For those who have been paying attention to this space in recent months, we have been discussing the differences between different types of beef. Mass market versus locally sourced. What “all-natural” means. And we’ve mentioned the idea of grass-fed beef in most of those discussions.
So what is it that makes grass-fed beef so different from other varieties?
In the simplest terms, grass-fed beef is simply that: cows who are fed on a diet of grass, rather than one involving a grain feed. This produces leaner beef, with a lower fat content than cattle raised on a more conventional diet. Less fat means fewer calories.
In addition to this, grass-fed beef packs a bigger nutritional “punch” than conventional beef. To hit some of the highlights, grass-fed beef delivers more:
- Vitamin A, a nutrient that helps to support immune system function, eyesight, and reproduction, while helping to keep key organs, like your heart, lungs, and kidneys healthy and working properly.
- Vitamin B, which maintains the nervous system, and also aids the body convert the food we eat into usable energy.
- Vitamin E, an antioxidant, promoting healthy function and keeping free radicals from building up.
- Folic acid, which is used for creating and maintaining healthy cells, and is highly recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
- Conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA), a naturally occurring trans fatty acid that has been linked to cancer prevention.
With all of these benefits, there is one difference that beef buyers should be aware of. Due to the lower fat content, grass-fed beef will cook differently than conventional beef. Until the home cook adjusts to these differences, they will likely want to use lower temperatures, quicker cooking methods (like searing), and may find that they need a little extra seasoning.
For anyone looking to give grass-fed beef a try, local providers such as Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch raise quality cattle, processed at Chop-N-Block in Winter Haven.