Hunk of Meat Monday: Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed Beef

Just like every other food item we buy, there seems to be lots of labels and buzz words around beef. One of the big things with beef is grass-fed or grain-fed and even grass-finished or grain-finished. The fascinating thing is that all cattle spend part of their lives on grass. Cattle that are grain-finished are moved to feed-lots or have additional grain added to their diets if they remain on pasture in their final months before going to market. While, grass-finished will remain eating only grass. Various folks in the food, nutrition and beef industry debate one which type of beef is better.

simmental cattle on grass

But isn’t grass-fed beef more nutritious?

One research study by Utah State University has shown grain-fed beef has several advantages over grass- fed beef. Grain-fed beef is grown faster, requiring less land and time. Grain-fed beef also has more acceptable meat qualities such as flavor, appearance, tenderness and has lower retail cost. Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, requires fewer resources and has less environmental impact than grain-fed beef.  Cattle which are grass fed have fewer health problems, including less stress and anti-social behavior.

corn silage

In terms of nutrition, the unbiased jury is still out on whether grass-fed beef contains more beneficial nutrients for humans. It seems claiming to have more of something can be true but insignificant in nutritional value. All beef is an excellent source of 10 essential nutrients – protein, selenium, B12, zinc, niacin, B6, phosphorus, choline, iron and riboflavin. Whether cattle are fed grass or grass and grain, the primary fats in all choices of beef are monounsaturated and saturated.

  • Grain-finished beef has a slightly higher monounsaturated fat content, the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.
  • Grass-finished beef can be slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids, but is not considered a good source.

cattle in feedlot

So, grass-fed beef is safer, right?

Another debate is over the food safety. Some people will promote one feeding method being more safe than another for the consumers of beef. It seems, this doesn’t seem to be true either according to this. All beef, grass-finished and grain-finished, is a safe protein source when cooked to appropriate temperatures.

black calves on grass

It all tastes good!

So, confused on what beef to buy? Don’t be. Just buy the beef your family likes to eat. Buy the beef that fits your budget. Buy the beef that is available to you. All beef farmers are raising quality beef. Don’t get too hung up on what the cattle where fed the last six months of its life. So, I know you are dieing for a good recipe:)

Crock Pot Cubed Steak

Cubed steak is a fairly inexpensive cut of beef. Most people have had it prepared as chicken fried steak. But, on a week night, chicken fried steak isn’t going to happen in this house. But, cubed steak in the crock pot is doable.

crock pot beef cubed steak ingredients

The base is easy. A can of cream of mushroom soup, can of French onion soup, an envelope of ranch and envelope of Italian dressing. Mix all of the ingredients together. I had some leftover diced green peppers, chopped green onions and sliced mushrooms from salads the night before, so I added them into the mix as well. If you don’t have veggies, you will be fine without them.

cubed beef steaks in the crock pot
Place the cubed beef steaks into the crock pot. Pour the mixture over top of the cubed steaks and cook on low for 8 hours in the crock pot. Remove the steaks from the crock pot. If you want slightly thicker gravy, dissolve a little cornstarch in water and add to the liquid in the crock pot. Serve over a big pile of mashed potatoes.

Crock Pot Cubed Beef Steak

Crock Pot Beef Cubed Steaks

A great way to have flavorful and tender cubed steak meal without frying up country fried steaks.
  • 2 pounds of beef cubed steaks
  • 1 envelope of ranch dressing mix
  • 1 envelope of Italian dressing mix
  • 1 can of french onion soup
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup green peppers, diced
  • ½ cup of green or white onions, diced
  1. Mix together soups and seasonings mix. Stir in the vegetables.
  2. Place cubed steaks in the crock pot and pour soup mixture over top.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. If you want thicker gravy, mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in ¼ cup cold water. Pour into crock pot once steaks have been removed. Stir till thickened.

What do you have cooking this week? Can’t wait to get some great ideas! This post is also part of a larger series called 30 Days on the Prairie Farm. Be sure to checkout other farm bloggers or my other posts here.

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  1. says

    Well, as a grass only for feed and finishing farmer….I have to agree with you, up to a point. The level of antibiotics and hormones and who knows what detectable in commercial beef is probably far less than in commercial chicken or pork.

    I am going to have to disagree with you on the taste though. GOOD grass fed and finished beef is amazing, PRIME. Unfortunately, there’s a lot out there that ISN’T done right. Who wants to eat shoe leather?


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