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The Pasture Raised Perspective – Part 1: How Grassfed Beef is Different

We live in a time where most beef consumed in America comes from a feedlot, where the animals spend half their life, or longer. Depending on their arrival weight, cattle may spend anywhere from a few months to nearly a year in a feedlot. Upon the animals' arrival, they’re commonly implanted with hormones, and a mix of antibiotics and beta agonists is added to their feed to make them gain weight quicker. They are fed copious amounts of grain – more than their bodies are designed to handle, as cattle are ruminants designed to graze. This, paired with the implants, antibiotics, and beta agonists, causes them to get fat – fast. The conventional ideology is, the fatter the animal, the higher quality – hence the grading system of Select, Choice, and Prime. The fatter the animal gets, the higher reward, which would be considered Prime.  

The flaw with this ideology is, the animals' health and wellness isn't taken into account heavily enough. Countless commodity beef publications claim that antibiotics "keep animals healthy," when in actuality livestock raised in natural settings do not need antibiotics to be "healthy." Cattle only need antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick when they are raised in subpar conditions, and when humans push them. For example, one reason why antibiotics are given to cattle is to avoid liver abscesses. Cattle develop liver abscesses because their anatomy is not designed to process copious amounts of grain. Eliminate the grain, and avoid the liver abscesses. But if you remove the grain, they won't gain weight nearly as fast, or produce as much fat. So it's easier to give them cheap antibiotics to prevent liver abscesses in grain-finished cattle to "keep them healthy," instead of lowering the amount of grain they are fed.  

At 1915 Farm, cattle are on pasture their entire lives eating a 100% forage based diet. They have more than enough room to roam, and are rotated throughout our pastures often. We don't use hormones or antibiotics. We don't feed grain. Our cattle spend their days grazing the land, as nature intended. Our cattle aren't pushed like conventional cattle – they grow as fast as mother nature permits, which means our cattle typically finish around two years old, versus 15 months like conventional cattle.

We measure beef quality not on how fat we can get these cattle, or an insanely marbled (and frankly, unnatural) steak produced as cheaply as possible. We measure our beef quality based on their living conditions, impact on the land, what they consume, their impact on our health, flavor consistency, maturity at processing, and processing consistency.

A 2009 study conducted by the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina concluded that grassfed beef is better for human health compared to grainfed meat in ten ways:

  • Lower in total fat
  • Higher in beta-carotene
  • Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  • Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  • Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  • Higher in total omega-3s
  • A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  • Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  • Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  • Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease 

We will delve deeper into the nutrient breakdown in part two of this series.  

You'll notice our grassfed beef is darker in color. This is due to the dry aging process we implement at the 1915 Meatery to help break down the muscle tissue, creating more tender beef and intensifying the flavor. Since our cattle spend their entire life grazing and moving, their muscles are more worked. 1915 beef is leaner, since they aren't fed grain, and are not sedentary animals living in the confinement of a feedlot. Oftentimes, leaner beef can be associated with tougher beef, however more than anything, toughness boils down to the way it is prepared. Grassfed beef is more delicate, and the margin for cooking error isn't near as wide as fattier grainfed beef. We want to ensure you love your beef, so please read the tips below to ensure the best experience. Also, make sure to explore our Recipes section, where you can sort by cut for tons of delicious inspiration!   

Tips for Cooking Grassfed Beef:

  • Grassfed beef is ideal at rare to medium-rare temperatures. If you prefer meat well done, cook at a low temperature in a sauce to add moisture. A slow cooker is ideal.
  • Because grassfed beef is low in fat, use adequate cooking fat like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil (which is great for high heat cooking like searing steaks), or grassfed tallow.
  • Very lean cuts like New York strips and kabobs can benefit from a marinade.
  • Grassfed beef cooks about 30% faster than grainfed beef. Use a thermometer to test for doneness and watch the temperature carefully. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat – this is known as carryover cooking. So when the meat reaches a temperature 10 degrees LOWER than the desired temperature, remove from heat to rest.
  • Always let beef rest after cooking for 8 to 10 minutes after removing from heat to let the juices redistribute. Slice into a steak too soon and you’ll have a place full of juices that should be in the meat! 
  • As with all beef, be sure to slice against the grain when serving, especially when it comes to long grained cuts such as skirt or flank steak. This will ensure you get a tender, easy to enjoy bite.

In Part 2, we’ll dive deeper into the micronutrients and antioxidants found in grassfed beef. Let us know what you learned in the comments below!

Ready to stock up? Shop 1915 Farm Grassfed Beef here!


Sources: EatWild.com

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