Grass-fed beef refers to the meat from cattle who were allowed to forage and graze on grass rather than grain for their fresh food. Most of the grain-fed beef is from cows who are raised on pasture for the first six months – 1 year of their life, then finished on grain, while grass-fed cows are exclusively pasture-fed on the grass. They may be given close substitutes like alfalfa during the winter. However, unlike grain-fed animals, the emphasis is still on providing the closest thing to a natural diet as possible.
Grass-fed Beef Trivia
- Grass-fed beef improves the planet’s biodiversity.
- Grass-fed beef carries less E. coli.
- Grass-fed cows take a long time to reach full weight compared to grain-fed cattle.
- Grass-fed cows are less likely to cause antibiotic resistance in people.
- Well-managed grass-fed cattle are more environmentally friendly.
Grass-fed Beef Buying Guide
When buying grass-fed beef, don’t worry about whether the meat is marbled. Marbling is often less pervasive in grass-fed beef, even when it is just as well-finished and equally tender as its grain-fed equivalent.
Look for the words “grass-fed” on labels. The American Grassfed Association’s third-party-certified logo shows that cattle are 100 percent grass-fed. It also means that the beef was raised without hormones or antibiotics. When you see the terms “pastured” or “grass-finished” on a label, remember that they are unregulated and could mean that the animal’s diet included grains.
If it’s your 1st time to buy from a grass-fed beef producer, start with a small order to test before making a large purchase. If the beef is tough, give them a second chance. But if a producer’s meat fails a second taste test, then find a different grass-fed beef producer. You may buy them from a local butcher, local farmers, and farmer’s markets, as well as from co-ops or cooperatives.
Grass-fed Beef Production & Farming in Texas
Raising grass-fed beef will allow you to ensure that you will have the highest quality meat possible. It takes years of blood, sweat, and tears to get it right. Aside from self-determination, you have to have good land and grass that can support the cows, years of experience, and a willingness to live with uncertainty year-round.
The production is less harmful to the environment than conventional beef since the amount of greenhouse gas emissions are lower. With grass-fed beef, it’s essential to base proper butchering time off of body condition rather than a specific age. Cows will grow at different rates depending on the breed, as well as genetics. Some of the cows are ready to butcher at 18 months while others take over two years.
Be sure to watch the cow’s adulthood progress to be sure that they are filled out and rounded sides with fat pockets on either side of the tail base.
Enjoying Grass-fed Beeves
Grass-fed beef looks similar to grain-fed meat tastes somewhat similar and smells the same, but it’s merely the most nutritious meat you can buy. It’s much leaner than its conventional counterpart, and it is an incredibly nutrient-dense protein that can be worked into almost any healthy diet.
Grass-fed beef should be double wrapped in butcher paper with at least one layer coated, or vacuum packed in heavy plastic. Wrapping in thin plastic or single-layer paper will lead to premature freezer burn. Store the meat below 40 degrees F to prevents bacteria from multiplying quickly.
Monitor the temperature frequently. A wireless thermometer will work well and decrease the need to open the freezer. Do not be tempted to open the fridge to check the meat! The meat will stay cold much longer if the refrigerator is not opened.
Grass-fed beef cooks differently than grain-fed beef. It cooks about 30 percent faster than the grain-fed meat, and it needs a bit more care during the cooking process. It is perfect at rare to medium-rare temperatures. When cooking, you may use a thermometer to test for doneness and observe the temperature. You can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked in less than a minute because the meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. When the temperature reaches ten degrees lower than your desired temperature, you can remove it from the heat.
Roasting: Sear the grass-fed beef first to lock in the juices and then place it in a preheated oven. Decrease the roasting temperature by 50 degrees F.
Grilling: Quickly sear the beef over high heat on each side and then reduce the heat to medium or low to finish. Baste to add moisture.
Pan Searing: Pan Searing is an easy way to cook a grass-fed steak. After searing the steak over high heat, turn the heat to low and add grass-fed butter and garlic to the pan to finish cooking.
The meat from grass-fed cattle is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation. The amount of fat is significantly lower than conventional beef, and the small amounts of saturated fats can reduce the chances of heart disease. Regular grain-fed beef is highly nutritious, but grass-fed beef contains more carotenoids, vitamin E, and other antioxidants.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A: It is essential for healthy vision, the immune system, and reproduction.
Vitamin B6: It is essential for blood formation and energy metabolism.
Vitamin B12: Essential nutrient that is important for blood formation and your brain and nervous system.
Vitamin E. This antioxidant sits in your cell membranes and protects them from oxidation
Zinc: Grass-fed beef is rich in zinc, a mineral that is important for body growth and maintenance.
Selenium: Essential trace element that serves a variety of functions in your body
Iron: Found in high amounts in beef, iron is mostly in the heme form, which is absorbed very efficiently
Phosphorus: Widely found in foods, phosphorus intake is generally high in the Western diet. It’s essential for body growth and maintenance.