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"Grass fed" Beef - What that really means
When a cow gets into a field (if you watch them), they will eat the tops off the grasses and continue to wander around looking for more tops but also eating the stems and other parts. That means that they are eating the "grains" off the grasses. Corn is an oversized "grain" off of a grass that we eat on what is called "cobs" and sometimes off the cob. The cow tends to eat the entire plant for the most part while we consume only the grain. Cows like that grain too, but they also like the taste of the rest of the plant.
"Grass fed" generally means that the animal has not been put in a feedlot and raised on a predetermined diet which often includes corn, barley and other grains in abundance. "Grass fed" often means that the animal has eaten his or her choice of the food available. If it is corn stalks, then they are "grass-fed." If it is barley, "grass fed" is what they are. If it is pasture, they are still grass-fed. But also realize that, if it is a chemically sprayed field, it is still "grass-fed."
If you purchase a half or whole beef, find out what kinds of grasses they were fed. Find out what you want to know i.e. natural, organic, free fed, or grain fed. Each farmer/rancher has a different methodology, but every single one of them are feeding some form of grass to every animal every day.
There are many hundreds of thousands of Holstein calves born each year that are males. The females are used for milk. The males are grown to be put in a feedlot. They are about 10% of the beef in the supermarkets. There are many breeds of cattle born in the US each year that are used for beef. As you might suppose, different breeds have different tenderness (cut-ability), different taste (often dependent on the type of feed), and different marbling (which adds to taste). The marbling of the beef is what adds the most to taste if it is fed the correct "grasses" or grains harvested from the "grasses."
Waygu marble the best, but they don't produce as much meat, and the tenderness is so great that the steaks can seem "mushy." But remember, the food they eat creates the taste of the beef. If they eat trash, the meat will taste very bad. The reason that many ranchers add Angus to their herds is that Angus beef has some of the highest marbling with the some of the best growth, some of the best tenderness, and some of the highest meat to bone ratio meaning you get more food i.e. it is a high quality, all purpose animal. Angus mothers are also considered some of the best which is a necessity in order to raise live calves to weaning.
All beef that comes to the supermarket is grass fed. Beef cannot be fed a strictly corn (or any grain) diet and live without serious health issues that will kill them without medication to keep them alive--not a profitable plan. It is the type of grass, the type of water, the type of animal and the type of husbandry that makes the difference in taste. So "grass-fed" can be great if fed the right grass with the grain heads on it (such as barley or corn) or it can be horrible when fed rice straw and pasture grass only.
Once again, whatever it is, you get what you pay for. Good beef is built from the breeding up to the harvest--every step of the way counts for good quality and good tasting meat.