Most of the beef sold in grocery stores is grain-fed but the popularity of grass-fed beef has been growing in recent years. It is clear that grass-fed beef does offer a number of advantages that range from environmental friendliness to health, but is making the switch necessarily a good idea? Below, we will look at the factors that you should consider when choosing between the two, including taste and ease of preparation.
What are the differences between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef?
Grass-fed beef comes from animals that eat only grass and clover their whole lives up until slaughter. Grain-fed cattle eat grass for the first six months of their lives, after which they are switched to a grain diet to speed up their weight gains. In order to maximize profit, it is important to get an animal up to slaughter weight as quickly as possible. The faster an animal is able to get to the right weight, the less money has to be spent on its feed and care.
Many of the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef lie in the areas of flavor and texture. Grass-fed beef is relatively lean when compared to meat from grain-fed animals. The leanness makes it healthier, but detracts from the flavor. Those who enjoy grass-fed beef may describe its flavor as being more intense and purer when compared to the grain-fed equivalent; however, critics may consider it to be too gamy, not very juicy and too chewy. While some of the issues with grass-fed beef could be remedied with the addition of butter, this defeats the purpose of buying a low-fat steak.
Because it is fattier, the beef from grain-fed cattle is generally considered to have a much better flavor and texture.
Which of the two is more nutritious?
Grass-fed beef has more nutrients when compared to grain-fed beef while also having fewer calories. The nutrients include vitamin A and vitamin E along with antioxidants like beta-carotene. Grass-fed beef can have as much as seven times more beta-carotene as beef from grain-fed animals. The fats are healthy as well since grass-fed beef contains more alpha-linoleic and conjugated linoleic acids.
Which is easier to grill than the other?
The fact that grass-fed beef has less fat means that you are less likely to accidentally char it on the grill since there is a lower risk of flare-ups from melted fat dripping on the coals; however, this also means that it is more likely to dry out. Grain-fed beef must be watched more closely once you put on it on the grill but will result in a more tender, juicy, and flavorful end-product. In both cases, you should grill over a high heat and aim for a rare to medium-rare degree of doneness.
Which is more expensive?
Grass-fed beef is well-known for being the more expensive of the two options. The higher price reflects the extra time spent feeding and caring for the animal as it grows to slaughter weight. The price of grass-fed beef can average as much as 25 percent more than the price of grain-fed beef.
When should you choose grass-fed beef and when should you choose grain-fed beef?
If you want a healthier beef option and are willing to pay a higher price for it, grass-fed beef is the better option of the two. If enjoyment of the meat is your priority, then opt for the juicier and finer-textured grain-fed beef.