When shopping for glatt kosher meat in Los Angeles, there’s more to consider than whether or not a cut of beef has been certified as kosher or not. Organic, natural, grain-fed, grass-fed beef. With more options for glatt kosher meats than ever before, how do you know what to choose? What are the differences between grain-fed and grass-fed beef? It’s important to be educated about what you’re putting into your body, which is why in this week’s blog we uncover the differences between grain-fed and grass-fed beef.
It’s important to note that all beef starts out as grass-fed, eating from pastures at the beginning of their lives. The main difference between grain-fed and grass-fed beef is that grain-fed cows are finished on a diet of corn, soy, grains, antibiotics and supplements for rapid weight gain. Grass-fed cows are finished just as they started, on grass and forage from pastures.
Traditional, grain-finished beef typically delivers higher marbling and fuller flavor than grass-fed beef, which many US customers have become accustomed to. The tradition of beef supply chains to use feedlots is defended by some, citing that feed lots allow for consistent feed regimens that help cattle put on weight more efficiently and increases the marbling in the meat.
From a rancher’s perspective, grain-fed cattle are less labor and energy intensive. Feed for grain-fed cattle is expensive and has to be rationed to achieve maximum growth and production. Also, because cattle can’t properly digest corn or soy they are prone to infections. In order to prevent communicable diseases the cattle are fed large amounts of antibiotics, which prevents them from ever being certified organic.
Grain-fed cows, which typically are finished using the feedlot process, are brought to slaughter weight faster than grass-fed cows (typically a year sooner). Grain-fed beef typically has more enhanced fat marbling, which is a factor in determining the cut’s USDA rating - the more fat within the red meat, the richer the taste and the higher the grade.
For shoppers hoping to maintain a diet lower in saturated fats and higher in “good fats”, pasture-raised, grass-fed beef fits in better with that lifestyle. Grass-fed beef is considered healthier as saturated fatty acids are beneficial for bone health, liver protection, toxin removal, digestive tract health and heart health.
Grass-fed cattle live a cleaner, more natural life in open-field environments free of contaminants such as antibiotics, hormones and chemical supplements.
Grass-fed beef from cattle raised in America is typically more expensive and higher quality than grain-fed. At Livonia, we stock grass-fed beef from Uruguay, which is less expensive than both American grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef from Uruguay has advantages as it’s less expensive than American-raised beef. Cattle graze naturally year-round in a mild climate with fertile soils and sprawling green pastures. Grass-fed beef from Uruguay is typically raised in humane, environmentally friendly and socially responsible ways.
Switching to pasture-raised animals could also save you thousands upon thousands of calories a year, based on an average amount of beef eaten each year.
While grass-fed beef may have more nutritional advantages than grain-fed, taste and flavor can be affected by the leanness of one over the other. Both types of beef can be flavorful, but grass-fed beef can often be chewier than you’re used to. Cuts of meat with more fat can often taste good even when cooked poorly because fat insulating the meat provides a greater safety net than leaner meats. Typically, there isn’t a great different in taste between grain-fed and grass-fed beef cuts.
No matter your preference, having the option of grain-fed and grass-fed beef adds to your cooking options. With the great debate between grain-fed and grass-fed beef, it opens the door for more education on different cow breeds, how they are fed and cared for and their nutritional value and taste.
Choosing glatt kosher meats takes the health and care of the animal even further, which is especially important for those keeping kosher, as well as those with concerns about how humanely the animal has been treated. At Livonia Glatt Market, we’re always happy to help you choose the perfect cut of glatt kosher beef and educate you on the differences between grain-fed and grass-fed beef.