Beef: It's What's For Dinner

It’s what’s for dinner tonight…and tomorrow night…and the night after that. We’ve been eating a lot of beef lately. I feel like I live in that ad campaign. I feel surrounded by beef! Grass-fed beef. Let me explain. My parents-in-law have this wonderful tradition of…

Beef: It's What's For Dinner

Grass-Fed-Beef-TenderloinIt’s what’s for dinner tonight…and tomorrow night…and the night after that.

We’ve been eating a lot of beef lately. I feel like I live in that ad campaign. I feel surrounded by beef! Grass-fed beef.

Let me explain.

My parents-in-law have this wonderful tradition of sending my husband steaks every year on his birthday. What man doesn’t enjoy a good steak?

This year, they decided to send something a little different. Oh don’t worry, beef was still involved, but this time, the birthday package came from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats, containing succulent cuts of grass-fed beef. Neither my husband nor I had heard of this company before, but we certainly are quite familiar with grass-fed beef. How could you not? Although beef is not necessarily en vogue among fashion forward foodies, there has been such a buzz over the  grass-fed vs. corn-fed debate over the last five years, and the discussion has been especially hot lately.

Over the weekend, there was a meaty article by Canadian food writer Mark Shatzker in the Wall Street Journal on what makes good steak. It outlined the old standards upon which grading is based and the cattle industry’s quest for mass output, questioned the fat = flavor mantra, and explored the [positive] qualities of grass-fed beef. He also recently published a book entitled Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef.

Awareness about grass-fed beef seemed to take hold in 2006, when Time devoted an article to the grass-fed “revolution.” Even then, Shatzker was already on the grass-fed scene, conducting his very own taste test of grain- and grass-fed beefs for a November 2006 article in Slate. (Incidentally, he declared that grass-fed steak was the winner).

Even the Freakonomics Blog on the New York Times chimed in, encouraging grass-fed advocates to provide more research-based support for their arguments (though if you take a peek, all the journal articles supporting corn-fed beef listed are between 1822-1911).

Not to worry, there is now more current academic research being produced in this area. A study from California State University in Chico reviewed three decades of research comparing the nutritional profiles of grass-fed and grain-fed beef.  Nutrition Journal also published a recent study highlighting grass-fed beef as generally healthier than grain-fed. According to their findings, grass-fed beef has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A and E, and even antioxidants. Tara Parker-Pope from the Well Blog of the New York Times points out that the impact of grass-fed beef is not clear – after all, there are far greater foods with much higher levels of antioxidants and “good fats” than grass-fed beef. But in general, the consensus seems to point towards grass-fed as the ideal.

Back to that grass-fed, organic beef birthday package. It contained beautiful cuts of beef tenderloin, ground beef patties, ground beef chuck, and even a summer sausage. We pretty much dove into the beef. What was most intriguing were the enclosed cooking instructions, which cautioned that grass-fed beef requires shorter cooking times than the grain-fed, because it is leaner.

Grass-Fed-BeefNow, how did it taste?

Absolutely wonderful. In a way, it reminded me of my first taste of buffalo – lean but extremely flavorful. And of all the goodies in the package, I was most surprised to find that my absolute favorite were the ground beef patties. They made the best grilled burgers I have ever made at home. It did not require any seasoning whatsoever! I’m usually one to flavor my patties when I make my own burgers, but this was just delicious unadorned.

I will have to agree that grass-fed, organic beef is the ideal, but it can be hard to find pure grass-fed beef, even from upscale markets. Most beef available at your butcher starts out grass-fed, but finishes its days in grain-fed feedlots. So to find completely grass-fed and grass-finished beef can be challenging. There are several purveyors online, including Rocky Mountain, but hopefully, it will only be a matter of time when it will be easier to find locally. Perhaps then, beef will come back into fashion.

Comments

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  2. NavajoDude

    I have to say I tried grass-fed (normally I’m used to grain-fed) and I have to admit it tasted like hay, barnyard, and even a little like manure (I know what bad/rancid beef taste like). Note this dinner was in a nice restaurant in Germany. I thought something was wrong with me or it was the beer messing with my taste buds. I thought I was going crazy until I researched it and saw this article: http://www.progressivecattle.com/focus-topics/beef-quality/5114-researching-the-taste-of-beef.
    I ordered my steak medium that night. I think if I go back I need to have it cooked more and have some salt on standby.
    A quick note, I have been cursed with “super smell” (smell is associated with taste) so I end up tasting food at a high level. Like the silly movie “Senseless”.

    Reply
  3. Eugenie Kubasik

    You actually make it appear so easy along with your presentation however I find this topic to be actually something which I think I might never understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely vast for me. I’m taking a look ahead to your subsequent put up, I will attempt to get the cling of it!

    Reply
  4. Caveman Cooking

    Liren,
    So glad you found RMOM. Their stuff is sooooo good. We just finished up a giveaway with them on my blog … everybody came out of the woodwork to win that package. I hope we get to do another one with them soon, because they have a great product.
    Love what you’ve got going here, btw.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hey, thanks! I’m so glad I found RMOM, too! In fact, I’m expecting a shipment later today and can’t wait to cook with more grass-fed beef! Nothing else compares, it’s hard to buy “regular” beef now. I’m so glad the giveaway was a success, congrats!

      Reply
  5. Carrie Oliver

    Great article on grass-fed beef! I’ve had a lot of people tell me they receive Omaha Steaks or Kansas City Steaks from their client or mother-in-law or the like but they wish they’d send top quality beef from a known ranch, preferably grass-fed to finish, instead. I hear a lot of good things about Rocky Mountain Organic Meats and enjoy following them on Twitter, too>

    Reply
    • Liren

      Carrie, I’m so glad that you found my blog and very pleased that you liked this post! We have definitely been recipients of many Omaha Steaks in the past, and it really is quite different from the grass-fed beef we received from Rocky Mountain. Nothing else tastes the same now!

      Reply
  6. Truffle Shuffle

    Ooh, that looks delicious. There is nothing quite like a great steak. Now I’m hungry! Thanks for the post.

    The Ardent Epicure

    Reply
    • Liren

      It’s so funny, because every time I look at this picture, *I* start salivating!

      Reply
  7. Tracey@Tangled Noodle

    Thanks for all the links to some great resources! Although it may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to understand both sides of the debate to make the best, most informed choice. My choice is any one of these gorgeous cuts of beef above!

    Reply
    • Liren

      There are definitely arguments for both sides to be considered, and the links just graze the surface. Overall, I think I will do my hardest to eat grass-fed, but it’s not always convenient from a consumer’s standpoint. I wish it were!

      Reply
  8. Jenn

    Hi Liren,
    so does this mean that when you will be cooking beef, you’ll be turning to grass-fed as much as you can? I think the beef looks wonderful and super succulent. I am totally craving steak!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Yes, as much as humanly possible, we’ll be trying our hardest to use grass-fed beef. It will be challenging, as it’s not always practical to order online, plus it’s pricey. But it really is worth it!

      Reply
  9. Stella

    Hey Liren, beautiful! You probably know that I don’t eat red meat very much. But I know proper preparation after years of working in five star restaurants with awards from James Beard and such. Yes, it’s imprinted on my brain whether I like it or not (smile).
    This looks wonderful…

    Reply
    • Liren

      Oh, I do know you don’t Stella, so your compliments mean even more to me! If I can make red meat look appetizing to you, than I am quite honored! Thank you!

      Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Linn! I have to give the kudos to my husband for cooking the beef so perfectly!

      Reply
  10. krissy @ thefoodaddicts.com

    i probably have never tried grass-fed beef before, but now that you’ve shown me such amazing photos, i think i have to go seek this beef! how lucky that you got sent beef, that is cool!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Krissy, I hope you do try grass-fed beef – it really is so different! I really believe you would love it!

      Reply
  11. Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron

    what a thoughtful present from your in-laws! I’m sure they would be very happy to see what you did to the meat. The pink juicy of it is succulent. I’m with you on grass-fed beef. This post is so informative!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Yes, my in-laws are the best :) So glad you liked the post!!

      Reply
  12. The Cilantropist

    This is a great post, so informative and comprehensive. I would definitely agree with you that grass-fed beef is better for most of the reasons you cited here. I also recently read the Omnivore’s Dilemma which was an amazing book and touched on many of these same topics!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thank you for reminding me – that book has been on my must read list!

      Reply
  13. Shree

    I’ve actually never had good grass fed beef before. After reading your article, I think I should go buy some!

    Reply
    • Liren

      I hope you try some soon – there can be quite a variety in grass fed beef, but in general, I do think the flavors are just so much better than most corn-fed beef!

      Reply
  14. Skylar

    I too discovered grass fed beef a few years ago. While I unfortunately cannot have it all the time, I agree that it’s just way above anything else available, especially with its variety of flavors (based on geography) that you just dont see in other beef. Great read!

    Reply
    • Liren

      It’s so true what you say about how flavor can vary depending on geography…and diet! It will be interesting to see what the future will bring when it comes to classifying beef!

      Reply
  15. Joy

    Finding the best beef has been my mission. I have no problem traveling just to experience a great steak place or vendor. I may have to place an order from this place :D

    Reply
    • Liren

      I know – I think for most people, grass-fed is a logical choice. A no-brainer. Finding some locally is the hard part. Thank goodness for ordering online!

      Reply
  16. Belinda @zomppa

    Thanks for sharing this great company! Grass-fed is the way to go, for sure. I’m not sure what the debate is about – I had a discussion with a woman not too long ago that told me without a doubt that corn is a cow’s natural diet and that it was the big bad food industry that made them eat grass. I didn’t realize cows could husk corn with hooves!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Oh, I’m laughing – absolutely, cows, if given a choice, would surely choose grass over corn!

      Reply
  17. Caroline

    Thanks for sharing Rocky Mountain, a company I would wholeheartedly support. Grass-fed beef is the way to go and should be, just what nature intended. (btw, you guys are really rockin with that grill!) :)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Caroline! Grass fed just makes so much sense, doesn’t it? I do hope more people start demanding more of the beef they eat – I would love to see a company like rocky mountain do well!

      Reply
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