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Which beef is better — grass-fed or grain finished?

Order grass-fed and grain finished beef that is naturally raised antibiotic-free and hormone-free in Ontario Canada.Whispering Meadows now offers you the choice between grass-fed beef and grain-finished beef, for all of our beef ordering options.  So which should you choose?

Before going into the differences between the two, we should note that for both options, grass is the primary source of nutrition for all of our cattle.  The grass-fed animals eat 100% grass forage and nothing else, while our grain-finished cattle are supplemented with non-GMO grains to top off their usual free-range pasture-based forage diet.

BOTH our grass-fed and grain-finished cattle are raised completely free-range, naturally foraging on pasture grasses.  All of our cattle are raised without antibiotics or artificial hormones, and never confined to pens.  So both types of beef are delicious, healthy, and highly nutritious.

When cattle are grain finished, it helps them to grow faster, and it adds sweetness and marbling to the beef.  This results in a more tender meat and a lighter flavour which many people prefer.

Grassfed beef is generally considered the most natural form of beef, since grass is the food that cattle are naturally built to digest.  Grass-fed animals are generally leaner, which gives their meat a more robust flavour and texture, and needs a bit more care to cook perfectly.  Grassfed beef has been proven to contain higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and the omega-3 fatty acids ALA, EPA, and DHA.

In terms of price, purely grass-fed cattle take somewhat longer to raise to maturity, which means that their overall production costs are higher.  This bumps up the price of grass-fed beef slightly over our grain-finished beef.

All grass-fed beef is not created equal

The term “grass-fed” is not a regulated designation, and we’re seeing it all over the place these days.  It’s good to be sure of exactly what the label means.

For many producers, what they’re calling grass-fed just means the cattle get some grass — but they’re still given high-calorie feed supplements to make them grow as fast as possible.  They may also be treated with antibiotics and other growth promoters, and confined to pens for most or all of their lives.  You won’t see those facts on the label.

At Whispering Meadows, grass-fed beef means exactly what you would expect.  Our cattle are raised 100% free-range on natural grass pastures for their entire lives.  When we say grass-fed, it means they eat only grass, and nothing else.  No antibiotics.  No added hormones or other growth promoters.  No pens.  And we give them a stress-free life, treated with care and kindness.

Comparison of grassfed and grain-finished beef

If we look at the health benefits of grass-fed vs grain finished beef, they are actually pretty close, with grass-fed beef having a slightly better overall nutritional profile.  Studies have shown that, compared to grain-finished beef, grass-fed beef has:

  • Grass-fed beef contains higher antioxidants, conjugated linoleic acids, and Omega-3 fatty acids than grain-finished beef.a higher antioxidant content.
  • more carotenoid antioxidants, which give the beef fat a slightly yellowish colour.
  • higher vitamin E content.
  • lower total fat.
  • a more balanced fatty acid profile.
  • higher conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content.
  • greater amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids ALA, EPA, and DHA.
  • a more complex flavour profile.

Grain finished beef has a finer texture, is more tender, and is a sweeter meat than grassfed beef.On the other hand, grain finished beef has some other benefits:

  • more tender, with a finer texture – easier to cook to perfection.
  • a sweeter meat with a full, rich flavour profile.

Both are excellent sources of protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, niacin, and vitamins B-6 and B-12.

So which should you choose?

Keep in mind that BOTH options are delicious, healthy, and highly nutritious choices.  Each of them just has a slight edge on the other in different aspects of their flavour & nutrition profiles.

So choosing between grass-fed and grain-finished beef comes down to which is more important to you — if you want the most tender and sweet beef, choose grain finished.  And if you want the absolute maximum in natural health and nutrition, choose grass-fed beef.

If you can’t decide between them, we recommend that you start out with grain-finished beef.  It’s the way we’ve been producing beef – to rave reviews – for over three generations at Whispering Meadows.

Shop Whispering Meadows beef here.


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