Would you buy meat online? You can buy wild-caught Alaskan salmon online now, but what about BEEF? The average American eats about 66.5 pounds of it each year, compared to about 90 pounds of chicken. With all that meat being consumed, some savvy consumers are concerned about the quality of the meat they are eating, and not in the USDA Choice way, but in terms of sustainability.
There is a concern with grass fed beef, that it simply won’t taste as good as beef from cows that were finished on grain. While only about 3% of shoppers buy grass fed beef, there is hope that that number will rise. People don’t buy grass fed meat for a few reasons, among them the increased price, the possibility of the meat being less tender than grain fed beef, and then of course a lack of grass fed meat recipes. While it is true across many grocery stores and online stores that grass fed beef costs at least a dollar or two more than grain fed, that cost is fairly slight unless you’re buying way more than the average 66.5 pounds each year.
Do you really need special grass fed meat recipes? Yes, you do, because it is true that cows who walk pastures for roughage will have more well developed muscles than those cows who barely need to move at all to be fed. Better developed muscles means the meat will have a different texture. Simply put, it’s less marbled and has a tighter structure, which means it will be a bit dry and tough if cooked improperly. But if your recipe accounts for this, the dish doesn’t need to end up extra chewy.
Grass fed meat recipes that are mindful of creating extra tenderness in the meat may have an extra step. This might be adding an egg yolk or two into a ground beef recipe, or adding a citrus juice to a marinade to begin breaking down some of those tough muscle fibers before cooking. Grass fed meat recipes that do not make a point to include this element may result in a slightly disappointing dish. Remember that it is not the fault of the cook or the cow, but of the recipe.
Many recipes include the nutritional facts, so you might wonder if using grass fed beef will effect the nutritional content. It does, but only marginally. Feeding cows on pasture is a complicated subject, in that the data does not reflect a strong yes on an improvement on health, or on the environment. The truth is that beef from cows that exclusively ate grass will have a bit less saturated fat, a little more omega-3 fatty acids, and trace amounts of vitamins A and E. While it is healthier, making the switch will not dramatically change your health. But it is a step towards mindfully consuming a healthier option.
Beef is delicious. It is also the more expensive meat option you’ll find at the grocery store. Many people choose to indulge purposefully, whether by consuming a fast food hamburger gleefully or by frying up a steak at a celebratory dinner. You can also choose to indulge mindfully, by choosing the slightly healthier option. Just make sure you have a great recipe to go with it.