While writing the article “Best Herbs with Beef”, I came across grass-fed and finished beef. Grass-fed beef is pretty straight forward but what exactly does grass-finished beef mean? It was mentioned grass-fed beef does not necessarily mean it is grass finished. I am confused and you may, too. With other similar terms, grain-fed and feedlot beef, there is much to learn. Join me in finding out what grass fed finished beef is and its benefits. What you are about to find out may change your buying and eating habits.
Grass Fed Beef vs Grain Fed
It is easy to understand that grass-fed beef is exactly what it sounds like, cattle that graze on grass. And grain-fed are those that are fed with grains including corn, soy, barley, wheat among others.
You ought to now that grass fed beef may NOT be grass fed finished beef. More on this later. Read on.
Well, all cows eat grass.
When calves are born, they drink milk from their mothers and are allowed to roam freely eating grass or edible plants grown in their environment.
In about seven to nine months, most commercially raised cattle are moved to feedlots. It is here that cows are kept in confined stalls with limited space. They are fed with grains to fatten them. Additionally, they are given growth hormones to maximize growth.
Do you know that grain-fed, feedlot cow can grow big enough for slaughter up to a year faster than a cow that grazes peacefully on grass?
Confined and overcrowded, commercially raised cattle are fed on what is not best for them. They eat what makes them fattest fastest. Thus yields the most money.
Furthermore, with poor living conditions, cows get sick easily and disease can spread quickly. For this reasons, many feedlots end up using preventive antibiotics to keep cows from getting sick. Now, where does this antibiotics end up? On your dinner plate?
Antibiotics and hormone are significantly less likely to be used with grass fed cattle or none at all, which takes us to the next question.
Why is grass-fed beef more expensive?
Firstly, it takes longer for grass-fed cattle to reach their processing weight and their weight is lesser minus the grains or corns to bulk up their diet. Therefore, ranchers are battling with time and higher operating costs. While raising grass-fed cattle is thought to be more sustainable, it is actually more expensive for the ranchers.
Although the demand for grass-fed beef has risen the past years, consumers are still sceptical switching from grain-fed to grass-fed beef because they are concern about differences in taste and texture.
Nutritional Value, Taste & Texture
A study has shown that grass-fed beef is higher in key nutrients, including antioxidants and vitamins. Notably, its omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is significantly more than grain-fed beef. Both of these essential acids have excellent health benefits (more about this below).
It is said that grass-fed beef has a more complex flavour because of the varied pastoral diet. You may see a slight yellow hue of the fat due to the pigments in grass but this does not affect the quality of the beef.
With less intramuscular fat, it is leaner, meatier and the texture can be a bit chewy. With less fat, it tends to cook faster than regular beef. Not to worry. This may help you,
When it comes to grain fed beef, it is the buttery and slightly sweet flavour that most people love. This comes through from its higher content of fat. Don’t you love that white fat marbling throughout your piece of steak? I am sure you do.
With higher fat content, it is easier to cook and it has a “melt in your mouth” texture. Yummy!
So, you love your grain-fed beef but NOT the antibiotics, hormone and probably other unknown feed that end up on your dinner plate. When buying your cut of beef, make sure to look for the label antibiotic-free and hormone-free. Alternatively, consider grass-fed beef!
Grass-Fed Beef May NOT be Grass Finished
Grass-fed finished beef comes from cattle that lived on their mother’s milk when born. Thereafter, on pasture and forage till the day of processing.
On the other hand, grass-fed indicates that cattle consumed grass for much of their life but may receive supplemental grain feed. Or finished fully grain-fed. In this case, it is called grass-fed grain-finished beef.
Therefore, always look out for 100% grass fed grass-finished beef. On top of that, it is best to know the name of the farmer and the farm that your meat comes from.
Locate a local rancher in your area who raised cattle on open, free ranges and feed entirely on fresh and dried grasses. Not only will you be consuming 100% grass-fed finished beef with peace of mind, but you are also actually contributing to your local community.
If there isn’t any in your area, would you like to know where to buy grass-fed beef online?
At Farm Foods, you know where your food comes from. From the farm to you, there are several farms to choose from.
How to order online?
Simply browse through Farm Foods Market and the different farms available where you can read about each farm. Find out about their practices to make sure that they align with what you feel is essential.
Choose the meat of your choice. It is good to know that shipping is FREE on all orders of more than 10 pounds. The minimum order is necessary for the ranchers to offer the meat to you at a reasonable price while ensuring efficiency in shipping.
All their shipping is done with UPS. The meat is kept frozen using dry ice which can last more than 12 hours after delivery. Should your package be delayed and arrive in a poor condition, you will be offered a refund.
To name a few of their farms here:
- • Howard Farm, ID
- • Humbolt Farm, CA
- • Cunningham Ranch, OR
- • Montana 4K Farm
- • Others…
Meet Bob from Howard Farm
If you wish to buy grass-fed beef at your local supermarkets or groceries, look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) label. AGA’s guidelines are more comprehensive and stringent than standards set by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
What AGA label tells you?
- • Cattle are fed a lifetime diet of 100% forage
- • Cattle are raised on pasture, not in confinement
- • Cattle are never treated with antibiotics and added hormones
What are the Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef
The level of nutrients and fats you obtained from eating beef are directly affected by what the cow eats. 100% grass-fed beef contains more nutrients than grain-fed beef. This is due to all the grazing of grass and forage rather than being fed with “processed foods”.
Let’s have a quick look at the health benefit eating grass-fed beef.
#1 Meat of grass-fed cattle has lower calories because their diet is more natural and clean.
#2 Its omega-3 fatty acids is six times more than grain-fed beef.
How omega-3 benefits your health?
- • Lower triglyceride levels which help reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- • Alleviates rheumatoid as omega-3 seems to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- • Slow the progression of eye disease caused by age-related muscular degeneration.
#3 Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found abundant in grass-fed beef.
How CLA benefits your health?
- • Clinical evidence concludes a decreased risk of heart disease with increased consumption of CLA.
- • CLA is said to be one of the strongest nutrients which can protect against cancer. A study conducted on women who were given high amounts of CLA-rich foods had a lower risk in breast cancer over those who had little to no amount of CLA in their diet.
#4 Overcrowding of cattle in feedlots is a very common situation that may lead to increased bacterial contamination. A research conducted by Consumer Reports demonstrated that choosing grass-fed beef may decrease the risk of food poisoning because it revealed traces of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in feedlot beef.
Grass-fed beef is from a cow that eats a natural diet of grass while a grain-fed cow is fed with corn, soy or barley and other unnatural diets of “processed food”.
When shopping for your beef, take extra caution making sure it is grass-fed finished beef. Looking at the packaging, it is easy to differentiate grass-fed beef vs grain-fed but it does NOT mean it is grass-finished.
There are ranchers who raise their cattle exclusively on a diet of grass and forage throughout the entire life span of the cattle without antibiotics and hormones.
And there are ranchers who raise their cattle on pasture and later move them to feedlots to fatten them.
Also, there are ranchers who do both! Ranchers may move a section of its cattle to feedlot while the remaining continue with their natural diet of grazing grass and forage.
Consumer’s knowledge of the benefits of grass-fed beef has broadened over the decade thus the demand for grass-fed finished beef is increasing steadily. For this reason, grass-fed finished beef is easily available in retail or online. However, it is best to take extra caution ensuring there are what they said there are. Always read the label carefully.
You may want to visit Farm Foods where you get to know exactly where your beef comes from. Go on, explore for yourself. Farm Foods is where you can buy grass-fed beef online.
You may love the buttery tenderness of grain-fed beef but grass-fed beef can be as flavourful and tender depending on the method and ingredients used. Read about brining and best herbs to flavour your beef.
Please Leave a Comment
Are you consuming grass-fed beef or grain-fed? Knowing what the benefits of grass-fed beef are, are you willing to make the change even though the price is slightly higher for grass-fed finished beef?
If you have been purchasing grass-fed beef, tell us where you buy from. This may help give readers more buying options.
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From the Corner of My Home – Spice Up Your Life with Herbs and Spices
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.