We hear from customers all the time about why they prefer grass fed beef.
The reason Catherine and I started a pasture based farm was due to our oldest daughter, Mary Grace’s diagnosis of Autism. In her recovery journey it is imperative for her to eat a nutrient dense diet. By producing our own beef we could verify it came from a source we trusted and are now able to serve our customers with the best quality farm raised meat.
But what makes it so different?
Grace’s Grass Fed Beef is Different. It’s Special. It’s a Delicacy!
#1 Grass Fed versus Grain Finished Beef
The term “grass fed” has become popular in the beef industry over the last few years. The growing popularity of the term has been overused to the point that it is almost meaningless. The industrial food system has obscured what commodity production actually looks like. First, we need to pull back the curtain to reveal the difference between grass fed, grass finished beef versus grain finished beef.
Conventional and Grain-Finished:
All cattle in the United States start out on pasture, eating grass. After the calves are weaned, conventionally-raised cattle travel to centralized feedlots. They consume a ration of grain for up to 180 days to fatten unnaturally before slaughter. This is why you will most likely see these conventional cattle referred to as grain-finished.
Grassfed and Grass Finished Beef:
At Grace’s Grass Fed, we refer to our cattle as grassfed and grass finished. Our cattle roam and graze diverse natural pastures, living a grass-fed lifestyle year round. Once the northern cold air rolls in, the grass stops growing. The cattle stay on pasture to enjoy stockpiled forage from the growing season and unrolled hay on the nastiest of winter days.
When you have the option, you should eat grass-finished beef because it is better for you, the animals, and the environment.
#2 Why Grass Finish Beef
Grass finished beef graze year round on pasture, free to express their instinctive behaviors.
What does “finished” mean in beef? The animal is physically mature having developed both fat cover and intramuscular (marbling) fat. The fat content of the meat produces most of the flavor and tenderness of beef.
How does forage effect flavor? A grass fed grass finished animal consumes “Grass” silly. A varied diet of grasses, legumes, and forbs.
- Cool Season Grass – Fescue, Brome, Orchard, Rye
- Warm Season Grass – Switchgrass, Bluestem, Eastern Gamagrass
- Legumes – Alfalfa, Clover, Trefoil, Lespedeza
- Forbs – Plantain, Chicory, Small Burnett
On our farm, we have over 100 introduced species along with the many more native seeds in the soil bank. Cows will also eat the leaves and small stems of woody plants like shrubs and trees.
Have you ever heard the adage “you are what you eat”?
Our cattle are what they eat in the last 90 days before slaughter. Over that period of time the meat and fatty tissues take on the nuances of flavor from the forages they are eating. As a consumer this is the difference in taste from eating pasture raised meats. Have a dialog with your farmer to learn what the cows have been eating. Like a fine wine, each farm will have subtle nuances of flavor difference that varies by the season.
As a consumer this can be one of the interesting experiences of eating grass-fed and pasture based meats.
How lean is grass finished beef? Compared to conventionally raised meats, which get little or no exercise, grass fed meat has true muscle integrity. Grass fed meat can be leaner than chicken or it can have as much fat as a Hereford House prime ribeye. Finished grass-fed beef is more flavorful than either of these extremes.
The fat content will depend on the age of the animal, body condition at slaughter, and finally the way the butcher trims the cuts of meat. The greatest thing about grass fed is that the fat is high in Omega 3’s, the “good fat” that your body and brain need to survive
Cooked more gently, grass-fed meat is juicy and tender!
#3 Certified Organic is not Enough
The “organic” label still holds power for many people, but more and more consumers are asking, “is organic food really organic”?. The answer is not as simple as you may think.
- Certified Organic has never supported allowing animals to express instinctive behavior.
- Certified Organic has never encouraged the regeneration of degraded land.
- Certified Organic has never supported local food communities.
At Grace’s Grass Fed farming is regenerative. Rather than follow the diluted organic label, we choose to do what is best for our livestock, land, and community.
On our farm, one of our basic tenets is humane and compassionate animal treatment. Good animal welfare means providing an environment they can express their instinctive behavior. We love our food animals collectively as a flerd.
Cattle are born to roam and graze, enjoy sunshine, rest in green pastures, and exercise their bodies as they move from paddock to paddock. The production of true pasture-raised animals is a better life for the animals, and we believe they’re happy.
Do you want to improve the lives of animals?
If so, you must start by consistently supporting a system which embraces a pasture-based production model.
Our land stewardship shows measurable progress. We heal the land with grass fed beef. As opposed to a watered-down list of acceptable “organic” inputs.
There is an idea out there that raising animals and eating meat is harmful to our environment. Did you know animals on well-managed pasture are actually a great way to improve the environment?
In a planned grazing system, the pastures rest, occasionally allowing plants to mature, setting seed. When pasture grasses get bitten off, their root systems undergo a similar “trimming” underground. This excess root mass dies off feeding the critters in the soil, sequestering carbon, adding to the organic matter and fertility of the soil.
Pasture-raised production systems use animals like tools on a toolbelt to positively disrupt the soil in a powerful way. Animals fertilize grasses through the distribution of manure. And reset the photosynthetic process by trampling mature forages.
The soil feeds the grasses, the grasses feed the livestock, and the livestock, in turn, feed the local community.
Pastured meat offers a way to improve the health of our land and people. Switching to pasture-raised meats doesn’t have to be difficult. Grace’s Grass Fed now operates a new online store to buy grass fed beef and lamb.
Pastured meat, from cattle and sheep — isn’t just a healthy tasty dinner option, it has far-reaching effects. The impact to our world, will effect our children and beyond.
Organizations are developing measurable proof for local pasture-raised production systems. We believe in letting cattle (and sheep) live as nature intended is better for our local farm. By supporting local, you are endorsing systems that make food security improvements to the communities we call home.
In a grass-based enterprise animals on pasture graze their food grown on site, to provide the best nutritious and flavorful meat. Unlike most other crops, there is no need for heavy petroleum-fueled equipment – our animals harvest it instead!
Carbon-Negative Grass Fed Beef
Regenerative farm practices put more carbon in the soil than pasture-raised animals emit in their lifetimes. Local food production systems have a new potential tool, “Pastured Meat”, to help reverse climate change.
Our commitment to stewardship of our farm is a core value of our family and our business, and it goes well beyond organic certifications. This is the right way for the sake of our animals, our environment, and for the people who eat our products.
#4 Small Batch Processing
You might think that all the meat in a hamburger comes from a single cow… But did you know one pound of ground beef often comes from hundreds of different cattle? Traceability of an outbreak of disease to its source becomes correspondingly impossible.
“The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) – a branch of the USDA – announced on Monday April 25th, 2022 that the Swedesboro, NJ-based company Lakeside Refrigerated Services was recalling 120,872 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103. The recall was triggered because a routine sampling of the beef tested positive for the bacteria. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the recall at this time. The beef was produced between February 1, 2022 and April 8, 2022 and was shipped to local retailers nationwide.”
We harvest cattle in very small batches throughout the year (usually 4 steers) to maximize efficiency, for both harvest and hauling. Our local small batch butcher offers complete traceability for each animal we harvest.
Our small batch processor vacuum seals by the single cut, fresh and flash frozen so we know where it came from. We then deliver to local customers soon after packaging.
#5 Dry Aging: A Craft Tradition
First, our beef comes from cattle with superior grass genetics to produce CLEAN MEAT on pasture. Without the use of antibiotics or added growth hormones. We finish on a mix of introduced and native grasses that is a fantastic mixed ration for cattle to easily digest. This yields a very clean marbling of fat – with all the best flavor!
Dry-aging meat is a craft tradition that used to be the norm, but is being phased out commericially in favor of efficiency over quality. Here at Grace’s Grass Fed we don’t cut a single steak or grind any meat until the entire carcass is dry-aged for 14 days after harvest.
Dry-aging beef involves hanging the carcass for at least 14 days before processing. Hanging occurs in a humidity-controlled room with ample air flow at just-above-freezing temperatures.
The dry-aging process requires more effort, time, expertise, and expense. Although imparts a unique flavor and delicate consistency to the meat. We firmly believe that dry-aging creates the best possible beef with that amazing “steak house” taste and tenderness every time.
Grass finished beef benefits from aging to promote tenderness and enhance flavor. Dry-aging is an essential part of what makes our grass fed beef unforgettable.
Animals raised in a natural, pasture-raised production system are more happy and healthy. Why should we believe that meat from unhealthy animals would then be a nutritious option for our families to consume? It’s time to realize that nutritious food is our medicine.
If you would like to experience the benefits of pasture-raised, regenerative grass fed beef SHOP NOW at our online store. Or give us a call or text at 816-787-6437.
Taste the Difference!
Derek and Catherine
Grace’s Grass Fed