How different is grass-fed meat from grass-finished meat? And what about grain-fed meat, how does that compare to animals that consume 100% grass in their diets?
Well, let’s start by going back to what is considered “normal food” for cattle. Simply put, they are accustomed to grazing on grass, and hay and this is purely due to their anatomy. However, the shift from grass to grains in cattle feed became commonplace as it became apparent that grain-fed cattle got bigger faster.
100% Grass-Fed: it’s important to make the distinction as to whether the cattle were fed grass their entire life or if it was just for a portion. 100% grass-fed means that these animals were raised on grass and grass only. Sometimes companies may label their meat as grass-fed, but may “omit” how much grass the animals actually consumed. This is where we get our grass-finished meats.
Grass-Finished: this implies that the animal was fed a grass diet for only a small amount of time. These animals were most likely in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s), where they rapidly increased in size and right before slaughtering were switched to a grass-based diet.
Grain-Fed: corn is the most commonly used grain to feed animals that are not consuming grass-fed diets. As previously mentioned, these animals are likely to be found in CAFOs.
Hope that sheds some light on the different labels that you may come across in your grocery adventures. Check out Eat Wild for a list of retailers/farmers across North America that carry grass-fed meats.
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