Many people today ask, is grass-fed just another way to label a product to get the consumer to spend more?
The answer here is NO! There is a real difference between traditional grain-fed cattle and grass-fed cattle. The majority of beef on a person’s plate today comes from grain-fed cattle, and in case you don’t know, the cattle are raised in less than natural settings. In terms of the way that the cattle are raised, the living and dieting conditions of grain-fed cattle are exponentially different from those of grass-fed cattle.
Cattle are grass-eating animals that are born to graze the open lands and indulge on whatever else is sprouting from the fields. Cattle are born with a special four-compartment stomach specifically made to break down the nutrients they get from eating grass, while using special bacteria to break down whatever they eat. It’s not to say that cattle on a grain-fed diet will not grow, but as mentioned above cattle are especially suited for breaking down grass, when cattle are only fed grain it changes this bacteria composition that is used to break down food. With processed grains this actually causes these animals to grow faster. But what happens to the nutritional content of these cattle?
Protein is protein, but fat and/or marbling come in various forms depending on the cut of beef and when choosing a cut of beef the flavor and distribution of this fat often play an important role. The fat of cattle often depends of the diet and standards for raising these animals and their living conditions. With grain-fed cattle these animals often spend the majority of their lives in the feedlot, and subjected to very little movement causing extensive marbling. While grass-fed cattle, roam and eat what is naturally there for them and have ample movement throughout their day. So which is better? It truly comes down to a matter of taste depending on the marbling of the cut, but there is also something to be said for animals that are raised with quality of life, health, and happiness in mind.