Grass-Fed Beef Isn’t Always Best

I’ve been a big fan of grass-fed meat since developing multiple food allergies and celiac disease. After all, why would I want to eat meat from an animal that’s grazed on wheat, soy and corn–all three of which I’m allergic to. And with a sensitive stomach, I surely don’t want to eat meat from any animal that’s been given supplements, hormones and antibiotics.

Over the last six years I’ve noticed more and more “grass-fed” beef hitting the supermarket shelves. While almost always more expensive than the grain-fed brands, I figure my health is worth the added cost.

Then this week I was strolling though our local farmer’s market and came across Sangres Best Grass-Finished beef from a Colorado Ranch.

Grass-Fed Beef Isn't Always Best

Notice this beef from a Colorado ranch is “grass-finished”

I wondered what is the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished. Turns out not all grass-fed beef is created equal. If you think about it all cows can be called “grass-fed” as they all start out eating grass on a pasture. That’s how some brands can label their meats “grass-fed” even though they are finished on a diet of grains.  Sneaky, huh?

Grass-finished beef means the cow has never eaten a grain of grain. You can also look for “100 Percent Grass-Fed or “USDA Certified Grass Fed Beef.”  A stamp of approval from a third party, such as the American Grassfed Association, can also guarantee the grass-fed beef you are buying is the real thing. The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at labels on beef.

Here’s something else I learned this week: Not all bison is grass-fed. Since food allergies, I’ve often chosen bison over beef thinking all bison roam the range freely nibbling on grass. Wrong.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Always Best?

This package of ground bison from Great Range, which I bought this week at Costco, is finished with natural grains and hay. According to their website, “environmental variations on the high plains, coupled with changing market conditions, make supplemental feeding necessary to produce fresh, premium quality Bison year round.”  When in doubt, check the company website.

So where can you find true grass-fed beef?

Much of the 100-percent grass-fed beef in North America is produced on small farms and sold directly to consumers at such places as farmers’ markets, natural food stores, and specialty meat markets. These online directories can also help you locate grass-fed beef in your area:

American Grassfed Organization

Eat Well Guide 

Eat Wild

Local Harvest

U.S. Wellness Meats

Grass-fed Beef Isn’t Always Best first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie