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.


  • 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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