100% grass fed beef, never finished on grain, will be lower in cholesterol, higher in omega fats & a better ratio of omega 3 to 6. Much more flavour. Will be leaner, hence, you can not cook grass fed beef the same as grain fed. Grain fed can stand the extreme, intense high heat of a grill low to the fire, vs grass fed beef needs to be further away from the heat and cooked much slower and with a lesser intense heat. Too high a heat will toughen the meat. Then there is the whole environmental aspect of grass fed . . . far less carbon foot print. And the food safety piece. I work with grass fed operation all around the world and some have never had an e.coli positive . . . there was no e. coli 0157 til feed lots (read CAFOs) appeared. I could talk all day about the benefits, but time & space do not allow me.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
I disagree with usuba dashi on only one issue here and that's the flavor. But she has everything else exactly right. Personally I don't think grass fed beef tastes that good simply because it's leaner and frankly a lot of marbling (aka fat) carries flavor. Giant feed lots like Kettleman City in California are a big part of the danger zone. If you see the film "Food Inc." you may never want to eat beef again.
We raise grass fed beef for ourselves. It is delicious--got to disagree with that comment about flavor. People beg us for the hamburger. The cattle are happily on pasture up to the day before they are killed. No antibiotics, no nasty feedlots. However, it is certainly true that it can be a lot less satisfactory item if you are mainly after well marbled steaks or just things to slap on a grill (since it's leaner), and it is certainly true that the local slaughterhouse, a busy place, will not have much patience for special requests like extra aging, unusual cuts, etc. The trick is in learning to use the whole animal---lots and lots of stewing and braising cuts. If you can learn to do this, it's exceptionally rewarding.
Agree with everyone and also I love the flavor. By the way,
PBS will show an encore presentation of Food, Inc. at 10pm ET on August 9, 2011.
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When my folks raised cattle, as a hobby farm, they were grass fed through most of the summer. Then 'horse feed'. grains with molasses in the winter, supplemented with hay. I'd say that the beef they raised compared favorably to "Kobe" beef in flavor and marbling. I really miss that beef--it was the some of the best I've ever had.
This is the argument I always have with American's and their beef. Take away the fat on grain fed beef, and you have no flavour. The flavour only comes from the fat. With grass fed, the flavour is in the meat, because of the forage they eat. Remember, your what you eat . . . you are what your meat, eats. If the grass fed beef ate weeds, or came off winter paddocks, the beef will not have as much flavour as one that has been living off spring and early summer rich grasses. I have time and time again served 100% grass fed beef to people and I always hear how it is the best beef they have ever had. You can not cook grass fed the same as grain fed. Once you learn that, you too will convert. Grass fed beef is seasonal in flavour. Grain fed gives you consistency year 'round.
Frankly I remain a nose to tail eater. My appreciation of meat goes like this; if an animal is going to die for your dinner you should be willing to eat all the edible parts and for me that includes tongue, tripes, sweetbreads, liver, tail etc. I do have a tripe recipe posted here. And I have a package of pig ears in my freezer right now. Think beyond the steak and rib roast.
I agree with pierino . . we raise grass beef and pasture hogs for all the local restaurants. I have spent a lot of time teaching local chefs how to use all the parts and a local butcher how to break down hogs using seam butchery. This creates unique cuts of pork that are missed by so many. Restaurants need to learn this art of butchery . . all the wonderful cut beyond steaks and pork chops. BTW mate, I am a bloke.
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
Whew! What a wonderful range of discussion. I'm a grass-fed gal, largely because I can be. I have some good purveyors nearby on whom I can depend. A bit trickier to cook? Yes. But worth it. I also have a good local source of bison, which has become my favorite red meat.
Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.
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