Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grass Fed Beef vs Store Brand Beef




Many people are scared of ground beef.  And honestly, you should be afraid if you aren't buying grass-fed beef from a trusted source.  Feed-lot beef is not heart healthy and it carries the very real risk of e-coli contamination.  Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, is lower in saturated fat, higher in omega-3's, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamin A and vitamin E (source: Time Magazine).

But I wondered does Grass-fed beef taste any different than Feed-lot beef?  I'll cheat and tell you the answer before I finish, the answer is a resounding, YES!!

The picture above shows you the two brands I compared.  Honestly, I usually buy my grass-fed beef at one of the local farmer's markets or from Creswick Farms, but I wanted to compare grass-fed beef that anyone can purchase.  So I compared Organic Prairie Grass Fed Ground Beef  ($5.82 per lb) and the Kroger Ground Round ($2.99 per lb).  The organic prairie is obviously more expensive out-of-pocket, but I think the long-term health benefits make it a more economical choice in the long run.

You may wonder about ordering meat online.  How does it arrive?  Well, here is how it comes.  Snuggly wrapped in a cooler box with two cooling packs (my order had more than just meat):

Organic Prarie Box

Then I browned it in the pan.  I noticed two things when I was browning it.  First, the Organic Prairie grass-fed beef had a little more blood in the package.  I just drained it out before I put it in the pan.  Second, the Kroger brand was stringy.  If you look at the top picture you will notice that the Organic Prairie looks a little more chunky, while the Kroger is more mushy.  This mushiness was really noticeable as I was trying to break it into chunks while browning it.  Here are both of the versions on a plate:

Kroger Ground Beef vs. Organic Prarie

Once they were cooked, I couldn't feel that much of a difference when I rubbed the crumbles between my fingers.

Then I cooked it up into this stuffed eggplant and our family did a little taste test.  First we ate the eggplants that were stuffed with the grass-fed beef.  They were good.  Then we ate the ones stuffed with the feed-lot beef.  The feed-lot beef filling was tasteless.  While the grass-fed beef picked up all the other flavors and tied the stuffing mixture ingredients together, the fed-lot filling was just filling.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good...it was just there.

For a long time I considered myself to be a failure at all of my mother-in-laws recipes because they never tasted as good as hers.  But since our family has switched to the grass-fed beef I am finally tasting some success.  She lives in Malta where feed-lots don't exist, so it wasn't my cooking skills, it was the beef. :-)

UPDATE:  This post is getting a lot of traffic for the term "where to buy grass fed beef in Michigan" with slight variations.  If you found this page through that search, I suggest you head on over to my Southeastern Michigan Local Organic Food Sources Guide to find a few suppliers that I know of who sell grass-fed beef in Michigan.


Greensbury Market brings you certified organic meat for less.  Buy now and save on our delicious grass-fed sampler!

7 comments:

michael edelman said...

I don't buy ANY ground beef unless I know the store has ground it that same day. Grinding increases the surface area, and lets bacteria spread very rapidly.

Ideally, I buy my beef locally, from one of the grass-fed ranches in SE Michigan, and grind it myself. But I'm usually too lazy to do that ;-)

MaltaMom said...

Michael, I really like the meat from Creswick Farms. Like you, I am usually to lazy to prepare the meat myself and they have an abundance of choices.

Elizabeth said...

I stumbled upon your blog. I love this post. I love real food! So glad you do too!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the idea of buying grass-fed local beef. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, but was a little disappointed. I'm accustomed to buying very lean cuts at the store, but didn't have that option when purchasing from the local farmer. The ground beef I bought seemed to be much greasier than the store bought. Should I try again with a different farmer, or is this par for the course?

aMichiganMom said...

I would try another farm. I have had different experiences with different farms myself. In my experience, my grass fed beef has always been leaner than traditional beef. Also, I would look for beef that has been dry aged. It adds amazing flavor!

Julie

Lauren said...

I think your decision to do a taste test was a wonderful idea. So many people are just quick to purchase the cheapest meats and with good reason, I can't blame anyone looking for a bargain but I would have to agree that as far a long term health it spending a little more money now is more economical. Grass Fed Beef is low in fat and calories and high in omega 3 acids and beta-carotene. Omega 3 acids is linked to enhanced heart health and reduced risk of arthritis and obesity, for example.

Anonymous said...

I never would spend the money before really believing there was no difference...until I had a burger from a all natural grass fed angus cross beef burger!! Can you say oh my gosh, it was SO delicious. I went and visited the farm and saw the cows, thats when I bought my first 1/2 of a cow. I love it, we buy from Pleasant Valley Beef. www.pvfbeef.com

Amber

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