What is grass-fed beef?
Grass-fed is a way to describe the diet of cattle that eat exclusively grass and forages, but no grains such as corn or soybeans.
Don't all cows eat grass?
Yes, all cows eat grass and must to survive. Cattle have a rumen, which allows them to digest grass. They are designed to be grass eating machines. Somewhere down the road, though someone figured out that cattle could get fatter faster if they were fed corn. Since that equates to making more money it has become common place that farmers feed their cattle corn along with grass. We call that corn-fed and it’s how 95% of cattle in the US is raised*.
Why is grass-fed better?
Cattle are designed for eating grass and that’s what their ancestors, the bison, ate in nature. I like to compare corn for cattle to candy for humans. If people ate excessive amounts of candy every day, they would feel sick, be unhealthy and more be prone to disease, but they would gain weight, which to many farmers is all that matters. Grass-fed producers believe that eating grass makes for a healthier animal, which in turn makes healthier meat. The infographic below shows the benefits of grass-fed beef over corn-fed.
How do I know it’s grass-fed?
Labelling for grass-fed is incredibly tricky since all beef are fed grass. Look for a label that says 100% grass-fed and even better look for certifications that assure the animals aren’t fed corn. AGA (American Grassfed Association) label is a reliable one. If a label says grass-finished, more than likely the animals were fed corn in their life, but were cut off a few months before being processed.