The grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef debate

By Kim Cross, Cooking Light

Georgia butcher Bill Towson cut up Cooking Light's Alabama Brangus cow.

Georgia butcher Bill Towson cut up Cooking Light’s Alabama Brangus cow.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Shoppers are seeing more grass-fed beef in regular grocery stores
  • Grass-fed has good, clean beefy flavor but tends to be a lot chewier
  • Grass-fed beef is lower in calories, contains more healthy omega-3 fats

(Cooking Light) — A large herd’s worth of beef cattle has passed through the Cooking Light Test Kitchen over the past 24 years, almost all of it standard-issue, grain-fed supermarket meat.

But with beef, as with everything in the American diet, change is afoot.

Shoppers are seeing more and more grass-fed beef in regular grocery stores, along with meat from breeds marketed as special (like Angus), and meat from organically raised animals.

The local/sustainable movement has been singing the praises of the grass-fed cow, while the grain-fed industry has been under attack by food activists.

The grass-fed cow, which eats from a pasture and is not "finished" on a diet of grains and supplements for rapid weight gain, is said by its promoters to be better for the planet (less energy goes into growing grass than grain); better for the beef eater (less overall fat, and more omega-3s and other "good" fats); and better for the cow (critics decry feedlot practices as inhumane).

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