Grass-Fed Beef: Worth The Hype?

 

I admit it.  I was a proud vegetarian who one day found her way into a butcher’s shop and stayed.  I used to look at customers pulling paper numbers from the plastic feeder and had no desire to be “them”.  Until one day I became them.

Sort of … I am still somewhat wary of meat when I don’t know it’s source, still eat it sparingly and prefer it when the meat tastes more like the sauce that accompanies it.  But this carnivorous awakening can not be denied and has largely been led by my encounters with the “New & Improved” cow – the free-roaming, sun-basking, fit and happy, grass-fed cow. (The irony is that this cow is anything but “new” and is the way all cows lived before we invented feed-lots and discovered the joys of growth-hormones.)


What are the lifestyle practices of a grass-fed cow?

  • A diet of green vegetables (ie green grass). Grain-fed cows eat grass after being weaned, but are later fed 100% grains to fatten them quickly before slaughter.
  • Controlled weight-gain.  By avoiding a pure grain diet and not taking steroids, weight gain is slow and healthy.
  • Plenty of exercise. Grass-fed cows need to walk to find food.
  • Stress management. They roam freely. Confinement breeds stress. Think office cubicles.
  • No drugs. Cows’ digestive systems were designed for grass. A grain diet, fed to a young cow, often leads to sickness and hence the routine use of antibiotics.

How does this affect the meat?

  • Lower in fat.  It’s closer to levels in skinless chicken breast.
  • Higher in Omega 3. Most people are deficient in Omega 3 (and have excess levels of Omega 6, from grain).
  • More vitamin A. In the form of beta-carotene. Like carrots.
  • A deeper, meatier flavor. In part because grass-fed cows may be a year older than grain-fed,hormone-injected cows, whose growth was artificially sped–up.
  • More filling.  At least from my experience this is true, and I think it’s due to the higher nutrients and higher meat:fat ratio.
  • Twice the price. But if you eat half as much, it’s not twice the cost.

There are people that argue over how much of this is true and even if true, how much our health is affected by it. I’m not all that hung up on the debate;  it just feels logical to me that a cow that eats grass, unconfined, outdoors and is never given drugs, is going to be a healthier animal and by extension it’s meat, a healthier product.

But there’s a catch

Not all “grass-fed” cows are “grass-fed” cows.  In theory, a cow could have been fed hay (a grass), in a confined feedlot, injected with hormones and labeled “grass-fed”. Regulation has not kept up with hype. Moreover, if you’re concerned about buying local, much of the grass-fed beef is South American and Australian (though Whole Foods tries to stock local.)

Bottom line:  Know your cow. If you’re buying beef at a farmer’s market*, it will be local and there’s a high chance the cow led the life you think it led; if you’re buying from a supermarket, ask the meat-seller to define “grass-fed” for that particular brand. And then,  if you like what you hear, buy the cow that ate the grass.

*For our NYC readers, try Grazin’ Angus at the Union Square Farmers Mkt (Saturdays), the hot dogs are outstanding and the spicy sausages defy words.

Have you tried grass-fed?  Your take on the issue?

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  • Dennis

    I have also heard that with grass-fed you should cook it less otherwise it will dry out because of the lower quantity of fat.

  • Jill

    It angers me that terms like “grass fed” aren’t regulated. You hit the nail on the head when you said to know the source of your food. But we can’t all be at the farm or the production facility to know for sure. Arrgh! I’ve had grass fed beef and it is leaner and tastes meatier. Sadly, it also costs more. But to me, it’s worth the price to know my food was produced both cleanly and humanely. And, if you eat meat sparingly, the cost can be kept in check. Love your blog by the way!

  • Jenny

    This is really helpful information. I started getting “weird” about where my beef came from a few years ago after all the instances of mad-cow disease. I try to eat only organic beef (can’t say I’m as diligent about other meats), but after reading this I realize that, too, isn’t necessarily that great(although it should mean that they aren’t feeding the livestock their ground-up brethren, right?). There is an amazing weekly Farmer’s Market where I live, where fresh local produce and meats are available, year round. I’m realizing I really need to take more advantage of it.

    • Michelle

      Yes! Get ye to the farmers market! What I like about farmers market food (especially with meat) is the short path from farm to table and because of this a greater sense of accountability for the quality of the food.

      If you’re buying organic, then yes, if the producer followed the organic “rules”, you’re getting beef that was fed organic feed (but it’s going to be grains, not grass), and not given growth hormones or routine antibiotics. But unless it’s a smaller farm, then the cows were likely raised in confined conditions and were certainly not roaming the fields with bells on.

      • Jon

        Could you explain what “100% grains” means in your original article?
        Thanks.

        • Michelle

          It means they are given no grass (either hay or green grass in the pasture.) Grains are very energy/calorie dense meaning cows get bigger/heavier far faster on grains than on grass, meaning they can get them to slaughter weight quickly which ultimately means higher profits to the producer.

          • Jon

            Dear Michelle -
            I was afraid that you meant that, because it is 100% wrong. Feedlot cattle get what is known as a “TMR’ which stands for Total Mixed Ration, and it contains grain(s), hay/forage, minerals, protein(s) and additives (non-antibiotic) and/or antibiotics. It is impossible for a cow to live on a 100% grain diet. However, it is true that these rations are what is known as ‘hot’ – a high proportion of corn or other grain, for the reasons you cite. But, please, don’t spread misinformation – yes, these cows live on the edge of rumen health; no, it is not 100% grain. As for ‘energy dense’, you might want to investigate the Mcal/lb value of alfalfa hay (a legume) and compare it to corn, or barley. In addition, various grasses (corn is a grass, BTW) in their early stages are high in energy, but their moisture content limits their intake. Finally, if it is energy dense you want, nothing compares to fat, but you can’t feed a cow pure fat, either.

      • http://www.thetableofpromise.blogspot.com The Table of Promise

        Actually, in February 2010, the USDA changed their organic regulation to include that all organic milk must come from cows that are pastured for at least 120 days a year. I know that is not much, only 4 months, but it has to do with the short grass growing season in cold weather areas.
        Though I am not thrilled that the regulation only goes so far-it is at least a start.

        • Michelle

          Interesting … I wonder if “pastured” truly means eating green grass or simply “hanging out outside” …also wonder how large this pasture is required to me. “cage free” and “free range” chickens often still live in very cramped conditions.

          • http://www.thetableofpromise.blogspot.com The Table of Promise

            I think there is alot of gray. Like ALOT of gray. All these terms are unregulated, so in a certain sense they mean nothing. And while I think some definition in the marketplace would be helpful (and likely these are the next terms to be regulated by the USDA), I am very concerned by MORE regulation. With marketplace clarity comes rules that could put small producers out of business. I hope that we will demand that our government provide a system where we can find the kind of food WE want. And until then, I am makin’ friends with the guy that raises grass finished beef for my CSA.

  • Ellie

    I too am skeptical of the “grass-fed” label and I fear that our idyllic thoughts about what that means are more often incorrect than not.

    Incorrect or no, I do think grass-fed tastes superior to “normal” beef. Isn’t it sad what passes for normal these days? Hormone and antibiotic-ridden beef doesn’t sound normal to me. I used to be vegetarian but now that I’ve come back over to the meatier side of life I am a bit more picky about what meat I will eat. I won’t touch red meat unless I know that it’s good quality, partly for my palate but partly because my stomach can no longer handle meat of dubious quality. Maybe it’s psychosomatic but grass fed beef never makes me sick and I think the taste is noticeably better than other beef.

  • http://www.girllovesdog.com Jess Mahler

    Thanks so much for writing about this. A cow given a better life is better for you – absolute common sense! Thought you and your readers might have interest in http://www.certifiedhumane.org – their program is USDA recognized and ASPCA endorsed. The site is an absolute gem that answers the zillion questions that conscience consumers have about meat!

  • http://prasadabeauty.com Lisa G

    I would not eat cow but I’d love to know the truth re: poultry and if companies like Murray’s and Coleman are truly offering poultry from family farms. In his book “Eating Animals” Jonathan Safran Foer says that poultry from family farms simply ISN’T available….so what is THE TRUTH on this?
    Thanks.

    • Olivia

      Hi Lisa– I can’t speak for all farms, but I recently visited a well-known farm in the Hudson Valley that claims to be organic, environmentally-conscious, etc. — and was a little upset by the way they treated their poultry. First, I noticed that the poultry were not the same chickens as the egg-laying hens. Then I noticed that the egg-laying hens were allowed to roam freely while the poultry was confined in a small coop where there was little room to move.

      I have known a number of people who grew up on farms. They have told me that for basic economic reasons, most people raise hens for eggs, which are later killed for food when they get too old. My guess is that it is a bit tougher than what you find in the supermarkets, but based on what I know about grouse (a large woodland bird) — aging would help soften it.

      And thanks Michelle for this post! I was once a vegetarian and made a very conscious decision to start eating meat (including beef!) again, and really feel there is a way to do it that is sensitive to animal rights, the environment, and your health.

      • Anna Z.

        Trust me, laying hens are not good eating! That’s no excuse for inhumane treatment. But a younger chicken is really a more tender, delicious chicken.

    • Michelle

      Unless you actually go to the farm itself it’s hard to know for sure but here’s my take from looking at their websites…

      Murray’s: I’d be pretty confident that the chickens (though they are not all from one farm) are well cared for and live much of the time outdoors mainly because of the “certified humane” credential on their site. the site http://www.certifiedhumane.org is pretty rigid with their standards and go way beyond organic.

      Coleman: Hard to say. They source from across the country from many farms (which means less control over conditions than if it were one farm) and not all their prods are even organic. So with this co, you’ll get organic if you chose their organic label, but they say nothing about pasture-raised, grass-fed etc.

      Oh and btw, anytime you see the word “natural” in front of meat – it’s meaningless. A chicken can be pumped with hormones and antibiotics and be called natural.

  • Juliana

    I went to Buenos Aires for a weekend last month, and I’m happy to limit my meat eating escapades to that one trip a year. The taste difference was amazing – I don’t need aged, or Tbone. Just give me happy cow meat and it’s delicious. And then the good local wine…

  • http://6512andgrowing.wordpress.com/ 6512 and growing

    Thank you for this post.

    The book “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer (which *is* a case for being a vegetarian, which I am not), has a lot of eye opening info about how misleading labels are, i.e. an animal can be sold as “free range” when really it has never left its overcrowded shed, but there happens to be a door, sometimes open. “Cage free” indicates 30,000 chickens crammed in a shed with, no cages.

    My husband hunts elk and deer so we are blessed with nutritious, grass fed meat from animals who had wild lives. But without this source of protein, I would certainly patronize the local ranchers who sell grass fed meat. it’s less of a “fad” than returning to an old way of raising animals (and not really that old, it was the early-mid 1900′s that feedlots were invented)that is better for the earth, the animals and our bodies.
    Happy munching,
    Rachel

  • Anna Z.

    A few years ago, I read the bible of the new food movement, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. It changed my life, really! It made me THINK about the food I was putting in my body instead of just eating. When you’re thinking about your food – where it comes from, who produced it, how it was produced – you eat better, more diversely and more enjoyably. And that extra money you spend for good food? It’s an investment in your health and the health of everyone and everything around you. Mindful eating leads to mindful living, something we can all practice.
    AZ

    • Debbie

      I like how you termed it “an investment in your health, etc”. So very true! Thanks for the perspective, as it helps me feel a little less frustrated that I have to pay more to get what’s natural.

  • Debbie

    I have recently become diligent about knowing where most of my meat comes from. It is sad that we have to pay more for what should be the most natural way to buy meat. I’m only buying for 2 of us now, so it’s fiscally more attainable and I minimize how much meat we eat a week so that helps also.
    I think part of my transition has been a result of having my vege garden (year 2). When I can look down at dinner and REALLY know where my food has come from, it’s really eye opening and changes your outlook when you go to the store.

    Thanks for another great article!

  • http://thefringeepicurian.blog.com/ Rick

    Two points today:-

    Has it been mentioned (and I don’t know if there is any truth in it), but we heard years ago that range/natural grass cattle had yellow fat whereas grain fed cattle had white fat! If true that would be an easy test for the origin of the cattle.

    Its good to have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to “organic” veg and meat. What we really need are audit trails so we can be sure where the food comes from. Its too easy to charge organic prices for non-organic products. If you can grow it yourself in your own patch, you’re better off.

    It seems a natural process that as we age, we tend to eat less red meat. Perhaps its the need for fewer calories or what we perceive as a better diet. But we all need protein and its difficult to get it as a vegetarian. We switched years ago to the leanest cuts. Time will tell if that has been a good choice.

    This is a most difficult subject to discuss as there are very few “facts” as to how organics improve our health as we all respond to diets differently, and its not until you reach the ripe age of later 60′s that you realize how different we are from a chemical point of view. Still, if you can tilt the odds in your favour, its a good thing to do.

    • http://www.bronxtobarn.com Sylvia Burgos Toftness

      Rick,
      The USDA organic label requires a tight audit (paper) trail. This doesn’t insure that animals are grass fed, but it does document that the animals are fed and treated to strict standards.

      • http://thefringeepicurian.blog.com/ Rick

        Hi Sylvia – I applaud those who genuinely try to raise unadultrated meat, and the associations I’m sure try to limit actions which are not in tune with our perceptions of organics. But sometimes the devil is in the details. For example, this is from inspection Canada’s website…. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/comqueste.shtml “24 Can slaughter animals (intended for meat) receive two treatments per year of prohibited treatments and maintain certification?
        6.7.9 indicates that there shall be only one treatment for slaughter animals under a year and a maximum of two treatments for total lifetime of slaughter animals. ” This appears to be an example of where some products do receive some form of treatment yet are still labelled “organic”. I’ll be the first to agree that at least a step has been taken in the right direction, but we need to be aware that “organic” does not necessarily mean “truly natural”.

        • Michelle

          Rick, you raise a really interesting and important issue. I take it that “treatments” here refer to treatments of antibiotics in the case of occasional sickness.

          I have spoken to several farmers about the issue, though of occasional antibiotic use even with organic products and my understanding is that, yes, it is acceptable to use antibiotics, IF … they are used soley to treat a specific sickness and not used routinely or over an extended period of time. I understand too that before the animal is slaughtered it must be re-tested to be sure it is in good health.

          This strikes me as fair and in fact quite humane and should not leave consumers concerned about the meat. In fact, I can see the argument for the WITHOLDING of antibiotics to a sick animal, as being inhumane and more detrimental to the quality of the meat.

          When you start to dig apart organic regulations, you realize there is a lot of nuance hiding behind simple language.

          • http://thefringeepicurian.blog.com/ Rick

            Hi Michelle – sorry not to have the US equivalent for “Inspection Canada”.

            You know, its a tricky area – humane treatment of animals. No one wants to see an animal suffer or for a farmer to lose an animal for the sake of a single antibiotic treatment. One could come down on either side of the argument, but this quickly leads into a grey area philosophically called the “argument of the beard” – when is a beard a beard? When is too much antibiotic “too much”.

            It doesn’t matter if the animal is healthy when slaughtered, its how much residue of chemicals remain in the meat that counts. Hopefully the Governments and the Organic Associations have reached a sensible compromise – but there is still could be antibiotics in the meat.

            This reminds me of a talk we attended recently which touched on organic vegetables. The author, a professor emeritus of chemistry at a local university stated point-blank that the amount of residual chemicals on vegetables is nil. If you want to buy organic vegetables, buy them for taste but don’t delude yourself that they are somehow more pure that non-organic veg. His ideas, not mine – but I wasn’t able to ask if the same applied to meat!

            Rick

  • http://reallyliteral.blogspot.com/ christinachan

    Your posts are always so informative! Thank you. I’m going to think twice before eating/buying certain beef
    http://reallyliteral.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.bronxtobarn.com Sylvia Burgos Toftness

    Just came upon this blog and really enjoy it. Thanks. I grew up in the Bronx, moved to the Midwest in the 70′s and recently began raising grassfed beef on our Wisconsin farm, Bull Brook Keep. Yes, there are lots of romantic notions and vague and misleading labels in the grocery stores. Yes, “natural” on a label means virtually nothing. If you see meat marked grass-fed, also note if it says “grass finished,” which would mean that the cattle wasn’t fatted on grain for the last 3-4 months. It’s encouraging to read your questions and concerns. Hope we can keep up a conversation. All invited to post comments on my blog, From the Bronx to the Barn, http://www.bronxtobarn.com, where I chronicle our journey into sustainable agriculture – an effort to produce great tasting food that meets so many of the concerns you’ve mentioned here: high quality, humane husbandry, environmental stewardship, and contribution to the local economy.

    • Michelle

      Sylvia-Thanks for joining the conversation. As a beef farmer, are you able to shed any light on Rick’s question about the difference in fat color b/ grass and grain fed beef?

  • http://prasadabeauty.com Lisa G

    Thanks for info and the certified humane site. I only eat Murray’s. Perhaps I’d be better off as a vegan which I have been previously.
    But it seems once you eat animal protein one gets addicted!!
    Also helps keep me away from flour and grain.

  • http://thefringeepicurian.blog.com/ Rick

    For more on Canadian regulations concerning organic vegetables and products – its quite instructive to read http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/en/C-0.4/SOR-2009-176.

    Here you learn that a product does not have to be 100% to earn the title of “organic” – it can be 70% if it has many ingredients.

    Still trying to find the website for meat products – no luck yet.

  • Michelle

    Sylvia Burgos Toftness sent this to me via email and I wanted to share her words….

    “What I’ve also heard, again from people who have been raising grass-fed beef for generations, is that many of the valuable nutrients are in the fat, and so they’re reluctant to trim this off when then sell either cuts or ground beef to customers. A website that might help is eatwild.com. Another source is Dr. Alan Greene, pediatrician with Stanford University and author of at least a couple of books. He is a highly experienced and credible advocate of organic foods.”

  • Clara

    Someone mentioned Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and despite the long introduction explaining why everything we eat is basically corn, it will convert you to wanting to eat grass-fed beef only! One interesting argument is that many people don’t eat meat b/c they feel it is inhumane to animals, and the book points out that all farming (vegetables) practices kill some sort of animals (woodchucks and other animals one never thinks about) and that it is basically impossible to avoid killing animals to cultivate crops. So if the goal is to minimize ending life, then the best thing to eat is the largest animal that involves the least cultivation of land…which is – the grass-fed cow!

  • http://www.bronxtobarn.com Sylvia Burgos Toftness

    I spent a couple of hours with my small herd this afternoon: placing a bale of hay within easy reach, treating them to alfalfa pellets, and setting up a temporary paddock (a small section of pasture) for them to graze tomorrow afternoon. After time in the field, it’s good to once again read your questions and comments. I thought I’d recommend The Grassfed Gourmet by Shannon Hayes. From a New York farming family, Shannon researched the best cooking approaches for a variety of pastured livestock and game. Filled with first-hand accounts, cooking principles and recipes, I think many visitors to the Sweet Beet might appreciate it.

  • http://healthbyhamilton.com/ Chad Hamilton, PhD

    Cows don’t graze in corn fields or soybean plantations. Come to think of it, I haven’t ever seen them in rice paddy’s either. When I think of cows, I think of grass. I want my cows to eat grass. That’s good enough for me. I don’t need science to tell me what my earthly intuition already knows. A good idea is to know your purveyor to ensure that you don’t get the bastardized versions that steal the label, “grass-fed.”

  • Melissa

    I think there is a huge difference in grass-fed beef vs. grain fed. My first encounter with grass-fed beef was in Argentina and it was like eating a whole different meat. I’d liken it to the terroir of a wine–I could actually taste a grassy note and i found that to be fascinating. The meat was slightly more gamey than the American beef I was used to, but loved it.

  • ctb

    What about ‘organic grass-fed’ beef? That’s all we buy here – & not very often either….

    • Michelle

      Sure — most truly “grass-fed” beef is also organic, so if you’re buying beef that is truly organic and truly grass-fed, great!

      • Jon

        Well, not really. Organic production is a very small percentage of total beef production, and a small percentage of ‘natural’ or ‘grass-fed production. The reason, besides minimal demand, is the legal definition of organic, the paper work required and the years of preparation in order to get your pasture certified as organic. In addition, many organic beef producers also use organically certified grain to finish their cattle. It is true that the word ‘natural’ has no legal status;your best bet is, as always, to know your producer. There are many websites available that detail the requirements to earn the USDA label – the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a good place to start, and their is a good midwest based site known as MOSES.

  • http://workingonit Jim Yancy

    My wife, Cindy and I raise grass fed Devon cattle. I have enjoyed reading the comments in this blog. The desire to have clean food is why we have this farm. Oh sure, all the coolness of living in the boondocks, being good stewards of our little patch of earth and all that, costs a lot in money and sweat. The payback at the end of the day is that we produce clean, healthy food from our cattle.For us, our family and our clients.
    It is real interesting to see what others think about “grass fed”, “grass finished”, organic, cage free…

    We get energetic once in a while and raise a batch of 50 chickens for our own consumption. It is SO easy. About 80 days from chicks to freezer. We order the chicks, they arrive via UPS, we keep them in big plastic water troughs for a little while then they go into outside mobile cages which we move onto fresh grass a couple times a day. They eat a super ration of kelp and certified organic grains and grow like crazy! ( My wife makes the ration) When the chicks are big birds we take them to a great family processor and ( three hours away)have breakfast while the birds a done up and iced down in our coolers. Way easy. A little child can do this on the average size lawns. The soil benefits from grazing the birds are amazing! Oh, the cages are cut down ( lowered ) hog panels with chicken wire sides and half top. The other half of the top is scrap aluminum corrigated metal for shade and rain protection. Hanging waterers are the most specialized component.

    Water. We use only well and spring water here at Cooney Creek. The chickens and humans get the well water. Cattle and horses get pure spring water from gravity fed systems. The big stock get to play in the streams during wet times.My point is that no municipal water and its chemicals ever get here.

    We use no innoculats. So far, so good. We are extremely observant when we butcher to see what the health of our animals internals are. And to date all is good. Our neighbors are a bit put off that we have never had a sick cow. No pink eye. nada. Our horses have not been wormed in over 12 years. Cindy has a great microscope and is like a kid when she gets to doing fecal samples. HA! You know you are in the right vocation when you get excited about poop collection!

    Expensive high grade mineralization is also a key factor for mammal health. When you count up the effort to raise and care for these animals, it takes on a whole different feeling from the modern confinement deal.
    We know grass, sunshine, clean water, roaming around thickets munching loads of unnoticed bits of this and that are all part of having healthy animals. Some cowhands at our branding made a comment that our calves are like “Bam Bam”, freaky strong and agile for their age!
    We lived on game for years because we just could not stomach the store meats. The more you learn…
    How about you folks reminding your politicals to keep their nasty hands off food production. NAIS, USDA, FDA and a few others ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.
    Thanks for listening.I have to go move cows. Snowing.
    God bless our country and all of you.
    Jim

  • http://myecoburbia.com julie

    your research and fantastic writing is a huge validation for how we live our life in rhode island. we rent, we forage, we grow a garden and we know our cow. thanks for the info and your humor, and your blog. keep writing! visit us anytime you are in our neck of the burbs!
    much love! Julie

    • Michelle

      You’re so sweet to say this! Thank you. I am so envious of your cow! The best I can get in NYC is unhomogenized, low-heat pasteurized milk from a cow I’ve never met, at the farmers mkt. It’s a start ….

  • JamesRoyal

    Why are all you city people so naive about meat? No way will I eat grass fed beef, they have way too many parasites.

  • Alicia

    Love the post and the following discussion. Just discovered your blog and I can tell I’ll be spending a lot of time around here!

    JamesRoyal-if your grass fed beef has “way too many parasites”, then the pasture and manure management practices need to be thoroughly examined.

    The whole “know your beef” issue and supermarket food handling practices are a big reason why we started raising our own. Our own beef, our own veggies, laying hens and meat chickens (as a previous poster pointed out they are most definitely two different animals. If you butcher an old laying hen she should go to the soup pot-not much overall meat and she will be tough). This spring we’ll be adding a Dexter cow for milk as well.

    I know this isn’t an option for everyone, so I applaud all of you who visit the farmer’s market, buy local and “know your cow”.

  • Katie

    it doesn’t matter what the cow was fed…bottom line, she has to be killed before you can eat it…doesn’t that bother you at all?

    • Michelle

      It does in fact. Quite a bit. Which is why when I do eat meat (which is not all that often), I make a point of buying it only from vendors that I trust have humane practices. One of the vendors at my local farmers market is “Grazin’ Angus. I have had extensive conversations with them about their practices and feel confident that they treat and kill their animals as humanely as possible. If people choose to be vegetarian fantastic. But many people, never will and I think that’s ok. I highly advise people to eat less meat (I personally have it max once every 2 weeks), as well as be more conscious of sourcing it from “humane” vendors. But I dont believe that total abstinence from meat, for the entire world, is realistic.

      And so I try to spread the word about the importance of knowing where your beef comes from and ideally NOT just choosing a grass-fed animal, but one that came from a smaller farm where humane practices were core to their mission.

  • KiwiGirl

    Come to New Zealand where all our beef is grass-fed! And doesn’t have parasites, whatever JamesRoyal says.

    To be fair, our beef cattle and dairy cows eat grass because that’s the economical way to farm here, not because we’re a better breed of people.

    I’ve noticed when I’ve been in the US that milk, cheese and butter taste very different to here. Do you think that might be because of the grass/grain difference? Have you tried grass-fed dairy products?

  • http://www.urbangardensweb.com Urban Gardens

    Great post. For Christmas I got my husband 1/6 of a cow from Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton, CT. He is a major carnivore and connoisseur of fine meat, a real Paleo Diet guy. He cooked our first cut of Porterhouse, which got a bit overdone as it was leaner than what he was used to…then he was also not accustomed to the grass-fed flavor. He admitted he had to get used to it. I like that it is locally grown so we can trust it, and now having read your great post, can see that it is also much healthier. Thanks!

    • Michelle

      Glad to hear! Lean grass fed beef can be a bit of an acquired taste for many who are accustomed to fatty, bland factory raise cows. But it’s a taste worth getting used to…