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hamburgerflipper

Grass fed beef vs grain fed

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I've never once, anywhere in Canada, seen Canada Prime on a menu. Nor have I seen it in any store. It's always AAA, and sometimes there's USDA Prime. So, I really do want to taste this Canada Prime stuff.
What is the difference- I have been cooking for a long time and I thought AAA was the best- is prime just another marketing name?

Please forgive my ignorence- I have heared of prime used in chicken labeling but beef??

steve


Cook To Live; Live To Cook

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Prime has a specific meaning when it comes to the United States Department of Agriculture. I can't say anything about AAA, though.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Interesting thread to be resurfaced!

I, like Chef Fowke, was rasied on the Canadian prairies and have had the opportunity to travel all over the world and somehow and for whatever reason desire to test the beef where ever I have gone. With the question of grain or grass fed there is indeed a difference but I need to point out a clarification... Some small farmers will raise their cattle with grass however will leave them in a 100 foot pen. Compare that to a cow that meanders 1000 grass acres and the quality of meat in strikingly in favor of the one with room to roam.

When I am choosing briskets to smoke I sway away from corn fed - I don't like the color of the fat cap - don't like the texture and well, don't like the flavor compared to a whole, grass-fed packer.

My thoughts...

Brian


Brian Misko

House of Q - Competition BBQ

www.houseofq.com

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I'm not a huge fan of beef (the thought of a big slab of prime rib awash in myoglobin... urg. Not so much) but I will say that grass-fed beef reminds me strongly of elk. And I really likes me some elk. However, hunting, killing, quartering and packing out even a small elk is something that very closely resembles back-breaking, lung-popping agonizing labor. The fact that elk habitat equals grizzly bear habitat certainly adds a frisson of creeping terror to the situation.

So if I can go down to the store and buy grass-fed beef that reminds me of elk, I'll be tempted to. I probably will, and I expect I'll enjoy it.


This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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I guess I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. I grew up on the east coast and always ate our own grass-fed beef. My dad always raided his own and we ate a lot of beef.

Once in a while my dad would bring home western (grain-fed) beef, and we kids wouldn't eat it because it tasted "funny".

We still get beef from my dad and my husband does really enjoy it except for the "gamey" taste from right around the bone. I usually give it a little wash in tobasco to tame that bit.

Last night I BBQed three t-bones on the gas grill. They ended up being cooked to almost well because I got distracted. They certainly were not dry or chewy rather moist and tender. My neighbour now wants to buy a quarter from my dad.

The other difference I find is that while Dad's hamburg looks far more marbelled than lean ground beef in the store, it gives off far less fat and is much jucier.

I guess it is all in what you are used to. I really enjoy grass-fed, that doesn't mean I would pass on a great dinner from Hy's or elsewhere but whan I choose for myself it's what I am used to.

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Grass fed is hard to get in my area, but there is a small, and growing trend to farm raised beef with a history, from small butcher shops.

As I recall, there is essentially no incidence of Mad Cow disease in Brazil, Argentina, or Uruguay, where the beef cattle are raised and finished on grass.

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Does anyone know about the nutritional information of grass-fed beef that is finished on grain? Is it lower in total fat and higher in omega-3s (like grass-fed and grass-finished beef) or does that final fattening on grain make it nutritionally more like grain-fed or corn-fed beef?

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Does anyone know about the nutritional information of grass-fed beef that is finished on grain?  Is it lower in total fat and higher in omega-3s (like grass-fed and grass-finished beef) or does that final fattening on grain make it nutritionally more like grain-fed or corn-fed beef?

According to this page (scroll down a bit), omega 3 starts disappearing as soon as the steer starts eating grain. Within ~50 days, it is 1/2 the level. I have no idea how long cattle is typically finished in feedlots.

Of course, this data is on the internet, and I have no idea how valid/truthful it is.

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I gotta throw in another dimension into the dialogue here...

What are peoples comments about organic beef?

I understand and appreciate the concept of raising, farming, growing something organic however in the case of beef, I think it tastes frankly, horrible. There seems to be extremely health conscious consumers who are requesting organic products to be available however in the case of beef, I'm not understanding the desire for tasteless, cardboard-like meat that maybe is simply in micro-development rather than the "free-range" beef that I am used to...

Thoughts?

Brian


Brian Misko

House of Q - Competition BBQ

www.houseofq.com

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Out here in New Mexico grass fed refers to "range fed" but, more often than not, there ain't alot of grass to feed on. These bovine beasts are eating bitter herbs long before Passover, and it shows . As a special favor, I cooked some local range fed beef for a ranch family party. A huge percentage of the guests aked what kind of game it was. It was awful. I guess, you really are what you eat.

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I grew up in the middle of Kansas and my father is a cattle rancher. When I was a kid we would split a steer between our family and my uncle and his. I thought that everyone had a freezer full of beef. When I left home and had to eat beef that came from the grocery store I had a rude awakening. :sad: I didn't realize that there was such a difference in the quality of meat that was out there.

There are a few things that are important when it comes to raising cattle to produce great meat:

1.) Husbandry, You have to take care of your animals. Don't abuse them, happy cattle make happy people when they eat them. :smile: All of my father's cattle are in pastures and run around eating grass doing what they want. In the winter months the are fed Alfalfa and grain pellets for protein and they would alway have straw to eat. The straw is more of a filler. It has some nutritional value but mostly it keeps the cattle digesting and raises their body temp keeping them warmer in the cold.

2.) Breeding, I will be the first to tell you that CAB (Certified Angus Beef) is a lot of BS, because there are a lot of cattle that are considered CAB that are not even agus cattle. All they have to have is a Black Hide on them. Our cattle herd is Angus cross breed. We have had different breeds over the years but there has always been some sort of Angus in our herd.

3.) Finishing, Finishing cattle on grain is how you get that marbled tender, juicey, mouthwatering steak. We would finish them on grain for 120 days. One of the reasons that grain fininshed meat is more tender than grass is that the age of the cattle. Grass feeding takes a lot longer to get to kill weight than grain. The other is Fat. Marbling is what makes steaks tender and juicy. You can not get that when grass feeding.

I have only had grass fed beef once and that was in Austrailia. It was ok, but by no means anything as good as grain finished Kansas Beef.


It is easier to change a menu than a growing season.

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What are they feeding Wagyu cows in Japan?

Fat Guy, you are spot on about the way the media portrays grass-fed. It does seem rather unscrupulous to me.

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What are they feeding Wagyu cows in Japan?

Fat Guy, you are spot on about the way the media portrays grass-fed. It does seem rather unscrupulous to me.

Often I ask whether the media have scruples at all currently.

It's more an example of them not really understanding much, and then product branding takes over. It's a vicious cycle that isn't improved by people thinking that meat comes from a styrofoam tray instead of a hide-covered poop factory.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I am going out on limb-the branch might break. I have some basic understanding of feed and farming. I believe like chickens and Cattle or just us humans; you are what you eat- you eat shit well you become shit.

What you feed your animals depends on cost and what is available. The region where the cow is being raised has a great influence on what it eats. Right now I am working in Northern Alberta- Slave lake area to be exact and to get there you drive through some amazing farm land to get to Slave- I work on a camp that feeds Oil and gas workers and Fire fighters.

I have lived on Vancouver Island around Port Alberni and there was grass growing for feed all over the place, they would get four crops a year- it was a lovely crop that reached the ski at such a fast pace. They would cut sometimes in march. The grass growing madly because of the rain and warm weather. No chemicals and I am sure that it was what mother nature grew not some biology owned by Monsanto.

This feed would serve some cow well and produce some quality beef. In Bc the government wants to get rid of all local aviators and only have federal inspected plants. Alberta does not seem to be that stupid and the people here will not just roll over and play dead for the government. Although one farmer at the Strathcona farmers market said: “in Edmonton that they ( the small Aviators ) will step in and produce for BC.” In Alberta they all have fed approval but seek local markets. Thus they are not tied to Cargil.

They are producing free-range product that is dry aged not wet aged- this is where it all begins; Corn- wheat- milk powders- alfalfa a cows diet. How an animal is killed and what they eat before you kill them and how it is processed plays a huge part in what that meat is going to be like.

Cargill owns us in Canada and the small farmer is working like hell to survive. In BC they are not doing it right but Alberta is working with the small-scale producer and is more of a helper then a hindrance. Bc better get its shit together or else there will not be any industry there. Other then that Maybe Alberta like in every other sector will produce the product for BC. One by one BC is dropping off the scene in Agriculture. All Govs in that province have done wrong- it is time the farmers step up to the plate and stop playing politics and kick some but.

As for the taste of beef- Local Alberta- free range- air dried- hung beef- the shit we ate for hundreds of years. We have not re-invented any wheel- we have just made animals like cars and improved the bottom line for shareholders. It has nothing to do with farmers and consumers.

It has to do with Cargil- monsanto and adm

The best beef is local beef from your farmers market- air dried- not wet aged.

Alberta Beef is still the Best

Steve


Edited by stovetop (log)

Cook To Live; Live To Cook

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Perhaps this is oversimplifying things a bit, but I can't help wondering: if grass-fed beef tastes so great, why doesn't Lobel's sell it?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Lobel's have built up a great reputation and it might take years to deteriorate, like Harvard.

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I am going out on limb-the branch might break.  I have some basic understanding of feed and farming. I believe like chickens and Cattle or just us humans; you are what you eat- you eat shit well you become shit.

What you feed your animals depends on cost and what is available. The region where the cow is being raised has a great influence on what it eats. Right now I am working in Northern Alberta- Slave lake area to be exact and to get there you drive through some amazing farm land to get to Slave- I work on a camp that feeds Oil and gas workers and Fire fighters.

I have lived on Vancouver Island around Port Alberni and there was grass growing for feed all over the place, they would get four crops a year- it was a lovely crop that reached the ski at such a fast pace. They would cut sometimes in march. The grass growing madly because of the rain and warm weather. No chemicals and I am sure that it was what mother nature grew not some biology owned by Monsanto.

This feed would serve some cow well and produce some quality beef. In Bc the government wants to get rid of all local aviators and only have federal inspected plants. Alberta does not seem to be that stupid and the people here will not just roll over and play dead for the government.  Although one farmer at the Strathcona farmers market said: “in Edmonton that they ( the small Aviators ) will step in and produce for BC.”  In Alberta they all have fed approval but seek local markets. Thus they are not tied to Cargil.

They are producing free-range product that is dry aged not wet aged- this is where it all begins; Corn- wheat- milk powders- alfalfa a cows diet.  How an animal is killed and what they eat before you kill them and how it is processed plays a huge part in what that meat is going to be like.

Cargill owns us in Canada and the small farmer is working like hell to survive. In BC they are not doing it right but Alberta is working with the small-scale producer and is more of a helper then a hindrance. Bc better get its shit together or else there will not be any industry there.  Other then that Maybe Alberta like in every other sector will produce the product for BC. One by one BC is dropping off the scene in Agriculture.  All Govs in that province have done wrong- it is time the farmers step up to the plate and stop playing politics and kick some but.

As for the taste of beef- Local Alberta- free range- air dried- hung beef- the shit we ate for hundreds of years. We have not re-invented any wheel- we have just made animals like cars and improved the bottom line for shareholders. It has nothing to do with farmers and consumers.

It has to do with Cargil- monsanto and adm

The best beef is local beef from your farmers market- air dried- not wet aged.

Alberta Beef is still the Best

Steve

Steve, I have seen a lot of information about grass fed beef here, and in the New York Times and Gobe &Mail. But it is never in my supermarket, and I am 40km from a Whole Foods store. Some respondents here say that grass fed may taste weird, or be tough.

On Saturday, I had to take a PDA (Blackberry) into Toronto for a repair. A perfect opportunity to find grass fed, pedigreed Angus beef. I went to Cumbrae, a butcher shop with a reputation for selling pedigreed farm raised, grass fed beef, pork, and lamb, from surrounding sources.

I headed to the beef counter, and asked for a shoulder steak. The counterperson showed me sirloin, strip loin, tenderloin, and rib eye, most at $20/lb., but I kept asking for shoulder steak. A butcher came out, and agreed to sell it to me for $6/lb, and I asked for one 2" thick.

A few minutes later the proprietor, Steven, brought the steak out, wrapped it, and said it would be superb, grilled. It cost $9.50 and would feed two.

I grilled it over charcoal in a Weber, and it was superb. Tender, juicy, and lots of real beef flavour.

I did not detect any toughness, or weird taste.

I did not ask for the elusive Flat Iron steak, but next time I will. What I got was cut from close to the rib end, and had the usual separations of a shoulder (read simmering) steak, but boneless.

I wouldn't hesitate to ask for it again, and serve to people who might appreciate it.

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Hi Jay

What feed is it that is being fed to cows when it is not wheat?

I mean you can feed a cow corn or other grains- not unnecessarily wheat.

Or is there like a Monsanto special :blink:

---------------------------------------------------------

You mean a shoulder quad steak?

This area of the cow is best braised

Whats up with sirloin steaks these days, I would rather have a strip loin any day, the other side of a good steak is to have air dried rather then wet aged meat, I whole heartedly believe that this is where all the difference lies not all in what it eats.

Steve


Cook To Live; Live To Cook

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Stovetop, that depends a lot on the predominant crops in the area. In Nebraska, cows get fed a lot of corn and soybeans, because that's what we have a lot of here. In other areas, the cows get fed oats or barley, or what-have-you, because shipping the feed grains does matter in cost.

Now, what I don't quite understand, is why there can't be a grain finish done on a ranch. Sort of a middle ground between what we have now.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Does anyone know what the predominant style in Australia is? I'm pretty sure most cows are grassfed as we drive past them when we go out into the countryside but I don't know how they are finished. Generally, the steaks here don't appear as marbled as in the US but I've not noticed any metallic or wierd taste.

I did have 1 steak in the US but that was at an outback steakhouse out of sheer morbid curiosity and I was more pre-occupied with alternating between stifiling giggles and plans to avenge the honour of my country to pay much attention to the taste.


PS: I am a guy.

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Now, what I don't quite understand, is why there can't be a grain finish done on a ranch. Sort of a middle ground between what we have now.

I think that is what they do here in Alberta, they send the cows to prep school and fatten them up before slauhter and maybe clean them out of any antibiotics or drugs before they are killed.

steve

ps corn is good- I love the effect of corn on chickens


Edited by stovetop (log)

Cook To Live; Live To Cook

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Hi Jay

What feed is it that is being fed to cows when it is not wheat?

I mean you can feed a cow corn or other grains- not unnecessarily wheat.

Or is there like a Monsanto special  :blink:

---------------------------------------------------------

You mean a shoulder quad steak?

This area of the cow is best braised

Whats up with sirloin steaks these days, I would rather have a strip loin any day, the other side of a good steak is to have air dried rather then wet aged meat, I whole heartedly believe that this is where all the difference lies not all in what it eats.

Steve

Steve, the Cumbrae brochure (for locations in Toronto and Hamilton) states that the beef is Angus or Angus-Hereford from farms they work closely with southwest of Hamilton. It is grass raised, or hay in the winter, and finished for one week on corn. It is dry aged for 7-10 days.

The shoulder steak I bought was indeed tender, though grilled medium-rare, more so than shoulder cuts from a supermarket.

This is a good grass year, so I wouldn't hesitate to go back for more.

I like the idea of having a lot of information about the animal before purchasing. A quaint notion in most stores.

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Grass-fed beef varies from rancher to rancher, breed to breed. I just picked up my annual 1/4 of a cow raised by Joe and Julie Morris of TO Ranch in San Juan Bautista in California. The meat is amazing, particularly the ground beef, which Joe blends from various cuts and works with the meat locker to produce. This is beefy beef. Even the fat is nice to eat. You don't mind the extra chew from the leaner meat because you want to draw out all the flavors.

My experience as a Santa Cruz resident is defintely not urban. I don't have access to great restaurants -- it's sad, I used to live in Los Angeles -- but there are farm-fresh ingredients like this beef!


Andrea Q. Nguyen

Author, food writer, teacher

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 2006)

Vietworldkitchen.com

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My grandfather (NZ) used to take his male calves or yearlings to the local abattoir, where they spent some time on a feedlot (grass) before slaughter. We call this type of meat "dairy beef" because it comes from dairy breeds or crossbreeeds (my grandfather always kept an Angus bull) rather than beef breeds. Angus made up about 20% of the national herd 10 years ago (excluding crossbreeds etc), but probably represents a larger proportion of NZ beef in the US, as the US is NZ's largest beef market.

The old standbys for dairy beef crossbreeds are British breeds such as Herefords and Galloways, and my favorite for looks, the redpoll, but Angus has been steadily increasing with the past couple of generations of farmers. Breeds such as as Charolais and Simmental are also around, though they have not really revolutionized the NZ beef industry.

I was told that not only did beef cattle need to spend some time on lush, lowland grass, eating and not walking around too much, but that the meat quality suffered if they were slaughtered immediately on arrival, because of the stress of transport (and this is a 30 minute trip in a trailer we are talking about). So I think that the ideal of having a feedlot very close to an abattoir is probably true for both grass-finished and grain-finished cattle.

Grass-fed cattle in NZ remains in the open field, eating grass all year round - there is still grass in the pastures in winter, but the growth is slower, so feed is normally supplemented with silage (fermented preserved grass) and hay, and sometimes green feeds or turnips. In Australia, and to some extent in NZ too, summer droughts can be a problem, and silage and hay may be used then too. US grass-fed beef may be raised differently.

NZ and Australian growers have traditionally been very opposed to the use of growth hormones, and I know that this issue has caused farmers to break lucrative contracts with certain overseas importers who like to buy local farms and get local farmers to manage them for exclusive export to the owner's country. So while I am too out of touch to claim that hormones are never used, I very much doubt if they are common.

A butcher friend of my grandfather's used to say that most steaks are improved by having a little water flicked over them as they are grilled, and that's probably a particularly good idea with grass-fed beef.

Another point worth considering is that eating beef as steak is relatively modern, and even now is very much more common in the US than in Australia or NZ. Somebody commented upthread that very thick steaks are common in Australia and NZ, and I think that is so - a NZ steak serving is usually smaller than in the US, but a good restaurant will serve them 1 1/2 to 2 or more inches thick. Supermarket steak is a different case, of course. So for the centuries that grass-fed beef was the norm (assuming that beef was fattened for a while on other foods in the fall), roast ing was considered to be the best way to cook beef. A "collop" was a much rarer treat, a kind of luxury fast food.

I have no argument with the idea that grain-fed beef makes better steaks, but I wouldn't say that grain-fed beef is by definition better meat. As for flavor, I haven't eaten US grass-fed beef, so can't comment there, but the first time I ate Kobe beef, I didn't care for it all that much - the flavor seemed dominated by a faint sweetness and the flavor of fat, both things I still associate with grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef tastes "fresh" to me, though now that I so rarely eat any beef, let alone NZ beef, I notice the strong beef flavor more too.

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Anybody know how purely grassfed beef tastes when used for stock (bones and meat). I know excess fat is a pain when making stock, and since grassfed apparently has has less fat and more healthy fats (as well has less risk of mad cow, so I can use parts like oxtails and neck bones) I would think grassfed bones would be highly superior for stock. As for steaks, I know for a fact that grassfed beef was NOT meant for steaks. I find alot of people go out on a limb to buy grassfed beef only to make steaks out of it, only to be disappointed. I'm not really sure how to cook grassfed beef, but from research I've found out that not only does it lack the marbling for a nice steak or hamburger of sorts, it's a completely different entity from grain or corn fed beef.

But as for stock...I have no clue. Anybody out there who bought some nice hindshanks with bones and used it for stock?

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this thread was started quite a while ago...has anyone's views changed with regard to grass vs. grain fed beef after reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma"?

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