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Seeing that my husband and I just ordered our first box of grass-fed beef from Sun Prairie Ranch today, I thought this would be a fitting post.
Why is purchasing 100% grass-fed beef from a local ranch better for you?
1. The nutrition far exceeds that of feed-lot beef (commercial beef you buy in the grocery store).
- Less fat (including saturated)
- Less cholesterol
- Fewer calories
- Rich in vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C
- Fantastic source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
2. The animals are allowed to roam and forage, rather than being kept in a tiny pen that is dirty with disease and waste. This not only benefits the animal, but it benefits the land as well.
3. The cows are healthier because they are eating a natural diet, like they were designed to, and they have less stress, less exposure to disease, and no chemical exposure.
4. It is sustainable and helps you support your local economy.
Buying grass fed beef in the grocery store is really expensive and I crunched some numbers and found that ordering it directly from a ranch is the best way to go. You’re going to pay several dollars (if not more) less per pound than you would in a grocery store. There are ton of ranches here in Colorado, so I had quite the selection to choose from.
The best resource I have found for locating ranches in your area is the Eat Wild website. They have an awesome map that allows you to locate all the ranches in your state that offer grass fed beef.
Some tips I can offer about selecting a source for grass fed beef:
1. Are they 100% grass fed? Some ranches will grass feed and grain finish. I don’t want beef that has been fed grains. They are not designed to digest grain, and when they are, you start to lose a lot of the nutritional value.
2. Are their animals treated with any hormones or antibiotics? If so, look elsewhere.
3. How is the beef processed? Is it all shipped off to a packaging plant where they have no control over the final product, or do they take care to ensure that the product you receive is not contaminated with other beef.
4. What is the ranch like? Is it family owned? Do they care about their animals and the way they are handled and processed?
5. Do they deliver, allow you to pick up, or do you have to pay for shipping? Keep in mind that shipping costs can eat up any savings you may be getting.
How many of my readers have ordered grass-fed beef before from a local ranch? This is the first time we’ve done it, so I’m really excited to receive our order. Guess I better start working on some recipes!
Photo courtesy of juliabrown1 and Flickr Creative Commons
This is a great list. I’d add a couple of things. Ask whether and how the beef is aged and for how long. Many grass-fed producers dry-age their beef, which can significantly concentrate flavor (and promote tenderness). Others do not, they wet-age the beef instead, often because their butcher doesn’t have the capability or the space for it. Neither is good or bad, it’s just that aging can have a huge influence on both flavor and texture.
I’d also ask whether any ear implants were used, I’ve spoken with some producers who didn’t automatically think of these when I asked the question about added hormones. Also, ask whether any beta-agonists were used when raising the cattle. This is a non-steroidal growth stimulant that can have a negative impact on texture.
Thanks for the feedback Carrie. The aging technique was one thing that I didn’t consider. I also didn’t know about the ear implants and the beta-agonists. I’ll have to do some research and become familiar with that so I can better myself next time we purchase! Thank you for reading and giving me something new to research! This is why I love this blog – I learn so much from my readers! 🙂
We belong to a local meat csa. It allows of to get chicken, lamb, beef, and pork raised locally, humanely, fed appropriately, and without added hormones. Love it as we don’t need to purchase a large quantity at one time.
That is the best way to do it Heather! It’s great that you have that option where you live! 🙂