how large the particles are, with high HDL and low TGLs marking large, bouyant, non atherogenic LDL. Grass fed beef and dairy rule, as long as no grain is in the picture.

                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                      Caroline1 Feb 8, 2012 03:48 PM

                                                      Makes one wonder where Paula Deen would be if she only used grass fed butter!

                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                        kaleokahu Feb 8, 2012 11:07 PM

                                                        Hi, mcf:

                                                        So you believe that human dietary cholesterol equates with CVD, regardless of what else is in the diet?

                                                        Aloha,
                                                        Kaleo

                                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                                          mcf Feb 9, 2012 05:58 AM

                                                          Quite the opposite. Patterns do as markers, not numbers or causation.

                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                            kaleokahu Feb 9, 2012 07:53 AM

                                                            Let me put it this way, then: Do you believe that cholesterol in the diet is responsible for the cholesterol levels in the blood?

                                                            1. re: kaleokahu
                                                              mcf Feb 9, 2012 08:14 AM

                                                              NO.

                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                kaleokahu Feb 9, 2012 09:54 PM

                                                                Great, neither do I. Your stock has risen with me.

                                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                  mcf Feb 10, 2012 05:48 AM

                                                                  My family will be so proud.

                                                                2. re: mcf
                                                                  rockandroller1 Oct 15, 2012 10:19 AM

                                                                  Nor do I, but as someone with "eleveated" (not officially "high" but consistently elevated and rising year over year) cholesterol, I cannot find any information about WTF I am supposed to eat and not eat because all the conventional wisdom is the usual 40 year old crap about eating fat free cheese and not eating beef. I already eat a lot of whole, local, pastured foods, no fake foods, nothing processed except the couple of times a year I bend to cravings for Kraft Dinner, but it's rising every year. Yes, some of that is genetic, but what am I supposed to DO about it? Sorry, I digress.

                                                                  1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                    mcf Oct 15, 2012 02:55 PM

                                                                    I suggest you read Michael Eades Protein Power blog. High cholesterol is nothing to worry about. High triglycercides (from over eating carbs, typically) and low HDL (same case, usually) are. Two of the longest living, healthiest people I know lived to very old ages with no CVD with very high LDL, one at 395 life long.

                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                      rockandroller1 Oct 16, 2012 05:50 AM

                                                                      I also have high trig. and low HDL along with elevated (not "high" but higher than normal) cholesterol. I don't eat bread, bagels, sweets of any kind, etc. I do eat pasta, but certainly not every day. I have a complicated GI history that makes it really, really unpleasant if I try to live in nothing but protein and vegetables, it just doesn't work well for my guts, so I try to balance things out with carbs here and there so I'm not constantly in the bathroom. I can't seem to find a happy medium for my heart and my GI tract.

                                                                      1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                        mcf Oct 16, 2012 06:18 AM

                                                                        Sounds like a complicated balancing act. Have you tried rotation diet to identify culpirits, or do you already know what they are?

                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                          rockandroller1 Oct 16, 2012 06:34 AM

                                                                          I posted in a separate thread about this if you want to weigh in! Basically veg are the culprits. Even cooked veg is only moderately tolerated in my GI system. It's not one particular type over another, though some things cause worse/quicker problems than others (squash, carrots, raw veg of any type).

                                                      2. re: kaleokahu
                                                        j
                                                        Jerry P. Santa Monica Mar 14, 2012 04:03 PM

                                                        Green chop?

                                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                                          r
                                                          Rella Apr 28, 2012 06:39 AM

                                                          Are cattle raised on all the islands of Hawaii or just on the big island. Does Hawaii beef get shipped to the mainland?

                                              2. j
                                                Jerry P. Santa Monica Feb 7, 2012 08:35 PM

                                                100% grass fed means just that. And hay is tall grass. Remember, it snows =no pasture and /or grass dies when it very cold. Thats what hay is for. I only eat beef that is 100% Grass Fed, not grass finished, or grain finished. And there is nothing wrong with supplements like vitamins. And remember, 100% has more Omega 3 than salmon. I get my beef from Whole food, or - u.s. wellness meats- on the net.

                                                1. t
                                                  thegforceny Feb 20, 2012 03:24 PM

                                                  Damian - Might find this interesting. ;)

                                                  "Is It Local?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2LBIC...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: thegforceny
                                                    d
                                                    damian Feb 27, 2012 05:39 PM

                                                    Sorry for the slow reply—Chowhound was throwing error messages at me for a few days. Anyway, that video is hilarious. Glad to know there's people out there who are pickier than I am about the sources of their meat (even if they happen to be fictional :)

                                                    1. re: damian
                                                      t
                                                      Tom34 Apr 24, 2012 07:13 PM

                                                      Grain finished top choice or prime beef = great taste. Want Omega 3, eat salmon or take a fish oil pill. Want to stay alive, avoid foods preserved with high concentrations of nitrates (Known Carcinogen) such as cold cuts & RUN, RUN, RUN from any Asian farm raised seafood (Unregulated disaster).

                                                  2. j
                                                    jrmsr Oct 15, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                    Hi damian, I understand your thoughts what is Grass fed I have Black Angus and I only Feed Green Grass until it is all gone in OCT or Nov (here in Ohio) then I swicth over to Hay and 1 scoop (per day about 2=3 lbs} of My own Grown corn and Soybean Mix with NO chemicals at all in either and I Keep salt blocks out and all does Just fine I do not give and type pf shots or and Meds, So I would think I have as clost as you can get to all Grass Fed Beef. now I dont sell any Beef at all at this time But when and if My Herd gets big enough I may start to sell some ready to slaugher Beef Hope this Helps some way.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jrmsr
                                                      mcf Oct 15, 2012 02:56 PM

                                                      If you feed them corn and soybeans, they don't qualify as grass fed and finished or 100% grass fed.

                                                    2. p
                                                      Puffin3 Oct 16, 2012 06:29 AM

                                                      Not much point in having this discussion. There is pasture land all over the world right? There's also different pasture land all over the world. Where I live grazing beef cattle on a lot of the local pasture land would mean the cattle would never get enough of certain minerals. Grass/hay has to be brought here to supplement what is missing. That makes crazing cattle around here too expensive. By now most if all cattle ranchers know which pasture land is good and which isn't. Find a local farmer who raises a few beef cattle a year. Ask the farmer if the soil is sufficient to grow grass without having to add any supplements.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Puffin3
                                                        t
                                                        Tom34 Oct 21, 2012 06:43 PM

                                                        Yes, different grasses of different maturities at different times of the year at different geographic regions. Tough to consistently manage on a regular basis on a large scale. Probably better off w/a small local farmer who's product sells by reputation.

                                                        1. re: Tom34
                                                          o
                                                          ospreycove Oct 24, 2012 07:15 AM

                                                          The guy who raises the steers that I buy, is a follower of Joel Salatin, "( of Polyface Farm, Salad Bar Beef" fame ). The beef is only on local grass and chelated mineral supplements. All of the cuts that I have tried are very tasty, with a great "Beefy" taste and tender.His animals are treated very humanely.

                                                          1. re: ospreycove
                                                            t
                                                            Tom34 Oct 24, 2012 07:21 PM

                                                            Your very lucky to have a local trusted source. I have had great non feed lot beef which immediately hit you with a beefy flavor that made you chew a little longer because it was so different from supermarket offerings. Very, very hard to come by on a consistent basis.

                                                            1. re: Tom34
                                                              o
                                                              ospreycove Oct 25, 2012 06:22 AM

                                                              Tom34, What I am finding out; is that many local sources do not last more than a few years. I guess their business model is not realistic at current price levels. The growers/producers that I have long relationships with are more "hobby" producers and just looking for a way to offset some of their expenses. Right now I buy from reliable Beef, pork, egg and, meat poultry, (chickens and Turkey), as well as organic veg growers. I visit the farms several times before beginning to buy to assure how the animals are raised and cared for. One time I almost bought from a guy who swore up and down that his animals were raised from birth on his farm, and fed only "good" stuff, (grass fed non-GMO feeds, etc.). I later found out the animals he had were just props! when he got several orders for beef or pork he would go to the local livestock auction barn and buy animals to be slaughtered. So buyer beware!!!!

                                                              1. re: ospreycove
                                                                t
                                                                Tom34 Oct 25, 2012 10:18 PM

                                                                Yeah, to do it right cost a whole lot more and the small farmers who try are not getting rich by any means. Even if done right, a certain % of the animals are going to be athletes and run around all day and they are going to be tough.

                                                                Unscrupulous types like you mentioned are not uncommon. I know that Whole Foods tries there best and certainly does better than most, but I just can not imagine how they can police their suppliers to avoid a significant % of the fraudulent problems you touched on.

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