Daily Archives: May 15, 2011

What’s the Beef About Grass-Fed Beef?

I have wonderful memories as a child and young adult where my dad would fire up the grill for the steaks and my mom would make baked potatoes and vegetables. If it was a warm day, we would eat our delicious dinners on the deck. Oh yum…I can almost smell the steaks right now!

My love affair with a tasty steak continues. I do not eat them nearly as often as I used to although they are still seen at happy events and occasions. I just like to celebrate with a filet, tenderloin or strip steak on my plate!

A few weeks ago, while perusing the meat counter at the natural foods store, I made a decision – to purchase some grass-fed beef.

What is grass-fed beef? According to the USDA, the cows only eat what is in the pasture. This contrasts with typical grain-fed beef, which starts at pasture for the first year and then moves to a feedlot for a diet of corn, soy, grains, supplements, hormones and antibiotics. Research from Cooking Light notes that grain-fed beef can get up to weight for slaughter up to one year faster then their grass-fed counterparts, which is a financial incentive for the farmers.

Is there a nutritional benefit to grass-fed beef? Sure. According to this Time article, 100% grass-fed meat is lower in saturated fats, slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids and higher in vitamins A and E.

So how does the grass-fed beef taste? When I made that first purchase, I got one package to eat fresh and one package to freeze for later. The fresh beef, which is shown in the picture above, was absolutely delicious. My husband seasoned the steaks with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and grilled them for a slightly shorter time than our usual grain-fed meat (because they were so lean). We both agreed that these steaks were much better than the usual ones. A couple of weeks later, we defrosted the frozen steaks and grilled them the same way. However, they were not quite fully defrosted, and in compensating we ended up overcooking them. Grass-fed beef is less forgiving to overcooking, so keep that in mind.

The cost is relatively high; I spent almost 50% more on the grass-fed meat. However, buying grass-fed is not just an economic decision – it can be an environmental or health decision too. Growing grass is easier on the environment than growing corn, and the decreased use of antibiotics and hormones are other reasons that people hand over more “green” for the grass-fed varieties. A less expensive per-pound alternative is to buy directly from a farm. Check out a listing of farms in you area at the website for the American Grassfed Association.

Will I buy more grass-fed beef? You bet! It is a wonderful treat.