UPDATED NOVEMBER 10, 2020
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 know 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 these reasons, many feedlots end up using preventive antibiotics to keep cows from getting sick. Now, where do 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 Market, you know where your food comes from. From the farm to you and 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.
You may want to take advantage of their current promotion! Click on the below link.Thanksgiving PreSale! Enjoy 20% off Thanksgiving items with code AFFTURKEY20 at FarmFoodsMarket.com! Offer valid 11/8-11/15.
All their shipping is done with FedEx and 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
- Eden Farms, IA
- Montana 4K Farm, MT
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 is 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 benefits of 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 they are what they said they are. Always read the label carefully.
You may want to visit Farm Foods Market 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 flavorful and tender depending on the method and ingredients used. Read about brining and best herbs to flavor 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.
24 Replies to “What is Grass-Fed Finished Beef”
This is such an informative article. I think I have been mixing up grass-fed and grass-finished in my head. Thank you for clarifying it for me! I have been striving to buy better quality meat not only for my health, but because it is easier on the environment to allow cows to graze in a pasture. Grains are not their natural diet.
I hadn’t heard of Farms Food Market. I have been buying my grass fed meat locally. It is great to know that there is an online option that will ship to me if I need it!
It is good to know that you can buy grass-fed beef locally. Isn’t it great for the environment?
Like you, I thought grass-fed beef is a good option till I found what grass-fed finished beef is. This totally changed my perception that grass-fed was the best. Always go for grass-finished beef if possible.
Thanks for dropping by, Melinda.
Well I’ve never taken this into consideration before now. I do wonder when I tried buying beef and I got to pay more because one is grass fed so I decided to research on why it is more expensive than the others. Seeing all these that I have read here, I cannot but accept with you that grass fed finished beef is the best for consumption. Going by the way they are reared, taken care of and nurtured, they are much more better for our health. Thanks
Yes, indeed, Shelley. Consumers should be made aware of what they are buying and eating.
I had no idea about the differences between grass fed beef and grain fed beef until now that I stumbled on this post. Its really lovely and detailed and it feels like I’ve known a whole about beef before now. Orders below 10 pounds should cost like how much for delivery and how fast is the delivery? I love beef but most times I don’t know how to differentiate but now I know how to differentiate between a grass fed beef and a grain fed beef, all thanks to you. I’ll prefer the grass fed beef because its brought up with natural nutrients. You’ve done a really good job.
Thank you, Jones. I am glad that now you are aware of the differences.
The cost of meat depends on which beef cut you intend to buy. You can order various cut of beef for different cooking to add up the minimum of 10 pounds for free delivery. Normally, orders are sent on every Monday and Tuesday but there may be exceptions especially during the holidays season. Visit Food Farms and take your time to browse the selections. Let me know how you like it.
Other than the fact I strictly feed on grass fed finished beef, I also take grass fed supplements. I cannot stand the way those Cornfed or other ways of rearing beefs. It is really disheartening getting to read about the way the animals are over processed just to aid them to outgrow their normal life cycle, it is very bad and hopefully, I wish most people would get to read about this article. Grass fed beef is the best possible beef available for consumption. Great post. Cheers
Yes, I wish people are aware of what they are serving on their dinner plate.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and comment, Tracy.
Hi Sharon, this is such an informative and educational article!
When I buy meat products, I’m usually concerned about price the most. Maybe because I live in Australia and I think over 95% of Aussie cows are grass-fed. And even the grain-fed ones spend their days on pastures, and I do feel sorry for cows that live in feedlots, it’s very unethical.
I often wonder how the meat industry stays sustainable, if a cattle requires more than 1 year to become ready for processing, how does the industry fulfill the high demands every day?
Thanks for sharing this, and keep up the good work!
How great to that, knowing 95% of the beef supply is grass-fed.
I am not the rancher. I am sure the starting point is always difficult but once the growing cycle of the cattle gets growing and managed properly with care, supply will consistently increase.
Thanks for commenting, Tim.
This is really a helpful article. I am definitely one of the best users of Grain fed Beef. I have always preferred Grain fed beef because of the good taste of this type of meat. Through this article, I have learned that Grass Fed Beef is better for my health than Grain Fed Beef. The fact that Grass Fed Beef is antibiotic free and hormone free has made me like this kind of meat. Thank you very much Sharon.
You are most welcome, Baraka. Glad this is helpful.
Barak,I would encourage you to research USDA standards for antibiotics in the countries food supply. The truth is that ALL beef processed in USDA inspected plants MUST BE FREE OF ANTIBIOTICS!!! USDA inspectors check both live cattle and carcasses for signs of illness
in the case of live cattle and signs of possible antibiotic usage, such as injection sites. Suspect carcasses are tagged and withheld from entering the food supply.
As a cattleman myself, I can assure you that the nation’s beef producers take great care to assure that antibiotics DO NOT enter the food supply. To not do so is against the law and subject to severe penalties!
Please go ahead and enjoy your non grain finished steak knowing that all commercially processed cattle in the US Food Chain is antibiotic-free!
Hi Leeann. Thanks for your input and clarification. Much appreciated.
What an interesting and enlightening article. I switched over to grass fed beef a few months ago after seeing something about it on a TV cookery programme, but I didn’t realise that there was a difference between “grass fed” and “grass finished”. I will go back to my supplier and check that the grass fed beef I’m buying is also finished with grass. Thank you!
Yes, you do that. It is best to know what we are consuming.
Oh wow, I must say that I am astonished by the information you have given on the grass fed beef. At my friends home, I went to take dinner and they served beef and was gushing over it. I decided to make my own research and I’m happy to find out that it is really nutured well and has so much nutrients as well. I should give it a try myself. Thanks!
If more people were like you, do their own research on the food they consume, many will be healthy and well. Stay healthy, John!
Hello Sharon, its really cool learning about what we eat as its not something to be taken with lightly. So many people do not give much concern to what they eat, and sometimes fall sick from bad products. Looking at beef consumption , there is been just oke which I’m aware of and that’s the grass fed. I had no idea about grain fed, but looking at the feeding process of these animals and from your explanation, I’ll always go with grass fed.
Hi Dane. I am glad you learned the good and bad out of this article. You must understand that not all grain-fed beef is bad. There are still responsible farmers out there. Consuming grass fed finished beef is great but should you choose grain-fed, just ensure they are antibiotics-free and hormones-free.
Thank you very much for this highly informative article. I’ve only heard once about grass-fed beef but didn’t realized the benefits until now. I’ll try to look any sign of grass-fed beef in my nearest supermarket. Is this common for the country outside US too? I’ll try to check if my country has similar association with American Grass-fed Association. Thanks.
As far as I know, about 97% of Australia’s cattle are grass-fed. You ought to know that there are many circumstances that bring the end results. From where you are, it is best to check locally.
Wow, I didn’t know that this was so much of a big deal until I read what you have written here on grass fed and grain fed cattles. Now I understand why the grass fed is the best and I can see this. If one wants to buy meat however, it’ll be a bit hard to differentiate I think but I think I know what to do now. Thank you for the help you have given over here. Thanks!
It will be hard to differentiate, indeed. We have to rely on the label. Another way is to buy directly from your local farmers. I understand there may not be one near you. If so, consider Farm Foods Market. Please feel to explore what they have to offer.